Hoa Lu - Ninh Binh Travel Guide

Hoa Lu is the ancient capital of the Dinh and Le dynastys which dates back to the 11th century. Serene and tranquil, Hoa Lu is set in beautiful surroundings beside to Truong Yen village and is easily visited on a day trip from Ninh Binh, or if you are in a rush you can combine it with a trip to Tam Coc and Bich Dong. In that case you can cycle from Hoa Lu to Truong Yen and on to Tam Coc thru very scenic countryside on narrow roads, about 17km in all, a highlight all by itself!
The remains of the ancient city are just that -- remains. Hoa Lu is very beautiful, but not because of the salvaged buildings, but rather because of its setting. The old city was spread out over 200 hectares, and situated 14km northwest of Ninh Binh. On arrival, the first thing you will come across on the right, just after the last houses of the Truong Yen Village, is a walled temple. At the entrance there is a tourist map detailing the area and other sites to see. Farther down the road, you can organise a trip in a row boat, and venture up the Hoang Long River. 
All that remains of the original palaces and temples are some obscure ruins and some temples which have been built on some of the old sites. Those still standing include the Dinh Tien Huang, the royal temple which houses a statue of Emperor Dinh Bo Linh and his sons as well as the royal temple of the early Le Dynasty. 
A boat trip takes about two hours and returns by the same route. You will get a chance to stop and walk up to a small temple in a cave, on the side of a mountain, which has great views. You will also pass small farms and houses, and float through a tunnel with a Chinese written sign chiselled into the rock face. Hoa Lu makes for a very pleasant day trip from Ninh Binh.
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14km from Ninh Binh
How to get there: Hoa Lu is 14km from Ninh Binh railway station, taking only fifteen minutes to reach by motorbike.