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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Sampan boat trip in Tam Coc
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, 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
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 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.
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.
Ninh Binh’s food is fantastic, with different types of delicious dishes. Here is the list of must-try Hanoi cuisine
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
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.
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.
Monalisa Bar and Restaurant
An Khang Banh Mi
Price range: From $180 to $250 per room per night
Price range: From $50 to $90 per room per night
Price range : from $30 to $45 per room per night
Price range from $7 to $20 per room per night
|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|
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
This is a good itinerary plan by a local guide who has been working in the tourism industry for ten years.
Another option for day 2
Yes, it’s pretty safe.
It is super safe, I can tell. Don’t walk around too late in a hidden alleyway only.
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
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.
Phat Diem Stone Cathedral
Boat trip in Galaxy Grotto (Dong Thien Ha)
Silver pagoda and Pho Co Hoa Lu
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.
Yes, you can. There are everywhere in Ninh Binh
If you are budget friendly with time-limited but want to see Ninh Binh for a day
Yes, it is. I highly recommend using Grab instead of a taxi from Ninh Binh to Tam Coc or other nearby tourist attractions.
Just three days are more than enough
Yes, it’s. The traffic in Ninh Binh is quite empty.
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.
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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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