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How To Truly Experience Magical Ninh Binh And Mua Caves In Vietnam

How To Truly Experience Magical Ninh Binh And Mua Caves In Vietnam

Local, scenic, quiet, and waiting for you to discover it for yourself – Ninh Binh is undoubtedly the hidden gem in Northern Vietnam.

The obvious drawcard here is the Mua Caves, and it’s scenic mountain where 500 steps bring you up to one of most iconic views in Vietnam, but trust me: there is a whole lot more to the Ninh Binh region that meets the eyes.

This, however, is not going to be your average list of things to do in Ninh Binh – and there are plenty of attractions and activities to partake in here that didn’t quite make the cut.

things to do in tam coc

To write a norma ‘to-do’ hit list would be to misunderstand the appeal of the Ninh Binh area, a growing eco-tourism region, which is to uniquely experience and immerse yourself in this almost fairytale-like environment – rather than to run around checking boxes all day!

With something to appeal to practically every traveler traversing the must-see attractions of Vietnam, you’d be hard-pressed not to fall in love with Hang Mua Caves in Vietnam, the serene rice fields, and the friendly locals when you visit Ninh Binh.

Thankfully most Vietnam tour companies make a stop here as well …

trang an grottoes tour

Plus, it is easy to get here from Hanoi. Almost too easy… Especially when you use Bookaway – a travel search engine for ground transportation, which enables travelers to find, compare and book tickets online easily. Boasting an outstanding user experience and a 24/7 support team that works closely with local suppliers, you can easily simplify the travel planning process in Vietnam and make travel ticket booking easy.

Of course, it still helps to have some idea of what you’re doing when you arrive here, so I’ve decided to narrow down the top ways you can – and should – experience the magical Ninh Binh And Mua Caves areas: by eating, relaxing, riding and exploring!

Follow these guidelines – and my advice on where to stay in Ninh Binh and pretty soon, this quiet little corner of Vietnam is going to be your favorite too!

Before exploring Vietnam, arrange an eSIM to avoid hefty international roaming fees. Staying connected while traveling is essential, and eSIMs have transformed mobile network access for globetrotters.

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Airalo offers a wide variety of destinations and smaller data bundles, while Holafly has unlimited data packages and excellent EU data deals. Don’t delay; enhance your travel experience with eSIMs for seamless connectivity.

Beautiful People With Dragon Atop Mua Cave Vietnam

How To Truly Experience Magical Ninh Binh And Mua Caves In Vietnam 🇻🇳

Experience Ninh Binh By Cycling Its Quiet Back Roads

If you’ve just come from any city in Vietnam I’m sure you’ll be keen to get a bit of fresh air and what better way than a private cycle trip guided by yourself, right!?

You may see many other tourists hiring scooters, and they’re great if you want to venture to some of the further sights, but there’s a lot of places they can’t go, having to stick to many of the larger roads.

The brilliance of jumping on a bike and getting around under your own steam is that there are so many streets, alleyways, back roads and farm tracks you can explore, not to mention you don’t break the silence with your own bike.

Don’t worry if you’re not the fittest, the whole area around Ninh Binh is entirely flat, meaning it’s an easy cycle anywhere you go.

Hiring A Bike In Ninh Binh / hang múa ninh bình

Though one bit of advice would be, if possible, get yourself a geared bike. For the sake of a couple more dollars, it’ll make things even easier than easy.

One great trail to cycle is the Ninh Binh Valley Homestay loop track (look on a map, and it will make sense), which takes you deep into Ninh Binh valley. One of the favorite things I did with my time there was cycling along the dirt road, rice paddies either side, the reflections of the giant rocks being reflected back at me with no other tourist in sight.

This is no exaggeration; apart from the hardworking ladies in the rice paddies, I saw no one else along my trip.

The most common friends you’ll be making are the friendly cows and water buffalo on the roadside or now, and then you may have to stop as a family of ducks cross ahead of you. There was even a most excitable pig along the way that loved a scratch behind the ears.

A truly unique adventure all of your own…

Landscape Around Hang Mua Ecolodge
Things To Do In Ninh Binh Vietnam
Trang An Grottoes Tour

Experience Relaxing In The Luxurious Hang Mua Ecolodge Amidst Nature

Deciding where to stay in Ninh Binh is complicated – with information on the ground hard to find.

Thankfully after hours of research into all the Tam Coc / Ninh Binh accommodation options, we found the absolute perfect opportunity: the Hang Mua Ecolodge, and after spending a few days here, I am convinced there is no better place to stay in Ninh Binh.

Tucked away under the iconic rocky karst mountains of Vietnam and looking directly at Mua Mountain, the Hang Mua Ecolodge is the perfect place to stay in Ninh Binh for relaxing nature and serenity. Located equal distance from both the famous Tam Coc & Trang An eco-rafting experiences, you can quickly get anywhere from here.

Hang Mua Ecolodge is a short bike trip through lush rice fields and along quiet roads – but you are unlikely to want to leave for long as you’ll soon want to be back to sit on your ecolodge porch looking up at the majestic Mua Mountain at sunset or get hot and steamy in their uber-luxurious outdoor rain shower.

Hang Mua Ecolodge Outdoor Shower - where to stay in ninh binh

Surprisingly affordable and exceeding all expectations, you will love everything from the friendly staff and delicious included breakfast with both Vietnamese and Western options to the comfortable beds, fast WiFi, and smell of lemongrass-infused throughout your room.

Being part of the Mua Caves means you will save on entry and can visit anytime you want – sunrise, sunset or just because the weather is clearing (and we popped up three different times on our stay as we just could not get enough!),

Add to all this a delicious on-site restaurant where everybody socializes at night over drinks, local food (the set menu is incredible and offers plenty of tasting options), and just general laid-back pace of life, and there is no reason to consider any other accommodation in Ninh Binh. The swing sets over the rice paddies and numerous photo opportunities around the property also add to the appeal.

Eco-luxury on a flashpacker’s budget and the perfect complement to the beautiful natural landscape around Ninh Binh, we can’t wait to get back soon. Hopefully, you can experience Hang Mua Ecolodges too.

things to do in tam coc - hang múa ninh bình
Hang Mua Ecolodge Rooms - where to stay in ninh binh
Hang Mua Ecolodge Swing - where to stay in ninh binh

Experience Delicious Dining in Ninh Binh Without Pretence

Ninh Binh is no Hanoi – and that’s a good thing.

Here you are going to find quiet spaces, traffic-free roads and plenty of nature. Visiting Ninh Binh is also a chance to get back to basics, to experience the best of Vietnam food without all the fancy-fusion food eateries with bowties that have cropped up in Hanoi (though just one wouldn’t hurt).

Vietnamese food has become insanely popular around the world, and along with Peruvian food and Mexican food is my favorite food in the world. Ninh Binh offers a chance to try authentic Vietnamese dishes filled with fresh vegetables, intriguing spices, and plenty of noodles.

Such is the food culture in Vietnam that you should try as many places as you possibly can while visiting Ninh Bihn. Vietnamese culture being what it is inherently means finding good food involves a different process than what you’d typically use when traveling.

Hang Mua Ecolodge Breakfast - where to stay in ninh binh

Look for the unkempt place, yes it seems wrong, but the messiest means busiest. It’s completely normal to drop your rubbish on the ground here while dining, so it’s a sign of a busy restaurant, and busy means fresh, which means good. If you have already visited Hoi An and headed out on one of the world’s best food tours, you will know the signs to look out for!

Little houses dot the landscape, and plenty of entrepreneurial spirits have flung open their doors to hungry tourists who wander by, and the main streets of Ninh Binh are packed full of enough noodle stands to keep you busy for weeks…

Two standout recommendations you should try to visit, however, have to be La Carte Bar for egg coffee (it’s adorable on the main street of Tam Coc) and the outstanding set menu options available at the Lac Hong Mua Caves Restaurant. The incredible variety served in a cute little platter and selection of local Vietnamese delicacies is sure to leave you with a smile on your face…

And with so much food to sample in Vietnam, it’s nice to try a little bit of everything! If you have just climbed down from the Mua Mountains, their gluttonous chocolate shake is the perfect reward!

hang mua cave vietnam food

Experience True Exploring Filled With Surprise And Intrigue

Forget the guides, ditch the to-do list, and simply get out and explore for yourself.

Ninh Binh is the best place to get out and go it alone, be it on foot, bike, scooter, or boat. With everything so flat and nothing too far away, there’s plenty of hidden gems to find. Many may be on all the tourist lists, of course, but there’s something a little exciting about finding them yourself.

Pagodas a plenty, teeming with temples and more caves than you can throw a stick at. Adventure it alone along winding roads and farm tracks and get lost between the mammoth granite giants. Find picture-perfect spots with not a soul around or amuse yourself with the many animals that’ll greet you along your way, including cute pups and photogenic buffalo.

trang an grottoes tour

Skip Tripadvisor and the most touristy food spots, find your own. Head to town; you won’t be at a shortage of places to choose from, no matter how hungry you are or grab a snack at the many small local stalls you see along your way. Want something a little less active?

Well, you can still explore. Jump on one of the many riverboat trips around the area; each usually has a variety of options and routes, giving you a combo of various caves or temples depending on what you prefer.

No matter what you choose, you’re guaranteed stunning views along these picturesque rivers while barely moving a muscle.

things to do in tam coc
things to do in ninh binh | what to do in ninh binh | ninh binh things to do | things to do in nha trang
where to stay in ninh binh - Hang Mua Ecolodge

How To Get To Ninh Binh And the Hang Múa Caves Vietnam

If you are traveling to Ninh Binh, it is easy to reach it from almost anywhere in Vietnam. Located on the main train line going up and down Vietnam, you can easily catch a train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, which drop you at the Ninh Binh train station, and a taxi is around USD 5 to the Hang Múa Caves.

You can also catch the same train from the south from Da Nang or Hue to Ninh Binh. If you have a Ha Long Bay tour beforehand, there is no need to head back to Hanoi and waste time – A direct shuttle leaves from outside the Ha Long Bay Marina to Tam Coc / Ninh Bing… Just ask your tour guide on the boat to get you a seat! 

From other locations, there is plenty of different transport routes in Vietnam to consider.

hang múa ninh bình / things to do in tam coc

So there you have it, I bet you’re sold right and are just dying to visit Ninh Binh and Mua Caves on your Vietnam trip, right? If you follow these simple steps, you are going to have the best experiences in the Ninh Binh area – and staying at Hang Mua Ecolodge and climbing to the top of that majestic mountain at sunset (or sunrise) is sure to be a highlight.

One of the most authentic areas of Vietnam easily accessible to tourists, you won’t believe how many beautiful attractions you will be able to experience in just a few days. No wonder it is one of Vietnam’s top highlights.

While I truly believe many of the best things to do in Ninh Bihn are found only by getting lost and discovering a lady plowing the rice fields beneath the limestone cliffs or seeing baby goats on the side of the road – I understand you might want a name to plan around, so I’ll finish off by listing a few top attractions – through the Lonely Planet Vietnam has plenty more.

Just promise you will take the path less traveled, OK? 

things to do in ninh binh | what to do in ninh binh | ninh binh things to do | things to do in nha trang

A Short List Of Things To Do in Ninh Binh

  • Mua Caves And Summit – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Probably the best view in Vietnam and the perfect place to relax in a peaceful setting (unlike crowded Tam Coc). Also, the Dragon at the top is hyper-Instagrammable, much like the derelict Ho Thuy Tien water park in Hue. 
  • Bich Dong Pagoda – An ancient tiered pagoda hidden in the mountains and reachable by boat with plenty of natural caves.
  • Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex – An epic landscape recently declared UNESCO World Heritage. The beginning of your Trang An grottoes tour is going to be rather crowded but time your visit for a weekend after 1 pm, and you will be able to discover these glorious caves and scenes by boat with almost nobody else.
hang múa ninh bình Vietnam
  • Hoa Lu Ancient Capital –  Not far cycling past the Trang An grottoes tour was the stunning ruins of the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital. The first fundamental Government of Vietnam, this is a great place to wander in the morning while the tour buses plow Trang An!
  • Van Long Nature Reserve – Similar to Tràng An Scenic Landscape except smaller and far-less frequented. Many people claim it’s a better experience, but you will need a scooter to get here.
  • Phát Diệm Cathedral – Built in stone in 1892, this church is a blend of Vietnamese and European architectural and what is best summed up as a ‘eclectic architectural style’.
  • Tam Coc Boat Tour – From what we heard, this was the most over-rated thing to do in Ninh Binh, and it’s easy to see why when you are there (two Tam Coc Boat Tour photos below and the middle one is the better, more peaceful view over the Tam Coc river from Hang Mua Caves Vietnam). Thousands of boats in a dirty pond and everybody screaming at you. We loved Ninh Binh but instead of a Tam Coc boat tour, head out on a more organized Trang An Grottoes Tour.
things to do in ninh binh | what to do in ninh binh | ninh binh things to do | things to do in nha trang
train from hanoi to ninh binh / ninh binh train station
things to do in ninh binh | what to do in ninh binh | ninh binh things to do | things to do in nha trang
things to do in ninh binh | what to do in ninh binh | ninh binh things to do | things to do in nha trang