Click through this guide to check out the best things to do in Ninh Binh Vietnam, including where to stay, how to get around, the best restaurants, and even our exact itinerary!
If you don’t have a motorbike, the easiest way to get to Tam Coc is to take the train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Arrange a pickup from the Ninh Binh train station with your homestay/hostel or call a Grab (Vietnam’s Uber) upon arrival. There will also be taxi’s waiting at the train station but they probably won’t give you the best rates. Make sure to take out cash in Ninh Binh or Hanoi before getting to Tam Coc as ATMs are hard to find in Tam Coc.
Our biggest piece of advice when visiting Vietnam’s Ninh Binh Province is to stay in Tam Coc instead of Ninh Binh. Ninh Binh City is very hectic, so if you’re looking to escape the city for a nice getaway Tam Coc is the place to be! There are plenty of homestays, hostels, restaurants, in Tam Coc, and it’s surrounded by gorgeous mountains, rice paddies, and lakes. Look for homestays with included breakfast, bike rentals, and whatever else you prefer on booking.com. We chose the Tam Coc Westlake Homestay which was great!
Hang Mua Caves
Skip the actual caves and climb all the steps to the top. This is by far the most beautiful spot in the area! Go for sunset if possible, but make sure to get back down to the bottom before it gets dark so you can make your way back to Tam Coc on your bicycle or motorbike!
Thung Nham Bird Park
Beautiful and peaceful park near Tam Coc where you can take a relaxing boat ride.
Trang An Grottoes
Opt for this boat tour instead of the Tam Coc Boat Tour, which is super touristy and the boat drivers try to pressure you into buying them food at the end of your ride. The Trang An Grottoes tour takes you through a series of really cool caves, stops at some temples, and even takes you on the movie set of King Kong. It’s super relaxing and beautiful to be on the water!
Bai Dinh Pagoda
This is the biggest temple complex in Southeast Asia!
Bich Dong Pagoda
Visit this beautiful temple complex built into the side of the cliffs.
This historical spot in Ninh Binh is well-known because it used to be Vietnam’s capital, but we skipped it as we heard there wasn’t much to see unless you are interested in historical ruins.
Ever heard of those Ninh Binh rice fields? Well they are everywhere surrounding Tam Coc! Rent bicycles from your homestay or go for a nice long walk and wander through the rice paddies, which are especially beautiful at golden hour right before sunset.
Our favorite! They have great burgers, pizza, and local beer and the atmosphere is super chill.
Eat-in or takeaway Indian restaurant, popular with backpackers who want a break from Vietnamese food!
This spot on the main road of Tam Coc’s town has amazing pho bo (beef pho).
Bamboo Bar & Restaurant
This place has a big menu with lots of options! Great coffee as well.
Hoa Luan Hostel
This place serves up super cheap Vietnamese food in ENORMOUS portions.
Go here if you’re in the mood for some traditional local food (you will definitely see some goat on the menu!).
Bikes are a great option for staying in Tam Coc! When riding anywhere make sure you enter the “driving” directions into your GPS instead of the “walking” route to avoid really rough backroads. You can rent bikes for 50,000 VND/day which is $2.15 USD.
The roads all around the Ninh Binh Province are super wide and perfectly paved with not much traffic, so it would be an ideal place to rent a motorbike for the first time if you’re like us and avoided it in the more crowded cities! We stuck to biking and walking instead of renting a motorbike, but you can rent them for 100,000 VND/day which is $4.29 USD.
We could have done and seen many more things in the time we were in Ninh Binh, but chose not to pack our days full of sightseeing to give us some time to relax and enjoy the scenery. I’d recommend spending at least two full days in Ninh Binh to make the most of it, but there are plenty of things to do and see if you wanted to do a longer stay!
- Took the late afternoon train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
- Got picked up by our homestay host at the Ninh Binh train station
- Checked into Westlake Homestay Tam Coc
- Walked from the homestay into Tam Coc’s town (about 5 minutes) and ate dinner
- Ate breakfast at the homestay
- Rented bicycles from the homestay and rode through the rice paddies and out to the Trang An Grottoes River Cruise
- Took a 2.5-3 hour river cruise stopping at 4 caves, 3 temples, and the movie set for King Kong
- Biked over to Hang Mua Caves
- Climbed the 500 steps up to the top of Hang Mua and watched the sunset
- Climbed back down and biked back to our homestay
- Walked into town again to eat dinner
- Ate breakfast at the homestay
- Walked over to Bich Dong Pagoda from our homestay (about 25 minutes)
- Walked through the rice paddies on the way back to Tam Coc
- Stopped and got iced coffee in town
- Walked back to the homestay to relax before returning to town again for dinner
- Ate breakfast at the homestay before checking out
- Got a ride from the homestay host back to Ninh Binh train station for our train ride back to Hanoi