We arrived in Ninh Binh late in the afternoon after a long days riding. We rode around and set about finding ourselves a Nha Nghi – it really wasn’t too long before we found one fairly central with a very friendly manager (who wanted to buy our bikes!).
After settling in we decided to roam about in search for food and after walking around a few blocks, ended up back at the nha nghi at the restaurant opposite, as recommended by the manager! We had a great meal of pho and fried rice dishes, but the best part was the owners young toddler son who was very entertaining and kept coming up to play with us who refused to wear his trousers despite his grandmas best efforts, funny chap!
This place was the first time we noticed all the locals had an obsession with pumpkin seeds, I was wondering what they were all eating as it sounded like popping candy, but tables upon tables were cracking open the seeds and eating the inner seed/kernel. Mystery solved! After dinner and a few beers it was time for bed.
The next morning we decided we’d wander over to a western style cafe for breakfast – Eddie ordered a cheeseburger which turned out to be “the worst ever!!” very sweet with little meat or cheese and a cucumber as a pickle substitute – my brekkie was ok, two eggs, they couldn’t go too far off track with that!
Ninh Binh Market
After brekkie we wandered around the streets and found the local market which was full to the brim with household items and clothes, not too much in the way of food to buy. It was pretty quiet and most of the stall owners were asleep on sunloungers next to their stalls, there was also a very distinct urine small throughout the market, nice! We walked around but didn’t buy anything as we’re trying to stay light on the bikes. It was ok for a look but not a must see.
Trang An cave tours
That afternoon we took our bikes over to Trang An which is a scenic area close by, known for its cave boat tours. Upon arriving you pay for a ticket and then get ushered on to a small shallow boat – there were four to a boat so we shared one with two other tourists – behind us was an employee who rowed us around four different caves.
The tour lasted about two and a half hours and the caves were amazing! Each cave was a little different, there were some with really low stalactites and a lot of crouching was needed. Between the caves were beautiful lakes and it was nice spotting all the local wildlife including mountain goats on land and dive bombing ducks!
Sitting in the boat was ok to start with but you sit on a fairly narrow plank and so towards the end of the tour ‘numb bum’ was setting in. Also the rowing lady kept shoving us in the back to lean forward to balance the boat, kinda got annoying after a while.
There were lots of tourists there and it’s a must see if you make it to Ninh Binh – our only advice is to get a seat at the front of the boat to avoid any prodding!
After a lovely afternoon on the boat we headed back and got ready for dinner – this time we figured we’d be adventurous and try a back alley; big mistake! We got given something pho-like, but it tasted like feet! We ate some of it, not to be rude, and then went straight to another restaurant and ordered a delicious local fruit salad dessert to get the taste out of our mouths!
Food wise we had more misses that hits in Ninh Binh – we’d recommend not getting too adventurous and sticking to the advice of the hotel manager!