Our three-day trip to the Northern part of Vietnam was made of three full days, which we wanted to maximise in exploring the Vietnamese culture as possible.
During my itinerary planning, Halong Bay and Hanoi City are a sure go for the schedules, and there’s just one full day that we can use. Initially, I was looking into other cities/provinces in the North like Sapa, Ho An, etc. then realized that best to visit these other places on a different trip. (That’s when I realised that Vietnam really has a lot to offer!)
For our third activity, I was choosing betwen Bai Dinh and Hoa Lu — both are located in the Ninh Binh province. When we because we factored in the activity duration, we ended up choosing Ninh Binh: Bai Dinh Day Tour since our flight back to Manila is at 2:00am, and we should be at the airport at least by 12mn. I am going straight to work, and needed to rest before the flight.
Hoa Lu if I remember correctly takes about two more hours than the Bai Dinh tour, and we wanted to be back at Hanoi by 7pm at least.
Ninh Binh Province: Bai Dinh Day Tour
Our tour started at 8am. We were picked up by the tour company at our hotel located at the Old Quarters. The travel time from Hanoi City to Bai Dinh pagoda is estimated to be around 3 hours, so best to make sure you have breakfast before you leave the hotel because the snacks at the stopover can be a bit pricey.
Bai Dinh’s best known for their cement industry, and the richest man in the province has built the biggest and only palace owned by a private person in Vietnam.
The Bai Dinh Pagoda is said to be the biggest in Southeast Asia, as it homes a complex of Buddhist temples on Bai Dinh Mountain in Gia Viễn District. From the main entrance, to reach the pagoda complex, you may rent to ride the electric cars
Inside the complex, you will see an original Old temple, a new larger temple, a lake and park system, and a Bhao Thap which they say is composed of 12 levels and lights up bright during the night.
An estimate of 500 intricately carved statues of Buddha is inside the whole complex, which is already present upon entering the vicinity. Amongst the first statues there’s also the Dien Tam The (said to be the largest building in the complex) — It is made of 3 layers of 12 curvy roofs shaped in Vietnamese blades.
Ninh Binh Province: Trang An Tour
After visiting the temples of Bai Dinh, less than an hour from it is the Trang An river tour. They said it was used as a set for King Kong, and the ride around lasted for almost 3 hours.
There are different route options:
First route: Tran Temple –Khong Pagoda, you will have the chance to visit 12 caves and 3 spiritual spots on Sao Khue river of 15km circularly as following: Trinh Temple, Toi cave, Sang cave, Nau Ruou cave, Tran cave, Ba Giot cave, Seo cave, Son Duong cave, Khong temple, Tran cave, Quy Hau cave. This is going to take you around 3 hours
Second Route:Vu Lam royal palace– Kong film studio, you are taken to visit three special places for around 3 hours: Trinh temple, Dot cave, May cave, Suoi Tien temple (Fairy Stream temple), Dia Linh mountain, Dai cave, Vu Lam imperial palace, Kong film studio: Skull Island
Check out our vlog for this tour!