2hrs south of Hanoi lies the majestic landscapes of Ninh Binh, much less known than Halong Bay. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2014, with limestone karsts topped by greenery rising from rivers, rice fields and wetlands, punctuated by historic temples and winding grottoes. It was also selected as a filming location for Kong: Skull Island.
Explore Cuc Phuong National Park, habitat for some of Asia's rarest species like the langurs and slow loris. Ancient trees rise to 70m and wild orchids grow among the lianas. A glorious time to visit is April when thousands of butterflies’ hatch.
Illegal trade and loss of habitat has a devastating impact and Cuc Phuong is home to 3 conservation programs. The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, The Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program and The Turtle Conservation Centre all aim at rehabilitating and conserving species.
Overnight at Emeralda Resort – located on the edge of Van Long Wetlands and within a short radius of the Hoa Lu Temples, Trang An and Cuc Phuong National Park.
The early morning is the best time to explore the Van Long Wetlands. This quiet eco-tourism site is popular with birdwatchers and home to the endangered Delacour’s langurs.
Next, the ethereal beauty of the Trang An Karsts & Grottoes, where you will be rowed around the spectacular limestone peaks. Covering an area of 1,961 hectares, we explore winding streams, caves and ancient pagodas.
In the afternoon, visit historic Hoa Lu Temple. Surrounded by karsts and natural moats, it was the seat of Vietnam’s first feudal dynasty and saw assassination plots and intrigue before the capital transferred to Hanoi.
March & April, October & November are the best times to visit, April has butterflies.
Avoid weekends and national holidays.
Option: travel one-way on the famous Reunification Express! Daily between Hanoi and Ninh Binh taking about 2.5 hours, morning arrivals in Ninh Binh, afternoon departures.