Ninh Binh Itinerary: the Best Tips for a day trip

Ninh Binh is a peaceful city located in the northern part of Vietnam, famous for its natural beauty, rich history, and local culture. Thus, planning a Ninh Binh itinerary for one day is a perfect way to witness the beauty of the region. Here are some tips to help you create an unforgettable Ninh Binh day trip itinerary.

1. First Stop: Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Start your Ninh Binh one-day itinerary by visiting Hoa Lu. It was once the ancient capital of Vietnam during the Dinh and Le dynasties, from 968 to 1010 AD. Today, the site is a well-preserved historical and cultural attraction. The former capital was chosen for its strategic location. Surrounded by limestone cliffs and lush greenery, this historical site presents the temples of the two former emperors, Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh. Basically, you can discover the grounds to see verdant rice fields and winding rivers. Additionally, know more about the history of the area, and enjoy the impressive scenery.

The site has an area of 13 square kilometers and has two main parts: the Royal Palace and the Temples Area. The emperors and their families lived and worked in the Royal Palace. Today, visitors can see the remaining parts of the palace, including the throne room, the royal gardens, and the living quarters. The religious buildings of the capital were located in The Temples Area. The temples feature intricate carvings and decorations, and visitors can observe traditional Vietnamese rituals and offerings.

During the Ninh Binh one-day itinerary trip, visitors can discover the architectural wonders of Hoa Lu. The site is home to a plethora of temples, pagodas, and shrines that reflect the architectural style of ancient Vietnamese dynasties. They can explore two main temples: Dinh Tien Hoang Temple and Le Dai Hanh Temple. They were built to commemorate the Dinh and Le emperors. The temples feature intricate wood carvings, stone statues, and ancient inscriptions. That provides tourists with a glimpse into the fascinating history of Vietnam.


2. Second Stop of Ninh Binh itinerary: Tam Coc

After spending a wonderful time in Hoa Lu, head to Tam Coc. A must-see famous tourist destination in the Ninh Binh itinerary. Thanks to its glorious scenery, it is also known as “Ha Long Bay on land“. Here, visitors can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Vietnam and explore the local culture and history. Its location is perfect for a Ninh Binh day trip itinerary. Thus, visitors can easily depart from the capital Hanoi. Taking a traditional sampan boat ride down the Ngo Dong River is a good idea. The boat ride takes you through the winding river, passing by lush rice paddies, towering cliffs, and tranquil villages. The duration of the boat ride is approximately two hours, and it is a must-do experience in the Ninh Binh itinerary.

Besides its natural beauty, Tam Coc is also known for its biodiversity. The area is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including many rare and endangered species. Visitors can go bird watching or explore the nearby Van Long Nature Reserve, which protects many unique species of flora and fauna.

Tam Coc Ninh Binh is also known for its delicious local cuisine. The area is famous for its rice dishes, such as com chay (burned rice) and xoi (sticky rice), which are made by traditional methods passed down through generations. Visitors can also try local delicacies, such as goat meat, mountain snails, and fish dishes, which are cooked with aromatic herbs and spices unique to the region. It should be on the bucket list of every visitors’ Ninh Binh itinerary.

3. Third Stop: Bich Dong Pagoda

The next destination in the Ninh Binh itinerary is Bich Dong Pagoda. A beautiful temple complex is situated at the foot of a mountain. Bich Dong Pagoda was built in the early 18th century, during the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty. The pagoda was constructed on three levels: the lower pagoda, the middle pagoda, and the upper pagoda. The name “Bich Dong” means “Green Pearl Cave” in Vietnamese. It was given because the pagoda is built in a pleasant natural environment, surrounded by ponds, caves, and mountain views. Hence, it is creating a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for the Ninh Binh day trip itinerary. Then, take a walk around the complex, climb the steep stairs to the pagoda, and explore the serene surroundings.

Bich Dong Pagoda is not only a place of religious significance but also a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the pagoda complex on foot, taking in the stunning natural scenery and the impressive architecture of the temples. The first level of the pagoda complex is surrounded by a garden, where visitors can relax and enjoy the tranquility of the area. The garden has grown many exotic plants and flowers, adding to the beauty of the pagoda. Visitors can also climb to the second and third levels of the pagoda complex, where they can admire the stunning views of the surrounding countryside during the Ninh Binh itinerary. The area is known for its natural beauty, with limestone formations and lush vegetation creating a stunning backdrop for the pagoda complex.


4. Fourth Stop: Phat Diem Cathedral

Finally, head to Phat Diem Cathedral, an ideal site to end your Ninh Binh day trip itinerary. It is a particular religious site that integrates Catholic and Vietnamese architectural styles. Built-in the late 19th century, the cathedral highlights a combination of Western and Eastern elements, including a bell tower, a church, and a pagoda. The cathedral is built entirely of stone and features a unique design that incorporates elements of Vietnamese architecture such as a curved roof and multi-tiered eaves. The interior of the cathedral is equally impressive, with 50 stone pillars supporting the vaulted ceiling. Which is decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible and Vietnamese folklore.

Another notable feature of the complex is the bell tower, which is over 25 meters tall and has a distinctive octagonal shape. It is a must-visit point in the Ninh Binh itinerary. The tower houses four large bells, the largest of which weighs over 2,000 kilograms. Apart from its religious significance, Phat Diem Cathedral also has historical importance. During the Vietnam War, the cathedral was used as a hiding place for locals seeking refuge from the conflict. Take time to explore the complex and appreciate the unique mix of cultures. Phat Diem Cathedral is a remarkable achievement in Vietnamese architecture and history, and it deserves a spot on every traveler’s bucket list.

The cathedral is open to visitors every day from 7 am to 5 pm, suitable for Ninh Binh’s one-day itinerary. Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to make a donation to help with the upkeep of the cathedral. When visiting Phat Diem Cathedral, it is important to dress modestly and respectfully. Visitors should also be mindful of their behavior and avoid making loud noises or taking photos during Mass or other religious ceremonies.

5. Tips for Your Ninh Binh Day Trip

It is recommended to start your Ninh Binh itinerary day trip early in the morning to make the most of your day. In addition, you should wear comfortable shoes and clothing for walking and climbing stairs. Sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water are essential for a long day’s journey. Take into account hiring a local guide to learn more about the history and culture of the area. Lastly, do not forget to try local cuisines, such as goat meat, eel, and rice dishes. There are so many options from the local markets to restaurants for your reference. You can indulge in these delightful dishes and experience the authentic flavors of Ninh Binh.

When planning your Ninh Binh itinerary, consider the weather and the best time to visit. The region has a tropical climate, with hot and humid summers and cool winters. The months of April to June and September to November are generally considered the best times to explore Ninh Binh. During these periods, the weather is pleasant, and you can avoid the crowds that flock to the area during peak tourist seasons.

Ninh Binh is a hidden gem of Vietnam that is worth visiting. A day trip is an ideal way to explore the area. However, you can also combine the Hanoi Ha Long Bay Ninh Binh itinerary together. By following our Ninh Binh itinerary, you will be able to see the highlights of the region in a single day and do not forget our tips to have a valuable experience there.

If you are into Asia you can read about 6 varieties of Asian cuisine. Find out more by visiting the official Vietnam tourism page and Ninh Binh’s Department of Tourism.