Ninh Binh solo traveller guide (The Ultimate guide)

Solo Traveller guide Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is known as Halong Bay on land, one of the top 4 must-see tourist destinations in Northern Vietnam after  Halong, Hanoi, and Sapa. This Ninh Binh Solo Traveller guide by Hanoi Eco Tour is all you need to know as a solo traveler in Ninh Binh, Vietnam, including things to do in Ninh Binh for a solo traveler, where to stay, where to eat, how to get around.

Ninh Binh is an excellent place to discover as a solo traveller since it’s safe, fun, and easy to get around. Ninh Binh offers the best things for a solo traveler, such as the stunning natural beauty of towering limestone cliffs, lush green rice fields, hearty local food, rich history, friendly locals, and many more.

Table of Contents

Why is Ninh Binh great for solo travellers?

Ninh Binh is super safe

Ninh Binh is a great place to get around on your own, even stroll around Tam Coc in the evening. Apprently, the traffic in Ninh Binh is way different from Hanoi. I feel like there are very few vehicles along your way; most of them are tourists. 

Easy to get around

As a tourist, you can get around by riding a push bike or a motorbike since the traffic in Ninh Binh is quiet except on the weekend since lots of Vietnamese travel during this Period. Suppose you can’t ride a push bike or a motorbike. In that case, you can also book a taxi or a private car at a reasonable cost or sit on the back of the motorbike is a great way to explore Ninh Binh since the distance between tourists attractions isn’t far at all, only 10 to 30 minutes from one place to another. 

Things to do in Ninh Binh for a solo traveller

What to do in Ninh Binh on one day trip

If you have a time budget, taking a day trip to Ninh Binh to see its highlights is good enough. A guided tour is an excellent idea to explore Ninh Binh on a day tour since you have limited time. There are many daily seat-in-coach terms from Hanoidoing the same things; even they will take you to the same buffet restaurant near Trang An. The majority of these tours are good. The only is that, if you aren’t a big fan of a big group, then pick a private guided tour to personalize your experience. 

Ninh Binh will be busy in the peak season from Nov to April, but not always; it will be active. If you are taking a private guided tour to Ninh Binh, try to discuss with the guide how to avoid big groups by traveling with an opposite itinerary from other tour groups and, for example, making a boat trip to Tam Coc in the morning instead of the afternoon, having lunch in a less busy restaurant, not the one where most of the guided tours bring visitors there. 

So it would be best if you double-checked which restaurant where the tour guide is taking you there. But the restaurant needs to be convenient with the tour route also. So the guide’s restaurant choice is also essential because they know the tour route better than you. 

A typical Ninh Binh itinerary for a day trip would be 

  • Hoa Lu ancient capital
  • Mua viewpoint
  • Sampan boat trip in Tam Coc

What to do in Ninh Binh for two days trip as a solo traveller

If you have more than a day, spend two days discovering Ninh Binh is the best. Take a leisurely walk around the Tam Coc area through village roads and hidden alleyways where most tourists don’t go. 

You could see the lush green rice paddy field, local pagodas, temples, and local wet markets near the bridge.

If you love something different, book the Ninh Binh farm tour to learn hands-on farming experiences such as plowing with cows, mini cooking classes, biking rural paths, and more. 

For nightlife, walk around the Tam Coc area, with many bars, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and massage stores.

From my personal experience, I do recommend Chookie Beer Garden to get some drinks and chill out. If you are a foodie lover, taking a Ninh Binh food tour is a great choice, or checking out Pho Co Hoa Lu – tons of photo opportunities: Silver pagoda, local food, and a drink at Highland Coffee. 


Things to do near Tam Coc, Ninh Binh, in one day for solo travellers

  • Phat Diem Cathedral
  • Galaxy grotto
  • Cuc Phuong national park
  • Van Long nature reserve

What to do in Ninh Binh for three days

There are three couples of options to choose from 

Option 1: Cuc Phuong national park day trip from Tam Coc

Cuc Phuong national park is an excellent choice for nature lovers.

  • Trekking into the jungles to the 1000-year-old tree
  • Hiking the Prehistoric Man cave
  • Check out Endangered Primate Center and Turtle Conservation Center. 

Option 2: Phat Diem Stone Cathedral and boat trip in Galaxy Grotto (Dong Thien Ha) – Off the beaten track

This impressive Phat Diem cathedral – 1-hour drive from Tam Coc, draws attention due to its unique blend of European and local architectural styles. The stunning structure perfectly fuses traditional Vietnamese pagoda roofs and western gothic walls.

Boat trip in Galaxy Grotto: This hidden gem in Ninh Binh is a less-traveled destination that only a handful of organized tours include in their itinerary. Additionally, only a few backpackers know about its existence, and information about it is available on a few travel blogs. However, this location offers the best experience for a sampan boat ride in Ninh Binh, with incredible natural beauty. 

Top tourist attractions in Ninh Binh for travelling solo

Sampan boat trip in Tam Coc

Ninh Binh itinerary

Boat ride in Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

The entrance fee and the oat trip are 195,000VND or approximately $8; you can enjoy sightseeing by relaxing on a 1.5-hour boat ride (with two foreigners sharing a boat) on the river in Tam Coc. May is the perfect time to experience this boat ride, as the vibrant yellow color of the rice paddies creates a breathtaking backdrop for amazing photoshoots. After the boat ride, consider taking a 20-minute walk along the pathway to Thai Vy temple instead of returning to the pier.

Trang An – The best place for a boat trip in Ninh Binh

Trang An boat trip, Ninh Binh

Trang An boat trip

Trang An, a UNESCO heritage site, and embark on a 2.5-hour boat ride to marvel at the breathtaking views of karst mountains, caves, temples, and more. You have the option to select one of the three available routes. I recommend route 3, which allows you to traverse the longest cave in the Trang An area. The entrance fee is 250k VND per person.

Van Long Nature Reserve – Ninh Binh’s King Kong Territory

Van Long nature reserve

Van Long nature reserve

Covering an area of 3,500 hectares, Van Long is widely recognized as the most extensive wetland nature reserve in Northern Vietnam, housing thousands of animal and plant species. Notably, the account is home to the endangered Delacour langurs. This hidden gem offers a unique opportunity for a sampan boat ride off the beaten path in the Ninh Binh area.

Galaxy Grotto ( Dong Thien Ha)

If you seek a distinct landscape unlike Tam Coc or Trang An, consider visiting a less-visited cave in Ninh Binh. Begin your adventure by taking a peaceful boat ride down the river and a short walk to the main cave. Inside, you will be awestruck by the incredible rock formations in various shapes and colors reminiscent of a galactic scene. A few steps upwards lead you to a heavenly open space where the earth and the sky seem to meet. You may also come across some prehistoric artifacts from inhabitants living in the cave between 1500 and 7000 years ago.

Afterward, continue your journey by taking another boat ride to explore the other part of the cave. Here’s a secret: try tapping on the different rocks, and you will be surprised to hear various sounds that each one produces. This is a hidden gem that not many travel blogs have mentioned.

Thung Nham bird park

Thung Nham bird park

Thung Nham bird park

Thung Nham is a must-visit destination for those seeking to immerse themselves in nature’s beauty. Here, you can bask in the breathtaking panoramic views of the verdant landscape, marvel at the stunning caves, and gaze upon the majestic limestone mountains.

Bird-watching lovers will be thrilled that Thung Nham is also an excellent spot. It is best to visit the area at 5:00 pm when the birds return from their daily adventures to glimpse the diverse bird species.

Read more : Thung Nham bird garden complete guide

Hoa Lu ancient capital

Widely known as the ancient capital of Vietnam from the 10th century under the rule of the Dinh and Le dynasties (968-1009), it offers a glimpse into the country’s rich history through its temples and walkways. Visitors can explore two historical temples that honor the respective kings: Dinh and Le, each showcasing unique architectural styles and designs that date back to the 17th century.

Bai Dinh pagoda
Bai Dinh pagoda - Ninh Binh itinerary

Paroramic view of Bai Dinh pagoda complex

Situated in Gia Sinh Commune, Gia Vien District, in the northern province of Ninh Binh, Bai Dinh is nestled behind a range of limestone mountains just 4 miles northwest of the Hoa Lu ancient capital. Considered one of the most significant attractions of the Trang An eco-tourism complex, Bai Dinh Pagoda is a collection of Buddhist architectural structures that includes the grand and majestic temples of the newly-constructed Bai Dinh Pagoda area, juxtaposed with revered and ancient shrines from the old Bai Dinh Pagoda area. 

From the ticket booth, you need to take an electric car ride for 10 minutes and take a walk via stone steps to reach its top; there’s a lot to see along the way, including Five hundred Arhat statues, Phap Chu temple, Tam The temple (Three Period), the 13-floor Bell Tower – worth visiting with a fantastic panoramic view of the pagoda complex.

Bich Dong Buddist temple
Bich Dong pagoda

Bich Dong pagoda

Bich Dong Pagoda is known as the most well-known religious site in the Tam Coc area, just 3 kilometers from the Tam Coc wharf, built in the early 15th century under the reign of King Le Thai To. To reach the top of the mountain, you will be climbing steep stone steps through 3 separated layers Ha (lower), Trung (Middle), Thuong (upper)
In the summertime, you can see the fantastic natural beauty of lotus flowers and their fragrant smell, which make it a popular site for photo shooting. 
Mua viewpoint
Mua viewpoint

Mua Viewpoint

Mua Peak is the most famous viewpoint in Ninh Binh and South East Asia; it offers a great view of towering limestone cliffs, Tam Coc boat ride, and a rice paddy field, a must-see tourist destination, especially for nature lovers and photo enthusiasts. 
It is located 5 kilometers from Tam Coc, on the way from Hoa Lu to Tam Coc, so it is convenient to combine a visit to three famous tourist sites: Hoa Lu ancient capital, Mua Viewpoint, and Tam Coc.

Where to eat for solo travellers in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh’s food is fantastic, with different types of delicious dishes. Here is the list of must-try Hanoi cuisine

Thit De Nui – Mountain Goat Meat

Mountain goat meat is a delicacy in Vietnam, but Ninh Binh is a premier destination for dishes made with the finest mountain goats. Ninh Binh goat meat is a must-try dish in Ninh Binh.

What sets Ninh Binh goat meat apart is the unique method of breeding. Unlike other regions, goats here are not confined to shelters but can roam freely in the mountains. The goats climb steep and treacherous terrain, resulting in firm, lean meat.

The high quality of goat meat is also attributed to their natural diet of herbs, including many valuable medicinal plants.

Where to try mountain goat meat in Ninh Binh

  • Duc De
  • Chinh Thu 
  • Xuan Vinh Quan 

The only thing about these local restaurants above is that their toilets aren’t spotless, sometimes you need to wait for the table to be clean because they are usually busy at the weekend. 

Com Chay

Cơm cháy, a traditional Vietnamese dish and a specialty of Ninh Binh, is made from steamed rice sliced into flat, round shapes. The critical ingredient is Huong rice, a glutinous rice variety with rounded, pure grains. The rice is sun-dried multiple times and stored in a cool, dark place to preserve its flavor and prevent mold growth.

Once dried, the rice slices are fried in hot oil until crispy. Cơm cháy is commonly served with various types of meat, including goat, beef, pig’s heart, carrots, and mushrooms.

Top restaurants in Ninh Binh for solo travellers

Top restaurants in Tam Coc Area for a solo traveller

Restaurant for Vietnamese food

  • Minh Toan Father Cooking
  • Family Restaurant
  • Chu’s house Tam Coc
  • Khoa Luan restaurant
  • Khoa Dung Restaurant

For European food, Indian food, vegetarian, and others

  • Chookie Hideaway
  • Curry King Indian 
  • Aroma Indian Restaurant
  • Ngon Vegan
  • Ngo Dong Vegan
  • Ninh Binh City area
  • Trung Thuyet Restaurant
  • Bao Anh restaurant

Trang An Area and Hang Mua area

Monalisa Bar and Restaurant

An Khang Banh Mi

Where to stay in Ninh Binh for a solo traveller

Luxury accommodation in Ninh Binh for a solo traveller

Price range: From $180 to $250 per room per night

  • Tam Coc Garden Resort – On the way to Thung Nham Bird Park
  • Aravinda Resort
  • Esmeralda Resort – Near Van Long Nature Reserve
  • Emeralda Tam Coc – Opening shortly in the middle of April 2023

Middle Range accommodation in Ninh Binh

Price range: From $50 to $90 per room per night

  • Hidden Charm Resort near Tam Coc Boat Wharf
  • Latila hotel
  • Tam Coc La Montagne
  • The Reed Hotel – Ninh Binh City
  • Tam Coc valley homestay

Standard Accommodation for a solo traveller in Ninh Binh

Price range : from $30 to $45 per room per night

  • Chez Loan Hotel – Famous among French-speaking tourists  
  • An Eco Garden – near Trang An
  • Tam Coc Ricefield Resort
  • Horizon Bungalow
  • Little Tam Coc 
  • Tam Coc nature lodge

Cheap accommodation in Ninh Binh for a solo traveller

Price range from $7 to $20 per room per night

  • Bana Tree hostel
  • Chez Beo Homestay
  • Tam Coc Melody homestay
  • Moonlight homestay
  • Hang Mua Central Homestay
  • Ninh Binh central hotel – the city of Ninh Binh

Budget for travelling Ninh Binh for a solo traveller per day

Items Expenses in American Dollar
Food (cheap food) 10
Drink (casual place) 5
Activities (Entrance fee)  30 (Highlights) 
Transport (From/to Hanoi) 22
Accommodation (Budget hotel) 20
Total amount  77

The rate for tours/transport in and around Ninh Binh (All rates in American Dollars)

Item Seat in coach tour  Private tour
Ninh Binh day tour from Hanoi 55 160
Ninh Binh food tour 30 50
Ninh Binh Motorbike Tour 40 70
Halong Bay cruise two days (Standard) 150 N/A
Transfer from Ninh Binh to the airport N/A 95
Cuc Phuong national park 75 160
Transfer from Ninh Binh to Halong 15 90
Transfer from Ninh Binh to Cat Ba 15 130
Ninh Binh cycling tour from Hanoi N/A 190
Transfer from Ninh Binh to Phong Nha 20 200
Transfer from Ninh Binh to Pu Luong 20 100

Included: English-speaking guide, lunch, transfer, entrance fee

Good tour companies for a private tour

Hanoi itinerary – How to spend three days in Hanoi 

This is a good itinerary plan by a local guide who has been working in the tourism industry for ten years.

Day 1: Ninh Binh classic  (guided tour)

  • Hoa Lu ancient capital
  • Mua viewpoint
  • Tam Coc
  • A bicycle ride around Tam Coc

Day 2: Ninh Binh Adventure (DIY or guided tour)

  • Cuc Phuong national park
  • Van Long nature reserve

Another option for day 2

  • Bai Dinh pagoda complex
  • Trang An

Day 3: Ninh Binh Off the beaten track (Guided tour) 

  • Phat Diem Cathedral
  • Galaxy Grotto

Top great things to do for a first-time solo traveller in Ninh Binh

Silver pagoda - Pho Co Hoa Lu Ninh Binh

Silver pagoda in Ninh Binh

  1. Walk along the path in Thung Nham bird park to get to the platform for bird watching in Thung Nham
  2. Having lunch with a local family in Tam Coc
  3. Learn hand embroidery with a family in the Tam Coc area
  4. Riding your scooter to explore Ninh Binh
  5. Checking out Pho Co Hoa Lu by night
  6. Taking a motorbike food tour in Ninh Binh
  7. Enjoy sunrise at Mua viewpoint

Read more : How to spend 72 hours in Ninh Binh – The best Ninh Binh itinerary for 3 days 

Ninh Ninh travel guide

8. Common questions about travelling solo in Ninh Binh

Is it safe to walk around Tam Coc at night?

Yes, it’s pretty safe.

Is Ninh Binh safe for solo female travellers? 

It is super safe, I can tell. Don’t walk around too late in a hidden alleyway only. 

Scams in Hanoi

  • People selling fruits, drinks, and other stuff to sell on the boat: Just a glass is good for the rower
  • Photo shooting scam
  • Taxi scam: Taxi metter offer a ride at an overcharged price. Looking for a reliable taxi like Mai Linh or Grab is an excellent choice with an app. 

Short break for a female solo traveller in Ninh Binh for two days

Day 1

  • Hoa Lu ancient capital
  • Tuyet Tinh Coc
  • Mua cave
  • Tam Coc

Day 2 

  • Bai Dinh pagoda
  • Trang An

What is a good itinerary for a female solo traveller to combine Ninh Binh with other nearby attractions?

Day 1-3: Ninh Binh

Day 4 : Ninh Binh – Cuc Phuong national park – Pu Luong

Day 5: Pu Luong trekking and Hieu Waterfall full day

Day 6: Pu Luong – Mai Chau walking/cycling. Overnight in Mai Chau

Day 7 : Mai Chau – Hanoi

Back to Hanoi and take a night train to Sapa

A walking tour for solo travellers?

Ninh Binh isn’t a walking-friendly destination since the distance among tourist hotspots isn’t a walking distance. However, you can walk around the Tam Coc area’s hidden alleyway and village paths.

What are the LESS TOURISTY places around Ninh Binh

Phat Diem Stone Cathedral

Boat trip in Galaxy Grotto (Dong Thien Ha) 

Silver pagoda and Pho Co Hoa Lu

Can I get a Ninh Binh tour discount?

Usually, the costs are fixed, but you can ask for a discount if booking a private tour in a low tourist season from May to June.

Can I see English-speaking visitors in Ninh Binh?

Yes, you can. There are everywhere in Ninh Binh

Are group tours in Ninh Binh for travelling?

If you are budget friendly with time-limited but want to see Ninh Binh for a day

Is Grab taxi good?

Yes, it is. I highly recommend using Grab instead of a taxi from Ninh Binh to Tam Coc or other nearby tourist attractions. 

How long can I stay in Ninh Binh without getting bored?

Just three days are more than enough

Is the scooter safe to ride in Ninh Binh?

Yes, it’s. The traffic in Ninh Binh is quite empty. 

In there any good places for money exchanges in Ninh Binh?

There is a ton of stores that offer money exchange in Tam Coc. The rate is okay but not as good rate as Hanoi. It is not a big deal if you are exchanging a small amount of money.

9. Common search keywords about travelling solo in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh’s solo travel itinerary

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Ninh Binh, lone female travel guide

10. Top Ninh Binh private tours for Solo Travellers

Please see private guided tour of Ninh Binh for solo travellers who have a flexible budget

1.Ninh Binh private day tours

This Ninh Binh guided tour led by a Ninh Binh professional private tour guide is good for those who want to travel at their own pace and build their own Ninh Binh itinerary and travel with a guide. You won’t be rushed to join a seat in coach tour. 

2.Ninh Binh wet rice farm tour

This is a unique Ninh Binh day tour for those who want to get truly local experiences : interacting with locals, get your hand dirty by joining hands-on farming working with local farmers, having homecooked lunch with a local family. 

11. Top travel destinations in the Northern Vietnam for solo travellers

Hanoi solo traveller guide

Cat Ba solo travel guide

We hope this Ninh Binh solo traveller guide by Hanoi Eco Tour will help you with some ways to plan a trip when travelling solo in Ninh Binh

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