Located about 30 minutes north of Ninh Binh, the Vân Long Nature Reserve protects one of Northern Vietnam's largest unspoiled natural areas. Visitors can take a boat tour to see a small section of the park, and possibly spot the elusive, endangered Delacour's Langurs which call it home.
During the 10th and 11th century, Hoa Lư was the capital of Vietnam. Located in the karst hills southwest of present-day Ninh Binh, the site is today home to temples and tombs, and is a popular tourism destination, especially for locals.
If you're looking for an unforgettable view of the karst hills south of Ninh Binh, you might want to skip on the popular boat tour of Tam Cốc, and instead seek out Hang Múa. Over 400 steps will bring you to the top of a mountain, from where you'll be able to see the unique landscape in all its glory.
Located a few kilometers north of Tam Cốc, the mountainside complex of Bích Động consists of three temples arranged in a vertical order. A climb to the upper pagoda is rewarded by magnificent views over the region. Bích Động was established in 1428 by two Buddhist monks from Ninh Binh, who recognized the area for its natural beauty. They built three pagodas at different heights on the mountain, making use of the limestone caves and recesses in…
Among Vietnam's most stunning images is the aerial view of Tam Cốc: a region of rice fields and steep limestone hills, just south of Ninh Binh. If you're spending any time in the region, it's a photo you'll see over and over again, in the window of every tourism agency, hung on the wall of every restaurant. And every time you see it, you'll think to yourself... "Man, I've got to go there!"
After a few days in the Phong Nha National Park, we were happy to stay focused on Vietnam's nature, and relocated to another park: Pù Luông. Just like Phong Nha, this is an exceptionally beautiful area. But unlike its more famous brother, Pù Luông is still largely untouched by tourism. We spent two days exploring the region, and never once saw another foreigner.
When we chose Saigon as our seventeenth "For 91 Days" destination, we never expected that Hanoi might be the eighteenth. We've never stayed in a country for a second consecutive adventure, and it wasn't even under consideration. But we never expected to be so completely enamored by the people, culture and cuisine of Vietnam. After spending three months in the south, we simply couldn't leave without devoting an equal amount of time to the north.