How to get to Ninh Binh - Part One
Looking to visit Ninh Binh,want to know how to get to Ninh Binh by bus, train or car, I will share with you from my personal experience about the best way to travel to Ninh Binh from other tourist destinations in Vietnam. Local and sleeping bus tickets are always the cheapest option but not the most comfortable and some drivers can be a little crazy on the roads. The train is a safer and more comfortable option, it's more expensive but still affordable. Train tickets often sell out quickly so it's best if you can plan in advance and book your train tickets a few days before you want to travel. For shorter distances then a private car is a great option for those who would like a little more flexibility and comfort while travelling.
You can take a local Bus from Giap Bat Bus Station in Hanoi. The buses depart every 30 minutes and will drop you off in Ninh Binh city. This is the recommended option for budget travelers. Around 70.000VND per person.
Alternatively you can book a seat with Xe Vietnam for 130.000VND to Ninh Binh or 150.000 to Tam Coc. These are refurbished minivans with more comfortable chairs and they have free wifi and water. They can drop you off to your hotel in Ninh Binh city or nearby the boat station in Tam Coc, please note they will not drop you off to all hotels in Ninh Binh and Tam Coc so it's best to check with them first. They leave from Cong Vien Thong Nhat, just next to the Circus Stadium in Hanoi. They leave every hour and it's necessary to book first. Their phone number is 1900 1731.
Take the train from Hanoi Train Station, it is located on Le Duan just near the old quarter. There are a number of trains departing to Ninh Binh everyday and it takes roughly 2 to 3 hours depending on the train. If the weather is cool then the hard seat option (around 50k) is good for budget travelers but I wouldn't recommend it during hot weather. The soft seat (around 80k) is the best option for comfort and price. There are some trains at night but I think it's best to arrive to Ninh Binh earlier in the day. Prices change regularly for the trains and generally have a 10 - 30% surcharge on weekends and public holidays. You can purchase tickets directly at the Hanoi Train Station, from Chookie's Travel or other agency or online at baolau.com.
SE7 d6.00am a8.22am
SE5 d9.00am a11.21am
TN1 d14.35pm a17.06pm
If you prefer a little more comfort and door to door service than you can arrange for a private car to drive you from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Most hotels can offer you this service and you can also contact us at Chookie's Travel to arrange your private transfer. It generally takes around 2 to 2 and a half hours by car depending on the traffic. The price for a one way transfer usually starts at around $70 USD.
Now that they have finished the new highway from Hanoi to Sapa, it's made travel times to and from Sapa a lot quicker. Quang Anh Bus Company have a sleeping bus that leaves Sapa around 9.30 - 10pm from the Bus Station near Sapa Lake. You can book directly with them (0983 950 369) or you can ask your hotel in Sapa to book the bus for you. It takes roughly 7 hours to get to Ninh Binh and they will drop you in the city. It should be about 250.000VND per person.
If you prefer not to travel by sleeping bus then you can take the night train to Hanoi and then from Hanoi you can choose what is the best option to travel onto Ninh Binh.
From Phong Nha
It's best to take the Hung Thanh sleeping Bus from Phong Nha, their office is located in front of the Capture Vietnam Cafe in Phong Nha Town. The bus leaves at 9pm and you will arrive to Ninh Binh around 4am, they can drop you off in Tam Coc or Ninh Binh City. You can also call them on 024363 37575 to book your ticket.
From Dong Hoi
The train is a more comfortable option then the bus from Dong Hoi to Ninh Binh. The night train is good but you will get to Ninh Binh in the early hours of the morning so make sure to let your hotel know you will be arriving early. The SE20 is the better option but it just means you will have a late night in Dong Hoi before getting the train. There is a day train if you enjoy train travel and prefer to travel during the day. Here are the times of the trains from Dong Hoi to Ninh Binh. A soft seat will cost around $20 on the day train and a soft sleeper in the 4 berth cabin will cost around $30.
SE2 d18:45pm a02:30am
SE4 d19:52pm a03:21am
SE20 d00:49am a09:31am
SE6 d09:21am a17:27pm
Prices change regularly for the trains and generally have a 10 - 30% surcharge on weekends and public holidays. You can purchase tickets directly at the Dong Hoi Train Station, from an agency or online at baolau.com
The sleeping bus is always the cheaper option but not the most comfortable for the longer distances. It's good for budget travelers but I would recommend the train if you can afford the extra. You can book your bus ticket through your hotel or directly with Hung Thanh or Trekking Travel, it should cost around 300.000VND to Ninh Binh. Hung Thanh will drop you off in the city centre or Tam Coc, Trekking Travel will only drop you in the city. The number for Trekking Travel is 0908 855 785.
A night train from Hue is the more comfortable option, if you don't want to arrive too early in the morning then it's best to plan in advance and book the SE20 that arrives at 9:30am in Ninh Binh. A soft bed in a 4 berth cabin should cost about $35.
SE2 d15:31pm a02:30am
SE4 d16:47pm a03:21am
SE20 d21:30pm a09:31am
SE6 d09:21am a17:27pm
I hope this will help you find the best way to get to Ninh Binh, in my next post I will tell you how to reach Ninh Binh from Halong Bay, Cat Ba and more popular tourist destinations. Wishing you all safe travels in Vietnam and feel free to contact me if you need any more information about your trip to Ninh Binh.