Ninh Binh, yet a dried Ha Long Bay of Vietnam, with fairy-tale like places. If you miss the hit, let’s traversing the title Why Ninh Binh must in your bucket list to learn more about the destination.
Apart from memorable experiences: A boat ride on still river along paddy field under the stunned karst monoliths, a bike ride through the village, a walk into historically significant temple or a hike up to some peak will leave you with the amazed feelings and curiosity to carry on, or local touch, Ninh Binh offers more values in terms on culture, nature and history. Most of significant characteristics of Vietnam could be encountered for your wanderlust.
The least touristy attractions of Ninh Binh:
Here are recommendations of less touristy places of Ninh Binh that are definitely worth a drive, hike to conquer.
Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park – The first National Park of Vietnam founded in 1962, of 22,408ha spanning over three provinces – mountainous Hoa Binh Province, Red River delta Ninh Binh Province and Thanh Hoa Province in central part of Vietnam.
Cuc Phuong National Park is a typical tropical rainforest, greenish all year around and homes a great population of fauna and flora. Best time to visit Cuc Phuong National Park is from Dec to May; especially between April and May, the national park is beguiling with flying butterflies.
A day trip to Cuc Phuong National Park will bring a glimpse of the place but certainly a wonderful experience. Adventurous and natural lovers could spend longer from 2 – 4 days in the jungle.
Main things to do in Cuc Phuong National Park are trekking through forest trails to admire colorful and variable plants and wildlife, ride the bike in the greenish and fresh area, visit endanger rescue center or reservation center (turtle, languor, Pangolin, deer, etc.), hike up to limestone cave, visit plant garden, bird watching, overnight camping, visiting a minority village and so on.
Thung Nham Bird Garden
Thung Nham, Ninh Binh is a serene area of mountains, caves and rivers, and also nest dozen bird species such as stork and some endanger birds.
You can stroll around the area and visit a couple of surrounding caves like Mermaid Cave, Underwater Palace, Three Girl Cave, etc., walk through a part of forest. Then, late afternoon, take a 30-minute boat trip to watch the bird flocks returning to their nestle place after a full day.
The best time to visit Thung Nham and seeing bird is Autumn when the birds return to their home earlier.
Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve
Van Long Nature Reserve, Ninh Binh is the largest wetland in northern Vietnam of 3,000 ha. Comparing to other main spots in Ninh Binh, Van Long a waterlogged wetland bears similar characteristic of topography, but at bigger scale. In contrast, Van Long is primitive and much less touristy.
Taking 1.5-hour boat ride, you will have chance to admire the picturesque and tranquil nature of karst pinnacles, river with swaying reeds in the water and reeds on the banks.
Above all, Van Long wetland is granted with a diversify biosystem. It homes over 40 species of Delacour’s Langur; and is the shelter of thousands bird flocks like storks, gray herons, or teal birds. It’s highly recommended to take the boat trip late afternoon so that you could endowed to the party who hustle going home after a day away.
Phat Diem Stone Cathedral
Phat Diem Cathedral, Ninh Binh, app. 125km from Hanoi, is a cathedral with the most unique architecture in Vietnam – the mixture of Western gothic and Vietnamese double layered curved roofs.
The church complex is constructed by granite blocks and ironwood/ jackfruit wood pillars and decorations. Every tasteful and meaningful designs, carving and patterns contribute to the church’s uniqueness that took 10 years to collect and gather materials then 24 more years to complete the site. This shows a strong religious devotion but never forget the Vietnamese origin by included a lot of oriental factors.
Located on Tuong Mountain Range, of around 200m higher than the ground, Thien Ha Cave, Ninh Binh was discover lately in 2007 with a system of dried and underwater caves which are enchanting and untouched. The stalagmite and stalactite in the cave are glittering when shined by torch light, then local people name it Galaxy Cave.
Thien Ha Cave, 700m, is comprised of dried part (200m long) and water cave (500m long). The boat ride in water cave is gentle and noiseless but with paddle rowing sound adventurous. Faint lights is just enough for you to see the water surface as mirror of the ceiling with stalagmite falling down. Walk up to the dried cave is enjoyable with green landscape bringing the traveler close to nature.
Besides the main cave, it’s possible to stop at Thien Thanh Cave and But water grottos. The total visit last around 2 hours. Afterward, a biking trip to surrounding countryside could be done to see the local life.
Kim Son Sedge Mat handicraft Village
Kim Son Sedge Mat, Ninh Binh is a handicraft village making sedge mat up to 200 years, located around 125km from Hanoi, in the same district with Phat Diem Cathedral. The mud land, though have been renovate into living land and agriculture developing, still is a perfect land for the utmost grow of sedge plants which naturally expand. The villagers partly keep cultivate the plant and constantly make traditional and creatively patterned mats and household amenities.
Coming here, you will visit the sedge field, learn techniques that craftsmen produce the mats, glue spray, color and dry the products.
Visiting the area on sunny days, you will find variable sedge made products exposed under sun light to get dried.
With its reputation, Kim Son Sedge mat has been exported to around 40 countries in the world as high-quality products.