HOA LU — Ancient Capital in Ninh Binh (TIPS)

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Hoa Lu (Cố đô Hoa Lư) – an ancient, formerly the capital of Vietnam. Entrance gate to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital.

Information – Hoa Lu
History of Hoa Lu
How to get to Hoa Lu
When to visit Hoa Lu
Homestays + Resorts
Faqs + Travel Tips
Photos of Hoa Lu

Hoa Lu is a historic city, now a tourist attraction near Ninh Binh city

    • Ninh Binh is a city that offers a number of important historical sites, great natural sceneries and lies only about 100 km from Hanoi and is therefore very popular. Hoa Lu District, which lies on the west side of Ninh Binh city, is the site of the world-famous and popular scenic spot of Trang An complex. And just a short distance from the center of Trang An Ecotourism Site, about 5 km north is a very important and historic place Ancient city of Hoa Lu (Cố đô Hoa Lư). It does not look huge and extensive, but its importance is, of course, unmissable for the Vietnamese themselves. And even a foreign tourist should not miss this place if you are already in Ninh Binh.

Historic temples, small museum, pagodas, gardens, historical artifacts.

    • Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is located about 100 km from Hanoi and about 12 km from Ninh Binh city, Truong Yen village, Hoa Lu District. Hoa Lu is also written on the UNESCO list. The historic city of Hoa Lu is now more of a remnant of this important place. Now offers to visit the following places of interest: Temple of King Dinh Tinh Hoang (Đền vua Đinh Tiên Hoàng – Xuân Thủy ) + tomb on nearby Ma Yen Mountain, Temple of King Le Dai Hanh (Đền vua Lê Đại Hành), Nha Tru Pagoda (One Pillar Pagoda) in a nearby village, a small museum with excavations and artifacts or estates, gardens or prayer places in a nearby village. Immediately opposite the entrance eastern gate to Hoa Lu is also the beautiful another historic place Am Tien with a pagoda, a cave and a lake. A trip and a visit to the historic city of Hoa Lu itself will take you a maximum of 2 hours.
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A shrine (newly built) known as Ly Thai Toa (Ly Thai To beer house) at the gateway to the historic city of Hoa Lu.


The history of the Ancient city of Hoa Lu begins in the 10th century.

    • If we take the history of this place very briefly, we get to the 10th century. And I don’t really see the deep history of this place. But most importantly, it was the first capital of feudal goverment after the coronation of Vietnam’s first emperor, Dinh Bo Linh (Đinh Bộ Lĩnh, posthumously known as Đinh Tiên Hoàng).
    • Hoa Lu has been the capital for 42 years from 968-1010, becoming a political and cultural center and the site of several important historical events in Vietnam. It was the birthplace of the first 2 imperial dynasties – Dinh Dynasty and Le Dynasty. And just after these 2 dynasties bear the names of two palaces that can be visited in Hoa Lu.

Homestays + Resorts in Ninh Binh

    • The temple dedicated to Đinh Tiên Hoàng was built by locals near the center of the old capital to honor Dinh Bo Linh, the first Vietnamese emperor. Bộ Lĩnh grew up in this area in the middle of the 10th century during the reign of Ngô Quyền and expelled the Chinese occupiers from the country and proclaimed himself king in 938. Đinh Tiên Hoàng’s tomb is located on nearby Mã Yên mountain (a short hike is possible and you can enjoy nice views to the area), while Lê Đại Hành lies at the foot of the mountain.
    • After the end of the Le Dynasty, in 1010, Ly Cong Uan, the founder of the Ly Dynasty, moved the capital to Thang Long (now Hanoi) and Hoa Lu became the “ancient capital”. After these 3 dynasties, the entrance gates to the historic city of Hoa Lu in the east, south and north have also been preserved in good condition. You will see all these ancient gates and they are passable.
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Temple of King Le Dai Hanh (Đền vua Lê Đại Hành) in Hoa Lu Ancient City has retained its visual appearance.


How to get and travel to Hoa Lu Ancient City?

    • The best way to get to the historic city of Hoa Lu near Ninh Binh is by motorbike, bicycle or private transfer. So it depends on where you come from here. Most of the visitors will probably come here as an excursion in the Trang An complex. Therefore, if you will be staying in the Trang An complex, it is advisable to choose a motorbike or a bicycle. The area is lowland, so it is quite easy to ride here and bicycles are popular by tourists. If you are going on a longer trip, I recommend using a scooter / motorbike. Some private and fast minivans depart from Hanoi to Hoa Lu, the travel distance is about 100 km. You can also use the minivans from Hanoi to Tam Coc.
    • From Hanoi to Hoa Lu – private minivans, travel time is about 2.5 hours and tickets cost about 10-12 USD / pp.
    • From Ninh Binh to Hoa Lu – you can use a private taxi, mototaxi or Grab, travel distance is about 12 km.
    • From Hanoi to Ninh Binh – private minivans, buses, private transfers or trains of Vietnam Railways

How to go to Ninh Binh from Hanoi?

When to visit Hoa Lu Ancient City and what about tickets?

    • Hoa Lu ancient city can be visited all year round. On some holidays, such as TET and after the new year, various spiritual ceremonies or festivals can take place. Hoa Lu is the most visited place at this time. However, if you are looking for a quieter period, choose eg autumn, September – October. The Ninh Binh area is suitable for visiting, for example, in the autumn or from the beginning of spring (expect possible celebrations until spring). The opening hours of Hoa Lu Ancient City are from 7 am to 5 pm and the ticket costs 20,000 VND and you can buy it on the spot (please note that the price may vary over time).
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The background of the palace, or also a small museum of relics and artifacts (Nền cung điện Đinh-Lê) is next to Le Dai Hanh Temple.


Where to stay near Hoa Lu Ancient City? Homestay or resort?

    • If you want to stay around the historic town of Hoa Lu, I would choose the Trang An complex area. That is, a few kilometers from here, only about 5 km from ecotourism site of Trang An. You can’t stay directly in this historic town, but there are already various homestays or resorts for tourists in the vicinity. I recommend choosing the Trang An area, there are nice nature sceneries in the countryside, there are very well rated accommodations and the prices are low.

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Trang An River View Homestay is places in Trang An scenic complex (photo: Agoda).
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Trang An Eco Homestay – another beautiful and stylis homestay, close to Hoa Lu Ancient City (photo: Agoda).


Pracitcal information – Hoa Lu Ancient Capital in Ninh Binh:

Where is the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?

    • The historic, formerly the first capital of Vietnam (Dai Co Viet) – Hoa Lu (Cố đô Hoa Lư) is located 12 km west of the city of Ninh Binh, in Trường Yên commune, Hoa Lu district, northern Vietnam.

What is the size of Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?

    • The ancient capital of Hoa Lu is about 300 ha, consisting of Thanh Ngoai, Thanh Noi and Thanh Nam.

How to get to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?

    • If you are already in Trang An, the best way to get there is by motorbike / scooter, bicycle or private taxi.
    • From Hanoi to Ninh Binh – you can use travel by train to the city center or buses, minivans.
    • From Ninh Binh to Hoa Lu – use private taxi, car, mototaxi / Grab
    • From Hanoi to Hoa Lu – there are some private and fast minivans to Hoa Lu, more in this article

When was Hoa Lu founded? Who founded Hoa Lu?

    • Hoa Lu was founded by Emperor Dinh Bo Linh in 968 (Đinh Bộ Lĩnh, posthumously known as Đinh Tiên Hoàng).

How long has Hoa Lu been the capital of Dai Co Viet?

    • Hoa Lu was the 1st capital of Vietnam (Dai Co Viet) for 42 years until 1010.

How many historic imperial palaces are located in Hoa Lu?

    • In the historical part of Hoa Lu there are 2 imperial palaces (looking more like small houses) – the Temple of King Dinh Tinh Hoàng – Xuân Thủy (Đền vua Đinh Tiên Hoàng) and the Temple of King Le Dai Hanh (Đền vua Lê Đại Hành). Both are open to tourists and are visually similar.

What is the entrance fee to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?

    • Entrance fee to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital for tourists is 20,000 VND. This price may vary over time, of course.

What is the best time to visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital?

    • If you want to see the festivities you have to come on New Year’s Day – TET. In the first months of the new year there are various festivities and ceremonies. At this time, however, this place is very popular, if you do not want crowds, so it is possible to choose, for example, the autumn period.

How many historical gates were built around Hoa Lu?

    • The historic town of Hoa Lu had 3 main gates – south, east and north. You can drive around and see them all.

Where to buy food, drink and where to park your bike?

    • You can buy food in the area either in front of the eastern gate, where there is also a parking lot for motorbikes / cars, or in the nearby village north of the historical part of Hoa Lu. There are some classic restaurants, cafes, snack bars and more as well as tourist items.

How to get to the tomb on Ma Yen Mountain?

    • Ma Yen Mountain (Núi Mã Yên), where the tomb of Đinh Tiên Hoàng is located, can be reached by the stairs that start just outside the eastern gate to Hoa Lu town. The mountain is approximately 80 metres high.

How long does it take to visit the historic town of Hoa Lu?

    • A visit to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital (i.e. the tourist historical part) will take you a maximum of about 2 hours.

Where you can go and travel from Hoa Lu?


Map and location of Hoa Lu Ancient Capital in Ninh Binh:

(the historic town of Hoa Lu is about 12 km from the centre of Ninh Binh town)

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Travel route from Ninh Binh to Hoa Lu via Trang An. This route is very nice, you will be traveling in nice sceneries.


Hoa Lu Ancient Capital near Ninh Binh town — Photos:

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There are various old buildings, shrines and houses throughout the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital in Ninh Binh.
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Designation of the Temple of Emperor Le Dai Hanh (Đền vua Lê Đại Hành) in Hoa Lu Ancient Capital.
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This is the temple complex of Le Dai Hanh in Hoa Lu.
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Historical gate on the south side of Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, freely passable, you can continue from here to Trang An.
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Various historical relics, artefacts and other items can be seen in the small museum next to Le Dai Hanh Temple in Hoa Lu.
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There are gardens and various old buildings In the historical part of Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, in the background is Le Dai Hanh Temple.
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I think it was a hidden shrine in the gardens of Hoa Lu Ancient Capital.
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Inside Le Dai Hanh Temple in Hoa Lu Ancient Capital. The interior is very well preserved.
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The temple of Le Dai Hanh in Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, inside there are still images of rulers.
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In the gardens of the historic town of Hoa Lu in Ninh Binh.
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A pond in the garden of the historic Le Dai Hanh Temple in Hoa Lu Ancient Capital.
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In Hoa Lu Ancient Capital you can see various preserved historical objects, artifacts.
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Temple of King Dinh Tien Hoang – Xuân Thủy (Đền vua Đinh Tiên Hoàng) in Hoa Lu Ancient Capital in Ninh Binh.
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A tourist map of the area of Le Dai Hanh Temple in Hoa Lu. This board is in front of the wall of the complex, just outside the entrance.

Thung Nham Bird ParkHow to go to FansipanBan Ang – Moc ChauDoi Cave in Moc ChauDa Lat to Buon Ma ThuotBuon Ma Thuot to Hoi An

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