Pleasant enough in itself, but a largely unremarkable provincial capital on the main road between Hanoi and Hue, Ninh Binh is notable for being within easy striking distance of some of Vietnam’s most stunning limestone karst scenery. With its easy transportation links to destinations both north and south, it makes a perfectly amenable base from which to explore the surrounding splendor. Much of the area to the west comes within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trang An Landscape Complex, including a series of caves accessible by boat and the fascinating remains of Vietnam's first capital, Hoa Lu, 12 km (7½ miles) northwest of town. Just to the south of Trang An are the more famous Tam Coc caves.
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