Ninh Binh, a city located in the Red River Delta of Northern Vietnam, is a famous base for exploring the nearby limestone karst scenery, particularly at Tam Coc 4 miles (6 kilometers) away. At Tam Coc, or “three caves” in English, limestone formations tower above verdant rice paddies in what is considered one of Vietnam’s most spectacular places. The area is best experienced by sampan on the river meandering through the landscape.
Also close by to Ninh Binh are the Trang An Grottoes, a series of caves similar to those at Tam Coc an easy bike ride outside of town. Bich Dong Pagoda, located just west of Tam Coc, dates back to the 15th century with temples built directly into the limestone caves. Phat Diem Cathedral, located a bit farther afield, was built during the late 19th century using typical Vietnamese temple architecture. History lovers should make time for a visit to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam 9 miles (15 kilometers) outside of Ninh Binh town.