Being far more compact than most other Vietnamese towns you are likely to visit on your trip, Ninh Binh has a much smaller selection of restaurants and cafes to choose from.
Those on a budget can head to the backpacker area close to the train station for some of the cheapest places in town, many serving western menus. But there are also plenty of excellent options hidden away throughout the town and beyond.
Fried goat is the main local delicacy in the region and can be found on many menus, especially in restaurants outside of the centre of Ninh Binh. It’s worth being a little adventurous and trying this dish as it can often be very tasty.
Trung Tuyet (14 Hoang Hoa Tham; open 8am–10pm) should be on everyone’s list of places to eat. Is it the best place in town? It could be, that would explain why it’s always packed! With meals starting from around VND40,000, this place is hugely popular with travellers due to the price, the huge portions and friendly staff. Plus, sometimes there is even free beer! There’s plenty of vegetarian options here, something that can be difficult to find in a small town, especially in Vietnam.
Veggies say that Chookie’s is the best place to eat in town. It serves a mainly western menu, perfect if you’re feeling homesick and after some comfort food or just cant face any more rice or noodles. Meals start from around VND50,000 but some things on the menu are a little more pricey than elsewhere in town. This restaurant also acts as a travel café so they will be able to arrange any tours or answer any questions you may have. (17 Luong Van Tuy; open 11.3am–9.30pm except Tuesdays).
Bao Anh Restaurant (15 Hoang Hoa Tham; open 7am–10pm) is another hotspot for travellers offering tasty meals and cheap beers. Sometimes, it’s better than cheap, it’s even free! There is also a separate vegetarian menu here, something that is almost unheard of in Vietnam.
Outside of town
Outside of town is Thao Linh Restaurant (Thon Nga 3, Cuc Phuong; open 5am–9pm), a great option for those visiting Cuc Phuong National Park. It’s actually walking distance from the park so you don’t even need to move your car or motorbike. There’s no need to wait until you get back to Ninh Binh to eat, this place is more than adequate! Although there is little on the menu for vegetarians, the staff speak good English and will make almost anything without meat if you ask.
Duclinh Restaurant (Khu Du Lich, Tam Coc) is one of the more expensive restaurants in the area, although restaurants around Tam Coc do tend to be pricier than those in Ninh Binh itself. This is a great place to try the local speciality of fried goat, although the set menus are often better value than ordering off the menu at around VND200,000 for two people.
Drinking & partying in Ninh Binh
Visitors looking to party long into the early hours will, unfortunately, be disappointed in Ninh Binh. Most people here head to bed early to get an early start exploring the countryside, so those looking for nightclubs and bars will have to wait until they reach a bigger town!
There’s some bia hoi stands along the river, where you can sample local, homemade beer which is well worth tasting. The largest place in town offering bia hoi is Trau Vang (Tran Hung Dao) here you can join the locals enjoying meals of fried goat, washed down with a few glasses of homemade beer. Like all bia hoi, make sure you get here early before it sells out. Aside from that, most of the drinking takes place in the restaurants and cafes, which tend to all shut by around midnight.
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