Hotels can arrange all your transport needs – taxis, motorbike drivers, rentals, drop-offs at the bus station. They’ll also get you on an OPEN BUS TO HUE (US$7-8; 11hr), which passes through Ninh Binh from Hanoi about 9pm or so.

Buses go every half hour to Hanoi’s Giap Bat bus station (US$2; 2hr) from the NINH BINH BUS STATION (Le Dai Hanh St; a block east of Hwy 1/Tran Hung Dao St, across Lim Bridge, near the hospital), where you can also get a bus to Phat Diem or Haiphong (US$3.20, 3hr) at 6am, 7am and around noon. You can also jump on a Haiphong-bound bus coming from farther south. If you’re planning to catch the 12:30pm Haiphong ferry to Cat Ba, you’ll need to catch the 6am or 7am bus to Haiphong.

Only slow trains bound for Hanoi stop in NINH BINH TRAIN STATION, a block northwest of the bus station.