When a person thinks of Cao Bang, a provincial outpost lying in a picturesque crook in the Bang Giang River, an off-the-beaten-track getaway to the surrounding lakes, karst peaks, caves, villages of ethnic minority groups, and Ban Gioc Waterfall on the Chinese border, or a city whose diverse culture is created by the plentiful traditions and beliefs often come to mind. While these mainstays never lose their luster, the reasons to visit Cao Bang Providence – a bit of a hike from Hanoi are even more numerous. Where most visitors go here while on their Vietnam off the beaten track tours might surprise you.
Ban Gioc Waterfall – one of the most beautiful waterfalls in far north Vietnam
The magical attraction of Ban Gioc Waterfall
With scenery that is every bit as picturesque as the rest of Cao Bang, you are definitely able to experience the beauty of Ban Gioc Waterfall while taking part in a variety of outdoor activities, whether it is taking a bamboo raft to the Ban Gioc’s base to explore a vibrant aquamarine, experiencing kayaking in the natural pool, watching water buffalo in their natural habitat, or grabbing some snacks and picnicking.
You are likely to sweat a little to get to Ban Gioc Waterfall. But the fourth largest waterfall along a national border, separating Vietnam from China delivers a cool refuge and a powerful reminder of nature’s force making it an impressive attraction that should be claimed a spot on your best tours in Vietnam bucket list.
Waterfall lovers are willing to have a 4-hour one-way drive East of Cao Bang to see this prime example of nature in action. And to experience the full spectrum of the waterfall, make sure to hike the second tier of the falls.
And despite Ban Gioc being completely packed with tourists, both domestic and foreign, the waterfall still retains a rural countryside charm that seems to be the norm in the far north of Vietnam. Add it all up and now you can know what climbers in Vietnam had seen and enjoyed all along, and why no Cao Bang top 3 list would be complete without it!
Pac Bo Cave – President Ho Chi Minh’s Hide-Out
Pac Bo Cave
Coming in all shapes and sizes, caves are some of the most stunning natural formations to visit on your Vietnam off the beaten track tours. Among these spectacular caves in Vietnam, Pac Bo Cave or Hang Pac Bo is outstanding as President Ho Chi Minh’s hide-out – where the founding father of the Vietnamese Revolutionary Diplomacy began planning the revolution during February and March 1941.
Whether it is family swimming and picnicking or visiting these places where President Ho Chi Minh wrote, ate, and slept, Pac Bo Cave never seems to disappoint. Indeed, this is a major caving highlight of far north Vietnam, and you just have to make room for it on this list of Vietnam off the beaten spots!
As if this stunning cave with the approach lined with big concrete pavilions and walkways was not enough, there are even more small cave sites to be found along the picturesque Lenin River at the foot of the Karl Marx Mountain (Ho Chi Minh named them himself). While it may lack the size and grandeur of the other caves, this is a special year-round waterfall to visit to know more about Vietnamese history.
Thang Hen Lake – one of the highest natural lakes on mountains of Vietnam
Thang Hen Lake
Located in a forest of white “Tram” trees and surrounded by mountains, this serene lake about 25km from Cao Bang town, which is at its best in the rainy season, is a tonic for mind and body. If the timing’s right, spring wildflower blossoming, autumn foliage, summer blue water (while other lake’s water becomes red in color), and winter giant mirror could add even more color to an already idyllic landscape.
We had a very difficult time trying to balance numerous factors such as accessibility, scenery, impressiveness, and allure to select only 3 places to visit in Cao Bang Province out of the ones we have seen. And I’m pretty sure that this list is prone to change as you visit more tourist attractions in far North Vietnam on your Vietnam private tours.