Another underrated places that must be visited in Vietnam is the Ninh Binh Province. It definitely should be part of your trip if you wanted to see more of the natural landscapes and nature treks. Ninh Bing is about 200km south of Hanoi and can be reached in about three hours from the capital.
As an avid fan of KKday, we got a private tour from them. We wanted to stay comfortable as much as possible. Plus, it’s fun getting the history and side notes from Ms. Lan. Otherwise, it is also easy to get there as it is accessible also using several trains and buses. There are also motorbikes available for rent if you have a license and feel comfortable riding for such a long distance.
So going back, Ninh Binh is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. It is full of verdant mountains, hidden pagodas, and other breathtaking natural sights. If getting out into the green and spending time away from the hustle and bustle of big cities is your thing, Ninh Binh’s incomparable landscape of hills, mountains and lush forests are ideal for you. It is also known as the Ha Long Bay on land because of its impressive similarities with that of Ha Long Bay wherein you’ll find yourself surrounded with huge limestone mountains. Check out my blog about Ha Long Bay so you can get an idea of how it looks like.
We went to Hang Mua first so that it wouldn’t be too crowded as it gets intensely hot on top. Well, we did not expect it to be that hot and tiring though, but hey, for the ‘gram! Lol! So anyway, we went here to see mystical grottoes and the beautiful Hoa Lu Temple and Bai Dinh Pagoda. Hang Mua, which literally means “Dancing Cave” in Vietnam, first opened in 2000. It is named such because of the story when the Tran King built the Thai Vi temple where he enjoyed royal odalisques dancing and singing.
It also immediately became well-known with its peak of “Dancing Mountain,” which Is the mountain’s view point. Get ready to climb the 486 white stone steps if you want to reach the summit. The view there is absolutely worth the calories! I enjoyed the extraordinary panoramic view of Tam Coc, Trang An, and the famous Ngo Dong river.
To cool off and relax, we had our lunch at Viet Toan Restaurant where they serve Ninh Binh’s specialty dish – grilled goat. I was a bit hesitant at first but to my surprise, it was quite tender and rich in flavor. Fried spring rolls, fried rice, chicken with pineapples, and other fresh vegetables are also served and before we know it, our stomachs were full.
Our next activity did not involve much walking so this was perfect after eating our heavy lunch. We went for a scenic boat ride at Trang An along Sao Khe river which lasted for almost an hour. I enjoyed the shift in weather as we experience both sun and rain throughout the ride. Interestingly, the person rowing the boat also uses her feet to paddle and again, she had to do this for two hours (back and forth). Talk about a full body cycling workout! We also got to understand how they live as a community where they give a newly-wed couple a boat so that they have something to start as their business. They also schedule the rotation of families assigned per day so everyone gets their fair chance of serving customers.
In neighboring areas in Tam Coc, you can also go for a scenic bike ride through expansive rice fields. Since I’m still really not confident with my biking “skills” we opted to explore and learn more of Ninh Binh’s rich history. We visited some of the temples in Hoa Lu and the most famous one is from Dinh Tien Hoang's dynasty and how he led the Vietnamese people to become independent. The castle ground is huge! We didn’t get to explore all of it but it’s definitely peaceful and lush. It was restored in the 17th century and at the front is a stone throne and bronze bells that feature in all temples across Vietnam.
P.S. make sure to bring something to cover your legs if you’re wearing shorts.
Again, these sweet deals were made possible through KKday and Ms. Lan. Wouldn’t have found this beauty if it wasn’t for them. What an amazing trip indeed! Personally, this has been my favorite explorations in Northern Vietnam. I can’t wait to explore the other parts of this beautiful country.
Oh and I also want to give a big shout out to Big Sky Nation for the extraordinary wifi coverage! Yup, they got us covered even inside the caves and cruising by Ngo Dong river. It’s amazing and impressive! Make sure to use my code to get awesome discounts! MJTRAVELS
Overall, it was an awesome awesome experience. It's a mix of history and fun! I definitely enjoyed and learned so much about Vietnam.
So, where to next?
See you anywhere in the world!