Bac Ninh (Bắc Ninh) is a small land in Northern Vietnam, but very rich in culture and tradition. Bac Ninh is also known as “The land of Quan Ho”, a folk music exclusively to the local.
Bac Ninh tourism is more famous for cultural and historical sites: Do temple (đền Đô – where worship the Ly kings, a big dynasty in Vietnam’s history), Dau pagoda (chùa Dâu), But Thap pagoda (chùa Bút Tháp), Dong Ho painting village, Dai Bai casting copper village and so on
How should you travel in Bac Ninh
The sites of Bac Ninh are scattered and there are too many sites. To visit all of attractions, you need at least 3 days. So you should divide attractions into regions then pick the suitable one, depending on your time and preference.
Personally, I divide Bac Ninh into 3 main directions, each take 1 day to visit:
Direction 1: Dong Ho painting village, But Thap pagoda, Luy Lau ancient citadel, kale flower gardens (very beautiful if you visit in kale flower season – winter, start from Nov)
Direction 2: Do temple, Bac Ninh city, Princess of Treasury temple (đền Bà Chúa Kho), Lim festival (a big festival in Bac Ninh, be held on 13th to 15th of 1st lunar month), Ninh Hiep fabric market.
Direction 3: Only Phu Lang pottery village.
How to get Bac Ninh from Hanoi
Bac Ninh is quite close to Hanoi (about 30km or 19 miles), so you can pick public or private bus, car (rent in Hanoi), motorbike or bike (why not!).
I like going by motorbike (best way), it’s very convenient and I also saw many foreign tourists travelling Vietnam by motorbike (very impressive).
– If you pick direction 1, you can catch bus-204 at Luong Yen bus station (3 Nguyen Khoai – Hai Ba Trung district – Hanoi) to Thuan Thanh district (Bac Ninh). From there, you can catch a motortaxi (Vietnameses call be Hugged Motorbike – xe ôm) to get to the attraction sites.
– Direction 2. You can catch bus-54 from Long Bien public bus station (Yen Phu street – Hoan Kiem – Hanoi). Bus-54 will pass Dinh Bang (near Do temple), Lim town, Bac Ninh city.
or you can catch public bus-203 to Bac Giang, which also passes Bac Ninh city, starting from Luong Yen bus station. You can also catch private bus from here to get Bac Ninh city.
– Direction 3. To get to Phu Lang pottery village, the most convenient way is motorbike. Bus is also ok but itwill take quite a long motortaxi or cab ride to get to the village.
Attractions in Bac Ninh
1. Do temple (đền Đô) is a place of worship to 8 kings of Ly dynasty. It was built by Ly Cong Uan (the first king of Ly dynasty) about 1000 years ago. Do temple festival is held on 15th of the lunar March commemorating Ly Cong Uan king (who assumed his kingship on 15th of the lunar March in 1010).
After visiting Do temple, you should also visit Dinh Bang village temple, a uniquue architecture.
2. Lim festival (hội Lim) is unique and very important festival in Bac Ninh’s culture. The festival is held from 12th to 15th of lunar January in Lim town, attracting many locals and tourists.
There are many activities and games in the festival: wrestling, singing Quan Ho folk music,…
3. Dong Ho painting village (làng tranh Đông Hồ) produces famous Dong Ho painting, a unique art product of Vietnamese.
4. Phu Lang pottery village (làng gốm Phù Lãng) is in Que Vo district, with many mountains creating a rare beautiful landscape for the land of Bac Ninh.
Travel to Bac Ninh by motorbike
So great if you can travel to Quan Ho land by motorbike. The way to get there isn’t difficult and more importantly, you can save time and combine visiting many attractions: direction 2+3 or 1+3 (in 1 day). Some attractions can’t be accessed by car so you will have to park and trek up but motorbikes can.
Bac Ninh travel itinerary for 1 day
I have 2 itineraries to travel in Bac Ninh for 1 day. You may add or remove certain attractions to suit your interest and time schedule.
Dau pagoda, Dong Ho painting village, Phat Tich pagoda and Do temple.
– 8am. Start from Hanoi towards 5-highway. You may opt for Thanh Tri bridge, Vinh Tuy or Chuong Duong bridge to get to highway No 5. If you take Thanh Tri in kale flower season (from Nov to Jan), you will see a very beautiful field of kale flowers on your right side.
Go along highway No 5, at about 8.45am, you will arrive at Dau pagoda (near Dau market)
– 9.30am. Go on to But Thap pagoda. This is a very beautiful pagoda with unique architecture.
– 10.30am. Leave for Ho town (thị trấn Hồ). A few kilometers away, you will see a signpost to Dong Ho painting village.
The village now has only 2 families who still keeps exercising the painting to preserve the tradition and serve tourism. At artisan Nguyen Dang Che’s house, you will be get to explore the production process of Dong Ho painting, and do the painting yourself.
– 12am. Leave the village, come to Ho town, a bustling town, and find a restaurant for lunch and resting.
– 1.30pm. Keep the journey. Cross Ho bridge (cầu Hồ), turn left and go along the dike to get Phat Tich pagoda (chùa Phật Tích).
– 2.45pm. Leave Phat Tich pagoda to come Do temple (đền Đô), which worships Ly kings. Here, you can learn about the history of Vietnam, of Ly dynasty and Ly kings. Also, you may sightsee the temple, stop beside the Half Moon lake (hồ Bán Nguyệt) to feel cool winds.
Outside the temple, there’re many stores selling Phu The cake, a famous cake of Bac Ninh (You can try 1 cake before buying).
– 3.45pm. Visit Dinh Bang village temple (đình làng Đình Bảng).
Near the temple, there’s Lua Xuan store, the best store of Phu The cake. The store also offer mouse meat. It’s very strange and even quite horrible, but very tasty, you may try this dish at restaurants near the temple.
– 4.30pm. Back to Hanoi, cross Duong bridge (cầu Đuống), turn right and go along the dike street. Or go along Nguyen Van Cu street to get Chuong Duong bridge.
– 5.30pm. Arrive in Hanoi, end of the Bac Ninh trip.
Do temple, Phu Lang pottery village, Princess of Treasury temple and Tho Ha village.
– 8am. Start from Hanoi to 5-highway, turn to 1A-highway towards Lang Son (Lạng Sơn), take the turn to Pha Lai, then go along the road about 10km (6.3miles), and you ask the locals the way to Phu Lang pottery village (làng gốm Phù Lãng). Keep going for about 7km (4.4miles).
– 9.15am. Arrive in Phu Lang village. You should visit Nhung pottery workshop. Then, get to a pottery house to make a pottery yourself. You can get to the riverbank area which has many pottery workshop with high chimneys.
– 10.45am. Leave the pottery village, go to Princess of Tresury temple (đền Bà Chúa Kho).
– 11.30am. Visit the temple, then back to the city for lunch and resting.
– 1.15pm. From the city, go to Tho Ha village. You have to up a dike, and find the dock to cross river.
– 2pm. Arrive in Tho Ha village, get to the gate of the village and ask for the way to the pottery artisan family (only 1 pottery family running now as it seems). Then, go deeper into the village, you will see a lot of rice papers and there’re many good places to take photos.
– 3.15pm. Leave Tho Ha village, o along towards Tu Son (Từ Sơn) to Dinh Bang village. Visit Do temple and Dinh Bang village temple (as mentioned in itinerary 1).
– 4.45pm. Back to Hanoi.
Read more article: Hanoi capital travel guide