Kim Son's entrance gate
Kim Son’s entrance gate

The southeast district of Kim Sơn in Ninh Binh is unusual for many reasons but foremost because is the only district in Ninh Binh with direct access to the coast of the Tonkin Sea, even if that is limited to 18kms of tidal flats. It also has a higher concentration of Catholics than any other district. Finally it is relatively flat with large plains abutting a wide coastal strip, the pinnacles of Trang An and west Ninh Binh decreasing rapidly as it approaches the sea.

Like much of Ninh Binh, Kim Son experiences the full four seasons, with cool but rarely freezing winters and hot humid summers. Typhoon are known to occur during the summer months from June to September each year and can be quite devastating but for the rest of the year is a reasonably moderate sub-tropical climate.

Phat Diem Cathederal

Phát Diệm Cathedral
Phát Diệm Cathedral at Kim Son

In terms of tourism, Phát Diệm Cathedral is the primary attraction, with its 18th-century wood and stone church showcasing an astonishing mix of French and Vietnamese architecture. It remains well-maintained and in use, making it one of the most renowned cathedrals in not only Vietnam, but across Asia. Bus and taxi services are readily available for the hour-long (30km) drive from Ninh Binh city to Phát Diệm, the district capital, and the Cathedral is just a short distance from town.

The “floating” island of Con Noi and the surrounding area off the coast of Binh Minh was recognized by UNESCO as part of the World Biosphere Reserve of the Red River Delta in 2004. It is an important habitat of some 200 bird species including more than 50 types of water fowl and nearly 60 migratory birds. The area also encompasses thousands of hectares of prime marine breeding grounds such as mangroves, alluvial plains and coastal estuaries.

The ancient tile bridge - Cầu Ngói is the Kim Son people's emblem.
The ancient tile bridge, Cầu Ngói at Phát Diệm is the Kim Son people’s emblem.

The Kim Son coastal area is in the tourism development planning phase. There is hope for the development of a marine and ecotourism showcase, with Con Noi the center piece and hosting a world class research center into coastal delta environments.

A relatively new district, Kim Son is more industrialized than most other Ninh Binh districts. It is also home to several famous Ninh Binh delicacies such as Nhech raw fish salad (Goi ca nhech) and the ever popular Kim Son Stick Rice Wine.

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