Visiting Ninh Binh province
After exploring the busy city life in Hanoi, it’s time to enjoy nature. Ninh Binh is a gorgeous province with lots of great viewpoints, mountains, temples and pagoda’s to explore. And best of all, go on a boat tour, following a river through the rice paddies surrounded by karst mountains.
Inside tip: Forget about Ninh Binh City and stay in Tam Coc!
When you travel to Ninh Binh province, we recommend to stay in Tam Coc. Ninh Binh city is just a busy city with lots of traffic, while Tam Coc is a beautiful village surrounded by the lime karst mountains right in nature.
Most guesthouses in Tam Coc are located around the lake in the middle of the village or next to the Tam Coc river. Imagine amazing views right from your balcony’s guesthouse. See the section at the end of this post for my favourite guesthouses in Tam Coc.
How to get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
|Bus||2-3 hours||70.000 VND (€3)||Check bus tickets|
|Train||2h 17min||113.000 VND (€4,50)||Check train tickets|
|Taxi||2 hours||1.600.000 VND (€60)||No online tickets|
The journey from Hanoi to Ninh Binh takes only 2 to 2,5 hours and is easiest to travel by bus. You can book a bus including pick-up and drop-off in Tam Coc for 210.000 VND (€8) on BookAway.
There is also a local bus departing from Giap Bat station for only 70.000 (€3), but if you add the costs of a taxi to the Giap Bat bus station and a taxi from the bus station in Ninh Binh to Tam Coc, you will end up paying more.
Another option is to take the train to Ninh Binh railway station. This station is located in the center of Ninh Binh, so take in mind that you still need to add a 15min taxi ride to from Ninh Binh to Tam Coc.
A third option is to book a private taxi from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. You can already book a SUV taxi for 5 persons for 1.600.000 VND (€60). The advantage is that you don’t have to wait for other pick-ups and you can travel door-to-door in only 2 hours.
Day Trip to Ninh Binh
If you want to visit Ninh Binh in only one day, you can also choose many of the day trips from Hanoi to Ninh Binh.
These trips include a boat trip in the Tam Coc or Trang An River, but you will miss several other amazing sights. That’s also why we recommend to stay for 2 or 3 days in Tam Coc and enjoy this great little town in Ninh Binh province.
You can already find day-trips starting from €25.
Option 1: Bus from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
Route: Hanoi Ninh Binh
Duration: 2-3 hours
Costs: 70.000 VND (€3)
We recommend to book a bus with “Ninh Binh Excursion“. This company receives great reviews and comes with extra benefits like free pick-up & drop-off and free cancellation within 24 hours. The bus leaves 4 times a day and costs 210.000 VND (€8).
Other options are the Khanh An or Long Travel bus, but these buses do always include the benefits like free pick-up/drop-off.
PRO-TIP: Use the free N26 debit card to avoid the extra fees charged by your bank. This N26 debit card is becoming very popular among travellers, because they don't charge any fees on payments in foreign currencies (most banks charge 3%-5%). New members can order one for free on the N26 website
When you are staying close to Giap Bat bus station in Hanoi and booked an accommodation in Ninh Binh city, you can save money by taking the public bus. However, take in mind that you still need to pay for a taxi when you are staying in Tam Coc or not staying close to Giap Bat station in Hanoi.
The public buses leave from Giap Bat bus station in Hanoi to Ninh Binh every hour and you can buy a bus ticket at Giap Bat bus station for 70.000 VND (€3). Make sure to buy the ticket at one of the ticket offices to avoid overpaying.
The disadvantage of taking the bus from Giap Bat station is that this station is a 30 min drive from the Old Quarter in Hanoi.
The public bus stops at Ninh Binh bus station which is close to the railway station in Ninh Binh city center, but still a 15min ride to Tam Coc.
Option 2: Train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
Route: Hanoi Ninh Binh
Duration: 2h 17min
Costs: 113.000 VND (€4,50)
Train to Ninh Binh railway station
The railway station in Ninh Binh is in the center of the city and about a 15-minute ride from Tam Coc. Once you arrive at Ninh Binh railway station, we advise continuing your journey by taxi to Tam Coc.
If you prefer to stay in Ninh Binh you can also find several hotels around the railway station, but remember it is just a busy city and not so interesting for tourists.
There are 6-7 trains leaving from Hanoi to Ninh Binh railway station every day, of which SE5 is the most popular option as if offers very convenient travel times.
We recommend to take a morning or afternoon train, so you won’t arrive in the late evening at your accommodation.
See here some suggested options:
|SE11||08:00-10:13||2h 14m||103.000 VND (€4)|
|SE5||09:00-11:17||2h 17m||140.000 VND (€5,50)|
|SE35||13:10-15:35||2h 25m||115.000 VND (€4,50)|
|SE9||14:30-17:13||2h 43m||102.000 VND (€4)|
|SE3||19:30-21:44||2h 14m||106.000 VND (€4)|
Soft seats sell between 100.000 VND (€4) and 140.000 VND (€5,50), but you can also buy a sleeper berth from 150.000 VND (€6). A sleeper berth can be a nice option if you take the early morning train at 6:00 and want to get some more sleep.
Optional: Taxi from Ninh Binh to Tam Coc
Costs: 25.000-50.000 VND (€0,90-€1,90)
You will find several accommodations in a walkable distance from Ninh Binh railway station, but we recommend continuing your journey to Tam Coc. This little town is 6km south of Ninh Binh and takes about 15min by taxi.
As there are no public buses from Ninh Binh to Tam Coc, you will have to take a (motor)taxi which costs around 25.000-50.000 VND (€1-€2).
My favourite places to stay in Tam Coc (Ninh Binh)
Tam Coc Family Hotel
Want to stay in a real Vietnamese Guesthouse? Tam Coc Family Hotel is a perfect example why you don't have to spend more than €15 for a great guesthouse.The super friendly owners will tell you the best spots to visit and will make sure you have a good start of your day with a delicious breakfast. It's a 1-minute walk from the Tam Coc river and drop-off point of the bus.
Tam Coc Bungalow
Do you refer to stay close to the river? Tam Coc Bungalow has spacious bamboo bungalows right next to the Tam Coc river. Bungalows start from €23 and dorm rooms from €5.
What we really liked about this place is their common area. From the terrace you can watch the locals paddling back to Tam Coc town during sunset and in the evening you can play a game of pool at the open restuarant area.
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