Budget hotels and guesthouses have popped up in the immediate area of the train station, creating a small backpacker area. However, many of the best places to stay can be found outside the town itself, with accommodation in Tam Coc proving very popular.
For those on a budget, the New Queen Mini Backpackers Hostel (6-256 Ngo Gia Tu) is a good option, especially if you want to stay in Ninh Binh itself before heading out into the countryside. This hostel is very central, close to both the train and bus stations, with great value dorm beds (from USD5) as well as private rooms (around USD10). The hostel also offers both bike and motorbike hire so you can explore the area at leisure. If you'd rather head see these sights in a group then the reception will be able to arrange tours to all the local attractions.
Sapphire Truong Thinh Hotel in Dong Thanh village is just 1km from Hoa Lu, Vietnam's ancient capital. Set in stunning surroundings, this hotel is tucked amongst rivers and mountains in a rural spot that will make you forget that you're even close to a town. Every room boasts mountain views, even the dorms! There's plenty of choice of rooms here as they offer double rooms (USD13) and 4-person family rooms (USD16). It's easy to imagine yourself staying here a lot longer than you planned, relaxing and soaking up the beautiful scenery.
There's plenty of homestays in the area for those who would rather stay with locals than in a hotel. Limestone View Homestay (Xuan Thanh road, Xuan Ang Noi village) boasts beautiful views across the limestone cliffs, unsurprising given its name! This beautiful homestay with air-conditioned rooms (priced around USD55) is in **an ideal location for exploring88 Tam Coc, Trang An and Cuc Phong national park, using the complimentary bikes. This place is a good option for those who want to meet locals but also stay in somewhat luxurious surroundings.
There's plenty of choice close to Tam Coc as well. Mua Cave Ecolodge is another popular choice, situated in Khe Ha village amongst the backdrop of jaw-dropping mountains. These beautiful chalets are very close to Tam Coc and offer bike hire which is perfect for exploring the area. Make sure you don't miss the hike up to the top of the nearby hill, you'll be rewarded with brilliant views over Tam Coc in the distance. The chalets are in a fairly remote location but the on-site restaurant serves good food so you won't have to head far for dinner. Doubles start at around USD35.
Just a few minutes walk from Tam Coc cave is Tam Coc Mountain View Homestay. This secluded homestay offers rooms with views across rice fields to the mountains in the distance or overlooking peaceful gardens. A tasty breakfast is included in the price, perfect before you set out to be explore Tam Coc. Rooms start from approximately USD22 for a double room and USD27 for a triple.
Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel and Resort (9 Tam Coc – Bich Dong Tourist Center) is also within walking distance of the world-famous sight. This tourist is one of the most luxurious places you can in the area, boasting a beautiful pool that you won't want to leave as well as use of the spa and gym. Rooms are priced from around USD70, with complimentary use of bikes so you can enjoy the countryside at your own pace. This hotel is a great place to unwind for a few days before heading onto some of the busier towns.