Where is Ninh Binh?
Ninh Binh is located 97 km (60 miles) south of Hanoi, which is about a two-hour train ride south of Hanoi that only costs 44,000 VND/1.97 USD! If you plan on going to Ninh Binh, I would recommend taking the train because it’s simple, fast and gets you right to your destination. Buses will most likely cost you more than double that price, so take the train. If you plan to take a train to any location in Vietnam, make sure you buy your ticket hours before the departure time since they sell out fast. Once you get to Ninh Binh, you will see that there is a very noticeable figurative and literal difference in the atmosphere compared to that of Hanoi. The air is fresher and you’re not threatening your life while you cross the street. Ninh Binh is unique from Hanoi because it’s not only a smaller city, but it is also a nice place to explore the caves (Tam Coc) on the Ngo Dong River. I think that Ninh Binh is great for a day trip or a place to take a break in while traveling through Vietnam.
I think that Ninh Binh is great for a day trip or a place to take a break in while traveling through Vietnam.
Is it safe?
As I have said before, any travelers should be aware of their surroundings at all times, regardless of your location. However, when I was in Ninh Binh I felt more relaxed when comparing it to Hanoi. This is mostly due to the fact that there are less motorbikes, cars, scooters, and well just… people. It is a lot quieter than Hanoi and I felt like I could relax more in Ninh Binh, which was much needed after the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. When going out at night, it isn’t too lively so if you choose to go out at night I would recommend going with a friend. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
It is a lot quieter than Hanoi and I felt like I could relax more in Ninh Binh, which was much needed after the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.
What is there to do?
As I said earlier, Ninh Binh is a lot more toned down that Hanoi, which means that some people may think that there isn’t anything to do in Ninh Binh. However, that is very far from the truth and there is actually a lot to do there. There is the obvious boat tour of the caves and the Ngo Dong River, but there is also so much more!
I personally felt the need to do any sort of physical activity after being cooped up in the city for so long so I went running, and my friend and I rode bikes. We were able to use the bikes from our hotel for free, but bike rental is usually no more than 50,000 VND/2.25 USD and it’s worth it.
The fact that there was less traffic and people not only made it easy to take a 15km (10 mile) round trip from the “Big C” shopping center, but it was fun and relaxing! In addition to this, I was even able to go on a nice run around the Ngo Dong so don’t forget your running shoes!
If none of these activities look like something you would enjoy, check out Tripadvisor for some ideas!
Where can I stay?
We stayed at the Duc Toan Hotel and had a mostly positive experience. I wouldn’t rave about it or anything since there weren’t as many backpackers staying here and we felt like isn’t wasn’t too social. The good news about this place is that they let us use their bikes for free, had a free (and delicious) lunch buffet, and also had clean rooms. Also, we found that this hotel was cheaper than the hostels in the area (when you have two or more people), so that was a major deciding factor. Overall, we had a pleasant stay but I recommend that you book all of your bus/train/plane tickets at the tourism offices since hotels are notorious for charging a lot of hidden fees. We didn’t know that they would pick up our tickets from the train office and when we found out afterwards we also learned that they had charged us double for pick up. So yea, get your tickets yourself!
The good news about this place is that they let us use their bikes for free, had a free (and delicious) lunch buffet, and also had clean rooms.
Ninh Binh is unique and simple and I would say that it’s worth the visit. If you decide to go, I hope you enjoy your time there!