Only two and a half hour's drive from Hanoi, northern Ninh Binh province is gradually becoming a popular region, primarily for its natural beauty, rich historical import, and tapestry of hilltribes, including Kinh, Muong, and Hmong. Here is Vietnam's "holy land," with over one thousand monuments (including Trang An famous karst landscape of Vietnam's first kingdom, Hoa Lu. During the winter months, it makes a pleasant alternative to the mroe arduos journey to Sapa.
Besides Ninh Binh's astonishing natural resources include Tam Coc, Cuc Phuong National Forest, Van Long natural wetland reserve, and Kenh Ga. Ninh Binh's topography features wetlands, primitive rain forest, coastal delta, hills and karst scenery. Ninh Binh is also endowed with numerous historical relics dating back to the Dinh, Early Le, Ly and Tran dynasties from the 10th-13th century. Annually, Ninh Binh has many traditional festivals reflecting the unique cultural identities of Red river delta villages, including the Hmong.
Culture and spirituality is strong in Ninh Binh, a sacred land that was the former capital of three feudal dynasties, associated with major shifts in the history of the nation and the convergence and the development of many religions, especially Buddhism and Christianity, leaving a legacy of religious buildings architectural cultural value. Ninh Binh features traditional craft villages, such as Van Lam embroidery village, Ninh Van stone carving village (Hoa Lu), Kim Son sedge village, where locals restore and develop the art of xam, cheo, and folk dishes.
Below are primary places of interest in Ninh Binh.
Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park the largest and first national park of Vietnam, and the most important sites for biodiversity within the country. Cuc Phuong is home to an amazing diversity of flora and fauna with over 2,000 species of vascular plants; multi-layered jungle canopy; trees up to 70 meters in height; flowers, including, orchids; ferns with amazingly tall leaves; and an abundance of liane and cauliflory. The park also contains plants used for such practicalities as spices and medicines as well as edible fruits, nuts, and shoots. Inhabitants of the park include 97 species of mammals, most notable endangered languors; 300 species of birds; 36 reptilian species; 17 species of amphibians; 11 species of fish; and thousands of species of insects. A number of species in the park are listed on Vietnam Red Book of endangered species.
Primates in the park include macaques, gibbon, Francois' Leaf Monkey and slow loris. Other mammals including bats, porcupine, flying squirrel, small striped squirrel, belly-banded squirrel, and the rare Black Giant Squirrel. In the past the park was home to Asiatic Black Bears, wild dogs, and tiger, but over hunting and lack of prey have most led to the loss of these species. Leopard, clouded leopard and jungle cat may still be present in the park. Bird species include Bar-backed Partridge, Scaly-breasted Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Red Junglefowl, Grey Peacock Pheasant, Laughing Thrushes, Red-vented Barbet, Green-eared Barbet, Scimitar-billed Babblers, Brown Hawk Owl, Scarlet Minivet, Racket-tailed Drongos, Racket-tailed Treepie, White-winged Blue Magpie. Migrant species include thrushes, flycatchers, tits, finches, pipits amongst others. Hornbills can also be spotted in the forest. An endemic sub-species of sub-terranic cave fish is also located in the park.
Excellent hiking opportunities abound in the park and we'll visit Endangered Primate Rescue center where some native animals – deer, monkeys, civets, gibbons & languors and another short trail leads to a steep stairway up to the archaeologically significant cave of Prehistoric man, after that walk to the massive thousand year-old “Big Tree” (Tetrameles Nudiflora). Exploration of Cuc Phuong's many limestone caves is a highlight of the park and in early in the morning you can hear bird songs echoing into the caves.
Bai Dinh Spiritual and Cultural Complex:
This Buddhist pagoda complex in Bai Dinh Mountain consists of an ancient and new temple area, which is almost constructed, covering a sprawling 80 hectacres.. This is the largest complex of Buddhist pagodas in Vietnam and a popular site for Buddhist pilgrims across Vietnam.
Thai Vi Temple
Located to the West of Van Lam Hamlet, Thai Vi Temple was built to worship four generations of Kings: Tran, Tran Thai Tong, Tran Thanh Tong, Tran Nhan Tong, and Tran Anh Tong. According to the history, Thai Vi Temple was built during Tran Dynasty follow the internal attack with outside support.
The Interior temples with spacious rooms are decorated very meticulously. Many of the stone pillars in round or square are carved on with parallel sentences and many shapes such as dragons, phoenixes, unicorn, turtle and the image of cam, ky, thi, hoa (music, chess, poetry, painting - regarded as the four amusements or accomplishments of a "feudal intellectual," or Mandarin).
Every year, Thai Vi Temple Festival takes place on the 14th day of the 3rd lunar month. There are activities such as palanquin procession, sacrifice ceremony, human chess playing, wrestling contest, dragon dancing and boat rowing. The temple has long been well known only as a cultural historical relic but also an evidence of the rare stone carving art of Ninh Binh's sculptors.
Van Long Natural Reserve
Van Long Natural Reserve: Covering an area of nearly 3,000 hectacres in seven communes of Gia Vien District, Van Long Nature Reserve has a rich and diverse flora and fauna, including over 45o species of high-class flora, of which eight species have been listed in Vietnam’s Red Book, 39 species of animals including 12 precious and rare species, such as the white-breeched languor, white-collared bear, particularly the belostoma, a precious species of insect that survives in small numbers throughout the world.
However, Van Long Nature Reserve is primarily known for many stunning caves and grottoes, such as the Ca Grotto and Rua, Chanh and Bong Caves, with images of rural girls rowing simple bamboo boats with poles, and ox carts meandering through and around villages.
Here is an ideal place witness local life in Vietnam where not much has changed in hundreds of years.
Kenh Ga Floating Village
The Fishing Village of Kenh Ga (Chicken canal) gets its name, apparently, from the number of wild chickens that used to live here. That riverine way of life is attractive here, the local people seem to spend most of their lives on the water: watching over their floating fish breeding pens, harvesting river grass for fish feed or selling crops boat-to-boat. The river used for everything from bathing, to washing plucked chickens. Oddly, like Inle Lake in Myanmar, here people row boats with their feet.
The village is accessible only by boat. Gliding along the river and canals, weaving one's way through the boathouses and fishing vessels of Kenh Ga is a unique experience for there is no other place in Vietnam that combines the stunning backdrop of the limestone cliffs with an authentic floating village.
We can combine pleasant boating with mountain biking, taking in the scenes of locals fishing, children rowing boats to school, simple houses clinging to limestone cliffs along the canal.
Tam Coc - Bich Dong:
Located in the Ngu Nhac Son Mountains, Hoa Lu District, it is a grandiose complex of Bich Dong pagoda and Tam Coc grotto. Tam Coc on the rice paddies bears a striking resemblance to Guilin and Yangshuo in China. Tam Coc has huge rock formation jutting out of rice fields. Tam Coc means “Three Caves”. Bich Dong is the most second beautiful pagoda of Vietnam, after Perfume Pagoda. It is a couple of kilometers north of Tam Coc. The Lower Pagoda is located at the foot of the outcrop from which it is a climb of about 100 steps to the Middle pagoda, then a shorter way to the Upper pagoda. Inside each cave temple, looming statues and the smoke of burning incense create a holy atmosphere.
Here one can enjoy a pure, natural and fresh atmosphere of the mystical landscape of Ha Long bay-on-land on the rice field where it is adorned itself with traditional culture, antique pagoda, mountains, water, rivers and wild wetland and more.
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is the tourist destination, which will bring you to a few imperial capitals of the country in the ancient and medieval eras. Visiting Hoa Lu, you will not only have a fun and exciting time, but can learn more about culture and history as well.
The mountains and sea combined to make Hoa Lu’s picturesque landscape. Hoa Lu lies in a flat valley surrounded by the Trang An lime stone mountain, which form a natural wall protecting the old citadel. The Hoang Long River borders the city’s northwest, the tributaries of which run through the capital, cooling the weather within the city and serving as convenient waterways. This small Kingdom covered an area of only 300 hectares, and reigned from the 10th century, during the Dinh and Le dynasties, to the 11th century, during the Ly Dynasty. The citadel and the Yen Ngua limestone hills provided good defense for this kingdom against the Chinese.
As the capital of the country for 41 years, Hoa Lu has many palaces, pagodas, tombs and pavilions that were built by different dynasties. One of the most popular pieces of architecture is the Bao Thien Tue Palace, which was plated with gold and silver. However many vestiges have been destroyed due to time and weather.
Our Resort Ninh Binh is located near Van Long Natural Serves in Gia Vien District. It takes only 90 kilometers from Hanoi; tourists will find a more leisurely pace of living. This property provides you unlimited relaxation stay with a sense of privacy, modern and comfortable along with the traditional Vietnamese village style. The resort also provides spaciously arranged rooms where guests can relax on private terrace with the peaceful garden scene.
The hotel is an ideal place for business meeting, international conferences and the team building sessions, which offers the convenient technology and modern audiovisual equipment.
Facilities include spa, fitness center as well as swimming pool. This hotel offers good dinning choices at restaurants with a variety of healthy international menus and Vietnamese cuisine.
When to go?
Ninh Binh can be cool and cloudy, much like Halong Bay, from after Christmas until the beginning of March dipping into the low 60s or 17 Celsius (though Sapa can be at or below freezing during these months), and it if sunshine is paramount on your trip, we recommend heading south to Hoi An on the central coast. For sunshine, Ninh Binh is best to visit from March through June and even warmer July. September can be rainy, although not everyday.
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