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Ninh Binh is the hopping off point for Tam Coc, Bich Dong, Hoa Lu, Phat Diem, Van Long and Cuc Phuong National Park.
Built on both sides of Highway 1 and the railroad connecting Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City, Ninh Binh is a fairly uneventful place with only a few minor sights of its own to arouse interest but as a base to explore the spectacular surrounds for a day or two it is ideal.
A compact place, and you can easily walk the just about anywhere in ninh Binh as most of the hotels, restaurants, banks, the bus station, railway station and post office are within one kilometre of one another.
There are over a dozen guesthouses and hotels from where you should be able to hire a motorbike and/or local guide to get to the respective sites as all there is to see in Ninh Binh itself is a partially destroyed church near the train station, and an old pagoda.
If you walk down the main road towards Hanoi for about 1km, take a right turn followed by a left turn next to the fun park, you will get to the pagoda. It is on the bank of the river shrouded by a stone outcrop not far from the railway bridge. The pagoda contains a small shrine and one of the residents will show you around. There is no charge but there is a donation box.
Ninh Binh has both a General Hospital (Hai Thuong Lan Ong St, Ninh Binh, T: (030) 87 1030) and a Traditional Medicine Hospital (Tran Hung Dao St, Ninh Binh, T: (030) 88 1546), but for anything serious head to Hanoi. There are many good, cheap internet cafes located on Luong Van Tuy St.
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