Ninh Binh is an awesome site with giant limestone karst formations jutting out of the rice paddies. This ancient land is enriched with historical, cultural and geographical wonders. Visiting Trang An Nature Reserve and Bai Dinh pagoda is a fantastic experience for a day tour from Hanoi.
8:00 AM: Start from your hotel for 2 hour drive to Bai Dinh pagoda which is one of the most impressive of Buddhism centers in Vietnam. On arrival at pagoda, walk along a path with 500 stone arhats alongside it, lining the route to the main pagodas. Each of the large pagodas and huge statues is an example of artistic architecture.
Take a lift to the viewpoint, a 13-storey tower that is believed to keep a part of Buddha’s ashes. Experience a panoramic view of the largest pagoda in Southeast Asia, surrounded by an exquisite river valley that is dotted with limestone karsts which will take your breath away.
Have a break for lunch then visit Trang An, the world's first mixed heritage zone, recognized by UNESCO in 2014. On arrival at the pier, you will board a private traditional sampan boat which is gently rowed by a local. Cruise across a poetic river through a series of caves, some of them being 300-400m long. Every section offers you a new hidden world inside isolated valleys of tranquility.
Step off the boat for a walk through peaceful pagodas and temples worshipping the most famous Tran Dynasty’s mandarins. Hike up to get better views then continue down to a movie set island where the latest iteration of the King Kong movie series “Kong: Skull Island” was filmed. Get back on the sampan boat, immersing yourselves in the beauty of the nature while heading back to the pier.
Finally transfer back to Hanoi in the late afternoon.