Are you in the midst of planning your trip to Vietnam or are you even currently there? Or maybe you just came here to escape daily life for a while. Either way, you are in the right place. In this article we want to take you to one of the most serene places in Vietnam: Ninh Binh, located at the scenic Tam Coc river.
Are you a backpacker like us? Always on the lookout for the best budget tips? Then check out our Vietnam Budget Guide where we lay out all our expenses.
If you are curious about all the other places we covered on our Vietnam journey, our Most Stunning Backpacker Guide will feed you with all the valuable details.
And now, get yourself a drink, lean back and enjoy our 5 Reasons to Fall in Love with Ninh Binh.
1. The astonishing view of the Tam Coc riverside
Ninh Binh was our first stop after leaving the bustling city of Hanoi. We were craving for some peace and nature, our main reasons why we came to Vietnam in the first place. And luckily, our wishes were granted. Here in Ninh Binh, right at the Tam Coc river, we found our little paradise.
This place feels like the “real” Vietnam with all those striking landscapes seen on numerous travel photography. Once we set foot in this rural area, we knew that everything we were about to see would stick in our minds for a very long time.
We spent our days gazing at the mysterious limestone cliffs, which created a fantastic backdrop for all our shots. It was a surreal experience, driving along all those mesmerizing landscapes unfolding in front of our eyes.
We were sitting down, imagining what life must feel like here, waking up every day with such wonderful views. While we were roaming the country roads on our motorbike, we took any chance to stop and soak in this fairy-tale scenery.
2. Get to know Hoa Lu, the ancient capital
Pay a visit to Vietnam’s first capital, Hoa Lư, part of the UNESCO world heritage. The 11th century site holds quite some hidden gems, like this mystical pond surrounded by lush green scenery.
The entrance gate to the imperial capital is guarded by the limestone mountains of Halong Bay.
We found a cozy place in the backyard to sit and reflect.
3. The most charming swing at Hang Mua Park
At the Hang Mua Park we discovered the most scenic swing ever. As I love swings, I spent way too much time on it (to the annoyance of the people waiting in line for their own turn).
4. Adventurous hike to the Mua Cave Viewpoint
It is called Mua Cave, but the real highlight of the park is the mountain offering a wide number of views of the Tam Coc valley. The cave itself is rather unspectacular, located right at the foot of the mountain.
Once you take on the challenge to climb all the 500 stairs leading to the top, you will be rewarded by splendid views and interesting sights of mythological stone sculptures and carvings.
On this hike you will pass two main viewpoints. The first overlooking the Ngo Dong River and the second is called the Dragon Mountain.
Be aware that the hike does have its difficulties and good footwear is a must. Always make sure to have a good grip when climbing the steep and sharp rocks.
5. Relaxing vibes by the river
The majority of visitors who head to Tam Coc, come here to book a boat cruise on the Tam Coc River, passing the infamous karst mountains and a number of caves.
We decided to skip this attraction. Instead, we spent some time sitting on the docks to enjoy the view of the landscapes. If you want to take the boat tour, we recommend to arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds. There are two main starting points: Tam Coc and Trang An.
From all the places we have visited on our 3 months stay, Ninh Binh proved to be one of the most astonishing. It is not only easy to find budget accommodation and restaurants (provided you stay in Ninh Binh and rent a motorbike or take a shuttle to get to Tam Coc), you will also have a variety of activities and views to marvel about.
Even if you decide to skip all the attractions and just cruise around the countryside, you will get a very good impression of how beautiful this country is. Ninh Binh will steal your heart. This is guaranteed.