If you’re not convinced of going to Ninh Binh yet, then we must start this post by saying that you MUST go! Filled with mystical, striking mountains, heavenly rivers, flourishing rice paddies, and cheap food and beer, Ninh Binh is a world apart from the hectic, full of life city of Hanoi. So, it’s time to ditch nights out on Hanoi’s Beer Street for a more peaceful, tranquil setting. In this post, we are going to tell you exactly how to make the short journey from Hanoi to Ninh Binh using 5 different modes of transport. Firstly though, it’s important to point out that the main attraction in Ninh Binh, is not the city itself, but the scenic area named Tam Coc. Therefore, we will continue each section with how you can reach Tam Coc. P.s. for more travel in Vietnam journeys and Vietnam info, make sure to check out our epic Vietnam travel guide.
Private mini-van from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
The most hassle-free, cost-effective way to get from Hanoi to Binh is to take a private mini-van. Mini-vans typical carry around 12-15 passengers and usually have built-in a/c for your comfort. Trust us, in the summer months, you will certainly need it. If you opt for a luxury mini-van, the seats are relatively large and comfortable, and often come equipped with USB plugs to charge your devices.
Multiple transport companies are running the route from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, so the pick-up and drop-off locations vary. However, there are plenty of options that offer a free hotel pick-up and hotel drop-off service, making the mini-van option the most efficient choice. There are even minivans that head straight to Ninh Binh from Noi Bai International Airport.
Journey duration: 1.5 – 2 hours
Cost: $8 – $16
Departure times: Mini-vans leave regularly throughout the day. The earliest departure is 5:30 am and the latest departure is 8:30 pm.
How to book: We recommend using Bookaway to book your trip online. You can easily compare the different companies and prices. There is also the bonus of FREE cancellation up to 24 hours before your journey. Therefore, if your plans change, you don’t lose your dosh.
Public bus from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
The cheapest option, and probably the more adventurous option if you don’t mind going an escapade through the local areas of Vietnam, is to go by public bus. To take the public bus, you will first need to go to Giap Bat Bus Station, located in Hoang Mai District. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Hanoi’s Old Quarter. To get to the bus station, we recommend you order a car or motorbike taxi through the Grab app, so you know the price of the journey beforehand. Expect to pay 90,000 vnd ($3.89) for a car, and 50,000 vnd ($2.16) for a bike.
Once you reach the bus station, make sure to purchase your bus ticket from the ticket kiosk. Don’t buy it off a random guy in the street, as you could end up overpaying. The bus terminates in Ninh Binh City centre, directly opposite the train station. From there, you will need to hop into another taxi to your accommodation in Tam Coc. The drive is a further 15 minutes. However, if you’re lucky, the bus driver may ask where you are going and stop the bus for you at the turning to Tam Coc, rather than taking you all the way to the bus terminus point.
Journey duration: 2 – 2.5 hours
- 70,000 vnd ($3.03) per person for the public bus
- 50,000 vnd ($2.16) for a taxi motorbike to Giap Bat Bus Station from Hanoi’s Old Quarter
- 50,000 vnd ($2.16) for a taxi motorbike to Tam Coc from the bus drop off location
Departure times: Every hour until late at night. However, if you choose to take the public bus, we recommend you make the journey in the day time as it can be quite daunting in the dark when you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings.
Train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
If you fancy chugging down to Ninh Binh on the train, you can easily pre-book your train tickets in advance. The advantage of taking the train is the wonderful scenery along the way. You will find yourself getting lost in deep thought as you pass endless greenery. Whilst you’re at it, take the opportunity to write out any postcards or typical Vietnam souvenir pop-up cards for family back home.
However, be prepared for an early start or a late-night venture. The earliest train leaves Hanoi at 6:00 am and the latest train leaves at 22:15. In total there are just 6 direct trains per day. The most popular is the SE5 train, for its convenient departure time.
To reach the train station in Hanoi, we recommend you book a grab taxi car or bike. The address of the train station is 20 Le Duan street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi. Once you reach Ninh Binh train station, 01, Hoang Hoa Tham street, Thanh Binh ward, Ninh Binh city, you will need to take another taxi to Tam Coc, which is 6 km away.
Journey duration: 2.5 hours
- The cost of the train varies depending on the seat and birth of the carriage. Price range from 81,000 vnd – 197,000 vnd ($3.51 – $8.53) .
- A taxi from Hanoi Night Market (backpacker area) to Hanoi Train Station should cost around 20,000 vnd ($0.86).
- A taxi from the train station in Ninh Binh to Tam Coc should cost around 50,000 vnd ($2.16).
Departure times: 06:00 am, 08:50 am, 14:25 pm, 19:25 pm, 20:00 pm, and 22:15 pm
Private taxi from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
The quickest and most luxurious way to travel to Ninh Binh is via private transfer. Whilst this option is hardly backpacker-friendly, the main advantage is you get to choose your departure time and avoid any delays with picking up other passengers. This option would be great for families or small groups of friends who would like to arrive in Ninh Binh in style whilst sharing the cost.
Journey duration: 1.5 hours
Costs: The cheapest option starts at $68
Departure times: You choose
How to book: Use Bookaway to book your private transfer
Self-driving from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
If you’re an adventurous soul that is taking on Vietnam’s crazy roads, a quick 3-hour motorbike south of Hanoi will see you rolling into Ninh Binh. The most direct route is to take the QL1A road which you will stay on for most of your journey. Be careful though, the CT01 road runs parallel to the QL1A, but only cars are allowed to drive on the motorway. Along the way, you may want to call off in Phu Lu City for a bite to eat and a drink to refresh.
- From $10 for bike rental per day (click here for bike rental and more scenic routes to Ninh Binh from Hanoi)
- Around 70,000 vnd ($3.02) for petrol
Insider’s Tip: Fill your tank up with petrol before you leave Hanoi. Make sure the attendant starts the petrol meter from 0,000 vnd.
Day tour from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
If you don’t have much time on your Vietnam itinerary, you may want to make a whirlwind stop to Ninhh Binh via a day tour. Day tours to Ninh Binh from Hanoi are offered in almost all the tourist agencies dotted around Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Just call in and an agent will arrange the trip for you. Tours usually consist of hotel pick-up and drop off within Hanoi, multiple stops of Ninh Binh’s top attractions, and lunch.
Want to book your trip online for peace of mind? BOOK HERE! Day trips start from just 1,300,000 vnd ($56).
Where to stay in Tam Coc
Hotel Tam Coc Golden Rice – For a relaxing stay, this hotel is perfect. It’s fully equipped with cosy rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, air conditioning, and a continental breakfast each morning. The hotel is within walking distance of the main strip filled with eateries and bars.
The Banana Tree Hostel – Centrally located to Tam Coc’s main attractions. This hostel is welcoming to all kinds of guests, from families and couples to a group of mates. The hostel is modern and clean, making for a comfortable stay. There is also a swimming pool, bar, and restaurant. Perfect for social butterflies!
Essential Resources for Travelling in Vietnam
Travel Insurance – No matter where you’re travelling to, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re covered for any accidents or losses. We spent days and weeks searching for insurance, but most insurers would not allow us to take out a policy as we were already abroad. Our personal choice is Safteywing. You can opt for automatic monthly payments, just like a subscription. More importantly, it is available in 180 countries and can be purchased whilst already travelling. There is no cap on the duration of travel.
Visa – Before you travel to any country, make sure to check if you need a visa. iVisa is a fantastic website that is super easy and quick to use. Just type in where you are from. and where you are going. to check if you need a visa. If you do, you can quickly make an application online.
Accommodation – Booking.com is our go-to when looking to pre-book accommodation online. Booking.com tend to almost always have the best rates and have a FREE cancellation policy for most properties.
Overland transport – Our go-to website for overland transport is Bookaway. Bookaway offer multiple forms of transport, from buses, mini-vans, trains, and ferries. The routes on offer are extensive and certainly cover most of the backpacker trails. Bookaway works a little like Skyscanner but for overland transport. You will find plenty of transport options from a range of companies. All you simply need to do is book online and receive your ticket by email. The email will contain essential information, such as where the bus leaves from and departure and arrival times.
Tours & activities – If you want to book tours and activities online, make sure to check out Get Your Guide. Get Your Guide takes the stress out of booking activities abroad. You will also find a range of benefits, such as skip the line passes, lunch included in your tours, and so much more.
Travel tips ebook -Before you head off on your adventure, make sure to download our free ebook. It has a whopping 109 budget travel tips to help you make your hard-earned cash go further. Click here to download your FREE ebook.
Make cash on the road – If you’re on a long trip, you may want to start earning whilst on the road. One way to do this is to teach English online. One of our favourite companies for this is Palfish, as the schedule is super flexible. You can open and close slots, as and when you choose, meaning you don’t have to commit to the same days and hours each week. Just make sure you are TEFL certified to apply!