At first glance, the provincial capital of NINH BINH appears to be yet another dusty, traffic-heavy northern town. However, glance to the west and you’ll be beckoned to stay by a thousand fingers of limestone – a land-lubbing Ha Long Bay, with a clutch of historic and architectural sights to add to its geological beauty.

Despite the wealth of sights surrounding it, Ninh Binh itself claims just one sight of its own: a kilometre to the north a picturesque little pagoda nestles at the base of Non Nuoc Mountain. This knobbly outcrop – no more than 60m high – is noted for an eminently missable collection of ancient poetic inscriptions and views east over a power station to the graphically named “Sleeping Lady Mountain”.

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