[Vietnam travel guide] Ninh Binh: the landscape of my dreams
Jona Bering's travel guide to northern Vietnam is a 4-part series. Here, she explores peaceful, romantic landscapes of Ninh Binh.
A 3-hour bus ride from Hanoi, Ninh Binh calms the nerves tightened by the chaos of a hyperactive city like Hanoi ([Vietnam travel guide] Hanoi: The chaos and charms of the capital). Northern Vietnam, no doubt, is beautiful; but there is something about Ninh Binh that warms me to no end. All the right elements come into play: the various shades of green, a flock of ducks gliding through the lake, goats grazing on the top of rocky hills,and cows noshing grass by the streets. The rolling hills form a dramatic vista. I’m a romantic, I know. We spent a week in Ninh Binh, motorbiking around and stopping in places we found beautiful. If you haven’t been to this place, here are the usual must-dos.
1. Explore Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex
You can pedal around Trang An. We did not do this, but a lot of tourists do. If you want to take it slow, biking around Trang An is a must. The road is knee-friendly. Nihn Binh has a lot of wetlands and rivers. So aside from pedaling around, don’t miss a boat ride to have a different view of this lovely place.
2. Ride a boat in Tam Coc
It must be the most touristy you can do in Ninh Binh. The view is not as spectacular, but it is not bad trying it all.
3. Climb the stairs above the Mua Caves
To have a birds-eye view of Tam Coc, trek up to the Mua Caves. On one side, you can see a portion of the river cruise, and on the other side, you can see the rice fields sprawling.
4. Rent a motorbike and explore
We did a lot. We did not have an exact destination in mind and simply rode through smaller road, awed by the beauty of this place. It's much easier to get to the smaller paths this way. We even came across a group of free-range goats along the way.
5. Visit Ba Dinh Temple
It is a massive property. You should check out this beautiful place and don’t forget to take the elevator up to the top of the pagoda so you can see the stunning view from the top.
6. Eat goat meat
Ninh Binh is known for its goat meat. Wherever you go, you can see restaurant signs with a picture of goats in it. Goat meat is also sold along the street. Have we tried it? Been meaning to, but embarrassingly, no, we haven’t. – Rappler.com
Jona Branzuela Bering, Palanca awardee and author of the poetry collection Alang sa Nasaag (For the Lost), blogs at Backpacking with a Book. She left her beautiful life in Cebu to pursue her goal of traveling long-term abroad. She’s currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam. Follow her travels on Instagram @travelingjona.