Why people say that Ninh Binh is like “Halong bay on land”. How are they different ?

Halong bay and Ninh binh of course are being under certain comparison among the most outstanding characteristics. Regardless of any differences, both of the destination are continuing to achieve it’s high position into tourist’s minds.

Though, some of you sometimes need make a decision on visiting this place or another place, we’ll be informative to make it more understandable to assist your trip well in the north of Vietnam.

Based on highlights that almost trippers are concerned about before they go ahead to plan a trip, these are a few headings to make a comparison between Halong bay and Ninh Binh province.

ha-long-bay
Amazing Halong Bay

Geographical features

Halong bay

Halong bay was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, it is also a very popular destination in Quang Ninh province which is located in the northeast of Vietnam. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes rising spectacularly from the ocean.

Being affectionate to receive such a precious gift from the heaven, Halong bay attracts a huge amount of sightseers looking for a paradise on earth each year.

It’s about 180 km from Hanoi city to Tuan Chau marina where the cruise ships depart from. There is also an international airport in Hai Phong province named Cat Bi for visitors to reach Halong in 1 hour.

>>> Explore Halong Bay Day Tours <<<
Enjoy-kayaing-on-ha-long-bay-day-tour
Enjoying Kayaking or Boat Trip with Bamboo Boat on Halong Bay Day Tour

Ninh Binh Province

On the other hand, Ninh Binh province is located in the Red River Delta region, only 90 km from Hanoi, Ninh Binh has a trans-Vietnam railway running through it, so it is convenient to go to central & south region.

With total area of 1398.7 km2, although Ninh Binh is not considered as a big province, it’s terrain is extremely diverse with rivers, mountains, plains, forest,…which seems to have all natural nuances of the whole country included into this province

To recap, the development of tourism regarding to the sea, islands can clearly be seen in Halong besides Ninh Binh which is a contain of more rivers and lands for tourism

>>> Explore The Beauty of Ninh Binh with 35 Best Thing To Do:

>>> Discover Ninh Binh Tours <<<
ninh-binh-travel-guide
Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam

Impressive landscapes of Halong & Ninh Binh

Never have you had any chance to witness both of the places, your imagination will take you to such an indescribable beauty of them.

When it comes to Halong bay, it’s no doubt to assure that it’s nature blows your mind away by showing a marvelous overview formed by the emerald water and the cliffs, limestones, islands, islets from small to big sizes jutting out of the water.

A few of them have their own special names such as Hon Trong Mai ( Trong Mai islet looks as though a couple of a hen and rooster), surprising cave, Dau Go islands, Mat Quy islet (monster head islet)… do they sound interesting?

view-from-monkey-island
view from monkey island

How does the bay look like due to specific weather?  A lots of visitor wonder about this condition because they may be confused if the bad weather runs their trip.

In fact despite any of weather condition in our hot summer or chilly winter, it hardly disappoints any travel style. The color of the sky becomes deeper blue while the sun is illuminating down that turn the emerald water of the bay into such an enchanting scenery.

In the winter, it will be cold however it’s not as cold as that in temperate zone. This kind of weather is suited for anyone who loves quiet atmosphere. Another special characteristics that the bay offers in the winter is a little lightly foggy among enormous limestones and karsts which gives off a fairytale-like feeling.

visiting-sung-sot-cave
Visit Sung Sot Cave on our Halong Bay Day Tour

Round off your trip by looking at the Halong bay offering one of the most beautiful seas in the Gulf of Tonkin, apart from that Ninh Binh is making us feel a bit out-of-the-way when obviously it brings you to a space covered by very huge mountains with thinner water paths are compassing below.

The color of river is quite normal as you can see in Tam Coc river but in our opinion it looks more crystal-clear in Trang An river in Trang An Grottoes.

Lastly, not just seeing only water and the karsts, beaches or something like nautical theme in Halong bay but if you take a visit to Ninh Binh there are as well as including historical sites or temples even Western cathedral you can find them in Hoa Lu Citadel, Bai Dinh temple, Bich Dong pagoda, Phat Diem cathedral…

Tam-Coc-Boat-Ride
Tam Coc Boat Ride

Main activities in Halong bay & Ninh Binh

Firstly, we’ll take a similar look at these activities in Halong bay and Ninh Binh province in which is lined with abundant fun

Boating by sampan

The rowing boat is controlled by locals with their hands and legs,  this kind of activity seen in Ninh Binh is more common than the one found in Halong bay.

In the bay, boating is being just a small part of your long journey if you take a night cruise, you will have a chance to sit on a sampan while visiting local fishers, pearl farm, life of people around,…

Noticeably in Ninh Binh it is almost our highlight for a day trip, a boat tour lasts from 2 to 3 hours and can be found in Tam Coc, Van Long nature reserve, or Trang An.

rowing-bamboo-boat-on-ha-long-bay
Rowing bamboo boat on Halong Bay

Cave exploration

One of the reasons that Halong bay was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site is it’s impressive caves system. In which Sung Sot ( Surprise) cave is the most popular one decorated with stalactites of severa chambers. However you may watch an extensive queue in front of the cave.

Away 1 km from Sung Sot cave, it is an imposing Luon cave (Tunnel cave) which is only accessible by kayak or local sampan boat through a very short water way.

Additionally, Trong cave ( Drum cave) though it’s not that impressive in itself, almost cruise companies choose this spot to do kayaking around here. Or it must be said about Bo Nau cave with remarkable  amount of stalactites and stalagmites.

Explore-the-cave-on-halong-bay-by -kayaking
Explore the cave on halong bay by kayaking

In comparison with Halong bay, Ninh Binh has less impressive cave systems. The caves are just short gaps in the mountains. Although it’s not as majestic as those in Halong bay, it brings to us refreshing atmosphere as well.

The most popular spots are Tam Coc, Trang An, or Van Long wetlands for us to immerse ourselves into a peaceful space.

About 45 km away from the north of Ninh Binh,there is a “cave of prehistoric man” with 30 meter squares in acreage. Archaeologists found 3 ancient tombs lying deeply under the ground 0.40 meter and 1.4 meter and they asserted that primitive men lived in Ninh Binh long ago date back from 7000 to 12.500 years.

trang-an-bai-dinh-tour1
Exploring Trang An Bai Dinh Day Tour

Take a panoramic view

Titov mountain is located in the center of Halong bay on Titov island.  It is the ideal set for Halong photo hunters, where they capture the breathtaking panoramic photos shoot over the bay.

The way to ascend the top is not too hard to conquer and is led by stone steps. There is a pavilion in the middle of the way for tourists to take a rest and enjoy the view to the bay from a lower altitude.

a-great-view-to-tam-coc-river
A great view to tam coc area

Ninh Binh is also another ideally destination for visitors taking a majestic view of karst mountains on the top of Mua cave. If you come to this cave in the summer at the period of harvest you will see the entire of golden rice paddies lining up the long river that attracts tourists.

  • >>>  Explore The Top of Mua Cave In Ninh Binh to Take a panoramic view

What makes Halong bay and Ninh Binh distinct in itself ?

Halong bay with kayaking & pearl farming

Halong bay is one of the best sea kayaking destinations in Asia. This is an outstanding feature that only can be found in Halong. Because the activities are not various too much between cheap and expensive cruises, kayaking is offered regularly by cruise companies from day cruises to overnight cruises. Each kayak is settled with life jackets for either adults or kids ( life jacket for infants should be prepared in advance)

Visiting some local residents in Halong bay, the best way to admire the majestic nature surrounding floating houses is rowing bamboo boat, the local people will guide you to go around. However, this is not an only way to be immersed into the open atmosphere and tranquil nature.

kayaking-in-ha-long-bay
Kayaking in Halong Bay

Tourists can kayak themselves through thousands islands and islets so as to satisfy their photo-taking hobby. And somewhere near there, the tourists can see the flawless sandy beach. It’s obviously to see that not only the nature but people also make a contribution to building the stunning beauty of this village.

The residents commonly grow pearl, fish, and many other marine animals. Travelers can try netting fish and taking fish catched by net.

Here are some types of transportation for a trip to Halong bay: Kayak, bamboo boat, cruise ships, airplane, speed boat

Ninh Binh with exploring culture

Ninh Binh has many famous landscapes and cultural relics to offer such as Hoa Lu ancient capital (in Truong Yen commune – Hoa Lu) – is the capital of the first feudal state in Vietnam, currently in Hoa Lu capital the temple of King Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh are located inside, Tam Coc-Bich Dong area which are covered in our Ninh Binh Day Tours.

Cuc Phuong national park – with an area of about 22,000 ha, there are many rare and precious animals and plants, a 1000- year-old-tree, the cave of prehistoric man…Van Long Nature Reserve, Kenh Ga, Trang An complex, Phat Diem Stone Church …These places are famous for discovering culture and history.

Over-view-to-tam-coc-area
Amazing scenery at Tam Coc

Ninh Binh Province has two main religions: Buddhism and Christianity. Located on an area of 22 hectares, Phat Diem cathedral (the stone church) gives an harmonious combination of Europe and Asian architecture, bringing a unique decoration that plays an important role in the beauty of Ninh Binh.

The practice of people living in Ninh Binh mainly focus on agricultural production, planting rices and cattle breeding. In addition, many people also follow traditional crafts building a few traditional villages in Ninh Binh for customers to join in weaving, embroidery.

To explore Ninh Binh, travelers are able to rent a bike or motorbike. Or take a tour with car supported, trekking around villages or Cuc Phuong national park.

Cuc-phuong-national-park
A Gate to Cuc Phuong National Park

It is true that Halong bay attracts extensively more tourists than Ninh Binh does. The classic way to explore the bay is by taking an overnight cruise. Enjoying a more leisurely pace and sipping a cocktail on deck sound more interesting than fighting evening traffic.

Have you heard the Halong bay is for tourists? No doubt about it, given the UNESCO Heritage Site title and spectacularly unique nature, it makes sense. However In our opinion even other’s opinion it is a must see.

Ms-garret-mr-david-on-our-ha-long-bay-day-tour
View from peak of Totip Island to Halong bay

Ninh Binh on the other hand lined up with natural beauty and cultural sights gets less tourists than Halong bay however the peaceful environment of Vietnamese villages make it different. Spending money for an easy trip in Ninh Binh is much cheaper than a luxury cruise while you can experience a boat tour, cycling, and cave exploration.

We can’t force you to choose Halong or Ninh Binh, though they are worth being visited in Vietnam. If you have time enough let’s perfect your trip by visiting both Halong for 2 days 1 night and Ninh Binh for 1 day with Hanoi Explore Travel.

>>> Take A Look At 15 Best Day Trips From Hanoi <<<