What You Need To Know About Vietnam’s Ninh Binh

If it’s your first time visiting Vietnam, you’re probably looking forward to seeing Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Halong Bay. They are the big names, with masses of tourists flocking there each year. They are hubs of culture and energy, and Halong has some of the best beaches in the world. What more could you want?

Well, I highly encourage giving Ninh Binh a chance. It is one of the lesser-known destinations in Vietnam. However, it has some of the most astonishing landscapes, and it boasts an energy unlike that found in the more popular areas.

You can go straight from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh, with various types of transport available. Here’s what you need to know about one of Vietnam’s hidden treasures.

Rivers, limestone, caves, oh my!

Ninh Binh has some incredible scenery. Similarly to Halong Bay, it has limestone cliffs, which give the landscape a very particular aesthetic. However, because it is not a seaside city, its appearance is far from what you’ll see in Halong Bay.

Its lovely rivers are well-worth a boat ride. Take a trip to Trang An nearby, and you’ll find yourself navigating through caves and temples, experiencing the scenery up close, participating in nature’s spectacle. It is well worth getting up early for this experience!

See the rice paddies and pagodas

You can’t go to Ninh Binh without experiencing the incredible vastness of rice paddies. Tam Coc, a few kilometers from Ninh Binh, is the most popular area for tourists looking to experience the famous rice fields. You will feel like you are in a vision come to life, with the familiarity of the scenery even though you’ve never seen anything like it.

The same is true of the famous pagodas. So much of Vietnam feels strangely familiar because of how much we have seen these features represented on TV. Ninh Binh is the perfect place to see everything you have ever imagined made Vietnam what it is.

Authentic culture and food

But what sets Ninh Binh apart from other popular parts of Vietnam is that its culture is authentically Vietnamese. Because it is not a huge tourist destination, its essence has not been changed as drastically as other parts of the country. Globalization is inevitable, and not necessarily a bad thing, but it is always worthwhile getting to those parts of the world that have largely avoided its influence.

This is true not only of the culture but of the food as well. There’s something far more satisfying about eating pho in Ninh Binh than in Hanoi. You’ll also find delicacies that you haven’t heard of before, as they haven’t been adapted into a Westernised form as of yet.

The people of Ninh Binh are incredibly friendly. They are also very interesting, considering that they likely live a very different life to the one you do. They are not trying to make money off you, either. While there is nothing wrong with people taking advantage of tourism to their country – as well they should – it is refreshing to not be constantly reminded that you are a tourist!

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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