On land, situated to the south of Hanoi, the characteristic geological limestone features of Ha Long Bay resurface on land to the south of Hanoi, in the geology of Ninh Binh.


Ninh Binh is home to Bai Dinh Pagoda, Vietnam’s tallest, and famed for its large bronze bell.

A little way to the south of the pagoda, Trang An is a surreal lakeland setting of beautiful forms and caves and provides for an amazing waterborne journey of exploration.

Another attraction just south from Trang An is the area of Tam Coc, another place to board a small sampan and travel along the river among its towering cliffs and caves.

Tam Coc’s profoundly visual landscape, along with other similarly stunning natural features in northern Vietnam, including Ha Long Bay itself, was the perfect location choice for providing the otherworldly backdrop to the film exploring the origins of the famous gigantic primate in the film ‘Kong: Skull Island’.

Bich Dong Pagoda is one of the main man made attractions of the area, a cluster of three cave temples situated within one of the region’s dramatic rock formations. The eighteenth century structures sit gracefully within their natural setting and provide a peaceful glimpse into Vietnamese cultural life.


Close to Ninh Binh lies Vietnam's first National Park, Cuc Phuong, inaugurated in 1962 to protect its two hundred square kilomtres of tropical forest and the diverse flora and fauna hidden beneath its leafy eaves.

The Park has a range of available accommodation from comfortable to basic, rather than luxury, but compensates with trees in excess of 1000 years of age, tree ferns, over 300 bird species, and many animals, including bears, leopards, and the rare and endangered Delacour’s Langur.

The wonderful and hugely important Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, opened in 1993 to rescue endangered animals and return them to the wild is a great place to observe some truly remarkable and meaningful work and meet the ‘stars’ up close, including Delacour’s, Douc and Cat Ba langurs.


To the southeast of Hanoi, Mai Chau is a scenic valley of cliffs, rice fields and rural villages of the ethnic communities of White Thai, Muong, Zao, Tay, Hoa and H’mong.

The area offers opportunities for trekking or cycling among the shapely landscape, climbing the cliffs, kayaking on Hoa Binh reservoir, or visiting the four chambers of Mo Luong cave.

Treks to visit the local villages of this rural idyll are popular, and homestays are available if you enjoy getting to know traditional ways. The various peoples are renowned for their weaving and craft skills, and a lesson in rustic weaving is an interesting way to spend a couple of hours.

Adjoining Mai Chau, to the south, Pu Luong Nature Reserve is a land respledent with waterfalls and Thai villages, and is a good trekking area for the culturally interested.