Enjoying the tranquillity of nature is by far the biggest appeal of visiting Ninh Binh. A boat trip through Trang An Grottoes allows you to experience all of the elements together. The picturesque cave and river complex was awarded the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 not only for its outstanding beauty but also its cultural and historical significance. The journey on the small sampan takes you along the still waterways lined with lotus and waterlily. As the boats approach the rock face, they disappear into tiny openings into the water-worn caves that cut through the rock. The journey takes in rivers, caves and beautiful temples, and you are sure to feel weightless as you float along in the afternoon sun.
The Trang An Complex, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.
Tam Coc is another area of stunning beauty that takes in all the elements of the environment but this time with the added bonus of the ever evolving rice paddies. The river Ngo Dong, flanked by the fertile rice paddies whose patchwork of greens change with the seasons, slips between the imposing peaks and through the low-lying caves. Here the boats that meander along the silky river appear tiny, the skyline dominated by tremendous peaks which echo into the horizon.
Golden rice fields in Tam Coc, the most beautiful area of Ninh Binh.
The Van Long Nature Reserve is another opportunity to board a sampan and voyage through the incredible landscape of Ninh Binh. The large open waters are hemmed in by grand mountains creating a wildlife haven. The waters, caves and surrounding forests are home to many fascinating species including white shorts langurs, Asian black bears, Bengal slow loris and catfish. Hundreds of birds also flock to the reserve during the dry season as part of their migratory route filling the air with the sound of birds song and the flurry of feathers. The reserve also has 32 different grottoes to explore each one offering its own unique beauty.
Another stunning cave not to be missed in Ninh Binh is Hang Mua. The main attraction here is definitely the view from the top of the mountain. Next to the cave is a set of stairs which seems to climb high up into the clouds, twisting around the edge of the peak. The trek up the hundreds of stone steps is definitely worth the effort as the view from the top is truly astounding. In one direction you can see the patchwork of fields and rice paddies and in the other direction, the towering karst peaks which fade into the horizon. This view is best enjoyed at sunset when the beauty is illuminated by the glow of the sun. The majestic dragon which guards the peak creates an amazing silhouette against the changing hues of the sky as the sun dips down behind the mountains.
Ninh Binh, Vietnam Travel – The way to Mua cave.
Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam, uncovers the rural area’s important past. During the 10th century, Ninh Binh was home to the capital of Dai Co Viet, an ancient Vietnamese Kingdom. Although once a grand citadel, time and weather have taken their tolls on the area and very little of the original structure remains. Now visitors can enjoy strolling amongst the temples that have been erected in honour of the ancient capital’s leaders. As well as offering a glimpse into Ninh Binh’s significant history, the temples also showcase some traditional architecture set against some stunning backs.
Ninh Binh, Vietnam Travel – Hoa Lu, a vestige of the very old dynasty.
Ninh Binh, Vietnam Travel – Thung Nham Bird Garden.
Ninh Binh has the added appeal of independent exploration. It is easy to spend an afternoon cycling along the winding roads taking in the views of the rivers and mountains which punctuate the scenery. There are plenty of small pools to stop by which often have herds of goats also stopping for a spot of refreshment. Because Ninh Binh is not as well established as a tourist destination as some of Vietnam’s other beauty spots, there are plenty of opportunities feel alone with the beauty of nature, taking a quiet moment to drink in the fresh air and feel refreshed. For those who prefer to travel with an engine, Ninh Binh is also a great place to explore by motorbike.