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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Spring Camping In Ulsan

 

Fotor_142942324599455The weekend before last, myself and Jason decided that it was time to check out how our new tent was and went camping. While we were packing up that morning Willy knew something was up and got so excited.

There are two options when camping in Korea. The first is to go to a designated camping area. This is a nightmare for most foreigners. They are overpacked and full of people. I don’t understand it as camping is usually an activity that you do to get away from people. The second is to try to just find a spot and camp there. We chose the latter.Fotor_14294228796347

Our initial plan was to go to a beautiful riverside area that we had seen before and try to set up camp on a small sand spit there. On our way we passed the beautiful Cheontaesa temple.wpid-img_20150413_212409.jpg

Once we arrived at the area we saw that there were groups of school kids all around and it was quite busy. We went to the area that we were hoping to camp at but saw that there were people near there too so we sat down and ate lunch trying to decide what our plan of action would be.Fotor_142942345880745

We came across a group of hikers that were having a sing along so we joined in for a while.Fotor_142942352358257

Willy had a quick swim in the river and then we decided to change our plans.Fotor_142942339520038

We decided to change our location and head for the coast to South Ulsan.Fotor_142942331808135

It was a beautiful drive along a small road instead of the big motorways and once we reached the coast we saw some cool little towns all around.Fotor_142942363182772

After checking out a few different beaches, we decided to camp on Imnang beach. Unfortunately it was incredibly windy so we had a difficult time starting a fire to cook with but once the sun went down, the wind eased up a bit and we were soon eating some hot dogs and keeping warm.

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Fotor_142942297312934After a few drinks and some good chats, myself, Jason and Willy jumped in to our sleeping bags (Willy sleeps in the foot of mine).Fotor_142942387028225

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We had a surprisingly comfortable sleep and kept warm for most of the night. We didn’t even wake up until 8 a.m. A first for us!Fotor_142942395046659

 

Fotor_142942278151483But alas, the morning also brought the wind back and it proved even more difficult to light a fire. After nearly an hour we finally had hot coals and put some bacon on the fire for breakfast. The bacon turned out really good but silly us, we very nearly started a grease fire and nearly burned the tent down! Luckily Jasons quick thinking and kicking the fire in to the sand saved us all except for the tent which managed to get a few small holes in it.

 

Fotor_142942266421737Overall we had a fun time but will definitely be waiting a few more weeks for the wind to die down to go camping again.

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