Top 10 must-sees at Halong Bay on land
- on Apr 9, 2020       By: BN
Ninh Binh province and its Unesco World Heritage landscaped complex is a destination as captivating as it is unmissable. Ninh Binh has all the natural and cultural assets to make your trip memorable. Make your stay in Ninh Binh a unique experience by following our tips and the 10 things not to be missed.
Top 10 things of Ninh Binh
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This is an essential activity to do to fully appreciate the beauty of the Unesco-listed Trang An landscape complex. Several itineraries on several rivers are offered to you, but it is always the same pleasure, at the slow pace of the sampan, we discover the breath-taking limestone formations covered with vegetation at the feet. The undulating rice fields allow themselves to be peacefully contemplated. As at Tam Coc or Trang An, you will also have the possibility of going on a sampan under impressive rocky cavities.
>> Read more: The exhilarating beauty of the golden harvest at Tam Coc
It is a real pleasure to ride a bike in the countryside of Ninh Binh, especially in the Tam Coc - Trang An - Hoa Lu sector. The magnificent countryside reveals incredible karst formations, superb rice fields extending to the endless, small quiet villages with the typical peasant atmosphere of the Red River Delta and a multitude of temples and pagodas. These surprising landscapes have recently served as the backdrop for the latest King Kong film.
This beautiful countryside is home to a number of pagodas and temples. By bike, you can easily get to Bich Dong Pagoda located in Tam Coc. Also called the Jade Cave, it hosts three small ancient pagodas, built in the early 18th century on three different floors. It served as a backdrop for the Indochina film and is much more modest than the Bai Dinh pagoda, considered to be the great Buddhist centre of Vietnam and also of Southeast Asia. This pagoda impresses visitors with its excess, it also figures in Asian records for the largest bronze Buddha statue set with gold of 100 tonnes and the highest number of stone Arrhat statues, more than 500 statues!
>> Read more: Explore Bich Dong Pagoda in Ninh Binh
Be sure to visit the ancient royal capital of Vietnam between 968 and 1010 under three feudal dynasties: Dinh, Ly and Early Le dynasty. You can admire its historic vestiges like its two temples, one dedicated to the Dinh, the other to the earlier ones, with ancient architecture and refined decoration. From Tam Coc, you can go to Hoa Lu, this is an opportunity to take a very nice walk through the fantastic landscapes of rice fields bristling with limestone formations of Halong Bay on land.
>> Read more: King Dinh and Le Temples in Ninh Binh
Another very nice ride, by boat this time, allows you to discover the typical Kenh Ga village. This place surrounded by the waters of the Hoang Long river is characterized by its aquatic activity which gives it the air of a floating village. You can discover the lake life of this village with its many fishermen who cross the rivers that surround it. Kenh Ga is also known for its hot spring and its therapeutic virtues appreciated by locals and travellers.
For nature lovers and bird lovers, this is a visit that should not be missed. This ecological site is located in a beautiful natural setting between karst peaks and tropical forests, sheltering a rich ecosystem. Within it, you can enjoy the bird garden, home to several species: storks, herons, teals or starlings among the 46 species listed. We advise you to visit this sanctuary at the end of the day when the sun goes down and the birds return to their habitat for the night. The site is home to three beautiful caves that you can visit and a tropical orchard where you can taste several varieties of fruit.
>> Read more: Thung Nham Bird Gardens - Ninh Binh Travel Guide
It takes some effort to climb the 500 steps that lead to the top of Hang Mua or Dance Cave, but your effort will be largely rewarded by a breath-taking panoramic view of the Ngo Dong River, meandering through the karst maze of Tam Coc and the paddy fields infinitely lining the countryside of Halong Bay on land. It’s the most beautiful view of the region which will allow you to fully appreciate the beauty of this Unesco-listed landscaped complex. Hang Mua combines perfectly with the discovery of Hoa Lu since the peak is on the way to the ancient royal capital.
The great speciality of the region is goat meat. Besides, you will meet a number of goats roaming free during your walks in the countryside. We recommend these 3 methods of preparation, each as tasty as the other: goat meat rolls, grilled goat cheese and goat cheese fondue in winter.
Another flagship culinary speciality of the region is Com chay or crispy rice. This crunchy dish consists of rice cooked in the bottom of the pan and then dried in the sun, before being browned in oil. We then add meat and vegetables. What a delight!
>> Read more: Top 7 dishes to taste while travelling to Ninh Binh
The region is the cradle of Vietnamese Catholicism and has the largest concentration of churches in the world. Among all these churches, Phat Diem Cathedral is distinguished by its impressive architectural ensemble made up of a dozen stone and wooden works built in a unique style combining the architecture of Buddhist pagodas and Western churches. Phat Diem Cathedral is the largest Catholic architectural complex in Vietnam and therefore the headquarters of Catholicism in Vietnam.
The Ninh Binh region, although very agricultural and largely oriented towards rice cultivation, is also home to a large number of craft villages perpetuating from generation to generation of ancestral skills. Among the rich craftsmanship that characterises the region, we can notably mention the basketry of the village Kim Son and Van Long, the embroidery of the village Van Lam, the stone sculpture of the village Xuan Vu and the carpentry of Phuc Loc. You can go to one of these villages to appreciate the meticulous work of the craftsmen and at the same time buy some original souvenirs.
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