Duration: 3Days 2Nights.
Nicknamed as Halong Bay without water, Ninh Binh is an outstanding destination with stunning landscapes including Cuc Phuong National Park and the towering limestone peaks rising from the Tam Coc valley in the trip.
You will find the “authentic” Vietnam – the fertile plains of the Red River Delta, majestic mountains, green paddy fields, peaceful villages, tranquil rivers…all combine to make an unforgettable trip. Escape the stresses of the city, with a bicycle, for a couple of days into an area that compliments a mix of adventure and relaxation. Cycling on dirt paths through villages, talk with friendly local people , see their daily life you will also encounter a nation of people rich in culture, tradition and history with a captivating warmth and friendliness unequalled in South East Asia, best to do this bike tour….
Day 1: Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Hoa Lu – Tam Coc (-/L/D)
Departing Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Arriving in Ninh Binh, you will discuss the day’s activities whilst enjoying a cool drink. You will then depart by car to Tam Coc. Ninh Binh’s rice fields become other-worldly in the Tam Coc ( Three Caves ) area. The mountains have earned the area the nickname ” Halong Bay without water”, a moniker borne out by the limestone karsts which dominate the landscape. You will take a boat to and through the caves, past spectacular cliffs, Lilliputian villages, and lonely farming communities.
Around Tam Coc there are some great restaurants to enjoy some local food specialties. You may try ‘mien luon’ (eel in noodle soup), ‘ca ghem muoi’ (local pickled vegetable), or ‘thit de nuong’ (grilled goat) for lunch (own account).
After lunch, the guide will assist you with your bicycles in preparation for your cycle tour of Hoa Lu. The bicycle tour is a round trip of 24km through spectacular scenery of rice fields, karsts mountains and quaint rural villages. Leaving the restaurant, you will pass glowing lime kilns fed by the mining of the lime stone mountains.
Hoa Lu is the site of the former capital of the Vietnamese state, post Chinese rule in the first millennium. The site was chosen for its geographic location, which made it virtually impenetrable and served as the capital from AD 968 until it was moved to present day Hanoi in 1011. Nothing remains of the capital; however, the attraction is the raw beauty, temples dating back to the 17th Century, the King’s Tomb and the simple life of the farmers in the region.
On completion of the cycle tour you will return to your hotel and an opportunity to have a cool drink to refresh. You may want to ask your guide for directions to Ninh Binh’s local markets where you will see typical Vietnamese trading without the tourists.
Day 2: Ninh Binh- Phat Diem/ Kenh Ga- Cuc Phuong National Park (B/L/D)
Over breakfast you will meet and discuss the day’s activities with your guide.
Option 1 – Phat Diem:
A 28km bicycle ride will take you through striking rural scenery where you will see rural churches of grand proportions and a rare Japanese covered bridge. Once you arrive in the village of Phat Diem , you will be able to take a break and cool drink in one of the local cafes. The streets of Phat Diem are worth exploring for their numerous sewing shops, a great local market and the majestic Catholic Cathedral, which illuminates the surrounding streets. Phat Diem Cathedral is the centre for Vietnamese Catholicism and one of 30 churches in the area built by French Jesuits. The cathedral blends Chinese with Western styles in its solid grey stone and wood architecture. Its peaceful gardens and magnificent bell towers attract thousands of Vietnamese Catholics from surrounding dioceses. After your tour of Phat Diem it is a return drive to Ninh Binh in your private transport.
Option 2 – Kenh Ga:
A 21km bicycle ride will take you through striking rural scenery. Once you arrive in the village of Kenh Ga your guide will organize a private boat. Many travellers to Kenh Ga justifiably refer to the area as ” Halong Bay with rice fields”, but for others, there’s no comparison; the magnificent natural beauty of the town’s surroundings knows no equal. Still largely undiscovered, Kenh Ga remains an amazing sight to explore without getting lost in the flocks of tourists. Though the boat tour is named after the floating village, the excursion captures much more; it encompasses a trip past the spectacular limestone mountains that jut out from the rice fields and the river that gently meanders through them. While passing through the rivers with their cliff-side homes, visitors are charmed by smiling, waving children, and the occasional mother holding a baby while paddling along with her feet. There is also an opportunity to explore a water-carved cave with thousands of year of mineral and rock formations.
After your tour of Kenh Ga it is a return drive to Ninh Binh in your private transport for lunch, after lunch we drive 45km to Cuc Phuong National Park . On the way you will pass pineapple farms, ethnic minority groups, beautiful scenery and rural villages. Arriving at the gates at Cuc Phuong NP you can take the opportunity to view the informative Visitor Information Centre. Cuc Phuong NP offers numerous hikes, ethnic minority groups, the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre and rare wildlife.
The late afternoon provides the best time to take one of the short treks through the NP. Public treks in Cuc Phuong include the ‘Ancient Tree trek’ or the ‘Thousand Year Old Tree trek’. These treks vary in difficulty and depend on how active you are feeling. Your guide will be able to provide you with information on difficulty. Overnight in Cuc Phuong national park.
Day 3: Cuc Phuong National Park – Ninh Binh – Hanoi (B/L/-)
After breakfast you will drive to the ‘Cave of Prehistoric Man’ where locals still pay homage to prehistoric artifacts that have been found in the cave.
Departing the National Park you will have the rare opportunity for a guided tour of the Endangered Rescue Primate Centre by one of the German zoologists. Inside reside 15 of Vietnam ‘s 25 species of primates including the extremely rare Cat Ba Langur. The primates are brought to the centre for rehabilitation before being set free in the National Park.
Driving back to Ninh Binh we will return through the spectacular scenery of Hoa Lu. Arriving in Ninh Binh you may have lunch at a fine local restaurant (own account). After lunch, your private transport will be waiting for your return drive to Hanoi . Arrive in Hanoi , drop off at your hotel.