1. Trang An ecotourism site
Situated in the center of Trang An Landscape Complex, Trang An ecotourism site covers an area of about 2,168ha, 7km far from Ninh Binh city to the West. Whole picture of the ecotourism site is a spectacularly mountainous area composed of various mountain terrains reflecting images on winding and tortuous springs connecting unspoiled, mysterious and extraordinary caves and valleys. At present, the tourism site is exploiting two cruise lines with distance of around 20km passing through a wide range of fanciful and sparkling caves. There are temples, pagodas and palaces associated with Hoa Lu Ancient Capital which moderately enhance and claim golden historical value represented in river shape and mountain terrain at the beginning of country’s foundation and protection period of Dinh - Early Le - Ly dynasties.
2. Tam Coc - Bich Dong tourism site
Located in Trang An Landscape Complex, Tam Coc - Bich Dong was recognized as a World Heritage. The site belongs to Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh City, and 7 km far from Ninh Binh City. Tam Coc - Bich Dong is one of the most stunning sceneries of Ninh Binh. Experiencing millions of years being formed, this site still preserves its unspoiled and natural characteristics with domestically and internationally renowned caves and historical relics such as Tam Coc, Bich Dong Pagoda, Thai Vi Temple, Tien Cave, Linh Coc Pagoda, Thung Nang and Thung Nham Bird Garden. At the tourism site, tourists can cruise Ngo Dong River and harmonize with the fanciful and mysterious beauty of “Second most stunning cave of Vietnam” to discover mystery of the nature.
3. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is located in Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lu District. This is a particularly notable cultural-historical relics of the country and one of three sites forming Trang An Natural and Cultural World Heritage Complex. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital covers an area of about 300ha surrounded by a number of magnificent and arched mountains. 1050 years ago on this land, Dinh Bo Linh eliminated “Period of 12 warlords” and Dai Co Viet - the first centralized feudal state of Vietnam was born. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is associated with three dynasties including Dinh, Tien Le and the beginning of Ly dynasty. Through time and historical events, Hoa Ly Ancient Capital still sustains magnanimous relics such as King Dinh Tien Hoang Temple, King Le Dai Hanh Temple, King Dinh’s tomb, King Le’s tomb, Nhat Tru Pagoda, Vuc Vong Temple, Cua Dong Stele, etc. as well as natural city walls, unique and stunning mountains and caves with all cultural-historical features, building up a long-standing “Stone Capital City”.
4. King Dinh Tien Hoang Temple
Situated in Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lu District, King Dinh Tien Hoang Temple was built on the base of ancient Hoa Lu palace inside a campus with an area of 5 acre. The temple faces the East and stands in front of Ma Yen Mountain.
King Dinh Temple was built in “nội công ngoại quốc” method (a method in which temple was built based on Chinese letter shape) with three cottages including Bai Duong, Thieu Huong and Chinh Cung. In the middle room of Bai Duong, there is a big wooden calligraphy sign on which written three words “Chính thống thủy” (beginning of the official period) in praise of King Dinh’s contribution in reuniting the country and beginning a unified period. Thieu Huong - the middle cottage is a place to worship four critical mandarins and mandarins with great victories of Dinh dynasty including Dinh Dien, Nguyen Bac, Luu Co, Trinh Tu. The final cottage is Chinh Cung, a place to worship King Dinh and his three sons. In the middle of Chinh Cung, there is a red golden statue of Kinh Dinh Tien Hoang made under Nguyen dynasty. The statue wears crown and dragon gown and sits on a dragon bed - image of an emperor with awe-inspiring manner.
King Dinh Temple is a unique architecture and sculpture work in the 17th century. Though it has been renovated for various times, the temple still preserves several sculpture and architecture parts of Later Le with topics such as fairy on dragon's back, two dragons turn their faces to De leaf, two dragons turn their faces to a circle represented the moon and terrors of dragons.
5 King Le Dai Hanh Temple
King Le Dai Hanh Temple is located in Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lu District and was built on the base of Hoa Lu ancient palace. It faces the East and stands in front of Den Mountain, 300m far from King Dinh Temple to the North.
The temple is also build in “nội công ngoại quốc” method but in smaller size compared to King Dinh Temple. The temple has three cottages including Bai Duong, Thieu Huong and Chinh Cung. Thieu Huong is a place to worship mandarins and talented mandarins of Le dynasty. Chinh Cung is a place to worship King Le Dai Hanh, Queen Duong Van Nga and Emperor Le Long Ding (the fifth child of King Le Dai Hanh). In Chinh Cung, there is a statue of King Le Dai Hanh wearing crown on which written “king” and dragon gown with awe-inspring manner. Statue of Queen Duong Van Nga has a shiny face and manner of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva.
In terms of sculpture, King Le temple preserves various parts of Hau Le sculpture such as Reunion of dragon and tiger, lotus lake, fish transforming to dragon, phyllostachys aurea, fairy on dragon’s back, fairy sitting next to dragon, etc.
6. Am Tien Pagoda and Cave
Am Tien Pagoda and Cave is located in Ngu Phong Son Mountain range, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital relic site, Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lu District. Am Tien Pagoda and Cave is a place to worship Buddha and Saint Nguyen Minh Khong. Legendarily, this was a stone prison with tiger to punish criminals under Dinh dynasty. Under Ly dynasty, Zen Master Nguyen Minh Khong came here to have Buddha speeches and Dharma talks and changed the name of this area to Am Tien Cave. The site still preserves its unspoiled and natural beauty. Tourists have to climb above 200 stone steps to enter the cave. Various stalactites of the cave look like rice, cash tree, Buddha’s hand and lotus bud heading down to ground. Looking down from Am Tien Cave, tourists will see a magnificent scenery with high mountains and endless length of green lakes.
7. Nhat Tru Pagoda
Nhat Tru Pagoda is situated on an area of above 3,000m2, 300m far from King Le Dai Hanh Temple to the North. This is an ancient pagoda from the 10th century under special protection zone of Hoa Lu Ancient Capital relic site. There are ancient things associated with the foundation of Hoa Lu Ancient Capital which are still preserved. The most prominent object is a Buddhist pole located on the yard made of stone with six parts including Square block, circular base, octagonal body, octagonal slab and lotus peak. The pole has its height of 4.16m and weight of 4.5 ton. The Buddhist pole was approved to be built in 995 by King Le Dai Hanh with the content of “kinh trang” which presents the desire for country’s peace and people’s stability and strong government as well as belief in the Buddhist magic. With its prominent value, the Buddhist pole was recognized as a National Treasure in 2005 by the Prime Minister.
8. Bai Dinh mountainous spiritual site
Located in Trang An Landscape Complex, the site belongs to Gia Sinh Commune, GiaVien District, 18km farfrom NinhBinh city and 100 km from the capital of Hanoi. The site consists of ancient Bai Dinh Pagoda and new pagoda area.
Bai Dinh (the ancient) is a long-standing pagoda associated with legends and myths about a well-known Zen Master of Vietnam - National monk under Ly dynasty named Nguyen Minh Khong. He is the one setting foundation, putting up Buddha statue and spreading the land of Buddhism in 1136. New Bai Dinh Pagoda was built and expanded with an area of more than 1000ha. Bai Dinh Pagoda is the largest one in Vietnam representing Asian-Eastern characteristics with items built on a wide range of levels, from the lowest to the highest with five levels in terms of main route. The pagoda has its reputation for acknowledged records including Pagoda with largest gold-covered Buddha statue in Asia, Longest Arhant corridor in Asia, Highest Buddhist tower in Asia, Biggest Maitreya statue in Southeast Asia, etc. Annually, there are around five million tourists going to the pagoda to worship and visit.
9. Thai Vi Temple
Located in Tam Coc - Bich Dong tourism site, Thai Vi Temple belongs to Van Lam Village, Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu District. The temple is a place to worship Kings and generals of Tran dynasty. In the 13th century, Tran dynasty is one of the most powerful and prosperous dynasties of feudalism in Vietnam. Lasting 175 years, Tran dynasty obtained remarkable achievements in various aspects of which the most outstanding is victory of three times defeating Nguyen - Mong invaders.
To memorize the foundation of Vu Lam royal step-over place, after the King’s death, Van Lam villagers built Thai Vi Temple on the base of ancient Thai Vi Hermitage and called it “Thai Vi Tu” The name of “Thai Vi” originated from the meaning that this was the place where King Tran left home to become a monk.
The majestic and silent look of the temple is obtained by “nội công ngoại quốc” architecture method with various stone works sophisticatedly and meticulously made which already reach the level of an art.
10. Thung Nham Bird Garden
Thung Nham Bird Garden tourism site is located in Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu District, 12km far from Ninh Binh City and belongs to Trang An Natural and Cultural World Heritage. The garden is one of tourism sites with stunning places, especially the Bird Garden. The Bird Garden is the inhabitant of above 46 species with thousands of birds including flamingo, phoenix, stork, nigh-heron, heron, duck-alike bird, teal, white-rumped shama and common starling, several of which are in Vietnam Red Data Book.
11. Thien Ha Cave
Situated in Son Ha Commune, Nho Quan Town, Thien Ha Cave is submerged by Tuong Mountain range - a mountain of Trang An range and considered the front tower protecting Hoa Lu Citadel under Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh’s reign. The cave is regarded as a nice submerged cave of Ninh Binh. The cave has its length of 700m and a wide body with stalactites presented in a fanciful space which can be regarded as “Milky Way inside the mountain”. Tourists can cruise Thien Ha Cave to discover and enjoy the unspoiled and mysterious beauty of caves, forests and mountains.
12. Mua Cave
Located at the foot of Mua Mountain, Mua Cave belongs to Khe Dau Ha Village, Ninh Xuan Commune, Hoa Lu District. Mua Cave located inside a mountain with shape of a giant stone bell and an area of 800m2. The name of “Mua” is originated from a story telling that after moving the capital city to Hoa Lu and building Thai Vi Hermitage in the 13th century, King Tran often came here to watch beautiful maids singing and dancing. Hence, people named this Mua Cave. People have to climb 486 steps to reach the mountain peak. From the peak, people can sight the beauty of Trang An Landscape Complex, Tam Coc, etc. There is a statue of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva looking down to the large and peaceful Ancient Capital.
13. Thung Nang
Thung Nang is a part of Trang An World Heritage site located in Dam Khe Village, Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu District. Similar to the name “Nang” (sunlight), there is sunlight everywhere, on leaves, on grass and even at the bottom of river, drawing a peaceful and colorful picture. 3km from Thach Bich boat port through a waterway with paddy fields and mountains on both sides, there is a diverse system of fauna and flora under cool and transparent water. Thung Nang possesses a number of tourism spots such as Ba Doi Mountain, Coc Mountain, Mang Mountain, Vang Mountain, Thung Nang Temple - a place to worship “Chúa thượng ngàn” (Princess of the forest) and Voi Dai antique temple to worship “Trấn trạch sơn lâm”.