7 best photography locations in Ninh Binh
Vietnam is an incredibly photogenic country. From its charismatic people to the colorful handcrafts they create and of course the diverse, rugged landscapes. While each region of the country has its own personality and characteristics, one of the most appealing areas is arguably the province of Ninh Binh. Have you ever visited this spectacular place yet? Let’s follow Focus Asia Travel to find out more information about 7 best photography locations in Ninh Binh.
1. Hoa Lu ancient capital
Located away from the city and nestled between the mountains, this historic place is the perfect way to spend your time admiring the expansive gardens, unique architecture and stunning views of the surrounding area. Sense the impressive history of the empire that once ruled this land for more than 1000 years.
Sadly the ancient citadels are no longer standing but you’ll still find plenty of photo opportunities discovering the temples and shrines which were built in honour of the former emperors and their queens.
2. Mua caves
Many people flock to the Mua Caves to climb the steps and witness the best views of the area. What they’re not expecting are the jungle-esque gardens at the base of the ascent which consist of hanging vines and a very aesthetic footbridge passing over a small stream. Take some time with long exposure to enjoy this area before or after your trek up the stairs.
From the bottom of the mountain, one can clearly see the steps extending to the top of the mountain, looking like a miniature Great Wall. Up to the top of Mua caves, you will see the view of the ripe rice fields and the paddle boats flickering on the water.
3. Bai Dinh pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is Southeast Asia’s largest Buddhist complex. It consists of several temples and over 500 intricately carved statues of Buddha, including one that’s made of bronze and is 10 metres in height. Set within the Gia Sinh Commune, it attracts a huge crowd of local devotees and travellers looking to pay their respects and have their fortunes told by the resident monks.
There are two main pagodas of the same name, one of which is located on the slopes of Dinh Mountain. Accessible via a 300-step stairway, this quiet shrine houses a main prayer hall and natural caves, where locals pray to Buddha and mountain spirits such as Saint Nguyen and Genie Cao Son.
4. Tam Coc – Bich Dong
The most popular thing to do in Ninh Binh is to take a pleasant wooden boat ride down the peaceful Tam Cốc River. Also known as “Ha Long among the rice paddies”, the impressive limestone structures and green rice fields form the landscape. In peak season, hundreds of these boats flock the waters carrying visitors between the mountains and through stalactite and stalagmite lined caves. With some caves reaching 125 meters in length, when floating along the water your sight is blinded by the darkness and you’re other senses heighten; hearing the sounds of bats and smelling the scent of ancient stone. The moment you exit the cave is one of the many priceless photo opportunities on this majestic ride.
Don’t let the women strategically positioned along the way disturb this natural wonder. You may be pressured into buying overpriced drinks and snacks for you and your guide. To avoid this bring some in your bag from town and an extra water for your guide as well.
The best time to take the boat ride is early in the morning or in the very late afternoon sun for the best photography opportunities. Purchase a conical hat beforehand to get that classic whimsical shot from inside the boat.
5. Trang An
Trang An tourist area is the most famous tourist destination of Ninh Binh today. With beautiful unspoiled natural scenery, Trang An Ninh Binh has been recognized by Unesco as a natural heritage and World cultural heritage site.
The scene here is made up of winding rivers flowing through limestone mountains, creating countless fanciful natural mystical caves. It’s the best way to explore Trang An, visitors will be seated on a rowing boat for watching the surrounding beautiful nature.
6. Am Tien Cave
7. Thung Nham Bird Garden- A site for bird lovers
From the sweeping rice paddies to the towering karsts, it might be easy to miss Thung Nham Bird Garden while visiting Tam Coc, Vietnam. I’m here to say that would be a huge mistake.
The park is reletively new to Tam Coc tourism, but it has been constructed in such a tasteful manner. There are no tourist stalls hawking clothing items, there’s no touts selling you needless trinkets. What there is though at Thung Nham Bird Garden, is a mix of culture, nature, and heritage of the region.
When we arrived at the entrance, we were given maps and pointed in the right direction. The first attraction we came across was the Mermaid Cave. While I have been in caves before, this cave was really fun to walk around! To begin, you walk down a decently steep and long flight of stairs into a giant black hole. Creepy, right? There is a wide wooden walkway that makes a loop around the actual cave once you make it down the steps. The stalactites that hang down from the ceiling will have to be ducked under but that’s half the fun!