Friday, January 30, 2015

Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Ninh Binh is a small village a few hours south of Hanoi. It’s often called “Halong Bay on rice paddies”, with huge karst mountains erupting out of serene, green flatlands. The common thing to do there is take a boat ride through the most pristine stretch of scenery, through caves and, at this time of year, past hundreds of farming families planting their rice crops. There are also some historic pagodas scattered about, and a really scenic viewpoint reached via a 500-stair climb. While it’s a popular daytrip from Hanoi, we decided to venture there by bus and stay a few days to take it all in (and not have to backtrack back to Hanoi before our continued journey south).

I knew we’d encounter a sleepy, very rarely tourist-ed town. I knew we’d hire a guide to take us around to the best sites. What I didn’t know, is that we’d decide to do it by bicycle. And that the ride itself would be my very favorite part of the whole experience.

Through herds of buffalo. Down silent country roads. Along narrow crests jutting from rice fields. It was an incredible day, with a lovely and knowledgeable guide. Totally exceeded our expectations.

For photos of the unexpected delights in Ninh Binh, click HERE.

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