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Although Hanoi and Ninh Binh are located in Northern Vietnam, they stand in stark contrast. The former is the capital of Vietnam, bustling and full of energy, while the latter is an idyllic haven for nature lovers. A Hanoi tour, which is almost always the first thing visitors do on their Vietnam trip, seamlessly blends the old and the new, the noisy and the calm sides of the capital city. Its bustling streets, centuries-old architecture, rich culture, and tranquil lakes captivate visitors. On the other hand, Ninh Binh lures you with its breathtaking natural wonders, including the Unesco-listed Trang An Landscape Complex and the majestic Tam Coc, often called the ‘Ha Long Bay on Land.’ This guide explores different travel options and provides tips for smooth travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh.

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Ways to Get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

Spanning a distance of approximately 100 kilometers, the journey from Hanoi to Ninh Binh can be undertaken via two-wheelers, private cars, taxis, limousine vans, trains, and buses.

By Two-wheeler

Man riding a scooter near limestone mountains in Ninh Binh.
Traveling on a scooter to Ninh Binh from Hanoi allows you to take off on your own for mini trips and detours mid or post-journey.

Exploring Ninh Binh on a two-wheeler, such as a scooter or a motorbike, is popular among many travelers. Renting a two-wheeler in Hanoi requires only an identification document and a deposit sum. The best way to rent your ride is by walking into popular rental markets in Hang Be, Ta Hien, Dinh Liet, and the small streets in the Old Quarter. The shortest route from Hanoi to Ninh Binh on a two-wheeler is the National Road 1A (QL1A), which takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Pro tips:

  • Renting a scooter doesn’t require a license in Vietnam. But if you do not have experience riding a scooter, it is best to let someone experienced drive and ride a pillion.
  • Rent a two-wheeler from a reliable rental service, or seek assistance from your hotel.
  • There are multiple routes to get to Ninh Binh from Hanoi, varying in time, scenery, and experience. Explore the options with your rental service and choose accordingly.
  • Road conditions in Vietnam may differ from those in your home country, so ride carefully and always adhere to traffic regulations.
  • Wear helmets and other protective clothing, which are non-negotiable for your safety.

By Car or Taxi

Rental cars parked on a street in Hanoi.
Renting a car instead of hailing a taxi in Hanoi to travel to Ninh Binh is a more convenient and economical option if you are traveling in a group of four to five people.

The fastest method to travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is by car, whether self-driven or in a taxi, with a maximum travel time of 2 hours. Your tour operator can make arrangements for a self-drive trip, or you can also surf your options online. For taxis, Grab is an extremely popular option. While renting a car is cheaper, taxis drop you off directly at your accommodation in Ninh Binh, making it more convenient.

Pro tips:

  • To rent a car in Vietnam, you need to have a valid driver’s license issued by your country or a Vietnamese driving permit.
  • Although taxi fares may exceed those of alternative transportation options, dividing the cost among several passengers can make it a more economical choice.
  • Make the most of the flexibility offered by car journey and take the opportunity to explore picturesque detours on the way to Ninh Binh.

By Train

Train track in Old Quarter passed when travelling from Hanoi to Ninh Binh.
You will transverse the residential narrow streets of Old Quarter as you travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh on a train.

Taking the train is another option to reach Ninh Binh from Hanoi. Hanoi and Ninh Binh lie along the North-South railway line, so traveling between these destinations by train is notably convenient. Six trains operate daily, departing from 6:00 am to 8:10 pm. The train journey typically lasts around 2.5 hours. Prices range from USD 7 to USD 15, depending on the time of the year and seat class.

Pro tips:

  • Book your tickets in advance to avoid potential price hikes during peak travel seasons.
  • Arrive early to allow yourself enough time to find the platform, finish the required paperwork, and avoid unnecessary hassles. It is a good idea to arrive at the train station 40 minutes before departure.
  • Take the journey as an opportunity to unwind and admire the picturesque scenery of the Vietnamese countryside.

By Bus or Limousine Van

A sleeper bus that goes from Hanoi to Ninh Binh.
Traveling from Hanoi to Ninh Binh at night on a sleeper bus, you save time for a full day trip in Ninh Binh the next day.

Taking a public bus is one of the most affordable ways to travel to Ninh Binh from Hanoi. The journey lasts about 2 to 2.5 hours. Buses from Hanoi to Ninh Binh depart every 20 minutes from Giap Bat bus station. Popular bus operators on this route include Hoang Long, Cuong Hung, Ba Dep, Hoang Thin, and Cat Loi.

Another option is to take a limousine van, which typically seats 11 passengers. Service providers like A21 Tours, Tripadvisor, and trip.com offer tickets. The ride is more expensive but convenient, with luxurious interiors and amenities like WiFi and charging ports.

Pro tips:

  • Bus services have customized options to accommodate the requirements of both tourists and locals. Select the one that aligns best with your plans.
  • You can find sleeper buses even during the day if you need more space to stretch your legs.
  • Ninh Binh is generally considered a safe destination, even at night, but take general precautions. Be mindful of your belongings to protect yourself from petty theft.
Mode Time Cost Why choose this?
Two-wheeler Direct: 2 hours 20 min USD 8 to USD 10 Freedom to venture off the track and explore
Car Direct: 2 hours At least USD 60 Convenient
Train 2.5 hours USD 7 to USD 15 Picturesque journey
Bus 2.5 to 3 hours At least USD 5 Economical

Hanoi to Ninh Binh Itinerary

Hanoi Opera House on a morning.
Visit the Hanoi Opera House to witness a glimpse of the cultural and historical impact of French colonization in Hanoi.
Woman cycling through rice fields in Ninh Binh.
Embark on a cycling tour through the lush rice fields in Ninh Binh.

 A three to four-day itinerary is perfect for soaking in the best of these two destinations in northern Vietnam. If you don't have time, one or two days are enough to visit the highlights of Ninh Binh.

Begin your adventure in Hanoi, where vibrant streets await exploration. Take your time discovering famous landmarks such as Hoan Kiem Lake, the Old Quarter, Jade Island, and the Temple of Literature. Indulge in the flavors of authentic Vietnamese cuisine at local eateries. Try pho, banh mi, and other delectable dishes. Dive into the allure of ancient temples and bustling markets.

Escape the bustling capital city of Hanoi for the serene land of Ninh Binh. You can stop at Perfume Pagoda and take a boat ride. Hike up to Bich Dong Pagoda at Ninh Binh, a stunning complex in limestone mountains. Head to Trang An, a Unesco World Heritage Site known for its spectacular landscape and cave systems. Enjoy a boat tour through the Trang An Grottoes, passing through natural tunnels and lush greenery. Explore the panoramic view of the rice fields of Tam Coc and the Hang Mua Caves. Explore the grand architecture and serene surroundings of the Bai Dinh Pagoda, one of the largest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia.

You can also prolong your journey beyond your Ninh Binh tour from Hanoi to explore the Vietnamese countryside.

Complete our customized Vietnam trip form so our local experts can craft your Hanoi and Ninh Binh itinerary. For more information before planning your trip, read our Vietnam guide and article on the best time to visit Vietnam.

Published by Supriya Rayamajhi, updated on April 5, 2024

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