Wow ! 9 must see attractions when you visit Ninh BinhNinh Binh has not only rich history of the old capital but also beautiful scenery.
1, Trang An
Trang An is a scenic area near Ninh Bình, Vietnam renowned for its boat cave tours. On 23 June 2014, at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in Doha, the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex includes Hoa Lu, Tam Coc-Bich Dong, and Bai Dinh Pagoda. Situated near the southern margin of the Red River Delta, the Trang An Landscape Complex is a spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks permeated with valleys, many of them partly submerged and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs. Take a boat to go around Trang An, see the green river, mountains, nature sightseeing. Enjoy your life!
2, Tam Coc complex
The Tam Coc complex includes Tam Coc and Bich Dong, which are situated in Van Lam village, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh province. Recognized as a special national heritage, Tam Coc is often called ‘Ha Long Bay on the land’ for its system of limestone grottoes and historical relics from the Tran dynasty in the 13th and 14th century.
Tam Coc, literally "three caves", consists of three natural caves — Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba. To reach Tam Coc, you must board a small boat at the wharf and get rowed up the sinuous Ngo Dong River past Xuyen Thuy cave and pockets of rice fields. Tam Coc is charmingly beautiful in any season. In spring, bright green rice fields spread along the river banks, turning into silky yellow beds in the fourth lunar month. In the summer while traveling on the Ngo Dong River, visitors will enjoy an enticing lotus fragrance while listening to the locals recounting legends about each cliff or mountain in the shape of a tortoise or dragon head.
After the 2-hour excursion returns you to Tam Coc wharf and go an additional 2 km to Bich Dong, considered the second most beautiful cave in Vietnam. The Bich Dong area consists of a cave and a pagoda built on a limestone hill in 1428 under King Le Thai To. After praying to Buddha in Bich Dong Pagoda, visitors climb 21 stone steps to Toi cave (Dark cave) whose stalactites are shaped like fairies, errand-boys, hovering dragons, swimming tortoises, elephants, and tigers. 40 more steps take you to go to the Upper Pagoda, from where you can enjoy the best views of Bich Dong.
3, Bai Dinh pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is a famous temple for its Asian and the region record. The records of Bai Dinh Pagoda are established: The largest steel statue in Indochina: Great Buddha Sakyamuni statue with 16m high and weighs 100 tons, 3 statues of Tam The, each of it weighs 50 tons, 12m high. 2 largest bell in Indochina: 36 tons and 27 tons. 500 Arhat statues with the height of 2 or 3 m. The largest pagoda in Vietnam: total 539 ha (27 ha own ancient temples, pagodas new 80 hectares. On the wall of the pagoda, It has more than thousand small steel statues.
4, Van Long Natural Reserve ( Gia Vien, Ninh Binh)
Van Long Natural Reserve, known as the “ Preserved Nature Area” of Ninh Binh, offers wonderful views of landscapes and rural life. Compared to Tam Coc and Trang An which are more popular tourist attractions, Van Long is much more primitive and completely untouched.
Rivers, mountains, grottoes, rice paddies, old houses, friendly locals, tiny – bamboo boat riding… all contribute to make Van Long to be a must see attraction for travelers. Tourists who come to admire the reserve will have the opportunity to view rich flora and fauna, particularly the rarely – seen silver langur, within the most bio – diversified wetland in Vietnam, according to international and national research findings.
Not only is the nature reserve, Van Long wetland is a place with attractive landscape. Van Long is known as “the bay without wave” because when going on a boat, visitors will see a flat surface like a big mirror. Watercolor painting is reflected by the strong sculpt of limestone: Meo Cao Mountain, Mam Xoi Mountain, Hom Sach Mountain, Da Ban Mountain, Nghien Mountain, Mo Coi Mountain, Co Tien Mountain…
5, Thien Ha Cave ( Son Ha, Nho Quan, Ninh Binh)
Thien Ha cave is the new destination for tours in Vietnam. It is located in the hillside of the Tuong Mountain rang with the height of nearly 200m. To reach this cave, tourists in Vietnam travel have to be on bamboo boat to float over a small canal among the paddy fields for 1km before coming to the land and reach the cave. It is 700m long with two area: 200m dry cave, 500m water cave. They are connected by a large corridor. The dry cave is 2,5 – 3m large, 3 – 6m high with plenty of beautiful stalactites, leading to the southern side of the mountain. The foundation of the cave is 40m large. The natural light from the top, which opens the eyes of people with the stalactites colors. Under the natural hand, there are many shapes and figures of stalactites which inspire the curiosity of the visitors.
Visiting to the water grotto, travelers would float on the underneath river which is named Galaxy which appears with curling line under thousands of sparkling stalactites which suddenly on the right above curl of the cave ceiling. There are also many stalactites under various shapes, which need to be named. In the peaceful place, visitors would feel the sound of the oar striking clearly, the sound of water drop and thousands of bats inside the grotto.
6, Thung Nham Bird Park
Thung Nham Bird Park is located in Hoa Lu District, 12km south of Ninh Binh City (100km from Hanoi), deeply in the mountains and far from residential area. The 350ha park has been developed for tourism but still retains its natural beauty. For those who love the nature and adventurous bird watching trip, Thung Nham (Birds valley) in Ninh Binh is somewhat best place for your experience while travel to Ninh Binh. Besides watching birds, you can also explore the caves on the water and in the mountains as well as visit orchard of tropical fruits, including star fruit, mangoes, guavas and lychees. Take a boat to the mangrove forests of Thung Nham Bird Park to watch birds, you should go to the range late afternoon about 17h, it’s time for foraging birds. However, if you do not have time you can also visit at 14h-15h to go back in time if you go during the day from Hanoi.
The best time to visit Thung Nham was in summer and spring, when the birds are busy building nests and breeding. A two-day tour is better to enjoy the entire beauty here, the most wonderful time is when flocks of birds appear at dawn and dusk.
7, Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park is Vietnam’s largest national park and one of the most important sites for biodiversity in the country. It is homes to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The park can be visited from Hanoi as a day trip or visitors can stay at the park’s lodging for a longer stay. Visiting the park is a terrific opportunity to get a close look at Vietnam’s nature and fees generated from tourism help protect the parks wildlife and improve the local economy. The best time of the year to visit the park is during the dry season, from November to February. The way lead to Cuc Phuong National Park is very convenient. Leave the busy city, enjoy your trekking and get closer to the wildlife.
8, Hoa Lu Ancient capital or Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel
Hoa Lu, the capital of Dai Co Viet (an old name of Vietnam) under the Dinh and Le dynasties bears with it a legend. As the capital of country for 41 years, Hoa Lu has many palaces, pagodas, tombs and pavilions that were built by different dynasties, however, today not much of this ancient kingdom is left standing.
Coming to Hoa Lu, not only visitors can visit historic places but also attend traditional cultural festivals here and the most important and largest one is Hoa Lu ancient capital festival. It is held annually on the 10th -13th of the third lunar month with the purpose of commemorating the two kings Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh.
9, Phat Diem Cathedral (Kim Son, Ninh Binh)
Phat Diem Stone Cathedral is one of the most famous and beautiful churches in Vietnam with special architecture: an elegant combination between Western church architecture style and Vietnamese religious buildings. It includes Lake, Phuong Dinh, cathedral with 4 churches on the sides, 3 man-made grottos, stone churches. the cathedral will bring you exciting time and unforgettable impression.