Photo: Canals of Ca Mau, Mekong Delta.

Vietnam forum

Hue or Ninh Binh?

Posted by Dorotich on 3/5/2014 at 13:26

Having recently discovered an interesting homestay in the countryside outside of Ninh Binh , we are now torn about the penultimate part of our 5-week visit to SE Asia this summer. Following a 5-day stay in Hoi An, we had originally planned to stay 3-nights in Hue to see the obvious sites of the Citadel, the Tombs, and possibly Bach Ma National Park.

Now we are considering the over-night train to Ninh Binh and spending a couple of nights so that we can explore Tam Coc - Bich Dong, Trang An Grottoes, Hoa Lu, or Van Long Nature Reserve.

As much as we would love to see both, we simply do not have the time to do so. We would very much like to hear feedback from those of you whom have been to these locations. What did you like or dislike about them? If you had to chose one over the other, which would it be and why?


#1 Dorotich has been a member since 5/3/2014. Posts: 8

Posted by TerroirTravel on 4/5/2014 at 14:36

I know some people liked Hue, but I did not. More touts per square inch than anywhere! Loved Hoi An, though.

Have you thought about going to Phong Nha Farmstay instead of Hue? It was the highlight of Vietnam for me, and 3 days is a perfect amount of time.

Sorry, I know that it wasn't what was asked, but it was really a great experience.

#2 TerroirTravel has been a member since 1/2/2014. Posts: 76
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Posted by nganhafdt89 on 5/5/2014 at 04:43

Posted from within Vietnam.

Both are very nice, very difficult to choose one of twolocations, but I think you can still satisfy both if you spend a reasonabletime:
3 days in Hoi An , visit: Cu Lao Cham, My Son Sanctuary,the Cantonese Communal House, Thien Hau temple, Japanese Bridge and Tan Kyancient commercial house, etc.
Then, drive from Hoi An to Hue, spend 2 days in Hue, visit:Hue Citadel, Thien Mu pagoda, Minh Mang Tomb, Tomb of Khai Dinh, Tu Duc Tomb. BachMa National Park about 50km from Hue, you can visit it on the way from Hoi Anto Hue.
Night train to Ninh Binh, spend 2 days left to explore: TamCoc - Bich Dong, Hoa Lu, Trang An, Bai Dinh Pagoda.
Good luck,

#3 nganhafdt89 has been a member since 18/12/2013. Posts: 7

Posted by Filia on 6/5/2014 at 06:06

Sorry can not answer your question because we have the same dilemma.....

We do are interested in a homestay near ninh binh!
Can you give us the name?



#4 Filia has been a member since 6/5/2014. Posts: 5

Posted by Dorotich on 6/5/2014 at 08:26

Hi Marijke;
The homestay we are considering is Nguyen Shack. They also have a homestay in the Mekong Delta where we will be staying earlier in our trip. It was because of their website that we began considering this option. Here is the link:


#5 Dorotich has been a member since 5/3/2014. Posts: 8

Posted by Dorotich on 6/5/2014 at 08:34

In response to TerroirTravel;

Thanks for throwing another monkey wrench into our a result of your fine suggestion, we are now leaning toward the Phong Nha Farmstay. Our twenty year old children are excited about the prospect of observing traditional rural life up close and the caves are a big draw.

#6 Dorotich has been a member since 5/3/2014. Posts: 8

Posted by Filia on 6/5/2014 at 09:31

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your quick answer.
We had also find this homestay but it was a little bit above our budget.

Thanks anyway!


#7 Filia has been a member since 6/5/2014. Posts: 5

Posted by HamishHealys on 14/5/2014 at 17:11

Go with the overnight train to Ninh Binh. There's a cluster of nice places to visit like the Trang An Grottoes. By the way, don't forget to enjoy that exotic Vietnamese food!

#8 HamishHealys has been a member since 26/4/2014. Location: Australia. Posts: 13

Posted by TerroirTravel on 3/7/2014 at 20:01

Hi! Did you go to Phong Nha? Did you do the cave thing? I hope you loved/will love it!


#9 TerroirTravel has been a member since 1/2/2014. Posts: 76
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Posted by onapthanh on 11/7/2014 at 19:27

Posted from within Vietnam.

I think that now we go with the overnight train to Ninh Binh

#10 onapthanh has been a member since 11/7/2014. Posts: 1
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Posted by daawgon on 12/7/2014 at 11:43

I would opt for Ninh Binh also, but remember that the town of Ninh Binh itself is nothing much. I also have a problem with Hue since I was scammed there several times!

(I suggest you ask specific Ninh Binh questions on the Tripadvisor Vietnam forum - they have a moderator there who is very familiar with the area)

#11 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,151
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Posted by larsay on 20/7/2014 at 02:33

Posted from within Vietnam.

Well, one has absolutely NOTHING to do with the other ! Hue is a charming city with a great deal of historic sites such as the Imperial City, Thien Mu Pagoda and the marvelous Mausoleums (main ones : Ming Mang, Khai Dinh, Tu Duc); 2 days in Hue are OK. You then take the night train Hue- Ninh Binh + taxi Ninh Binh (where you do not stay ; ugly !)-TAM COC. 2 days in Tam Coc.

Forget the Trang An boat ride, developed for Asian tourists, so it's all concrete, big crowds (they have now even installed loud-speakers which blast music) ; the same real state shark has developed the site of the Bai Dinh Pagoda, a gigantic concrete complex with no charm whatsoever.; the most beautiful boat ride is still the Tam Coc one, to do before 10 in the morning (before the excursion groups arrive) or around 4 (when they have left). Do not forget to climb the 450 steps of the Hang Mua Pagoda ; the view from the top is stunning ! Avoid Tam Coc on week-ends, busy-busy with Hanoi ans !

Then, day train Ninh Binh-Hanoi (often late !) or better, you ask your hotel to arrange a return on an excursion minibus ; there are always seats available (50-60 000 D), which stop you in Old Hanoi, sometimes in front of your hotel or the closest possible (you just give the name and address of the hotel to the tour guide)

I do not know any homestay in Tam Coc because I always stay at the famous small hotel Chez loan, whose owner Loan is a celebrity (last week was the 40th time I go there, a sheer heaven when you get tired of Hanoi noise !). However, I know that one Canadian has opened a small "resort" of bamboo cabins nearby.

#12 larsay has been a member since 20/7/2014. Posts: 45

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