4/ Bai Dinh Pagoda
The compound consists of the original old temple and a newly created larger temple. I have to admit this was one of the more pleasant pagoda sights and it was really beautiful to stroll around early morning.
If the size of this masterpiece looks intimidating and tiring to explore, they do offer golf buggies to take you to the main gate and back for 60,000 VND, $2.60 USD.
Tip: Head here in the morning, before the day-trippers all arrive by the bus loads from Hanoi and don’t forget to climb to the top of the Buddha statue on the hill. It’s an easy climb with yet another great view
Cost: Free – unless you walk to the top of the pagoda (50,000 VND/$2 USD).
- Don’t base yourself in Ninh Binh Town, there’s no appeal to visit or stay here. Instead, stay in or around the Tam Coc area.
- Ninh Binh is best explored by motorbike or bicycle. The roads are flat and wide which also makes it the best place to learn to ride a motorbike (unfortunate if it is the last place on your itinerary).
- There are no ATMs in Tam Coc. If you’re in need of cash, you’ll need to go to Ninh Binh city which is 7km away to withdraw money.
- If you’re staying at a decent home stay, chances are the food there is better than in the restaurants. There’s nothing to write home about for restaurants in Ninh Binh.
- The easiest way to reach Ninh Binh is by bus from Hanoi. On either the local bus from Giap Bat, south of the city Local bus tickets will cost 70,000 – 90,000 VND ($3 USD) OR a tourist bus for $10 USD which will pick you up from your hotel. The bus ride will take 2 hours approx.
- Trains run to Ninh Binh from Hue, Da Nang, Dong Hoi and Hanoi. You can see the schedule and book tickets here.
- If you’re coming from Halong Bay or Cat Ba, there are direct buses to Ninh Binh so no need to venture through Hanoi.
- If your schedule allows it, stay at least 1 night, 2 if you can! It’s such a unique, peaceful destination really worth exploring, slowly.
- Google doesn’t always place the right location on the map so ask your hotel for a map or directions before setting off to visit the sights.
Ninh Binh was one of, if not our favourite destination, in the whole of Vietnam. If you want to experience the “real” Vietnam, jump on a bus or a train and head here stat, before it becomes overrun with tourists. It won’t take long to feel like you’re a tiny ant in one giant movie set.
So there you have it, a few tips for one of the coolest places in Vietnam. Let us know if you have anything else to add! We’d love to hear if you’ve been here before!
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