That was a summer day in July, Exotic Voyages started a new trip: A perfect opportunity for everybody relaxing and having fun.
Ninh Binh was our destination this time. It is often called “Ha Long Bay on the land.” But that name isn’t enough for you to imagine all the beauty of the land: Hundreds of kart limestones emerge from the water, winding rice fields run along both sides of the river. The fields can be green or yellow depending on the season you come. Northern Vietnam had been in the rainy season for a month before our trip. Weather forecast informed a stormy weekend, but no one wanted to cancel. Everybody was ready for the bad weather. Boots, raincoats were recommended to packed with. But luckily, the weather was totally different from what we thought. In fact, it still rained but only when we were in the car and stopped whenever we got off.
It took us only 2 hours to drive 55 miles from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. We stopped at a house in Gia Vien village. This is one of the homestays that our customers often stay for lunch once they visit Ninh Binh. A lovely house with fa ish pond, large paved patio in the front, and a lush garden. We finished our lunch in a lot of laughs and started our cycling one hour after.
After rainy weeks, the cool and fresh weather made our riding more interesting than ever. The narrow path runs between pastures and swamps. We rode through cows laying leisurely, white ducks waddling and quacking when a bicycle passed by. Some foreigners riding their bikes in the opposite direction shared with us their happy smiles. I was delectable to breathe in full of my chest the elegant fragrance of the countryside. Enjoyed very much the feeling of being free in nature. Felt as if I could lose myself in this world of peace for a month, not a second of missing where my boring routines repeated day by day.
The narrow path runs between pastures...
.... and swamps
We enjoyed very much the beautiful countryside of Ninh Binh
The path led us to Van Long lagoon, the largest wetland reserve in the River Delta, where we would discover the lagoon by bamboo boats. The boatwoman crossed a wooden bar on her boat for us to sit on, then she paddled slowly down the water. Rainy days made the water level higher than usual, but we still saw plants underneath. The ambiance was so quiet that I could hear the padding through the water, the grunting of langurs from somewhere else in the mountains, and the flapping of hundreds of white storks flying over the lagoon. The scenery just liked a fairy tale.
The traditional boats at Van Long are made by bamboo
The ambiance was so quiet that I could hear the padding through the water
A beautiful place that you are not easy to find elsewhere in this world
According to the boatwoman, the best time to visit Van Long lagoon is from November to February, during the nesting season of white storks. The water is clear and clean that you can easily see the whole world beneath the surface. In the summer, when the rice fields turn to brilliant yellow color, the landscape becomes so majestic that not many places in the world have. Van Long is still a secret to tourists. This beautiful swamp offers the chance to soak up in nature. You’ll feel this beauty is just for your eyes only: A feeling that hardly finds in any attraction in Southeast Asia.
At the end of the year, Van Long Lagoon looks like a painting
Our boat ride lasted for about an hour, but it seemed a lot longer. We returned to the homestay after that to help the host preparing for dinner. We picked the jackfruits and logans in the garden, grilled fishes and pork ribs, chopped pineapples and young bananas into thin slices. All the dishes were empty in a blink of an eye because everyone was hungry while the BBQ was delicious and tasty. Grilled meat, herbs, and rice noodle were wrapped in lettuce leaves then dipped into the fish sauce. The roll was healthy with many vegetables, the sauce was sour, spicy, salty, and sweet. When two things combined together in one bite, we had the best roll in the world.
We had BBQ dinner with grilled fishes and pork ribs
Fruits were picked in the garden.
After cleaning, people divided into small groups. Some read books, some talked, others played guitar and sang until 1 am. The tents were pitched right in the front yard with warm blankets. Therefore, even though the temperature was a bit cool at night, I fell asleep quickly. One day in Ninh Binh had gone by. The day after, we had another boat trip in Tam Coc with boatmen rowing their boats by legs. But that's another story that I'll tell you about next time.
Our weekend trip was perfect and enjoyable. But there are more than natural beauty and good food that I got from it. What I have learned from our trip are:
One of the best parts of vacation is feeling like you’re getting away—from your work, your routine life, and your stresses. When you want to escape all that and the crowds to spend a couple of days in a pleasant, healthy environment, let’s put Ninh Binh into your checklist. This charming countryside is worth more than a visit. It is the place that can change your lifestyle.
Related tour: Authentic Vietnam