We are very seasoned travellers and Remote Lands certainly delivered on our recent trip to Indochina.
Nestled in the northern corner of Vietnam, is Ninh Binh, a city in the province of the same name and a perfect base to some of the more remote - and naturally beautiful - areas of the country. The city itself is home to under 150,000 people, but with its close proximity to cliffs, caves, and cathedrals, it has become a hub for travelers looking to visit some up-and-coming hotspots.
On a journey either north or south through Vietnam, Ninh Binh is the perfect stop to catch one's breath and see some spectacular - and not overcrowded - sites. As it has grown as a tourist destination, Ninh Binh has become very accessible on both bus and train routes, making it an easy stop for a couple days - with just the right number of things to do.
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Our General Manager Victoria Hilley lived in Hanoi for a year, where she enjoyed motorbiking through the villages & rice terraces of Vietnam's mountainous north.
A must-see during your time in Ninh Binh is Tam Coc, a marvelous site of limestone cliffs, rising majestically out of rice paddies. On a hired boat, visitors navigate their way down the river, marvelling at the expense of rice paddies on either side of them, shadowed by the incredible cliffs.
Trang An Grottoes
Similar to Tam Coc, a visit to Trang An Grottoes will have visitors navigating in their hired boat by expansive cliffs, but also through a series of natural caves of all different sizes, many of which give way to secret green and blue grottos.
Cuc Phuong National Park
Welcome to the rainforest: just an hour from Ninh Binh is Cuc Phuong National Park, a rainforest housing an endangered primates rescue centre, a botanical garden and a turtle center. Visitors may motorbike, drive, cycle or walk through the 12 miles of jungle trails, where they can see an incredible amount of flora and fauna, including thousands of butterflies.
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Once the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries, this ancient capital holds an annual festival in the streets to celebrate its rich history. But anytime of year is a good time to explore this city - a short bike ride from Ninh Binh - and visit its temples: Dinh Tien Hoang, Nhat Tru Temple and Le Dai Hanh.
Ma Yen Mountain
Standing majestically behind King Dinh Tien Hoang Temple is Ma Yen Mountain, a two-peaked mountain that is said to represent King Dinh Bo Linh sitting and looking down upon the country. Visitors can climb a stairway up this mountain, leading to a stunning panorama of Tam Coc and the surrounding area.
Phat Diem Cathedral
For architecture gurus, a visit to Phat Diem Cathedral is a must. Mixing a number of architectural styles and incorporating Buddhist influence, this Catholic cathedral is designed as a main church with four smaller churches and gardens surrounding it, creating an impressive, tranquil estate.
Experience the best that Northern Vietnam has to offer on this exciting 7-day luxury journey. You’ll visit museums and temples in Hanoi, cruise the karsts of Halong Bay on a private junk, take a roadtrip through Ninh Binh, and explore Vietnam’s first national park, while staying at luxury hotels along the way.
Cuc Phuong Resort
In the beautiful and mysterious province of Ninh Binh, just two hours south of Hanoi, the sleek, contemporary Cuc Phuong Resort meets the wilds of nature and ancient Vietnam. With Cuc Phuong National Park less than two miles away, this ecological resort is surrounded by stunning scenery and sites of natural interest including ancient caves and a 1,000-year-old Chò tree. The hotel’s luxury suites and bungalows are spacious yet cozy, decorated with natural materials and equipped with WiFi and LCD televisions. The resort’s position atop a natural mineral spring allows for hot mineral water to be piped into each room’s private wooden tub, for a relaxing bath with healing properties. The same water flows in the resort’s indoor and outdoor swimming pools and further health-giving properties can be enjoyed in the mineral mud baths. With mountain views and eye-catching dishes, dining at the Dabiru restaurant is as beautiful as it is tasty, not to mention healthy with the use of organic, local ingredients.
Located in the beautiful surroundings of historic Ninh Binh, Vietnam’s ancient capital, the Emeralda is truly a jewel set amidst natural beauty. Just a short 90 minute drive from Hanoi, the hotel is situated on the brink of Van Long Nature Reserve, home to countless species of flora and fauna, making it an unforgettably tranquil retreat. Beautifully designed to capture traditional Vietnamese architecture, the emphasis is on celebrating nature and the environment, from the building itself, to the cuisine served across its four restaurants. Indoor and al fresco dining options are available with dishes that nod to Vietnam’s rich heritage - from authentic, traditional favourites, to French-inspired, colonial fare. Guests can choose from the extensive list in the wine bar or relax poolside with a refreshing cocktail before dinner. Superior and deluxe suites offer comfort as well as style, not to mention stunning views of the beautiful scenery. Finally, guests in search of relaxation will find it in the fully-equipped spa.