Ninh Binh, also called the dry Halong Bay, is a beautiful province surrounded by limestone karst mountains. Ninh Binh is also a city, but we don’t advise to stay here. Instead, take a taxi to Tam Coc (about 15 minutes) and book your accommodation close to Tam Coc River.
Tam Coc is a little village with several restaurants. From here you can easily arrange activities or explore the surroundings by bike.
An activity not to be missed is the boat ride along the Tam Coc or Trang An River. A local woman will paddle through the river while you enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
When you rent a (motor)bike, you can easily explore Ninh Binh and visit one of the several temples. Bái Đính Temple complex and Thai Vi Temple are our favourites.
Some people choose between visiting Cat Ba/Halong Bay or Ninh Binh, but we recommend exploring both if you have the time. Both places are known for the karst mountains, but they offer very different experiences.
In CatBa, you will pass fishing villages and see these mountains from the ocean. In Ninh Binh, your boat will slowly glide through the river while you enjoy the countryside.
Wondering whether to do a boat tour on the Tam Coc River or Trang An River? Consider that Tam Coc River is probably better when the rice fields are green/gold and Trang An is more adventurous as you will pass through more cliffs.
In the end, both boat trips are amazing experiences, so it’s really up to you if you do both or choose just one.
Want to know what it feels like to stay with a Vietnamese family? Tam Coc Family Hotel really does make you feel at home with the family.
The friendly owners will tell you all of the best spots to visit in Ninh Binh, and start your day right with a delicious home-cooked breakfast. It's a great example of why you don't have to spend a lot for a great guesthouse.
Would you prefer to stay on a river? Tam Coc Bungalow has quirky bamboo bungalows right next to the Tam Coc river. Bungalows start from $32 and dorm rooms from $6.
What we really liked about this place is their open-air restuarant. From it, you can watch the locals paddling back to Tam Coc town during sunset. If you don't fancy going for a swim in the river, instead you can enjoy their relaxing pool.