Top 17 Destinations for First Time Solo Female Travelers

Top 17 Destinations for First Time Solo Female Travelers

If you’re an aspiring first time solo female traveler searching for the best place for your epic adventure, here are 17 amazing destinations for first time solo female travelers.

Solo Female Travelers are a special kind of breed.

In a world where we are told “being a woman going off on her is the most dangerous thing you can do,” it takes a strong woman to do just that.

If I had a dollar for every time someone brought up the movie Taken any time I talk about an upcoming solo trip, I’d likely have enough money to pay for all of the flights that I’ve taken to the 30+ countries I’ve traveled alone.

From the rice fields of Vietnam to the sunny beaches of Greece, I’m breaking down my top 17 destinations for first time solo female travelers.

My One Secret Tip for First-Time Solo Female Travelers

While some destinations are undoubtedly suited more for solo female travelers than others, I have found that my experience is often made by the accommodations I’ve booked.

Now more than ever, there are ample choices of social hostels and co-working hotels designed for solo travelers who want a fun and social experience. Even when I’m not on a strict budget, I will often book private rooms at hostels specifically for the social environment.

Plus, I feel way safer in hostels versus hotels and Airbnb because hostels are designed for young travelers to have a safe, affordable, and fun experience.

In fact, the only time I’ve ever had an uncomfortable experience abroad involving a man following me was when I was staying in a hotel! There’s something to be said about comfort in numbers, and backpackers tend to look out for one another.

I think for a perfect first-time solo female travel experience, it’s best to book a blend of hostels and hotels so that you have opportunities to meet people + have some alone time.

How to Meet People If You’re NOT Staying at a Hostel

I understand if hostels just aren’t your game! I’m sure as I get older I’ll get to a certain point where it just doesn’t fit my travel lifestyle and that is totally fine.

There are increasingly new ways for solo travelers to meet others outside of a hostel setting.

  • If you’re under the age of 35, I’d recommend finding a social hostel with a bar in your city. I do this ALL the time, and I promise so do others!
  • Find a WhatsApp group Chat. Follow @notquitesolotravel on Instagram and join your destination’s group chat. I did this in Tokyo and met so many awesome people!

Essentials for First Time Solo Female Travelers

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Top Destinations for First Time Solo Female Travelers

1. Paros, Greece

what to do in paros

Paros is a stunning Greek island part of the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea, It’s known for its crystal clear waters and charming traditional villages. From lighthouse hikes, snorkeling, and picturesque towns, there is no shortage of things to do in Paros, especially for solo female travelers.

Paros is one of my top favorite destinations for first-time solo female travelers because it is beautiful and very social, yet attracts a slightly mature crowd of backpackers who enjoy nice dinners and sunsets on the beach rather than just straight partying. These are my kind of people!

I highly recommend staying at Paros Backpackers Hostel as you’ll be guaranteed to meet some like-minded travelers to work remotely, enjoy a glass of wine, and play games on the hostel rooftop.

Read my ultimate guide to Paros to find the island’s best-kept secrets.

Where to stay in Paros

Budget: Paros Backpackers Hostel (dorm or private room)

Luxury: Hotel Senia

2. Hoi An, Vietnam

3 Days in Hoi An

Hoi An is a perfect destination for first time solo female travelers. Its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with cute cafes, tailor shops, and art galleries. You can easily spend up to 5 days exploring everything this city has to offer.

My favorite experiences as a solo traveler in Hoi An were getting tailor-made clothes, participating in a bicycle tour of the old town, lantern making, and visiting the beach.

Read my ultimate 3-day travel guide to Hoi An.

Where to stay in Hoi An

Budget: Mad Monkey Hostel

Luxury: Anantara Resort

3. Budapest, Hungary

best things to do in budapest

Budapest is a dream destination for first time solo female travelers! A city so beautiful it’s often referred to as “Paris of the East.” You can get lost and aimlessly wander around this gorgeous city at a fraction of the cost as you can in Paris.

Filled with hostels and social environments like ruin bars – Budapest is a fun, beautiful, and cheap destination for women who love to travel.

Check out some of my favorite things to do in Budapest.

Where to Stay in Budapest:

Budget: Maverick City Lodge

Luxury: Corinthia Hotel

4. Dublin, Ireland

3 Days in Dublin

Dublin is known for being a welcoming and fun city to visit, making it a great destination for first-time solo female travelers. It’s considered a generally pretty safe city to visit and is very compact, making it easy to walk from one end to another.

I’ve been to Dublin a couple of times now traveling solo and I love participating in the free city walking tours and pub crawls.

Here’s my guide on how to spend 3 days in Dublin.

Where to stay in Dublin:

Budget: Jacobs Inn Hostel

Luxury: Merrion Hotel

5. Cartagena, Colombia

best things to do in Cartagena

Cartagena is a city filled with colorful colonial buildings, beautiful boutiques, and vibrant nightlife.

The colonial city has quite a lot of tourism, which makes it a relaxed and inviting experience for solo female travelers.

My favorite things I did in Cartagena included a boat tour to the Rosario Islands and visiting the artistic neighborhood of Getsemani.

Don’t miss my 13 bucket-list things to do in Cartagena!

Where to Stay in Cartagena

Budget: Life is Good Hostel

Luxury: Ananda Boutique Hotel

6. Luang Prabang, Laos

Seasoned backpackers will often tell you that sometimes the smallest countries are the most fun. Every traveler I met along the Southeast Asia backpacking route raved about how great of an experience Laos was as a solo traveler, and it was totally true!

What I loved about Laos was there were so many outdoor adventure activities to do, and it was way more fun to do them with new friends from the hostel.

Luang Prabang specifically, you’ll want to book a tour or rent some motorbikes to see the Kuang Si Waterfalls, explore the Old Town, and take a jewelry-making class.

Where to Stay in Luang Prabang

Budget: Mad Monkey Hostel

Luxury: Avani

7. Krakow, Poland

Krakow has a famous hostel called Greg & Toms which is known for being one of the most social hostels in Europe. This hostel focuses on meaningful solo-traveler dinners, group tours, and of course.. pub crawls!

However, if you don’t want to stay in a hostel, it’s still possible to have a super fun and safe experience as a solo female traveler in Krakow. Because this city is so historical, there are loads of free and informative walking tours to take advantage of in Krakow in nearly every corner of the city.

Additionally, there are a lot of meetups organized through Couchsurfing at some of the many jazz clubs and wine bars.

8. Barcelona, Spain

best destinations for first time solo female travelers

Barcelona’s vibrant streets are filled with gorgeous architecture, delicious tapas, and stunning beaches. As a solo female traveler in Barcelona, I spent quite a lot of time exploring the cafes and art galleries that were seemingly on every corner of the city.

This is one of the most artistic cities in Europe so I would encourage travelers to indulge in the art scene by taking a street art tour or visiting the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.

There are nice hostels in Barcelona suited for solo travelers and they organize loads of activities like beach days and pub crawls.

While Barcelona is particularly known for theft, as long as you are extra careful watching after your belongings you should be able to enjoy the city at ease.

Where to Stay in Barcelona

Budget: Yeah Hostel

Luxury: Yurbban Ramblas Boutique Hotel

9. Chania. Crete

best destinations for first time solo female travelers

Chania is one of my favorite destinations to solo travel to in the WORLD! After traveling there 3 times now, I can highly recommend it for women traveling solo, especially for first-timers.

This is an ideal solo traveler haven because of the amazing cuisine, boutique shops, and ample day trips that will take you to places like the pink Elafonisi beach and Samaria Gorge.

Be sure to spend at least 4 days minimum in Chania.

Where to Stay in Chania:

Budget: Cocoon City Hostel

Luxury: Chania Flair Boutique Hotel

10. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is a fun and beautiful city in the North of Vietnam known for famous cooking classes, elephant sanctuaries, and day trips to unbelievably cool temples in Chiang Rai.

You can easily spend 5 days in Chiang Mai eating at some of the best restaurants in the country and exploring temples all around the city. Chiang Mai is also well known for its delicious coffee culture.

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai

Budget: Sylvis Hostel

Luxury: THEE Vijit Boutique Hotel

11. Tokyo, Japan

Japan can sometimes be a hit or miss for solo travelers, not because of safety, but because it isn’t a huge backpacker destination so it’s not always the most social. Due to it being expensive and there being SO much to do in the city. I would often be gone from my hostel from 9 AM to midnight which meant I wasn’t meeting people at my hostel.

However, once I signed up for some free walking tours and reached out to people through the Hostelworld chat, I met loads of other travelers. Tokyo attracts a bit of an “older” backpacking crowd in their early 30s, which I loved! I had such a blast having drinks in Golden Gai and going to the nightclubs in Shinjuku with my new travel friends.

Tokyo was one of my all-time favorite solo travel trips, but you might just have to “try” a little harder to make friends to have experiences with.

The city, transportation, and hostels were very safe, I was never concerned for my safety (even in such a big city!)

Where to Stay in Tokyo

Budget: NUI Hostel

Luxury: Trunk Hotel Yoyogi Park

12. Bratislava, Slovakia

best things to do in Bratislava

Bratislava is the fairytale-like capital of Slovakia and it’s filled with an eclectic mix of interesting architecture, delicious Slovak restaurants, and charming cafes.

Travelers may convince you to only take a day trip, but I found myself there for over a week not wanting to leave! Bratislava is very safe and walkable making it perfect for solo female travelers.

Where to Stay in Bratislava:

Budget: Wild Elephants Hostel

Luxury: Marrol’s Boutique Hotel

13. Amsterdam, Netherlands

best destinations for first time solo female travelers

Amsterdam is no doubt one of the most well-known cities to visit in Europe, if not all over the world. Offering stunning cityscapes, historical museums, and all the cheese and stroopwafels you could want – Amsterdam is a lovely destination for first-time solo female travelers.

During my solo trip to Amsterdam, I took advantage of a free walking tour and of course toured the Anne Frank Museum and the Moco Art Museum.

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

Budget: The Flying Pig

Luxury: The Hendrick’s

14. Hanoi, Vietnam

best things to do in Vietnam

Get a taste of Vietnam’s sizzling flavors by spending an epic solo adventure in Hanoi.

Hanoi is a great way to base your trip in Vietnam because the city itself offers so much, and you can easily book day and weekend trips to Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, or even Sapa.

A couple of my favorite things activites I can recommend in Hanoi as a solo female traveler are the free walking tour and Om Hanoi Yoga & Cafe.

Where to stay in Hanoi:

Budget: Buffalo Hanoi Backpackers

Luxury: Peridot Gallery Hotel

15, Vienna, Austria

best destinations for first time solo female travelers

Vienna will bombard you with classic architecture, gorgeous cafes, and chocolate shops on every corner.

Solo travelers will especially love the free walking tour and a visit to the unforgettable Shonbrunn Palace.

Where to Stay in Vienna:

Budget: Wombats City Hostel

Luxury: Lindner Hotel

16. Koh Tao, Thailand

best destinations for first time solo female travelers

Koh Tao is filled with jaw-dropping sunsets, beautiful beaches, and that laid-back beach-town vibe everyone comes to Thailand looking for. Not to mention, the food in Koh Tao is some of the best in the Thai Islands.

Solo female travelers will feel safe to roam the island day or night without much worry. Plus, there are lots of cafes and yoga classes offered around the island if that’s your thing!

Where to Stay:

Budget: Savage Hostel

Luxury: Koh Tao Heritage

17. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatia in general is an epic destination for first-time solo female travelers!

Dubrovnik offers an adventurous old town and city walls along with plenty of social activities like relaxing on the beach, booking a boat tour, or signing up for one of Dubrovnik’s legendary pub crawls.

Where to Stay in Dubrovnik

Budget: Hostel Angelina

Luxury: Hotel Dubrovnik Palace

Why I Hand-Picked These 17 Best Destinations for First-Time Solo Female Travelers

I consider myself to be a “solo female travel expert” because I’ve traveled to over 30 countries by myself beginning from the age of 17!

These are my personal recommendations for first-time solo female travelers for these reasons:

  • Safety
  • Easy to get around
  • Much of the population speaks English
  • Social Environments
  • Great hostels and accommodations

This post was all about the best destinations for first time solo female travelers.


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Top 17 Destinations for First Time Solo Female Travelers
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Is Ba Na Hills Worth It? Everything You Need to Know About Vietnam’s Iconic Theme Park

Is Ba Na Hills Worth It? Everything You Need to Know About Vietnam’s Iconic Theme Park

is ba na hills worth it

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

Planning your trip to central Vietnam and find yourself wondering, is Ba Na Hills worth it? 

Located high in the Truong Son Mountains west of Da Nang is a magical land surrounded by enchanting clouds and whimsical trees. This is the famous Sun World Ba Na Hills, Vietnam’s beloved theme park.

Filled with over-the-top flower gardens, elaborate European architecture, and talented performers, Ba Na Hills is a seemingly fantasy world straight out of a Disney film. 

Every year, millions of Vietnamese and foreign tourists visit the enchanting Ba Na Hills. 

I know what you’re thinking though.. can a place filled with so many curated photo ops and thousands of visitors a year be worth visiting?

Is Ba Na Hills Worth It? Here’s everything you need to know.

is ba na hills worth it

In this post I’ll be diving into the big debate: Is Ba Na Hills worth it or is it just another spot flooding your Insta feed?

From the Insta-worthy views to the quirky attractions, we’re breaking it all down.

Here’s a complete review of my experience at Ba Na Hills – the good, the bad, and the selfie-stick-worthy. Let’s settle the score on whether this place is a must-visit or just another overrated tourist trap.

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Ba Na Hills.

How to Get to Ba Na Hills

Depending on where you’re coming from, there are several different ways to get to Ba Na Hills. While most people stay in Da Nang, it’s also a popular day trip from Hoi An.

From Da Nang

Ba Na Hills is only about 1 hour from central Da Nang. 

A popular option for visiting the theme park from Da Nang is booking a group tour or a tour guide that includes transportation. 

Alternatively, you book a GRAB taxi or hire a private car or shuttle for transportation.

I opted for a group tour, because of the extra cost of the entrance fees and food, a group tour with transportation was the cheapest option for me. 

From Hoi An

Ba Na Hills is a 2-hour drive from central Hoi An.

Visitors from Hoi An also have plenty of options for booking group tours or hiring private cars. 

Group Tours vs DIY

Depending on the prices of group tours at the time you are researching, sometimes they can be worth booking vs going by yourself.

If you can get a tour at a discounted rate that offers transportation, lunch buffet, and entry fees included – it may be worth comparing.

The hostel I booked in Da Nang had discounted tours for guests that were under $60, so this was worth booking for me.

Additionally, I want to mention to be mindful when looking for tours, some of them offer more than others. Don’t make a mistake by just booking an expensive transfer that doesn’t include park fees.

Here are a few group tours you can book that include all entry tickets and transportation.

Where to Stay

Believe it or not, you can stay at a luxurious hotel right inside Ba Na Hills, It’s called Mercure Danang French Village.

Best Time to Visit

While this may seem vague, the best time to visit Ba Na Hills is simply on a clear day. I would not recommend going if the weather is bad, it would not be worth a visit.

The clearest days in Vietnam are typically during Spring and Summer from January – August. Crowds will probably be at their worst in the summer peak season, June through August. 

Weather in Ba Na Hills

The weather at the top of Ba Na Hills isn’t all that different from the weather on ground level. Expect it to maybe be 2-3 degrees cooler than ground level temperature.

It’s best to dress in layers! Beware that if the weather is bad, the cable cars will stop operating, leaving you in a tricky situation getting up and down from the theme park. 

On bright sunny days, there isn’t much shade from the open sun and outdoor activities so wear plenty of sunscreen and prepare for it to be hot. 

While cool weather would make your day at the park enjoyable, it may be hard to come by as the coolest it ever gets in this region is 19 Celsius (66 F).

What to bring to the theme park

Be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a good pair of walking shoes. If it’s rainy season, consider bringing an umbrella.

Arriving at Ba Na Hills

is ba na hills worth it

Once you’ve arrived at the entrance, you’ll be welcomed with the madness of the ticket counter lines. This can be another pro of booking a group tour as your tour guide will handle all the business with the tickets and you will get to skip some of the long lines.

Ba Na Hills Ticket Prices

Entrance ticket prices can vary depending on the season but they are currently 900,000 VND ($37 USD) for adults. 

When I was researching entrance fees for the amusement park, I was really confused as most entrance fees are labeled “cable car ticket”. In short, it was unclear to me if there was an entrance fee AND a cable car fee. I can confirm, they are the same thing. 

Your $37 USD Ba Na Hills ticket will include the following:

  • Round trip cable car
  • 1 Ba Na Hills ticket
  • Golden Bridge
  • Le Jardin D’Amour Gardens
  • Luna Castle
  • Helios Waterfall
  • French Village
  • Alpine Coaster 2
  • Fantasy Park 

The ticket does not include 

  • Wax Museum 
  • Debay Wine Cellar 
  • Rain Sheltering Teahouse
  • Alpine Coaster 1
  • Food

Where to Buy Tickets

While you can buy tickets once you arrive at the ticket gates, you can also buy them in advance online. 

I would recommend buying tickets in advance to ensure your entrance and skipping the long lines at the entrance.

If you are on an organized tour, your tour guide should give you your ticket. 

DIY VS Group Tours

Whether you are considering renting a car, booking a private transfer, or signing up for a group tour – there are numerous ways to visit this popular tourist destination from either Da Nang or Hoi An.

Embark on Your Magical Cable Car Ride

Sun World Da Nang Vietnam

After you’ve secured your tickets, you’ll head to the Cable Car Station. Prepare to embark on a magical journey until you arrive at the theme park’s main entrance at Marseille Station.

While cable cars can be rather cheesy, the Ba Na Hills cable car is different.

It is truly an experience! This cable car holds 4 Guinness World Records: 

  • Longest one-wire sling 
  • The longest distance between each station
  • Longest unpatched wire in the world 
  • Heaviest cable roll in the world

Heaven Garden

Located near the Golden Hand Bridge is Heaven Garden, featuring clever stone body statues decorated around the Golden Bridge. You’ll see giant hands, fingers, and feet! 

Golden Hand Bridge

Golden Hand Bridge Sun World

Perched on top of the mountain is the Golden Hand Bridge. The bridge is known for its stunning design, featuring two giant stone hands that appear to be holding up the bridge.

This is the most famous landmark of Ba Na Hills because of its unique design and gorgeous landscape views.

Beware that the bridge is full of SO many people, do not expect to visit and get your picture-perfect social media shot!

However, if you are determined, your best luck is to go to on your own in the early morning. 

Debay Wine Cellar

If you’re a wine lover, take a detour from the attractions to tour a historic wine cellar deeply routed in the theme park.

While Ba Na Hills may be filled with plastic structures and selfie sticks, Debay Wine Cellar is a real historic landmark established over 100 years ago by French colonists in the underground mountain tunnels.

Le Jardin D’Amour 

Is Ba Na Hills worth it

These beautiful gardens were one of the highlights of my Ba Na Hills tour!

With over 4 miles filled with 9 different gardens, the le Jardin D’Amour looks like a slice of heaven floating in the sky.

Featuring unique garden designs and formations, the gardens switch different themes every Spring. 

Linh Ung Pagoda

Is Ba Na Hills worth it

Standing tall over 1,500 sea level is a massive Shakyamuni Buddha dominating the hills of Ba Na. This marvelous spiritual statue is a must-see in the theme park.

Just to clarify, there are actually three pagodas named Linh Ung spread among Da Nang City. So, if you read about other Linh Ung Pagodas, that is why they might say they are located elsewhere. 

Fantasy Park

Arcade games, cinemas, and souvenir shops are just a handful of the activities to do in Fantasy Park. Out of everywhere in Ba Na Hills, I’d say that there are the most things to do rather than see in Fantasy Park, so you’ll want to allow plenty of time to play around! 

Inside the indoor 3-story complex, are free arcade games and activities included in the price. 

Scenic Alpine Coasters

Ba Na Hills doesn’t exactly have roller coasters like a typical big theme park would have. However, it does have scenic alpine coasters, one of which is located in Fantasy Park. Since there are only a couple of coasters throughout the park, the lines are extremely long, sometimes hours. 

If you’ve signed up for a tour, you’re included buffet lunch that will take place in Du Dome Square, right next to Fantasy Park. 

Wax Museum

For an extra 100,000 VND ($4 USD) you can experience the Wax Museum in Fantasy Park. If you love celebrities and historical figures, this is something you must do!

French Village

Is Ba Na Hills worth it

Built with incredible styles of gothic architecture, the Ba Na Hills French town feels like you are in a fairytale. Next to the Golden Hand Bridge, the French Village is probably one of the most iconic tourist attractions and scenic spots in all of Ba Na Hills.

It’s a photographer’s dream with the narrow alleyways and European accents. 

Some of the best attractions to see in the French Village are Helios Waterfall, Union Square, and Forever Square. 

The Final Verdict… Is Ba Na Hills Worth It? 

Overall, I would say it depends on what your interests are to decide if Ba Na Hills is worth it. For me, I found Ba Na Hills was worth it but I love theme parks, performances, and unique spins on architecture. In general, I think theme parks are always fun, and to experience one in a different country was even cooler! 

In conclusion, Ba Na Hills is a must-see destination in Vietnam for its unparalleled beauty and diverse attractions. Beyond the aesthetics, Ba Na Hills provides a day filled with fun activities, awe-inspiring architecture, and insanely scenic views.


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Top 17 Destinations for First Time Solo Female Travelers
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3 Days in Hoi An: The Ultimate Jam-Packed Itinerary
3 Days in Hoi An: The Ultimate Jam-Packed Itinerary

Planning the perfect itinerary for 3 days in Hoi An?In this ultimate itinerary for Hoi An, we break down how to make the most of your 3 days in Hoi An. Your FREE Hoi An Printable to Keep Your Trip Organized Stay organized during your 3 days in Hoi An with your free…

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3 Days in Hoi An: The Ultimate Jam-Packed Itinerary
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Planning the perfect itinerary for 3 days in Hoi An?In this ultimate itinerary for Hoi An, we break down how to make the most of your 3 days in Hoi An. Your FREE Hoi An Printable to Keep Your Trip Organized Stay organized during your 3 days in Hoi An with your free…

3 Days in Hoi An: The Ultimate Jam-Packed Itinerary

3 Days in Hoi An: The Ultimate Jam-Packed Itinerary

Planning the perfect itinerary for 3 days in Hoi An?
In this ultimate itinerary for Hoi An, we break down how to make the most of your 3 days in Hoi An.

3 Days in Hoi An

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

Your FREE Hoi An Printable to Keep Your Trip Organized

Stay organized during your 3 days in Hoi An with your free Hoi An Checklist to print out and take with you on your Vietnam adventure. This printable includes our list of the 12 top things to do in Hoi An + a blank template for you to create your own.

best things to do in Hoi An

Planning your trip to Vietnam? Check out all my posts on Vietnam Travel like my list of the best things to do in Hanoi or my day trip guide to Ninh Binh and Halong Bay.

3 Days in Hoi An (short version)

DAY 1:

  • Breakfast at Phin Coffee
  • Explore the Old Town
  • Stroll through the Central Market.
  • Visit a Tailor Shop.
  • Have famous banh mi at Phuong.
  • See the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall.
  • Cross the Japanese Bridge.
  • Tour an Ancient Home.
  • Dinner at Vy’s Market Restaurant.

Day 2:

  • Rent Bicycles.
  • Bike to the Tailor Shop for a fitting.
  • Sign up for a lantern-making class.
  • Bike to An Bang Beach.
  • Hoi An Night Market.
  • Take a Boat Ride on Thu Bon River.
  • End your evening with live music at Urban Cafe.

Day 3

  • Book a half-day or full-day trip.
  • Have dinner at Nhan’s Kitchen.

First Timers Guide to Hoi An

About Hoi An

The picturesque and historic town is located in central Vietnam, in the Quang Nam Province. It is often referred to as one of the most charming and well-preserved ancient towns in Southeast Asia. 

3 Days in Hoi An

Hoi An History

Hoi An’s history dates back to the first millennium when it was initially established as a small Cham (an ethnic group in Southeast Asia) village.

From the 7th to the 10th century, Hoi An was under the influence of the Chinese Tang and Song dynasties. During this period, it became a thriving trading hub for goods like ceramics, silks, and spices.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Hoi An saw an influx of Japanese traders, leading to the construction of the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge, which stands as a symbol of their presence to this day.

After Hoi An was briefly occupied by Europeans, by the 19th century, Hoi An came under Vietnamese rule. After earning recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, Tourism surged as travelers wanted to experience the lantern-lit streets, beautiful beaches, and culinary delights for themselves.

3 Days in Hoi An

Is Hoi An Worth Visiting?

Hoi An is worth visiting for its timeless charm and rich cultural heritage.

This historic town offers a unique glimpse into the past with its well-preserved architecture and lantern-lit streets, making it a photographer’s paradise. And of course the tasty dishes of Hoi An take you on a culinary journey through the heart of Vietnam, where you can savor local specialties and street food.

Overall, Hoi An is definitely worth a visit and offers a combination of history, culture, and picturesque beauty.

Best Time to Visit Hoi An

The best time to visit Hoi An is during the dry season, which spans from February to August. During this time, the weather is pretty nice with lower humidity and minimal rainfall.

The months of February to April and June to August are particularly ideal. You can enjoy exploring the ancient town, cycling through the countryside, and lounging on the nearby beaches like An Bang Beach and Cua Dai Beach.

Additionally, consider planning your visit if you’re keen to experience traditional festivals in Hoi An.  The Lunar New Year and the Full Moon Lantern Festival are significant events in Hoi An and can be so much fun to witness!

If you can’t help but plan your trip to Hoi An during the rainy season, which is September – January, be prepared for heavy downpours and occasional flooding of the Hoi An ancient town. However, a pro for visiting during the wet season is lower prices, fewer tourists, and lush greenery. 

How Long to Visit

3-5 days is the perfect amount of time to explore this cultural hub. There is quite a lot to do in Hoi An that you won’t want to miss, that’s why you should stay a minimum of 3 days in Hoi An.

With 3 days in Hoi An, you will get to experience the Old Town during the day and night, see one of the stunning beaches, and even visit the tailor shops for custom-made clothes.

3 days in Hoi An offers the perfect taste of the city. Of course, if you have enough time in your Vietnam itinerary, – I suggest staying up to 5 days if you can swing it!

Where to Stay

3 Days in Hoi An

$$$ – Anantara Hoi An Resort or Almanity Hoi An Resort

$$ – La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa or Allegro Hoi An 

$ – Hoian Sincerity Hotel & Spa or Mad Monkey Hostel

Transportation in Hoi An

Getting around in Hoi An is pretty simple as there are lots of options for different kinds of transportation.

Walking: The best way to explore the ancient town is on foot. Hoi An’s old town is a maze of narrow streets and alleys, perfect for leisurely strolls. Most of the town’s attractions, shops, restaurants, and cafes are within walking distance of each other.

Bicycles: Many hotels and guesthouses in Hoi An offer complimentary or rental bikes to their guests. Biking is a popular and convenient way to explore the town and the surrounding countryside. The flat terrain makes it suitable for cycling, and you can easily reach nearby beaches or explore the rice fields and rural areas.

If you’re comfortable riding a motorbike or scooter, you can rent one to explore Hoi An and the surrounding area. Just be aware of the traffic rules and road conditions. 

Grab: The Grab ride-sharing app is available in Hoi An. Grab is a convenient and often cost-effective way to get around. Grab is the “uber” of Southeast Asia. While it is usually effortless, cheap, and convenient, Grab in Hoi An was somewhat unreliable at times, especially late in the evening. You can use a motorbike Grab if you’re just 1 person or you can get a car like a typical Uber experience. 

Why You Shouldn’t Get a Taxi in Hoi An

As crazy as it sounds, there is a local Mafia presence in Hoi An and they dictate a lot of the costs of public transportation such as taxis and motor taxis.

If your accommodation isn’t personally ordering you a ride, or you aren’t ordering a ride through a tracked Rideshare app such as Grab, you should not accept the ride.

How to Get from Da Nang Airport to Hoi An

  • Public Bus – At the low cost of just about $1.50 you can catch the bus from the Da Nang International Airport to Hoi An. 
  • Shuttle Transfer – Book a shuttle transfer in advance for $6 from the airport to the old town. For just a few extra dollars, the extra cost may be worth the convenience.
  • Private Car or Grab – With the Grab app, you can get a ride straight to your accommodation in Hoi An. This will likely cost anywhere from $10-$20. 

Ultimate Itinerary for 3 Days in Hoi An (detailed version)

Here’s a complete breakdown of a jam-packed itinerary for your 3 days in Hoi An.

Day 1

Breakfast at Phin Coffee

Start your day off in the heart of the old town with a scrumptious breakfast at Phin Coffee & Restaurant.

This gorgeous cafe was a frequent stop for me during my time in Hoi An.

Something you should know is there are almost no local restaurants and coffee shops that have air conditioning. It’s just not the norm!

Thankfully, Phin has lots of mist and fans in every corner of the cafe to keep you cool. Ordering one of their specialty coconut frappes or Vietnamese iced coffees will also keep you cool.

3 Days in Hoi An

Explore the Old Town

Hoi An’s Ancient Old Town is one of the biggest reasons why travelers from all over the world come to Hoi An. The narrow, lantern-lit streets are lined with beautifully preserved colonial-era buildings, vibrant markets, and bustling shops.

As you wander through the ancient town, you’ll encounter an enchanting blend of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese architectural influences.

From the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge to the aromatic street food stalls, the old town has a unique charm that’s best experienced by taking a leisurely stroll. Let your eyes wander to discover all the hidden gems in the numerous tailor shops and art galleries that cover the streets.

3 Days in Hoi An

Central Market

While you’re exploring the Old Town, experience Hoi An at full steam at the Central Market. This local market is a vibrant hub of sights, sounds, and flavors.

Located in the heart of the Ancient Town, it’s a bustling marketplace where local vendors offer an array of goods, from fresh produce to specialty dishes like white rose dumplings. It’s also a great spot to find souvenirs. 

Visit a Tailor Shop

3 Days in Hoi An

Of course, while you’re in Hoi An, you’ll want to get something tailor-made! I went to two different tailor shops in Hoi An: Bao Diep and 45 Thu Tailor. 

45 Thu Tailor was much cheaper than Bao Diep, however, I did feel that the clothes I had made from Bao Diep were better quality. 

When visiting a tailor shop, it’s best to have a general idea before you arrive so that you don’t get talked into clothing that you don’t necessarily want or need.

I recommend visiting the tailor shops on your first day in Hoi An as opposed to later because your clothes will require a day or two to get made.

Have Lunch at Banh Mi Phuong 

3 Days in Hoi An

Made famous by Anthony Bourdain, you’ll want to grab delicious local food at Banh Mi Phuong. While the line is almost always out the door, they move fast! And I can confirm, it was pretty dang delicious.

They have options for meat lovers, vegans, and everyone in between. Situated in the old town, it’s the perfect place to grab a quick bite during a full day of exploring.

See the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall

The Phuc Kien Assembly Hall is a 17th-century architectural masterpiece, built by Fujian Chinese immigrants. Showcasing a harmonious blend of Chinese design and Vietnamese charm, its ornate gates and colorful courtyards make it stand out from other pagodas.

The assembly hall offers a glimpse into the deep-rooted traditions and religious practices of the Fujian community in Hoi An.

Cross the Japanese Bridge

3 Days in Hoi An

This 17th-century bridge is a symbol of cultural fusion in Hoi An. Adorned with intricate carvings and housing a small shrine, the bridge is a unique blend of Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese architectural elements.

A visit to this iconic bridge is a journey through time. Offering stunning views of the tranquil canal and old town, the Japanese Bridge is one of the top must-do activities for history enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, the bridge was under construction during my visit in May 2023. However, it was certainly still cool to walk through this historical site.

Tour An Ancient Home

After you’ve tasted the famous Banh Mi and strolled through the covered bridge, explore some of the magnificent centuries-old ancient homes.

Historical ancient homes are open to the public, almost like museums, and are in the center of the old town. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a tour from the actual homeowners.

They may offer you tea, and a light snack, and will give you a brief history of the home. 

Here is a list of Ancient Homes you can visit:

Tan Ky House: Tan Ky House is one of the most well-known and oldest houses in Hoi An. It’s a combination of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese architectural styles and has been in the same family for generations.

Phung Hung House: Built in the 18th century, Phung Hung House is a fine example of traditional Hoi An architecture. It is a two-story building with an open courtyard in the center. The house is also home to a small museum displaying old photographs and artifacts from the town’s history.

Quan Thang Ancient House: This house, constructed in the 18th century, is a typical example of a Vietnamese merchant’s residence.

Duc An Old House: Duc An Old House is another beautiful example of traditional Hoi An architecture. It has a lovely courtyard and preserved living spaces. The house is still occupied by the same family, and they often welcome visitors.

Diep Dong Nguyen House: This house is a bit smaller in scale but offers a unique perspective on Hoi An’s history. It’s a combination of Vietnamese and Chinese architectural styles and is known for its intricate wood carvings and old artifacts.

Dinner at Vy’s Market Restaurant

Located just a 7-minute walk from the Japanese Bridge, head to Vy’s Market Restaurant for dinner. Vy’s Market is a delicious and memorable dining experience to be had in Hoi An.

Set up like a blend of an upscale market and restaurant, you can walk around and check out the delicious dishes as they are being cooked before you. Filled with traditional dishes like noodles and dumplings, along with unusual delicacies if you are feeling adventurous! 

Day 2

Rent Bicycles

Renting a bicycle is a must-do in Hoi An! It’s one of the easiest ways to get around, and the city looks even better when you have a light breeze blowing through you. 

Renting Bicycles 3 Days in Hoi An

Bike to the Tailor Shop

Odds are if you went to your tailor shop on your first day, you will be asked to come back the following day for a test fitting.

Try to get this fitting done first thing in the morning so you can schedule your pickup either later that day or on your third day in Hoi An. 

Sign Up For a Lantern Making Class

Create your own colorful lantern with the help of expert craft makers. Lanterns make a lovely souvenir to remember your trip to Vietnam.

The art of lantern making is deeply ingrained in Hoi An’s cultural identity and offers a hands-on opportunity to connect with the town’s heritage.

Crafting your own lantern allows you to appreciate the intricate workmanship and vibrant colors that adorn the streets of Hoi An at night. After all, Hoi An is known especially for lanterns!

Bike to An Bang Beach

Hoi An has some of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam, so you will want to dedicate several hours to experience it. You can easily spend half a day around the An Bang Beach area as it’s lined with its own restaurants, shops, and beach clubs.

With its soft golden sands, gentle waves, and relaxed atmosphere, An Bang Beach offers a serene escape from the bustle of Hoi An. 

An Bang Beach - 3 days in Hoi An

Grab Lunch & Visit shops at Bang Beach

I’ll be honest, the best Vietnamese food is found on the outskirts of the Old Town and not necessarily near Bang Beach, which is filled with mostly Westernized restaurants. I’ve heard that you can find some delicious seafood at stalls set up around the beaches, so if you’re on a mission I would go out exploring.

However, I will say, that they have truly mastered the art of Western food as some of the spots were SO good. If you’ve been in Vietnam for a while, this is the spot to gorge yourself on all things pizza and burgers. 

Bikini Bottom Restaurant is a Westerners favorite among travelers seeking a classic burger and milkshake.

Hoi An Night Market 

After you’ve recovered and cleaned yourself up from your beach day, get ready to experience the Hoi An Night Market. The night market is every weekday from around 5-10 p.m.

Around 6-8 pm is when the market is the liveliest. If you’re feeling adventurous, this is the time to try unusual dishes on the street! I myself tried frog and to my surprise, it was pretty tasty. 

Take a Boat Ride on Thu Bon River

Experience the mystical charm of Hoi An at night with a lantern-releasing boat ride on Thu Bon River.

All you have to do is head to the An Hoi Bridge and you will likely be approached by many salespeople asking if you’d like to ride along the river.

For 1-3 passengers, the price should be around 150,000 VND. If you have over 3 passengers it will be closer to 200,000 VND.

Lanterns cost an extra 5,000 VND. 

Be sure you have a lighter to release your lanterns or ask for one before getting on the boat.

End Your Night With Live Music at Urban Cafe

The live music scene in Hoi An was one of my favorite parts of the nightlife!

Grab yourself a cup of hot tea or a cocktail and enjoy the talented musicians singing through the streets of Hoi An’s Old Town.

While I enjoyed Urban Cafe, another great spot in Hoi An with live music is Guitar Hawaii Coffee. 

Day 3

With your last day in Hoi An, you’ve got options!

There are so many day trip options from Hoi An. From private islands to ancient historical complexes, choose one of these 6 different day trip options from Hoi An, ranging from half-day experiences to full-day trips.

Take a Boat Trip to the Cham Islands

All aboard snorkel adventurers and sun lovers! If you’re sea-obsessed and one beach day in Hoi An just simply wasn’t enough, this is the perfect Hoi An day trip for you.

Prepare for your full-day boat trip and adventure on a charming small island with your swimsuit and loads of sunscreen.

The Cham Islands is a full-day tour lasting over 6 hours.

Tra Que Village Experience

If you’re interested in the rural outskirts of Hoi An, Tra Que Village is a popular tourist attraction known for its lush vegetable gardens and fertile farmlands.

Walking through Tra Que, you’ll be greeted by the aroma of fresh herbs and the sight of farmers in conical hats working the fields.

Visitors can participate in hands-on experiences like planting, watering, and harvesting crops, as well as enjoying farm-to-table meals prepared with the village’s produce.

Just an 8-minute drive from the Old Town, this is the perfect half-day activity as it’s just a short trip from Hoi An. 

Explore the Historical Site of My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary, located near Hoi An in Central Vietnam, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that represents a remarkable historical and cultural treasure. This ancient complex of Hindu temples and towers dates back to the Champa Kingdom, flourishing between the 4th and 14th centuries.

Located an hour from central Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary is a great half-day trip option.

Day Trip to Ba Na Hills

Ever wonder what an amusement park in Vietnam is like? Ba Na Hills is basically Vietnam’s version of Disney World. Read all about my experience at Ba Na Hills – Vietnam’s iconic theme park.

This massive entertainment complex is known for its breathtaking views and the world-famous Golden Bridge. Visitors can reach the park via a scenic cable car ride.

The landscape is filled with manicured gardens, French colonial-style architecture, and a variety of amusements.

Ba Na Hills is a full-day tour from Hoi An as it’s nearly a 2 hour drive. 

Take a Cooking Class or Food Tour

Cooking classes and food tours are a great way to immerse yourself in the rich culinary heritage of Vietnam.

Discover the secrets behind the delicious local dishes like banh xeo or cao lau.

Learn how to recreate Vietnamese food in your own kitchen when you return home. Cooking classes and food tours in Hoi An are the perfect half-day activity.

See the Marble Mountains

Near Hoi An are the famous geological wonders, the Marble Mountains. A cluster of five limestone and marble hills, these mountains are a popular tourist destination and are known for their natural beauty, religious sites, and handicrafts.

Just a 30-minute drive from Hoi An, this is the perfect half-day trip.

End your Day with Dinner at Nhan’s Kitchen

After a long day of exciting experiences, enjoy a tasty dinner at Nhan’s Kitchen.

Known for exquisite dishes like passion fruit chicken, banana leaf, and Cao Lau, this is a great place to have your last meal in Hoi An.

I myself enjoyed the spring rolls and the passion fruit chicken and they were delicious!

where to eat in hoi an
where to eat in hoi an

​This Itinerary for 3 Days in Hoi An Gives You The Perfect Taste of the Small City

I hope you found this 3-day Hoi An Itinerary helpful! Because I work remotely, I spent a little longer than 3 days in Hoi An.

Staying 5 days exploring the city and experiencing everything it had to offer allowed me to build this ideal Hoi An itinerary for travelers visiting for the first time.

From strolling along the lantern-lit riverbanks to savoring delectable street food and engaging in cultural activities, Hoi An is an unforgettable gem on Vietnam’s central coast.

Lantern rides thu bon river

Last Few Tips for Visiting Hoi An

– Carry small amounts of Cash

– Don’t accept rides from random drivers. Make sure rides are organized through the Grab App or your hotel/ guest house.

– Get tailor-made clothes.

– Beware of fake drivers dressing up in GRAB app clothing. 

– Don’t drink unfiltered water anywhere in Vietnam.

– Expect most places to not have air conditioning.

– If you love leather goods, Hoi An is a great place to get them. 

This post was all about how to spend 3 days in Hoi An, Vietnam.

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How to Day Trip From Hanoi to Ninh Binh –  2024 Guide

How to Day Trip From Hanoi to Ninh Binh – 2024 Guide

This post is all about how to day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh.

day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

About Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh, often referred to as the “Ha Long Bay on land,” is a province in North Vietnam that boasts breathtaking natural beauty.

Its stunning landscape is characterized by towering limestone karsts, lush rice paddies, and meandering waterways, making it the perfect day trip from Hanoi for nature enthusiasts and photographers hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

The centerpiece of Ninh Binh is the picturesque Tam Coc, a serene area where traditional wooden boats glide through narrow caves and tranquil waters. Ninh Binh is also home to many ancient temples and historical sites worth seeing. 

Whether you’re exploring caves, hiking to hilltop pagodas, or simply soaking in the serene countryside, Ninh Binh promises a serene escape into the heart of Vietnam’s natural and cultural treasures. 

day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

Is the Ancient Vietnamese Capital Worth Visiting?

Every year, millions of tourists visit the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital to get a taste of history and of course, see the mystical Mua Cave and and scenic rice fields. 

While I feel this UNESCO World Heritage site is absolutely worth visiting, I was satisfied with just booking a Ninh Binh day trip.

How Many Days to Spend in Ninh Binh

There is quite a lot to do in the Ninh Binh province, but the highlights can be explored in a full one-day trip.

If you want to fully immerse yourself in the countryside of Ninh Binh & Tam Coc, I would plan 2-3 days.

As I stated previously, if you are short on time and just want a taste of what Ninh Binh has to offer, I recommend taking a day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh.

day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

How to Day Trip From Hanoi to Ninh Binh

There are a few ways you can strategically make the most of your day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh.

Planning your trip to Hanoi?

Print this FREE Hanoi Checklist for your trip to Vietnam so you don’t miss a thing!

Ninh Binh Guided Tours

I found the best option for me was booking a small group tour with an English-speaking tour guide and a shuttle bus that departed from my hostel in Hanoi.

This guided tour still includes all the Ninh Binh must-dos such as a boat ride along the Ngo Dong River, stunning views of the limestone mountains, the iconic Mua cave hike, and a complete tour of the ancient capital of Vietnam. There are many great Ninh Binh tours on Viator and Get Your Guide

The most popular day trips from Hanoi to Ninh Binh include classic tourist areas like the Hoa Lu Capital, Tam Coc boat trip, and Mua Cave.

Alternative Ninh Binh day trips may include the gorgeous Trang An scenic landscape complex.

How to Get From Hanoi to Ninh Binh on your own

I totally get not wanting to book a guided tour! While guided tours can be very convenient, they are often rushed and leave very little room for freedom.

I found myself opting for more guided tours while traveling Southeast Asia than I typically do while traveling. Especially in Vietnam, landmarks and cities can be very spread out, and renting a motorbike is often the main form of transportation between points (which I was not comfortable doing alone). 

Here’s how you can visit Ninh Binh from Hanoi at your own pace:

Snag a bus ticket for just $6. Total travel time is anywhere from 1-3 hours. 

Book a train ride with Vietnam Railways for under $10 which will typically take 2-3 hours.

Hire a private car through DayTrip which includes an English-speaking driver and your choice of an itinerary. This will cost around $80 – $100. 

Rent your own car or motorbike. Just make sure you have the correct licensing and know the local road rules! 

I rarely booked train tickets in Vietnam because I found the busses to be cheaper, sometimes even faster, and often picked me up at my hostel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

Best Time to Day Trip From Hanoi to Ninh Binh

The ideal period for a trip to Ninh Binh falls within the dry season, which spans from November to April. 

During this time, you can expect more comfortable and less humid weather.

While the rainy season does span May-November, it often rains heavily for a short period of time and then stops the rest of the day.

It absolutely POURED during my day trip to Ninh Binh in the morning, but was really enjoyable the remainder of the day. Just remember – bring rain ponchos and umbrellas with you everywhere!

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Where to Stay in Ninh Binh

where to stay in ninh binh

Searching for the best place to stay in Ninh Binh can be tricky because it’s spread out and there are many different popular points of the region. 

Ninh Binh City is not anything special but works well if you are spending limited time in Ninh Binh or arriving at odd hours as it’s close to all the main bus stations and train stations.

The ideal place to stay in Ninh Binh is in Tam Coc because of its breathtaking natural beauty, proximity to attractions, and charming rural scenery. 

While hotels and hostels are available in Ninh Binh, homestays are very popular if you are looking for a more personal experience.

Accommodations to Book

$ – Banana Tree Hostel

$$ – Tam Coc Memories Homestay or Tam Coc Holiday Hotel & Villa

$$$ – Trang An Spring Homestay or Tam Coc Condeluz Boutique Hotel

Whether or not you are taking a day trip to Ninh Binh or staying several days, your essentials will be more or less the same:

  • Bug Spray
  • Modest Clothes and Athletic Wear
  • Water Bottle
  • Good tennis shoes
  • Sunscreen

What to Pack

​My Vietnam Essentials

What to Expect on Your Day Trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

While trip itineraries from Hanoi to Ninh Binh will vary, here is a detailed look at the Ninh Binh day trip guided tour I booked.

7:30 am Pickup – Hanoi Old Quarter

Get ready for an early start! Around 7:30 am your tour will begin with pickups in Hanoi’s old quarter. The journey to Ninh Binh takes about two hours and includes a couple of bathroom breaks and complimentary bottles of water. 

First Stop – Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Our first stop was the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital where we were lucky enough to see Kings Day festivities take place in front of the King Dinh Temple.

While it was raining buckets as we began to explore the ancient capital, the sun started to shine just as ceremonies began to take place. It was such a beautiful moment to witness!

Trang An Bicycle Ride

Next, we took a relaxing bike ride through Tam Coc and took in all the stunning scenery of the countryside.

While unfortunately we only had time to ride for about 30 minutes, it was the perfect taste of the vibrant landscape. Afterward, a fairly decent lunch buffet was included in the price of the tour.

Tam Coc Boat Ride

After lunch followed one of the most exciting and scenic parts of the day: a classic tam coc boat ride. Riding in a sampan boat along the Ngo Dong River was one of the highlights of my Ninh Binh day trip. The scenery is out of this world.

You’ll likely pair up in a boat with other travelers on your tour which makes it even more of an enjoyable experience.

Mua Cave Hike

Finally, the Mua Cave Hike was our final stop on our full-day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. The view of the Ninh Binh region was gorgeous from high up and well worth the climb of the exhausting staircase.

Beware that Mua Cave is the top tourist attraction in Ninh Binh, and it gets absolutely PACKED.

Back to Hanoi

The journey back to Hanoi will take about 2 hours. Expect to get back to your accommodation around 8 pm.

Best Things to Do in Ninh Binh, Vietnam

As I’ve mentioned, there is a lot to do in the Ninh Binh region.

You can plan your trip to Ninh Binh in a wide variety of ways from crossing the highlights off your bucket list in just one day, or traveling at a slower pace and getting to know the region by spending several days or even a week exploring every corner of the lush rice paddies.

In this list of the Best Things to do in Ninh Binh, I’ve noted which experiences are and are not included in your day trip to Ninh Binh.

1. Explore the Ancient Capital of Hoa Lu

Ancient Vietnamese Capital Hoa Lu

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital in Ninh Binh is like stepping back in time.

A place where emperors and the royal family once ruled, you can still feel the history echo through the ruins. It’s a magical spot nestled amidst stunning limestone formations and greenery.

You can explore the ancient King Dinh Temple, gaze at the countryside from towering pagodas, and imagine the days when dynasties held court in this historic gem. It’s a must-visit for anyone with an appetite for history and a love for picturesque landscapes.

I was lucky enough to visit the ancient capital on Hung Kings Commemoration Day, which is on the 10th day of the third lunar month. This was an awesome day to visit as there were many ceremonies taking place.

If you’re taking just a day trip to Ninh Binh, this will be one of the first stops on your tour.

2. See the Mystic Bich Dong Pagoda

Bich Dong Pagoda is a picturesque complex that feels like something out of a fairytale.

Unique and historic, this structure has three tiers of pagodas built into the limestone karsts, surrounded by lush green fields and serene waterways. As you climb the stone staircase, you’ll be greeted with ancient statues and intricate carvings.

The pagoda offers breathtaking panoramic views of Ninh Binh, making it a popular tourist attraction. There is no entrance fee to the Bich Dong Pagoda, it is free! People will try to scam you and tell you otherwise.

Bich Dong Pagoda is often not included in Ninh Binh day trips, so this would be a huge advantage if you choose to stay a few days exploring Ninh Binh at your own pace.

3. Climb the Mua Cave Viewpoint

Mua Cave is a famous viewpoint that requires an adventurous climbing journey.

To reach the cave, you’ll have to climb a steep but manageable 500 stone steps. Once you conquer the climb, you’re rewarded with breathtaking panoramas of the Tam Coc countryside and the mesmerizing Ngo Dong River winding its way through the beautiful scenery.

This is one of the top attractions featured on day trips to Ninh Binh.

On tours, all entrance fees are included. However, if you are traveling on your own, you should know the Mua Cave entrance fee is 100,000 VND, which equals a little over 4 USD.

4. Spend a Day at Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong National Park is a nature lover’s paradise. What feels like a Jurassic Park adventure, Cuc Phuong is filled with stunning waterfalls, ancient trees, and diverse wildlife.

The park is a haven for birdwatchers, as it’s home to over 300 bird species. You can take a stroll on well-marked trails, visit the botanical garden, and explore the enchanting caves.

Don’t miss the thousand-year-old tree, one of the most popular tourist attractions of Cuc Phuong. This is another gem of Cuc Phuong that you wouldn’t get to experience on a day trip.

5. Take a Tam Coc Boat Ride

tam coc boat trip

Gliding through the Ngo Dong River and witnessing the beautiful landscapes of Tam Coc was one of my favorite things I did in Ninh Binh.

This gorgeous experience truly feels like you are in a movie!

Guided by a local, you will be welcomed into a classic sampan boat with a few other travelers. Since I was solo, I joined other solo travelers from my day trip tour. Don’t worry, your tour tour guide will help arrange boat groups. 

6. Marvel at the Bai Dinh Pagoda

Bai Dinh is one of the largest Buddhist pagodas in Southeast Asia. The sheer size of the place is mind-boggling, with thousands of intricately carved Buddha statues and an enormous bronze bell that you just have to ring for good luck!

When exploring this complex, you’ll encounter two primary sections: the ancient Bai Dinh Pagoda and the modern Bai Dinh Pagoda. Due to its considerable size, transportation is available on the grounds for a convenient way to explore.

Get a taste of the rich culture at the Bai Dinh local restaurant where the monks dish out exceptional vegetarian cuisine. 

7. Bike Through the Trang An Countryside

ninh binh bike ride

Another unforgettable experience to be had is cycling around the Trang An Countryside.

Escape from the tourist centers of Ninh Binh and experience the quiet countryside of the Ninh Binh region. This is another featured activity on a Ninh Binh day tour and was one of my favorites!

I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of the rural lifestyle of the Vietnamese people. 

Where to Explore Next After Ninh Binh

If you’re looking for your next stop on your Vietnam itinerary, here’s where you can head to next after Ninh Binh.

Hanoi – 1.5 hours drive

Head to the bustling capital of Vietnam to get a taste of tasty street food, a rush of the thrilling Train Street, and take in all the history from the local museums.

Halong Bay – 3.5 hours drive

Now that you’ve seen “Halong Bay on land” why not experience the true emerald waters and unique rock formations?

Hue – 13 hours

Hue is often the next stop for any backpackers on their way to Southern Vietnam. For this long journey, you can choose between a sleeper bus or a train. Hue is known for the Hai Van Pass, the Imperial City, and the Thuy Tien Abandoned Water Park.

Da Nang / Hoi An

Getting to Da Nang and Hoi An from Ninh Bing can be tricky.

Your options are to take a sleeper bus or train to Hue, and then transportation for the 1.5-hour ride to Da Nang.

Alternatively, you can take a car from Ninh Binh to Hanoi and take the 1.5-hour flight directly into Da Nang. Then, make your way to Hoi An which is just 45 minutes.

There is no airport in Hoi An, so if you are flying, you will have to fly into Da Nang.

Day Trip From Hanoi to Ninh Binh – Conclusion

Overall, I felt a day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh was certainly worth it.

However, I would not prioritize Ninh Binh over other northern Vietnam destinations such as Hanoi, Sapa, and Halong Bay.

While I was happy I spent a day exploring this beautiful province, it was not a highlight of my 1-month trip in Vietnam.

In conclusion, go to Ninh Binh if you have time – but don’t cross out other “must-do” Vietnam destinations to get to it.

I hope this blog post about a day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh was helpful!

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Is Halong Bay Worth It? Everything You Need to Know

Is Halong Bay Worth It? Everything You Need to Know

Researching your trip to Vietnam and find yourself wondering, ‘Is Halong Bay Worth it?” Here’s everything you need to know about visiting one of the most famous natural wonders of Vietnam.

is Halong Bay Worth it

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

Halong Bay is said to be one of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous places on Earth. Well.. at least it used to be.

With its emerald waters and unique rock formations, it really is a unique natural beauty that looks otherworldly.

In this post, I’m going to share my experience at Halong Bay, all the different options for visiting, and whether I think Halong Bay is actually worth it.

Your FREE Hanoi Checklist

Planning your trip to Vietnam? Here’s your FREE Hanoi Checklist printable to take with you on your trip so you don’t miss a thing!

About Halong Bay

Located in Northeastern Vietnam, Halong Bay is a natural wonder presenting a stunning landscape of emerald waters and over 1,600 limestone cliffs.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers an area of approximately 1,553 square kilometers, making it one of the most iconic and picturesque destinations in Southeast Asia.

is Halong Bay Worth it

Halong Bay Essentials

Halong Bay Legend

The name “Halong” actually translates to “Descending Dragon,” and there’s a beautiful legend that surrounds the formation of the bay.

According to the legend, the bay was created when a dragon descended from the heavens, its tail gouging out valleys and crevices that were later filled with water, creating the stunning seascape we see today.

Recent Mass Tourism

In the past few reports, Halong Bay has stated that in 2019 it received over 4 million tourists. In 2022, it is believed that due to over-tourism from lockdowns, Halong Bay received over 11 million tourists.

Halong Bay is not only one of the most visited wonders in Vietnam but all of Southeast Asia.

is Halong Bay Worth it

Let’s Talk Trash

I’m not going to lie. the amount of trash floating in Halong Bay is pretty horrifying.

While locals will point at tourists, I saw many locals themselves litter right into the waters. At the end of the day, it’s not just one kind of person’s fault, it’s really everyone’s, and I’m sure the mass tourism aspect doesn’t help.

Just keep this in mind while visiting so you can lower your sanitary expectations and as always, be a responsible tourist and don’t litter.

How to Visit Halong Bay

Luckily, Halong Bay can be incorporated into Vietnam itineraries in a number of ways. It can be a full one-day trip or a 2-3 night stay.

After hearing so many conflicting opinions on whether Halong Bay was worth it, I opted for just a day trip and was really happy with my decision.

When I began my research on Halong Bay, I was confused about the ‘norms” for visiting. Initially, I was looking into options for staying in the actual city. To my discovery and after hearing other travelers’ experiences, staying in the city of Ha Long is not the way to go.

Most of what to see is in the bay itself and not the city.

Of course, there are exceptions! I’m sure some travelers have stayed in Ha Long and loved it. If you are staying at a nice resort and waking up on the vibrant waters, I can imagine it is a lovely experience. There are some truly amazing-looking hotels on the bay like Premier Village and Vinpearl Resort.

is Halong Bay Worth it

Day Trips to Halong Bay

I personally opted for the day cruise in Halong Bay.

Day trips to Halong Bay can be a great option because it gives you the perfect taste of the experience as you still get the lunch buffet. wine at sunset, hiking viewpoints, kayaking, swimming, and cave exploring.

That’s right, all this in one day! The day tours jam-pack all the activities you get in most of the overnight cruises.

While the day trips did not seem as popular as options online, many travelers I met said if they could have found a day trip tour, they would have opted for that instead of the 2-3 night cruises.

Overnight Halong Bay Cruises

Overnight cruises on Halong Bay can be an awesome experience if you’ve got the time in your itinerary.

By day explore hidden caves, kayak through lagoons, and soak up the sun on the deck. Evenings are for indulging in seafood feasts under a starlit sky and partying with fellow travelers.

Waking up to the limestone cliffs emerging from the misty waters would certainly be something to remember!

Day Trips VS Overnight Cruises

While the price difference between a Halong Bay day trip and an overnight cruise is minimal, it is ultimately your time that you will have to make the call.

Essentially, the day cruises pack in all the activities you do on an overnight cruise. The overnight cruises just give you more time to do these activities such as hiking, kayaking, and swimming. Additionally, you will get a more luxurious experience on the overnight cruises.

In short, if Halong Bay is one of your ultimate bucket-list destinations, I say go for an overnight cruise.

If you’re debating if Halong Bay is worth it, then opt for a one-day trip, just so you can get a glimpse of what the natural wonder has to offer.

Halong Bay

When to Visit

Like any outdoor experience, weather can really make or break your time in Halong Bay. Most of the activities at Halong involve water so seeing the bay during a time when it is warm will be best.

April – October is an ideal time to visit.

Believe it or not, Vietnam does get cold. I would avoid visiting during December – March.

Best Things to Do in Halong Bay

Most Halong Bay Tours do the same things more or less. Here is what you can expect from your Halong Bay Cruise Experience

is Halong Bay Worth it

1. See the Impressive Caves

Anyone planning a trip to Halong Bay must put cave exploring at the top of their list.

Filled with mysterious formings and bodies of water, Halong Bay is home to many stunning caves waiting to be explored.

Cave exploring in Halong

2. Swim in the Emerald Waters

Of course, no trip to Halong Bay is complete without a dip in the majestic vibrant waters.

Swimming in Halong

3. Go Kayaking

This was one of my favorite activities we did in Halong Bay! The crazy rock formations create a kayaker’s paradise.

4. Eat Seafood

Enjoy fresh seafood with an unforgettable view. Eating seafood in Halong Bay is a must-do!

Seafood in Halong

5. Hike the Viewpoints

Get the best view of the bay from viewpoints high above the waters. This spectacular view will truly take you out of this world!

Is Halong Bay Worth It

6. Enjoy a Sunset Wine Tasting

As the sun begins its descent, snag a glass of wine and find a comfortable spot on the deck. The play of colors in the sky, the tranquil waters below, and the silhouette of the karsts create an unreal backdrop for your tasting experience.

best things to do in halong bay

7. Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay. While you won’t be able to see Cat Ba during a one-day cruise, overnight cruises should take you to see this paradise island.

People often rave about Cat Ba that it was one of their favorite parts of their Halong Bay experience.

The Final Verdict – Is Halong Bay Worth it?

Hopefully, by the end of this in-depth blog post, you’ll have decided for yourself if Halong Bay is worth it.

All in all, I think Halong Bay is worth it. You’ve come all this way to Vietnam, perhaps you’ll never get to return again! You don’t want to miss out on one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world.

The real question that you should be asking yourself, and hopefully this post will give you a better idea – is exactly how much time you should dedicate to Halong Bay.

From cruising through the bay’s iconic landscapes to exploring hidden caves, and savoring seafood feasts, Halong Bay offers an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re seeking adventure or tranquility, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has something for everyone.

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How to Actually Visit the Hanoi Train Street in 2024

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This post is all about how to visit the Hanoi train street.

Hanoi Train Street
Photo by Thijs Degenkamp on Unsplash

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

All Aboard!

The Hanoi Train Street is the most buzzing street in Vietnam’s capital.

It has become a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a unique and thrilling experience.

So what is it like visiting the iconic Hanoi Train Street?

Imagine this: you’re sipping on a frothy egg coffee at a bustling café, your feet dangling just inches above the tracks. Suddenly, a roaring train comes chugging through the narrow alley! Did I mention it’s centimeters away from your cup (…and face!)

Welcome to the heart-pounding experience that is Hanoi’s famous Train Street!

Hanoi Train Street

Planning your trip to Vietnam?

Don’t forget your FREE Hanoi Checklist so you don’t miss a thing! Plus, check out my other posts on Vietnam like my favorite things to do in Hanoi or my trekking experience in Sapa.

If you DON’T Want to Read This In-Depth Blog Post.. Here is all you need:

Set your Google Maps en route to ‘Hanoi 1990s TrainStreet Cofee” on Google Maps.

Arrive at 6:30 p.m. any day to snap some photos and grab a seat. Just in time for the 7 p.m. trains.

Prepare to purchase a beverage from the cafe for the experience.

That’s all!

This is exactly how I visited in May 2023 after hearing a lot of unsuccessful stories about people entering on the wrong side of the street or not having updated train times.

If you are curious as to why you should visit exactly at 7 pm, or why you must have to find a cafe, or if you have any other questions about visiting, read on!

Hanoi Train Street Cheat Sheet

Train Street Essentials

About the Hanoi Train Street

Hanoi’s Train Street has an interesting. exciting, and at times -problematic history.

This unique and narrow street is located in the hidden streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Hanoi Train Street History

Constructed during the French colonial rule in Vietnam, the French established a railway system to connect different regions of Vietnam. The Hanoi-Saigon railway line was one of the major routes.

Residential Homes & Businesses

Over time as Hanoi grew, the area around the railway tracks became densely populated with new homes and businesses. These buildings were constructed so close to the tracks that they practically touch! Some of the buildings are less than 1 meter from the track.

One of the most unique parts of Hanoi Train Street is it isn’t just a tourist attraction, you are literally in the backyard of many locals’ homes.

For years, the street has been a thriving hub of activity, with locals going about their daily routines alongside passing trains.

Safety Concerns & Restrictions

The increasing popularity of Train Street has raised safety concerns.

With trains passing through such a narrowly populated area, there are many safety hazards.

In 2019, authorities imposed restrictions on access to the street during certain hours. Barriers were erected, and tourists were advised not to visit during these restricted times to ensure everyone’s safety.

Now in 2024, there are still some restrictions in place, making it a little tricky to visit the iconic site. Luckily for you, I just visited and can tell you exactly all the top tricks on how to successfully visit.

Check out these popular Train Street Guided Tours

How to Visit the Hanoi Train Street in 2024

Since you’re already doing research, you’ve got the right idea! Despite how well-known the Hanoi Train Street is, it’s not exactly something you can just show up to successfully on a random morning.

You need to find the right entrance to the street, that isn’t blocked off by police.

Additionally, you need to research the train times and schedules if you want to get the full thrilling experience of seeing the train pass.

You also have to be “invited” into a cafe to snag track-side seating.

As you can see, there’s a lot of planning involved!

When to visit – day or night?

While you might get the most Instagrammable photos during the day, I’d argue that nighttime is the best time to visit. More of the businesses are open in the evening and that’s when you’ll have the best chance to see the trains.

Timetables

These are the most updated timetables I could find online, but just know these can change frequently.

Your best bet is to visit at 7 p.m. I went at 7 and saw 3 trains!

Monday – Friday:

  • 7:00 PM
  • 7:45 PM
  • 8:30 PM
  • 10:00 PM

Saturday – Sunday

  • 6:00 AM
  • 9:00 AM
  • 11:20 AM
  • 3:20 PM
  • 5:30 PM
  • 6:00 PM
  • 7:00 PM
  • 7:45 PM
  • 8:30 PM
  • 9:00 PM
  • 11:00 PM

how to visit hanoi train street

Finding the Hanoi Train Street and “Getting In”

To see the famous train street and get a table rail-side, you have to find a cafe and be “invited in” by the owner. Meaning, you just need to have a cafe in mind that you know 100% is open and get there early enough to snag a seat.

This is especially important to research your cafe ahead of time because some of the entrances to the street are blocked off by police. Perhaps you have read conflicting information online about whether or not the train street is open, and why some travelers are getting in and some aren’t.

Choosing a cafe ahead of time and routing to that cafe in maps is the best way to get to the Hanoi Train Street.

I recommend Cafe Hanoi 1990s. Show up at 6:30-6:45 pm right before the rush of the 7 pm trains and camp out a table until it comes.

Cafe Hanoi 1990s Address: Ngõ 222 Đ. Lê Duẩn, Khâm Thiên, Đống Đa, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Regardless if you go at 7 pm or a different time, you need to show up about 30 minutes early to reserve a seat.

Prepare to buy an overpriced beverage, but remember you are paying for an experience! There will be loads of beverage options like beer, coffee, and fruit shakes.

cafes in hanoi

How Long to Stay

Seeing the train pass just once is absolutely enough! With planning an early arrival to save a seat, ordering a beverage, and seeing the train – expect to stay about 1 hour.

Is the Hanoi Train Street Dangerous?

I’m sure you’re wondering with all the fuss, if the Hanoi Train Street is dangerous.

The honest answer is YES! It’s not exactly the safest place to be. But, that’s kind of why people love it.

You have a high-speed train rushing in front of you that if you stick out your tongue, even just a little, it’s a total goner. Yes, the train really is THAT close!

If you are claustrophobic or hesitant about visiting because of the safety, I totally get it. I would suggest visiting during the day so you can still experience the charm at a time when trains are not running frequently.

All that being said, the businesses that make a profit from this tourist attraction are fast, educated, and look out for their customer’s safety.

In the minutes leading up to the train buzzing through the street, the cafe employees come out and brief you on how close the train will be. The staff will show you exactly the safest spots to stand.

Is the Hanoi Train Street Worth It?

Overall, I was really happy that I could see the famous street in all its glory.

While it’s essential to be respectful of the residents and follow safety guidelines, a visit to Hanoi Train Street is a memorable experience that will give you a deeper appreciation of the city’s history and culture.

So, embrace the unconventional and thrilling experience of Hanoi’s Train Street.

This post was all about how to visit the Hanoi Train Street in 2024.

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