The Magic Of Ninh Binh

A couple of years ago I wrote about one of my favourite places in South East Asia here. I was of course talking about Ninh Binh. It is absolutely beautiful, peaceful and not yet full of tourists (although I’m sure that with the success of the new King Kong movie, that will all change, since it was filmed here).

When I wrote about my first time visiting Ninh Binh 7 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I’d have a chance to go back there, let alone twice!

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Luckily it’s only a 2 hour drive from Hanoi so it’s the perfect place to go to escape the stress of the city.

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Sometimes returning to a place can be a terrible idea and all of the beautiful memories can be destroyed, luckily Ninh Binh really hasn’t changed all that much since the first time that I was there.

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I highly recommend stopping here while on your trip to Vietnam, especially at this time of the year when the rice paddies are so beautiful. They harvest at the end of May, so if you want to see golden rice paddies, go in May!

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Here are a few of my favourite things to do in Ninh Binh:

Take a Bike Ride

This is one of my highlights when I go to Ninh Binh. It’s the perfect way to take in the slow pace of life and the beautiful scenery. Be warned that your arm might get sore from waving to the many people that greet you along the way. Most guesthouses and homestays offer free bike rental.

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Stay Among The Rice Paddies

I cannot recommend this option enough. If there is one thing that you must do while in Ninh Binh it’s this! We have stayed at the Ninh Binh Panorama twice now and both times have been truly magical. There is no road leading to it, just a dirt path and it is in a magical valley. It is perfectly secluded and you have the best view of the rice paddies and the limestone karsts. In fact, the second time that we stayed here we didn’t even bother with any of the tourist attractions because the views are probably better than anything else you’ll see in Ninh Binh.

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Our sweet little hut

 

Rent a Boat on Tam Coc

This one is a bit of a hit and miss. Yes the scenery that you get to take in on the boat ride is absolutely beautiful but the river is full of tourists and the boat ride goes on for a bit too long for my liking. I’ve done it twice and both times I’ve been dying for the boat ride to finish by the end. I have heard that Thung Nham is more beautiful, especially at sunset because there are many birds in that area. I have yet to go but hopefully the next time we go to Ninh Binh we’ll go there.

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Photo credit: Alotravel Asia

Climb the Mua Caves

This is a mountain with caves at the bottom and steps all the way to the top which has an epic view of the surrounding area. Surprisingly, it never felt very busy there at all!

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This is at the bottom of the mountain

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How to get there:

It’s so easy to get to Ninh Binh, there are many options. If you walk in to any travel agent in the Old Quarter they can book a tourist bus for you and it picks you up from your hotel. If you are on a budget then you can make your way to Giap Bat bus station and jump on one of the many local buses that go that way. There is also a train that goes from Hanoi to Ninh Binh or if you have the cash to spend, you can hire a private car. If you are feeling adventurous, you can always drive there by motorbike. This is what we did on our most recent trip to Ninh Binh and it is an easy route, you just stay on the same road for the entire time.

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How about you? Have you ever been to Ninh Binh? Are there any things that you would add to this list?

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My First Trip To The Mountains

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We finally made it up to the mountains!

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the mountains weren’t a huge part of why we decided to move to Denver. Thoughts of snowshoeing during the winter and backpacking and camping during the summer get me all kinds of excited. (I must add that I’ve never even tried snowshoeing before, but I know that I’m going to love it)

A few days ago myself and Jason were looking for jobs and getting stressed about life. The weather was absolutely amazing out, so I decided to drop everything and get Jason to go on a little day trip with me.

We decided to go to Georgetown as it’s not very far away from Denver but it’s still far enough to be in the mountains.
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The drive was a nice 40 minutes with not a lot of traffic (the joys of being jobless and going on a random Tuesday). It was right off of the highway but felt like it could have been a million miles away. The historic part of town had the most beautiful victorian style houses and gorgeous Western style shop fronts.
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All of the stores seemed to be locally owned and sold local products (which is awesome). We stopped to get some delicious ice-cream that was made in the town next to Georgetown.
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After walking around for a while, we decided to drive up a pass next to the town. It was a beautiful drive and it brought us up high enough to where there was some snow on the ground…it got me pretty excited about wintertime.
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We were driving for about 30 minutes when we looked at our GPS and realized that there was still a long way to go so we decided to turn back.
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Once back in Georgetown we drove to the train station. The train in Georgetown is very famous and the ride is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately it was closed when we went there, but it’ll give us a reason to go back in the summer.
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Overall, I loved this little town and it has made me so excited and eager to visit many other small mountain towns in Colorado!