Ninh Binh: Full guide for the BEST trip to Kong Skull Island Vietnam

Welcome to our blog, everyone! Today, we’re going to introduce you to a fantastic destination located about 100 km from Hanoi, Ninh Binh – a beautiful city situated along the Tam Coc river. Because of its beauty, blockbuster movie ” King Kong film” has amazing scenes in here. 

 

Ninh Bình is located to the south of the Northern Delta, between the Red and Ma rivers. It is bordered by Hòa Bình and Hà Nam to the north, Nam Định to the northeast, and Thanh Hóa to the south and west. Ninh Bình also has a very short coastline abutting the Gulf of Tonkin.

The population is 898,500 people, with a total area of 1,329.4 km2.

Here, you can experience the grandeur of nature and history.

When is the best time to visit Ninh Binh? Ninh Binh is a place you can visit at various times of the year. However, it’s recommended to visit during the spring (from January to March) when the weather is pleasant, and there are many festivals, or in the summer (from May to August) to witness the ripe golden rice fields and fragrant lotus ponds.

How to Get There?

If you’re starting your journey from Hanoi, you can take a bus from Giap Bat bus station or book a limousine to Ninh Binh. Ticket prices range from 100,000 to 150,000 VND, and the travel time is approximately 2 hours.

If you’re coming from Ho Chi Minh City, you can fly to Hanoi and then take a bus to Ninh Binh with similar options. Airlines like Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Jetstar operate flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Currently, flight ticket prices range from 900,000 to 1.3 million VND per one-way ticket.

Additionally, travelers from other provinces can reach Ninh Binh by train. The website of the Vietnam Railways Corporation allows you to book tickets in advance, or you can purchase them at the train station. Ninh Binh’s train station is conveniently located in the city center.

If you’re traveling by private vehicle from Hanoi, you can take the Giap Bat route, then turn onto the Phap Van – Cau Gie expressway, and head towards Phu Ly to reach Ninh Binh.

For transportation within the city, it’s advisable to rent a motorbike for around 100,000 to 150,000 VND per day to have the flexibility to explore the distant attractions in Ninh Binh. If you’re traveling in a larger group, you can also consider using a taxi to save costs.

Accommodation Options Whether you’re traveling as a couple, with a group of friends, or solo, Ninh Binh offers a range of homestays near the tourist attractions with a peaceful and friendly atmosphere. Some popular homestays with convenient locations include Ninh Binh Friendly Homestay, Hang Mua Ecolodge, Diep’s House, Ninh Binh Palm Homestay, ChezBeo Homestay, with prices ranging around 200,000 VND per person per night.

If you prefer more luxurious and amenity-filled accommodations like swimming pools, spas, gyms, and bars, you can opt for 4 to 5-star resorts such as Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh, Tam Coc Garden Resort, Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel And Resort, An’s Eco Garden Resort, Aravinda Resort Ninh Binh, with room prices ranging from 1.7 to 6 million VND per night.

Culinary Delights When in Ninh Binh, you can’t miss trying the local specialties such as com chay (burnt rice), grilled goat meat with lemongrass, stir-fried goat, crab stir-fried with wild betel leaf, and Ca Nech fish salad.

Goat meat is a popular choice for many visitors to Ninh Binh. The goats are raised in the rocky mountains of Ninh Binh, making their meat firm and flavorful. To find reputable restaurants serving this delicacy, head to areas like Hoa Lu, around the eco-tourism site Trang An, or Tam Coc. A portion of goat meat costs between 100,000 to 250,000 VND, depending on the preparation style. Some recommended dining spots in Ninh Binh include:

  • Chinh Thu Goat Restaurant (Khe Thuong, Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh)
  • Duc De Goat Restaurant (446 Nguyen Hue, Ninh Binh City)
  • Dung Mountain Goat Restaurant (Ninh Xuan Commune, Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh)
  • Ba Phan Eel Noodle Soup (999 Tran Hung Dao, Ninh Binh City)
  • To Nhu’s Noodle Soup with Sticky Rice (National Highway 10, Kim Son, Ninh Binh)
  • Thanh Hang Sticky Rice and Ice Cream (Luong Van Tuy Street, Ninh Binh City)

Must-See Attractions

  1. Trang An

Trang An is a captivating destination with majestic limestone mountains, winding waterways, pristine valleys, and lush greenery. The entrance fee for Trang An is 250,000 VND for adults, and 100,000 VND for children under 1.4 meters in height. If you want a guide to accompany you, it costs 300,000 VND for a tour.

Visitors can choose from three boat tour routes to explore the limestone caves and temples. Route one takes you through nine caves, including the Trinh Temple, Tran Temple, and the Khong Palace. Route two covers four caves and includes the Cao Son Temple, the VU Lam Palace, and the Tran Suoi Tien Temple. Route three features three caves, the Trinh Temple, the Tran Suoi Tien Temple, and the VU Lam Palace. Each tour typically lasts from 2 to 3 hours.

  1. Tam Coc – Bich Dong

At Tam Coc, visitors usually start by visiting Bich Dong Pagoda, often called the “second most beautiful cave in Vietnam” for its panoramic views from above. Afterward, you can take a boat ride down the Ngoc Dong River to explore Tam Coc, which translates to “three caves.” The landscape at Tam Coc is nothing short of mesmerizing, with towering limestone cliffs, meandering rivers, and golden rice fields on both sides. The entrance fee is 120,000 VND per person, and a boat ride on the Tam Coc route costs 150,000 VND per trip.

  1. Mua Cave

Located about 15 minutes’ drive from Trang An, the Mua Cave tourist area lies at the base of a mountain. The entrance fee is 100,000 VND per adult. This spot is a favorite for travelers seeking panoramic views of Ninh Binh. To reach the summit of Mua Cave, visitors must climb about 500 stone steps. As it can get hot, remember to bring water. From the peak of Mua Cave, you can enjoy breathtaking vistas of Ninh Binh, with its winding rivers, lush rice paddies, and towering limestone karsts. You can spend 2 to 3 hours exploring this attraction and taking photos.

  1. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Hoa Lu served as the capital of Vietnam during the Dinh (968 – 980 AD) and Le (980 – 1009 AD) dynasties. This historical site, one of the four core zones of the Trang An UNESCO World Heritage Complex, offers visitors a glimpse into Vietnam’s rich past. At Hoa Lu, you can visit the temples dedicated to King Dinh Tien Hoang and King Le Dai Hanh. These two temples were constructed in the 17th century, surrounded by lush greenery. To enhance your experience, you can opt for guided tours to learn more about the historical value of this site. The entrance fee is 20,000 VND per person.

  1. Bai Dinh Pagoda

The Bai Dinh Pagoda complex was built in 2003 and covers an area of over 500 hectares, surrounded by stunning limestone mountains. It’s divided into two sections: the New Bai Dinh Temple and the Old Bai Dinh Temple. Visitors can explore the complex on foot or take an electric car for 30,000 VND per person, one way. Notable attractions within the complex include the Phap Chu Temple, which consists of five halls and houses a 10-meter-tall, 100-ton statue of Buddha Thich Ca, and the Tam The Temple. You can also climb the bell tower to admire the 36-ton Great Bell.

  1. Am Tien Cave

Am Tien Cave is a fascinating spot located within the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, more than 10 km from the center of Ninh Binh. It is surrounded by imposing limestone mountains, appearing like a natural citadel, with a serene lake in the center. The area is known for its serene yet enigmatic beauty and is often referred to as the “Cave of Lost Love” due to its historical context. In the past, the only way to reach the cave was by climbing the mountain, earning it the nickname “Tuyet Tinh Coc.” Nowadays, visitors can access the cave through a tunnel that passes through the mountain, followed by a hike to the temple, where visitors can witness the fantastic rock formations and sculptures. The entrance fee is 20,000 VND per person.

  1. Van Long Nature Reserve

Known as the “Bay without Waves,” Van Long Nature Reserve offers a unique experience when you take a boat ride through the serene waters, which are not as clear as the sea but have distinct layers of moss underneath. This site also holds two records, recognized by the Vietnam Records Center in 2010: having the most Vooc Mung monkeys and featuring the largest natural painting. The entrance fee is 20,000 VND per person, and the boat tour costs 60,000 VND for a group of two people.

  1. Thung Nham Bird Garden

The Thung Nham Bird Garden eco-tourism area, located about 12 km from Ninh Binh City, is home to a wide variety of bird species, with around 40 different types and over 50,000 individual birds residing here. The best time to witness these birds returning to their nests is around 5:00 PM. The entrance fee is 100,000 VND per person, and the boat tour in the Bird Garden costs 20,000 VND per person.

  1. Phat Diem Stone Cathedral

Phat Diem Stone Cathedral is situated approximately 28 km from Ninh Binh City. It boasts unique architecture, combining elements of traditional Vietnamese temples and churches. The complex comprises the Big Cathedral and five smaller chapels, with one entirely constructed from natural stone. Other structures include the bell tower and three artificial caves. The cathedral is a blend of Vietnamese culture and Catholicism. The entrance fee is 20,000 VND per person.

  1. Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong National Park, located in Nho Quan district, Ninh Binh province, is the first national park in Vietnam, covering an area of approximately 22,000 hectares. The park offers diverse forms of tourism, including ecological, research, and adventure tourism. Visitors to Cuc Phuong can explore the pristine rainforest, fascinating caves with intriguing formations, and the historical relics hidden within the park. There are also opportunities for bird-watching, hiking, and discovering the diverse flora and fauna in the region.

  1. Tam Diep Pineapple Hill

Tam Diep Pineapple Hill, or Tam Diep Hill of Three Pines, has become a popular check-in spot in Ninh Binh. Visitors are drawn to the vast, lush green pineapple fields. This location is about 20 km from Ninh Binh City. While exploring this area, please be respectful and do not pick pineapples from local farmers’ fields. Entrance is free, and it’s a great place to take some photos.

Sample Itinerary Day 1: Ninh Binh City – Mua Cave – Trang An – Hoa Lu

Day 2: Bai Dinh Pagoda – Hoa Lu Ancient Capital – Am Tien Cave

Or

Day 1: Ninh Binh City – Tam Coc – Bich Dong – Mua Cave – Hoa Lu

Day 2: Phat Diem Stone Cathedral – Thung Nham Bird Garden

Or

Day 1: Hanoi – Hoa Lu – Trang An – Mua Cave

Day 2: Van Long Nature Reserve – Thung Nham Bird Garden

Ninh Binh is a mesmerizing destination with an abundance of natural beauty and cultural richness. We hope you’ll consider visiting and experiencing this unique part of Vietnam. Don’t forget to explore the local cuisine, try the goat meat, and take in the breathtaking sights. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or adventure, Ninh Binh has something for everyone. So, pack your bags, book your trip, and explore the wonders of Ninh Binh with Vietnam Daily Tourist!