Together, we started our journey in Hanoi, road tripped to Ninh Binh and Pu Luong before we circled back to Hanoi with our wonderful local guide Linda. Here are the highlights of our adventure-filled itinerary (aka my favourite Instagram spots!) on the #AcanelaVietnam Tour.
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Temple of Literature, Hanoi
The Temple of Literature is Vietnam’s first national university and attending the university was considered an extremely high honour as it was reserved for only the most elite scholars and members of the royal family.
Now, this historic landmark is one of the most photographed sites in Hanoi with five beautiful courtyards and two landscape gardens. For the photographers out there, I recommend getting here at opening time (Tuesday – Sunday 8:30AM) if you want to get some pictures before the tour buses roll-in. The entry fee is VND 10,000.
Boat Ride in Trang An, Ninh Binh
Trang An is known as the ‘Ha Long Bay’ of Ninh Binh is one of Vietnam’s hidden jewels.
Our group split into teams of four and our guides navigated us peacefully along the bay and river caves. Doing this as the sun was setting behind the limestone cliffs was an incredible sight!
Remember to leave your guide a tip (somewhere around 20,000 to 40,000 VND) for your local guide for all their efforts.
Emeralda Resort, Ninh Binh
After a long day on the road travelling from Hanoi, it was a great feeling to check-in to one of the most photogenic resorts in Ninh Binh. With the endless amount of photo opps and the amazing breakfast buffet, it’s no wonder Emeralda Resort is a popular wedding venue location too.
Tam Coc Village, Ninh Binh
We arrived in Tam Coc Village in the late afternoon where we carefully balance ourselves on the unoccupied boats to enjoy the landscape that I think truly encapsulates the heart and history of Ninh Binh.
If I had to pick my favourite spot from this trip, this would be it!
Bich Dong Pagoda, Ninh Binh
Bich Dong Pagoda is a cultural and historical relic that is just a short 3km away from Tam Coc village. The area is made of three pagodas in total but the most impressive one is right at the entrance so you won’t need to walk far to get that photo opp.
Compared to the main tourist attractions around the area, this UNESCO Heritage listed area is actually relatively unknown to tourists so it’s easy to enjoy a quiet stroll here without much fuss.
The Lying Dragon Mountain, Ninh Binh
Lying Dragon Mountain is a short stairmaster walk (450 steps to be exact) and 100,000 VND entrance fee away from landscape heaven.
In fact, before we even made our way through the entrance gate, we noticed this little piece of paradise:
As you enter the site, you’ll notice that the staircase runs up the mountain and splits into two paths – make sure you give yourself enough time to explore both paths as the view from the pagoda (right path) and the view from the lying dragon (left path) are both unique and special in their own way.
Lying Dragon View:
PuLuong Retreat, Thanh Hoa
This bamboo lodge is tucked away in the mountains and rice paddies of Pu Luong. From our bungalow, we could see panoramic views of the village and the view from the infinity pool was even more impressive.
There were so many highlights of this Vietnam trip that my friend and I decided to extend our stay in Vietnam to discover Hoi An. I can’t wait to share our highlights from Hoi An and more in the upcoming week!