We had a private tour with Mai, our tour guide, and we loved the trip to Ninh Binh. It was amazing! My favourite part of the trip was the hiking up the mountain with Mai. It was really scenic, but it can be quite tiring and steep.
Another great part was the sampan ride along the river, which flows through rice fields and mountains. The boat ride lasted more than a hour, which was a lot of time for you to take in the natural landscape of the area.
The lunch in the home stay was tasty and served by a friendly local host right next to the river. I was so glad that it was not those mass tourist buffet with horrible food.
There was a bike ride to the paddy field which was really scenic(add in the wandering goats you see along the way). however, part of the cycling route is on the main road, so as an amateur biker it was quite scary. The cycling trip ended with a visit to the cave pagoda.
Overall, the tour was amazing and Mai told us all about the place, bargained on our behalf and made sure we are well taken care of.
Quite a physically demanding trip and would highly recommend it for those active and fit travellers who want to see a huge amount of Ninh Binh in one day.