Ninh Binh only has budget-oriented hotels. It’s also possible to sleep for about US$15 in VAN LAN VILLAGE, where you get the boats to Tam Coc. Probably the best choice is THE LONG (tel 030-618-077; with rooms from US$20 facing the Tam Coc boats. The village has a far more laid-back atmosphere than Ninh Binh and a few restaurants around.

This relative newcomer is taking over the backpacker crowd in recent years. Away from the center’s main bustle – which is a good thing in Ninh Binh – the Xuan Hoa’s fan- or AC-cooled rooms are small, tiled jobs with some pretty nice looks over the area. Staff can make your meals, give out area maps, or help you with area tours (about US$12 for a motorbike tour to Cuc Phuong or Phat Diem).
Tel 030-880-970; [email protected]; 31D Pho Minh Khai St; fan/AC rooms US$4/10

A fine lil’ two-part hotel near the central intersection of Tran Hung Dao St (Hwy 1) and Le Hong Phong St, the Thanh Thuy has a English-speaking staff members that stumble over making eggs and coffee, but can deliver great, personalized motorbike tours of the area (US$12 per day). Rooms are clean and tiled, with OK air-con and balconies; stick with the quieter, newer wing in back. The restaurant isn’t bad for noodles, but you may get pushed a bit into multi-day tours (sometimes ‘I fly out of Hanoi tomorrow’ will not be justified excuse).
Tel 030-871-811; [email protected]; 128 Le Hong Phong St; rooms US$10-15