About Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is one of Northern Vietnam’s top tourist destinations. Although, we try to get to places that most others do not, it really is worth putting up with the crowds to get to see this whole area. There are plenty of great things to see and do so it really is a good place to spend a night or two.
Ninh Binh is a small city located around 100km South of the capital, Hanoi. There is little reason to go to the city itself but there are many beautiful places to visit just close by. These include: Trang An Grottos, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Tam Coc, Bich Dong and Hang Mua Cave and Viewpoint.
The whole area is set in lush rice fields with jagged limestone outcrops jutting out into the sky. It is often referred to as ‘an inland Ha Long Bay’, but it only gets a fraction of the visitors. You can easily take a day trip there but as there is so much to see it is worth spending at least one night.
To get there you have the choice of car, bus, train or motorbike and it is a very easy trip.
Hanoi - Ninh Binh Route Map
Ninh Binh is around 100km from Hanoi if you take the direct route. However, the more pleasant routes will be around 120 to 150km. You can get there in about 3 hrs at the quickest but most people will take around 5 hrs with stops.
There are not really any places that you might wish to stop overnight and it is not really far enough to warrant this either. Therefore, you will only see 1 day routes here and no overnight stops.
Route 1 (Black)
To get on this route you can exit the old quarter by taking any of the bridges over the Red River, although it is likely that you’ll take Long Bien or Chuong Duong Bridge. You will then be on the dyke road and you can follow this, along the river, southwards.
Once you get to Hung Yen, you might decide it is time for a short break. This is a good place to stop at least for a drink. You will then head back across the Red River and also under the national highway CT01. A little further on is the old highway QL1b and you can take this southwards again, to Ninh Binh City.
This route will get you out of Hanoi quickly and on to quiet road, but the latter half is a little busy due to being ont he old highway, which is still quite busy with large vehicle traffic.
Route 2 (light blue)
This route takes you across town to the western side of Hanoi and then on to the CT05. Remember to drive alongside this and not on it as motorbikes are prohibited from using it.
Once on the CT05 you follow it for about 15km until you get to Quoc Oai. This is where you can take a more scenic short cut to Xuan Mai on the QL6. From here you take the QL21 all the way to Chi Ne where you cross over the bridge and continue south. You will then have the choice to turn towards Ninh Binh City or Cuc Phuong National Park.
This route is a little stressful at first as you have to cross the city. It is also quite a long route at some 150km. However, once you are on the QL21 the road is wide and fast and you can make good time with very little stress.
Route 3 (green)
This route takes you on the QL6 / AH13 out to the west of Hanoi and then on the QL21b south. It is shorter than Route 2 but that is about the only good thing. The QL6 is busy with all kinds of traffic and there are lots of roadworks. The QL21b is small and busy, too. After that, you will need to be on the Old Highway 1 and that is also busy.
All in all, this route is here as an advisory of the route NOT to take.
Route 4 (red)
If you are in a hurry or just want to get to Ninh Binh asap, then this is the route for you. It is busy highway but it is the shortest and fastest route.
It is also very simple to follow. You find Hanoi Railway Station and you head south. You keep going and do not turn off at all. The road is busy and congested, especially at rush hour, through town but will quieten down by the time you have passed Van Dien. You are then on highway, excepting when going through the small towns (speed limit 40kmh).
Where to stay in Ninh Binh
There is a huge choice of places to stay in and around Ninh Binh. Your first decision is whether or not to stay in the city or nearer any of the attractions that you are likely to visit. It will be more peaceful staying outside of the city unless some locals decide it is a Karaoke night (nothing you can do about that!)
Distance-wise, however, considering most places are within around 5km of each other it isn’t really that much of an issue. The vast majority of accommodation in Ninh Binh is mid-range and reasonably good value. You can easily find a place with a pool and breakfast included.
Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh
This is a beautiful and relaxing place set up near Van Long Nature Reserve. It is 5 star with all the facilities you expect and both an indoor and outdoor pool. You can expect to pay between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000VND for a standard room here.
Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel
This a great place surrounded by rice paddy. There is an outdoor pool, two restaurants and a kids’ playing area as well as the usual wifi and buffet breakfast.
Prices here are around 1,800,000 to 2,000,000VND.
Memorina Ninh Binh Farmstay
There are a range of beautiful rooms with wifi and aircon. There is a spa, gym facilities, outdoor pool and a lake that you can kayak on. However, a lack of farm animals.
Rooms here are around 1,500,000VND
Tam Coc Horizon Bungalow
A very nice place to stay that is usually quite quiet. There is a pool surrounded by several bungalow type rooms with their own toilet and shower and aircon. It is close to Tam Coc and it is easy to get to Trang An. You can rent a motorbike if you wish. Breakfast is included and the restaurant/bar/pool table is right next to the pool.
Rooms here are around 1,000,000VND
Bai Dinh Garden Spa and Resort
This is a little away from the main attractions but very close to Bai Dinh Pagoda. It is a beautiful resort with rooms set in a lovely garden. There is a spa, outdoor pool, gym and free bicycle rental.
Overall, a very tranquil and relaxing place with rooms at around 1,000,000VND.
The Vissai Hotel
This is nearby the Ninh Binh railway station and overlooks the Ninh Binh Football Stadium and has good, clean rooms as well as a sun deck, pool, gym, spa, 4 restaurants and 2 bars.
At around 8-900,000VND it is good value.
Spot On 861 Sunrise Hotel
This is in the city area just a few kilometres from the main attractions. There is a range of dorm beds and aircon but no pool. Prices are around 200,000VND per night.
Trang An Passion Homestay
Located very close to Trang An, this place has a range of dormitory bunks and small rooms ranging from 150,000 to 450,000VND. Best of all, it has a pool.
Huong Sen Homestay and Massage
An interesting place due to there being a spa and massage service here. The rooms are clean and comfortable and there is aircon, wifi and breakfast. At around 300,000VND it is quite a bargain.
Things to do in Ninh Binh
Tam coc bich dong
- Remember that CT roads are off limits. You cannot take a motorbike on CT roads. They are for 4+ wheeled vehicles only.
- Set Google Maps to ‘motorbike’ option. This will then route you on suitable roads i.e not on CT roads
- If you don’t have the ‘motorbike’ icon, then you can go into Route Options and hit avoid highways, avoid tolls and this will then route you on the right roads for a motorbike.
- Drive slower than you normally would. The speed limit will be 40kmh in town and usually 60kmh out of town. This is because there are lots of hazards on these roads.
- Respect the speed limit. The cops are quite happy to pull over foreigners nowadays and they are happy to fine them, too. Fines can be several million VN Dong so they worth avoiding.
- If you are riding in a group, rotate the back rider. So, every 5 or 10km have the back rider come up to the front so that no one gets left behind.
- Stay in touch through apps and set regular stops be them 1hr or 50km intervals. This way you should all slow down and group up.
- Don’t Drink and Drive. Obviously, this is not a good idea, however, you may be unware that the legal blood alcohol level in Vietnam is ZERO. So, not even a sniff of booze is allowed.
How to get to Ninh Binh
Route 1 Hanoi – Ninh Binh
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Route 1 Hanoi – Ninh Binh
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Route 1 Hanoi – Ninh Binh
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