Hoa Lu & Trang An - wtg6
Hoa Lư was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. The area is one of ricefields broken by picturesque limestone mountains, and is approximately 100km south of Hanoi. Together with Phát Diệm Cathedral, Tam Cốc-Bích Động, Bái Đính Temple, Trang An, and Cúc Phương, Hoa Lư is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam.
In the late 10th century, Hoa Lư was the capital as well as the economic, political and cultural center of Đại Cồ Việt, an independent Vietnamese polity founded in 968 A.D. by the local warlord Đinh Bộ Lĩnh (posthumously known as Đinh Tiên Hoàng, or "First Dinh Emperor"), following years of civil war and a violent secessionist movement against China's Southern Han Dynasty. Hoa Lư was the native land of the first two imperial dynasties of Vietnam: the Đinh founded by Đinh Tiên Hoàng, and the Early Lê founded by Lê Đại Hành. Following the demise of the Lê Dynasty, in 1010 Lý Công Uẩn, the founder of the Lý Dynasty, transferred the capital to Thăng Long (now Hanoi), and Hoa Lư became known as the "ancient capital" and famous for the travelers as “Ha Long in land”.
A must-see during your time in Ninh Binh is Tam Coc, a marvelous site of limestone cliffs, rising majestically out of rice paddies. On a hired boat, visitors navigate their way down the river, marvelling at the expense of rice paddies on either side of them, shadowed by the incredible cliffs.
Trang An Grottoes
Similar to Tam Coc, a visit to Trang An Grottoes will have visitors navigating in their hired boat by expansive cliffs, but also through a series of natural caves of all different sizes, many of which give way to secret green and blue grottos.
Cuc Phuong National Park
Welcome to the rainforest: just an hour from Ninh Binh is Cuc Phuong National Park, a rainforest housing an endangered primates rescue centre, a botanical garden and a turtle center. Visitors may motorbike, drive, cycle or walk through the 12 miles of jungle trails, where they can see an incredible amount of flora and fauna, including thousands of butterflies.
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Once the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries, this ancient capital holds an annual festival in the streets to celebrate its rich history. But anytime of year is a good time to explore this city - a short bike ride from Ninh Binh - and visit its temples: Dinh Tien Hoang, Nhat Tru Temple and Le Dai Hanh.
Phat Diem Cathedral
For architecture gurus, a visit to Phat Diem Cathedral is a must. Mixing a number of architectural styles and incorporating Buddhist influence, this Catholic cathedral is designed as a main church with four smaller churches and gardens surrounding it, creating an impressive, tranquil estate.
Bái Đính Temple or Bái Đính Temple Spiritual and Cultural Complex is a complex of Buddhist temples on Bai Dinh Mountain. The compound consists of the original old temple and a newly created larger temple. It is considered the largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam and has become a popular site for Buddhist pilgrimages from across Vietnam. The highlight is a combination of more than 500 Buddha’s statures, the largest one is 150 tons.