24 hours in Ninh Binh, home to VN’s most beautiful stone church

VietNamNet Bridge - Visit a stone church with unique architecture, an old tile roofed bridge, and taste a local specialty – nhech fish salad –  on a one-day trip to Phat Diem in Ninh Binh. Below is a suggested itinerary:

ninh binh, phat diem, stone church

The stone church.

6am: Departure from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is more than 90 km to the south of Hanoi. Visitors can take a bus or pick up a tour bus within the Hanoi Old Quarter.

Traveling by motorcycle can be interesting; the travel time is only two hours.

8am: Breakfast in the city center

Ninh Binh is not only famous for goat meat and com chay (rice crust), but also eel vermicelli. The eel vermicelli restaurant located near the Ninh Binh post office in the heart of the city is always crowded.

Choose a comfortable seat, and taste the delicious dish and watch the morning activity of local people.

8:30 am: Departure to Phat Diem

Phat Diem Town (Kim Son District) is home to the famous stone church of Phat Diem. It is nearly 30 km from the city of Ninh Binh. You can catch a bus for VND15,000. On the bus, you will see immense rice fields along the road.

9.30am: Visit the stone church

This is a unique architecture, with a harmonious combination between European and East Asian art. The cathedral was built mainly of stone from 1875 to 1899 and is recognized as one of the most beautiful destinations in Vietnam.

Phat Diem Cathedral is a complex comprising a lake, a cathedral, a stone church, Phuong Dinh (bell house) and three artificial grottoes. At first sight, visitors are easily attracted to the square lake on the main road to the cathedral.

In the middle of the lake, there is a small island with a statue of Jesus Christ. Phuong Dinh easily becomes the next eye-catching monument, with stone carvings on both sides of the walls. It is 25 m high, 17m wide and 24m long with three stories.  The first floor is covered by large green flagstones.

ninh binh, phat diem, stone church 

The tile-roofed bridge in Phat Diem.

The middle and upper floors house a large drum and a big bell, respectively. As visitors leave Phuong Dinh, they will see a great cathedral which was built in 1891 with the official name “Nha tho Duc Me Man Coi”.

The cathedral is 74 meters long, 21 meters wide and 15 meters high with four roofs. It was built of six rows of ironwood. Within the cathedral are four small churches of different styles.

Next to the grand cathedral is a church named “Nha Tho Trai tim Vo Nhiem Nguyen Toi Duc Me” . But people usually refer to it as “Stone Church” because its walls, pillars, ground, bars and beams are made of stone.

The inside of the church has many sophisticated carved reliefs, with chrysanthemums, bamboo, fir trees and apricot trees that symbolize the four seasons. Around Phat Diem Cathedral, there are beautiful stone caves and artificial mountains.

12pm: Lunch in the town of Phat Diem

Nhech fish salad is considered a specialty of the town.

2pm: Visit the sedge mat village

Making sedge mats is a traditional trade of local residents. With abundant material resources, hardworking, creative laborers, sedge-made products, particularly mats in Kim Son, are very famous.

3.30pm: Visit the famous tile-roofed bridge

The Phat Diem tile-roofed bridge in Kim Son district recently appeared on Vietnamese postage stamps. The bridge was built in 1902. It spans the An River in the center of Phat Diem Town. The bridge consists of three spans, with four compartments on each span. The total length of the bridge is 36 m and it is 3 m wide. Along the bridge are two banisters and ironwood pillars. The roof is covered by red tiles of the northern plains. This is one of the rare bridges in Vietnam with high artistic value. Along with Phat Diem Church, this bridge is a symbol of the land.

5pm: Return to Hanoi

Pha Le

ninh binh, phat diem, stone church