Before the film Kong: Skull Island was released, Ninh Binh was not as famous now. While watching the film I thought the film was made in Halong Bay, Vietnam. Indeed, a small portion of the shooting took place in Halong Bay, namely the setting of the area and chase by helicopter. But most of it turns out that shooting was done in Ninh Binh. This Ninh Binh area has much in common with Halong Bay, so it is often dubbed the mainland Halong version. Located about 90 km south of Hanoi, it takes 2 hours to get there.
The city of Ninh Binh is small, but the streets around the city are wide. Around this city, in the not too far away scattered spectacular destinations that will not make you regret having stopped there. Starting from rice fields, historic buildings to sites with caves. You can go through the caves on those sites and feel the sensation. Maybe while imagining an atmosphere like in the Kong movie: Skull Island.
How To Go There
If you are a solo traveler, take a fairly luxurious limousine bus with a ticket price of 175,000 Dong from Hanoi. This bus contains only 10 people and the driver. With regular buses, you can, of course, the ticket price is cheaper. If you want to stay, there are many choices of cheap hotels in Ninh Binh. If you don’t want to stay, get the last bus from Ninh Binh to Hanoi around 7pm. For commuting Ninh Binh, if you have an International SIM just rent a motorcycle, but please remember that there they use the lane on the right. But if don’t have a problem with money, just rent a taxi.
Tam Coc/Trang An/Van Long
There are 3 places that are almost similar to the location of Skull Island’s film shooting, you can choose one. Tam Coc, Trang An and Van Long are all best visited in the morning or evening so as not to overheat and light for good traveling photos. In all three places you can take a boat around the site and enter caves. Tam Coc is more mainstream and often full of tourists. Van Long is more natural while Trang An is in the middle and the cave is cooler. On the way you can also meet lotus flowers, thank God when you get there the flowers are blooming. The boat ride that was pedaled took about 2-3 hours depending on location.
In the afternoon, if your stamina is strong, don’t miss hiking to Mua Cave. Heading to the summit does require a struggle because he has to climb 500 steps. But when it comes to all the struggles it will pay off in full. If the rice fields in Tam Coc are yellowing the scenery is extraordinarily beautiful. Don’t forget to prepare physically and bring mineral water and don’t need to carry heavy things. This location is one of the locations of choice for photo prewedding there.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
This is the largest and widest Buddhist pagoda complex in Asia. The main pagoda towers high on the highest hill, so that from afar it is immediately visible. The location is not too far from Trang An. From the parking area to the complex you have to buy a ticket and then a special vehicle is provided to the main complex. This pagoda complex is very wide and charming. Arriving at the entrance to your complex you can go straight to the top of the hill where the main pagoda is located. the distance is approximately 1 km and you have to walk inside the complex. At the entrance there is usually a guide offering services to explain. If you think it’s important, just rent it.
Phat Diem Cathedral
The cathedral, which was built at the end of 1800, is very unique. Its architecture is a combination of Vietnam and France. Indeed Vietnam is a former French colony that has had a lot of influence on the buildings in Vietnam. This Roman Catholic Church was built of stone with wooden interiors. Even though you are not Catholic, entering this church is not prohibited. The atmosphere does feel different because of the wood interior. If there is a mass or other religious schedule, it is very crowded here, but when it is finished, only the remaining ones are quiet.
Apart from the main destinations above there are still many other locations that you can visit and enjoy in Ninh Binh. Therefore, at least you have to be there for 48 hours. All day long won’t be enough. Want to see other photos in Ninh Binh? just look at my Instagram account.