Avoiding flooding and typhoon in Hue and Hoi An, I have head to Ninh Binh and settled in Tam Coc after a 12-hour overnight train. There’s a lot to see out there. However, you can see most things on a day as long as you rent a motorbike.
The stop in the area is definitly worth it as you will sense what it is like to live in the vietnamese mainland. If you fancy setting-up your alarm clock at 5am, I would recommend you to get at the top of Hang Mua temple for sunrise. It opens at 6am.
The boat ride through rice fields gives a different perspective than just driving around on a motorbike. Anyway, the best option is doing both of them as driving will be a handy way to go to the Bich Dong pagoda for ie.