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Ninh Binh, yet a dried Ha Long Bay of Vietnam, with fairy-tale landscape setting among the dense limestone mountains. If you miss the hit, let’s traversing the title Why Ninh Binh must in your bucket list to learn more about the destination.
Most of significant characteristics of Vietnam could be encountered during your wanderlust in Ninh Binh. It offers more values apart from general experiences that any tourist looking for like boat ride on still river along paddy field among stunned karst monoliths, bike ride through villages, walk into sacred temples or hike up to mountain peaks with stunning view
Ninh Binh isn't only the replicate of Halong Bay. Here are recommendations of less touristy places of Ninh Binh that are definitely worth a drive, hike to conquer.
Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park - The first National Park of Vietnam founded in 1962, of 22,408ha spanning over three provinces – mountainous Hoa Binh Province, Red River delta Ninh Binh Province and Thanh Hoa Province in central part of Vietnam. Cuc Phuong National Park is a typical tropical rainforest, greenish all year around and homes a great population of fauna and flora. Best time to visit Cuc Phuong National Park is from Dec to May; especially between April and May, the park is beguiling with flying butterflies.
A day trip to Cuc Phuong National Park offers a glimpse of the place but certainly wonderful experiences when delve into the nature. Adventurous and natural lovers could spend longer from 2 – 4 days in the jungle for a further touch and interaction. Main things to do in Cuc Phuong National Park are trekking through forest trails to admire colorful and variable plants and wildlife, ride the bike in the greenish and fresh area, visit endanger rescue center or reservation center (turtle, languor, Pangolin, deer, etc.), hike up to limestone cave, visit plant garden, bird watching, overnight camping, visiting a minority village and so on.
Thung Nham Bird Garden
Thung Nham, Ninh Binh is a serene area of mountains, caves and rivers, and also nest dozen bird species such as stork and some endanger birds. You can stroll around the area and visit surrounding caves like Mermaid Cave, Underwater Palace, Three Girl Cave, etc., walk through a part of forest. Late afternoon, it’s possible to take a 30-minute boat trip to watch the bird flocks returning to their nestle place after a full day. The best time to visit Thung Nham and seeing bird is Autumn when the birds return to their home earlier.
Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve
Van Long Nature Reserve in Ninh Binh is the largest wetland in northern Vietnam spanning some of 3,000 ha. Comparing to other main spots in Ninh Binh, Van Long a waterlogged wetland bears similar characteristic of topography, but at bigger scale. Van Long is primitive and much less touristy than the rest spots.
Taking 1.5-hour boat ride, you will have chance to admire the picturesque and tranquil nature of karst pinnacles, river with swaying reeds in the water and reeds on the banks. Above all, Van Long wetland is granted with a diversify biosystem. It homes over 40 species of Delacour’s Langur; and is the shelter of thousands bird flocks like storks, gray herons, or teal birds. It’s highly recommended to take the boat trip late afternoon so that you could endowed to the wildlife who hustle flying home after a day away.
Phat Diem Stone Cathedral
Phat Diem Cathedral in Ninh Binh, some of 125km from Hanoi, is a cathedral with the most unique architecture in Vietnam – the mixture of Western gothic and Vietnamese double layered curved roofs.
The church complex is constructed by granite blocks and ironwood/ jackfruit wood pillars and sophisticated decorations. Every tasteful and meaningful designs, carving and patterns contribute to the church’s uniqueness that took 10 years to collect and gather materials then 24 more years to complete the site. This shows a strong religious devotion but never forget the Vietnamese origin by included a lot of oriental factors. Phat Diem is a bit far from the main tourist hub; around 40km from Tam Coc. To avoid wasting the extra drive hour, you can combine with a visit to the Sedge Mat village in the same area with Phat Diem Stone Cathedral.
Kim Son Sedge Mat handicraft Village
Kim Son Sedge Mat in Ninh Binh is a handicraft village of around 200 years, located around 125km from Hanoi, in the same district with Phat Diem Cathedral. The mud land, though have been renovated into living land and agriculture developing, still is a perfect land for the utmost growth of sedge plants which naturally expand. The villagers partly keep cultivate the plant and constantly make traditional and creatively patterned mats as well as household amenities.
Getting around, you can see the sedge field, learn techniques that craftsmen produce the mats, glue spray, color and dry the products. Present at the place on sunny days, you will find variable sedge made products exposed under sun light for drying process. With its reputation, Kim Son Sedge mat village has been exported their products to around 40 countries in the world as high-quality products.
Located on Tuong Mountain Range, of around 200m higher than the ground, Thien Ha Cave or Galaxy Cave was discovered lately in 2007 with a system of both dried caves and water grottos. All of them are enchanting and untouched. The stalagmites and stalactites in the cave are glittering when shined by torch light, then local people name it Galaxy Cave.
Thien Ha Cave, 700m long, is comprised of dried part (200m long) and water cave (500m long). After walking for around 15 minutes, you will board the boat to explore the water cave. It is gentle and noiseless but with paddle rowing resound. Faint light is just enough for you to see the water surface as mirror of the ceiling with stalagmite falling down. Walk up to the dried cave is enjoyable with green landscape bringing us close to nature.
Besides the main cave, it’s possible to stop at Thien Thanh Cave and But water grottos. The total visit last around 2 hours. Afterward, a biking trip to surrounding countryside could be done to see the local life.
It’s undeniable that Ninh Binh is mainly renown as the dried Halong Bay; however, beside this, Ninh Binh promises any traveler with memorable experiences. For those return to Ninh Binh for the second or the third time, there are plenty of places for your discoveries. Also, the guests who wish to avoid the touristy crowds can design your own unique route; and Bonzer Tour’s consultant are expert at this.
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