Things to do in Ninh Binh, (Vietnam) with Kids
Most people only visit Ninh Binh as a day tour from Hanoi, however you really need to stay at least 3 days to see all that it has to offer. Ninh Binh is a scenic 2 hour train trip from Hanoi and is a fantastic place to escape the chaos of the big city.
The town of Ninh Binh itself is not in the slightest bit pretty. Appearance wise, it’s fairly unremarkable. HOWEVER, it serves as a fantastic base for exploring all of the surrounding countryside. Just because something is not pretty, does not mean that it’s not interesting!
Below is a list of things to do in Ninh Binh with kids. Please keep in mind when reading this, that I don’t travel with my kids to visit amusement parks or dedicated kid attractions. My kids visit all of the wonderful cultural attractions and see all of the amazing scenery that I do. I just find ways to make it interesting for them whilst we are there!
VAN LONG NATURE RESERVE
Van Long Nature Reserve was one of the highlight of Vietnam. It is a peaceful bamboo boat trip with spectacular scenery. We did this as an alternative to the well known ‘Tam Coc’ boat tour, as I had read some horror stories about crowding and pushy hawkers. An ever smiling 70 year old Vietnamese lady rowed us through some spectacular limestone cliffs. Even the kids, whom were tired and grizzly, were lulled into quietness by the peacefulness and the offer of a biscuit.
It’s worth bringing an umbrella along as there is no protection from the rain or sun. You may even get to see an endangered Delacour’s Langur Monkey!
See my post on Van Long Nature Reserve with Kids to see more photographs of this interesting reserve.
EXPLORING THE BACK STREETS OF NINH BINH
Even though at first impressions, the town itself is fairly unremarkable, it should be given a chance to shine! Strolling around the back streets, people watching, observing the culture and greeting every friendly local you pass makes for a great way to spend an afternoon.
You will see interesting narrow architecture, oxen in random places, and an authentic market (you may find this confronting). Every single person you pass is friendly and like everywhere else in Vietnam, will attempt to interact with the kids.
MUA CAVES AND SCENIC LOOKOUT
The caves are not that exciting, however there is a very steep set of steps winding up to a scenic lookout. The steps are hard work and if the kids are little, you will definitely need to carry them. We use an Ergo Baby Carrier and a Piggy Back Rider (see my baby and toddler carriers for travelling page) for this kind of things. The view from the top is worth the huffing and puffing to reach it!
BICH DONG PAGODA
This is a really lovely place to visit. It is a cluster of 3 cave temples in which you have to walk up some steep steps to see all of them. We went in drizzly weather and it turned everything into a beautiful green glistening paradise. Our kids were given ‘lucky money’ by complete strangers here. It is basically small denominations given to give good luck. It was such a thoughtful thing to do for a complete stranger and is a testament to the welcoming nature of the Vietnam people.
More things to do in Ninh Binh that I didn’t have time for
- Trang An Grottos
- Bai Dinh Pagoda
- Hoa Lu Temples of the Dinh and Le Dynasties
- Cuc Phuong National Park
- Phat Diem Cathedral
Want To Learn About More Awesome Places?
For more blog posts, articles and photographs on my travels through Vietnam with kids….check out this page: Vietnam
For more information on ALL of my travels, please check out this page: My travel destinations
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