Landscape with boat in Van Long natural reserve in Ninh Binh, Vietnam.

John Bill

Van Long Nature Reserve

Top choice in Ninh Binh Province

Set amid glorious limestone pinnacles, this tranquil reserve comprises a reedy wetland that’s popular with birdwatchers. Among the bird species that have been spotted here are the rare black-faced spoonbill, cotton pygmy goose and white-browed crake. Van Long is also one of the last wild refuges of the endangered Delacour’s langur (population roughly 120), partly because the wetlands keep predators and poachers at bay. Langurs are not easy to spot; try your luck early in the morning or in the evening.

Rowboat rides (90 minutes, maximum two people per boat) around the reserve are a more relaxed alternative to occasional hawker hassles on the Tam Coc boat trips. Ninh Binh hotels can arrange tours. Van Long is 2km east of Tran Me, 19km from Ninh Binh along the road to Cuc Phuong.

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