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Destinations, Ninh Binh, Vietnam

2024 Review Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi: Itinerary & Tips

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As it takes about 1.5-2 hours to travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh by bus or train, it’s evident that Ninh Binh is one of the best options for a day trip from Hanoi. 

Speaking from my experience, I have traveled between these two destinations countless times. I used to study and work in Hanoi for five years, and Ninh Binh is my dad’s hometown. So, if you ask me how many times I’ve been to Ninh Binh, I’m sorry, I dunno.

But what I do know is how to organize the best Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi :D, and I would like to share that in this post.

After reading this post, you will know exactly how to go from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, the best attractions to visit, and the perfect itinerary for your Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi.

DISCLOSURE: My articles may contain affiliate links. To click on those links, you won’t be charged any extra cost, instead, you help me to get some small commissions to maintain my blog. Thanks for understanding!

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Trang An Wharf (source: FB Khanh Van)

1. How to get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh?

For a self-organized Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi, there are various ways to travel between Hanoi and Ninh Binh, such as by limousine, train, private car charter, or motorbike.

  • A private car charter is the easiest and most convenient way to take a Ninh Binh day trip. If you share the cost with three people or more, it can be just $3 more expensive per person per way than a limousine or train. Check out this reliable operator to book a car at a cheap price: this link.
  • Besides, taking a limousine is also a commonly chosen option among tourists. However, you might need to consider several drawbacks. Firstly, limousines are often delayed, possibly by an hour more or less. Secondly, you will have to change vehicles three times in this two-hour trip. Thirdly, drivers can’t speak English, and they drive quite fast. If any misunderstanding happens between you and the driver, your Ninh Binh day trip could end up very unpleasant. 
  • Alternatively, traveling from Hanoi to Ninh Binh by train is a much better choice. Even though the train can be old and loud, it’s safe and on time. Train tickets can be purchased online via this link or at the counter. For a step-by-step guide on how to take a train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, read this post.
  • Lastly, the cheapest way is to drive a motorbike. It costs about 150.000-200,000 VND to rent a motorbike in Hanoi and about 50,000 VND for petrol. But it’s not for everyone. Driving in Vietnam is only recommended for experienced motorbike riders; if you are not, forget it!

If you don’t want to organize the day trip by yourself, you can also join a Ninh Binh day tour from Hanoi, which costs only about 850,000 VND per person (equivalent to $35 USD). 

Here is a great company that I highly recommend: Click here. This tour takes you to Hoa Lu, Trang An, and Hang Mua—three of the most famous and beautiful attractions in Ninh Binh. It includes lunch, transportation, admission tickets, a tour guide, and a bottle of water. For less than $35 USD, it’s such a good deal.

 💡 Promo code: enter code DL6KGF to get 5 USD OFF.

 💡 Tip: Try to avoid visiting Ninh Binh during the Lunar New Year; it’s the time when many local tourists flock to Ninh Binh to visit Bai Dinh Pagoda and other attractions here.

2. How to get around Ninh Binh?

If you join a tour, all transportation is included in the Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi. Check out this tour operator to get the best price.

If you go to Ninh Binh by yourself, then a motorbike or a Grab car/taxi are the most common ways to get around.

Motorbike

Renting a motorbike in Ninh Binh costs around 100,000-200,000 VND. If you take a train, I recommend this rental shop – Motorbike Rental Viet Dung. It’s located within walking distance from the railway station and offers affordable prices.

For solo travelers, you can book a Grab bike through the Grab app. Besides the car-hailing service, it provides a ride-hailing service as well (motorbike taxi), and the prices are very affordable.

Grab car/taxi

Additionally, Grab car/taxi is an easier option. You can download the Grab app to book a car via this link

If you prefer a taxi, choose reliable taxi brands such as Mai Linh Taxi, Group Taxi, etc.

3. Famous places to visit in Ninh Binh 

There are several places to visit in Ninh Binh, and some of them may take up to 3 hours to explore. Therefore, for a Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi, it’s ideal to visit about 3-4 attractions. Below are some beautiful places you can explore.

Mua Cave (Hang Mua)

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Mua Cave Viewpoint (source: FB Nguyen Xuan Binh)

Mua Cave is situated 5 km north of Tam Coc Village Center in the Ninh Binh region. There are two main things to see here: Mua Cave Viewpoint and the lotus pond.

The Mua Cave Viewpoint is one of the best locations to enjoy magnificent bird’s-eye views of Ninh Binh. To reach the viewpoint, you need to climb approximately 500 stairs to the top of Ngoa Long mountain, where a small shrine is located. This climb takes around 30-40 minutes.

Additionally, Mua Cave is renowned for its vast and beautiful lotus pond. The best time to visit the pond is from May to July, the blooming season of lotus.

  • Opening hours: 7 AM – 7 PM, daily
  • Entrance fee: 100.000 VND
  • Parking: 10.000 VND/motorbike
  • Total visiting time: 2 hours

Trang An boat ride

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Trang An Wharf (source: FB Khanh Van)

It’s been many years, but I can’t forget my boat trip in Trang An, which took me through beautiful scenery like limestone mountains, caves, rivers, and temples. It was so relaxing and enjoyable.

Many boats depart every day from the Trang An Wharf. You need to buy tickets at the counter and then proceed to the wharf to choose your boat. There are 3 different boat routes in Trang An, and you should tell the boat rower which one you want to take when boarding.

It’s said that Route 3 is the most beautiful one, taking you through Dot Cave (the longest cave in Trang An). 

 💡 Pro tips:

1. Wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees because there are several temples in Trang An.

2. If you want to avoid the crowd, go there before 8 AM. By around 8:30 AM, the place starts to fill up with people.

3. Each boat carries four people. If you are a solo traveler, you should join others or pay for a private boat for 1,250,000 VND.

  • Opening hours: 7 AM – 4 PM, daily
  • Boat ride: 250.000 VND/adult, 120.000 VND/child
  • Parking: 40.000 VND/car, 20.000 VND/scooter, 10.000 VND/bike
  • Total visiting time: 3-4 hours
  • Tourguide (optional): 300.000 VND

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Tam Coc boat ride

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Sunny day at Tam Coc

Tam Coc provides a somewhat similar experience to Trang An. You will also take a boat trip through limestone karsts and caves. However, the trip is shorter (about 2 hours and 30 minutes) because the area is smaller.

The unique feature of Tam Coc is the rice fields along the waterways (from March to June). Meanwhile, there are no rice fields in Trang An.

I recommend experiencing either Tam Coc or Trang An. If you have time, go for Trang An. If you don’t, then opt for Tam Coc.

 💡 Note: The one thing I don’t like about Tam Coc is that the boat rowers would ask for tips directly. 

  • Opening hours: 7:30 AM – 5 PM, daily
  • Entrance fee: 120.000 VND/adult, 60.000 VND/child
  • Boat ride: 150.000 VND/boat, Each boat can accommodate a maximum of 4 Vietnamese or 2 foreign tourists
  • Parking: 10.000 VND/motorbike
  • Total visiting time: 2 hours and 30 mins

Bich Dong Pagoda

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Bich Dong Pagoda (source:FB Thanh Huyen)

Bich Dong Pagoda is an ancient pagoda built on the Truong Yen mountain range in Ninh Hai commune, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh province. This pagoda belongs to the Tam Coc – Bich Dong complex and it was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site as a cultural and historical relic.

Originally named ‘Bach Ngoc Thach Son Dong,’ meaning a beautiful and pure stone pagoda in the deep mountains and valleys, the pagoda was renamed Bich Dong Pagoda in 1774 by Lord Trinh Sam during his visit.

Inside the pagoda, there are three prayer halls: Chua Ha, Chua Trung, and Chua Thuong.  From Chua Ha, you need to climb 120 steps to reach Chua Trung and then climb an additional 40 steps to reach Chua Thuong.

  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Parking: Free (though a local might ask for 10,000 VND for parking if you leave your bike unattended)
  • Total visiting time: 2 hours

Other attractions to visit in Ninh Binh

All the above attractions are relatively close to each other, taking within 15 minutes to drive from one place to another.

Additionally, you can explore other places in Ninh Binh as listed below:

  • Bai Dinh Pagoda: one of the largest Buddhist Pagoda Complexes in Southeast Asia
  • Hoa Lu Ancient Capital: the old capital of Vietnam before 1010 with many preserved historic temples
  • Tuyet Tinh Coc: a serene jade-colored pond surrounded by massive limestone mountains
  • Thung Nham Bird Park: a vast park featuring a diverse range of bird species, tranquil lakes, towering karst cliffs, and stunning natural landscapes.
  • Cuc Phuong National Park: Vietnam’s first national park, offering a diverse array of flora and fauna, ancient caves, and impressive limestone formations.
  • Van Long Lagoon: a hidden gem that also offers boat rides through limestone mountains and rice fields. It is home to several rare species, such as the Bonelli eagle, langur monkey, and black-faced spoonbill.

4. Where to eat in Ninh Binh?

When talking about Ninh Binh, the first things that come to my mind are all the delicious mountain goat dishes. There are various ways to prepare goat meat in Ninh Binh, such as stir-frying, grilling, steamboat, etc. And I love them all.

You can find plenty of restaurants offering goat meat dishes. My recommendation is Family Restaurant in Tam Coc. This restaurant offers friendly service, reasonable prices, and tasty food.

Besides, Ninh Binh is also famous for Rice Crust (Com Chay) — a crunchy, round piece of deep-fried rice that serves as a popular local delicacy. You can buy 1-2 packs as souvenirs for friends and family, though honestly, I don’t think foreigners would like it 😀 because it tastes pretty bland.

5. Travel expenses for a Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi

For a Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi, you should budget around 700,000-1,000,000 VND for a self-organized excursion. Below is the cost breakdown for the entire trip:

  • Transportation from Hanoi to Ninh Binh: Approximately 200,000-250,000 VND per person by bus or train (including taxi from/to the pick-up and drop-off point).
  • Lunch: Around 150,000-200,000 VND per person for local delicacy dishes in a local restaurant. If you opt for something like Pho or Banh Mi, expect to pay around 50,000-70,000 VND per person.
  • Transportation around Ninh Binh: 120,000-150,000 VND
  • Attraction tickets: 300,000-500,000 VND for 2-4 attractions.

Depending on your preferences, you can further minimize costs by traveling by motorbike, choosing Banh Mi for lunch, visiting free attractions, etc.

Besides, if you want peace of mind, consider taking a Ninh Binh day tour from Hanoi instead. It’s convenient, affordable (about 800,000 VND/person), and includes everything, such as hotel pick-up, lunch, an English-speaking tour guide, attraction tickets, and transportation. 

To book the tour, one of the best companies to go for is This company(enter code DL6KGF to get 5 USD OFF).

6. Itinerary for a Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi

Here is the recommended itinerary for your Ninh Binh excursion:

  • 6:30-7:00: Depart from Hanoi
  • 8:30: Arrive at Trang An Wharf, buy tickets, and board the boat. Enjoy the 3-hour boat trip.
  • 12:00: Visit Bich Dong Pagoda
  • 13:00: Have lunch at Family Restaurant
  • 14:00: Climb 500 steps to the Mua Cave Viewpoint
  • 15:30: Admire Bai Dinh Pagoda or Hoa Lu Ancient Capital.
  • 17:30: Go back to Hanoi

To conclude, Ninh Binh is an ideal destination for a day trip from Hanoi, located just within a 2-hour drive from the capital. The destination offers plenty of tranquil natural scenery as well as long-standing historical attractions. 

I have included all the information needed for your day trip to Ninh Binh, such as how to go from Hanoi, things to do, Ninh Binh day trip itinerary, etc. I hope you find this post about the Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi helpful.

If you have any other questions about Ninh Binh, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment box.

Thanks for reading!

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