8 Ultimate Things To Do In Cao Bang

Cao Bang is a province of the Northeast region of Vietnam, bordering with China and about 300km away from Hanoi. It is a destination that is little touristic and ideal for nature and adventure lovers. The road to Cao Bang is long and winding mountain pass.

However, if you want to meet several ethnic minorities in Northern Vietnam, the northwestern part which includes Mu Cang Chai, Sapa, Bac Ha etc. is better. There are fewer ethnic groups in Cao Bang, most of whom do not wear their traditional clothes anymore.

But during the trip to Cao Bang, what are the activities not to be missed?

8 ultimate things to do in Cao Bang

Ban Gioc Waterfall

It is the most beautiful waterfall in Vietnam. Ban Gioc Waterfall forms the natural border between China and Vietnam. It is the fourth largest waterfall after Iguazu, Victoria and Niagara Falls, that mark a national border.

The waterfall is separated into three waterfalls which are separated by rocks and trees. The waterfall has more water during the rainy season that lasts from June to September. During the other months, the fall is calmer.

Ban Gioc Waterfall - the most beautiful waterfall in Vietnam
Ban Gioc Waterfall – the most beautiful waterfall in Vietnam

The entrance fee: 20 000VND / person. The boat ride to take a closer look at the waterfall: 50 000VND / person

The waterfall is located in the green limestone mountains, 90km from the town of Cao Bang. To get there, you can:

Rent a car at a hotel in Cao Bang; for example, at Jeanne Hotel – the best hotel in Cao Bang, or at Cao Bang Motorbike Rentals – a motorbike rental business based in Cao Bang. Motorbike rental costs 150 000 – 200 000 VND per day.

Take a bus:
The Thanh Luan company buses: depart from Cao Bang city at 6:30, 7:30, 9:30, 11:30, 13:30, 15:30. The bus departing for Ban Gioc Waterfall leave terminus at 6:15, 8:00, 13:30, 14:30. And they cost about 70 000 VND per person. You can contact Mr. Thành at 0988.007.846; Mr. Luan at 0975,070,377; Mr. Hợp at 0979.371.923. The receptionists at Jeanne Hotel can help you contact them.

Public buses number 03: Cao Bang – Quang Uyen and number 07: Quang Uyen – Trung Khanh.  Staff at the hotels can show you the way to the bus stops. Price: 70 000 VND per person.

There are some small restaurants located near the waterfall.

Local dishes at Phuong Chuu Thac Ban Gioc Restaurant - a restaurant near Ban Gioc Waterfall
Local dishes at Phuong Chuu Thac Ban Gioc Restaurant – a restaurant near Ban Gioc Waterfall

Do not bring swimsuits because it is forbidden to bathe.

Nguom Ngao Cave – Tigers Cave

Nguom Ngao Cave is about 4km from Ban Gioc Waterfall.

In the language of Tay ethnic groups, “Nguom Ngao” means “the cave of the Tigers” because according to its legend, many tigers have lived there. In 1921, after the visit to Ban Gioc Waterfall, the French and Vietnamese officially discovered it.

The road leading to Nguom Ngao Cave
The road leading to Nguom Ngao Cave

The cave is over 2km long and has three main entrances but you can only walk into the cave for 1km. It includes beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. It is always slippery because of the water falling from the ceiling.

Nguom Ngao Cave includes beautiful stalactites and stalagmites
Nguom Ngao Cave includes beautiful stalactites and stalagmites

The entrance fee: 35 000VND

Phuc Sen Blacksmith Village of ethnic Nung

Phuc Sen is a small Nung ethnic village, which is 35km from the center of Cao Bang city, on the way to Ban Gioc waterfall. Visiting the village to see how people make knives is a must on the trip to Cao Bang.

Phuc Sen Blacksmith Village
Phuc Sen Blacksmith Village

The village is well known for its craft for hundreds of years. The villagers make knives, hammers, sickles and other agricultural utensils; especially, the knife has been ordered the most, to cut bones and meat.

The secret of Phuc Sen’s sharp knife is the type of steel used. It comes from no-longer-used car coil springs! After being cut by appropriate measures, the steel is heated to red and thoroughly quenched before being struck on the anvil. The water in which the steel is tempered plays a crucial role. It is lime water in which we put wood ash, but be careful, not any wood! It is Lim wood, a large tree known for its strength. Well, the ash of this wood is put in the water of lime, during a whole night. And the next morning, we extract the emerging water to soak the steel. This perfectionism probably explains why Phuc Sen’s products are sold a lot.

Moreover, one can stop and visit other Nung villages and their typical exceptional houses.

Battle of Route Coloniale 4 (Border Campaign)

Battle of Route Coloniale 4 was a battle of the First Indochina War between the French Expeditionary Force and Viet Minh on Route Coloniale 4 (or Highway 4).  It took place along the Highway 4 from Dong Khe road in Cao Bang province to That Khe Town in Lang Son province. This road is an old road of Indochina and named “the bloody road” which had a major strategic importance during the war of Indochina.

Cao Bang is the first major defeat of a colonizing country facing a national liberation army, a “disaster” that carries the seeds of the collapse of the French colonial empire. Built around the unpublished testimonies of the few surviving soldiers, this document traces the journey of these young men in search of adventure and exoticism, engaged in a war that many thought was romantic.

Thang Hen Lake

Thang Hen is a beautiful lake which is located 30km from the city of Cao Bang. It is surrounded by green karst mountains. During the rainy season between June and September, it will be divided into 36 small lakes and not a single lake.

Thang Hen Lake
Thang Hen Lake

Ho Chi Minh’s Cave – Pac Bo

In the other direction of the Ban Gioc Waterfall is the Pac Bo Cave which is 60km from the city of Cao Bang Vietnam. It is a sacred place of Vietnamese people.

The stone table where Uncle Ho translated the Democratic Republic of Vietnam's history
The stone table where Uncle Ho translated the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s history

In the Tay language, Pac Po means “the mouth of the spring”, where Ho Chi Minh lived during the years 1941-1945 after a long journey around the world in search of the path of national salvation. There he named Karl Marx Mountain and Lenin Creek. It is worth the visit because the landscapes are very beautiful.

Lenin Creek - the gorgeous pool of turquoise water
Lenin Creek – the gorgeous pool of turquoise water
Karl Marx Mountain
Karl Marx Mountain

Village of the Black Lolos and the Bao Lac Market

Cao Bang is home to several ethnic minorities: the Hmong, Tay, Nung, Dao, San Chi, Lolo …
Bao Lac Market, the meeting point for ethnic minorities taking place on 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30  of the lunar calendar each month is 120km from west of Cao Bang City. Going further 5km from the market, tourists will reach the village of Black Lolo.

The Black Lolo
The Black Lolo

Normally, after visiting Ha Giang, visitors come to Bao Lac and then continue their journey to Cao Bang and Ban Gioc Waterfall.

Hiking in Cao Bang Vietnam

Cao Bang is also a good place for hiking and trekking in northern Vietnam because the scenery is picturesque. If you want to get an authentic Vietnam experience, you can stay at Kieu Chinh Homestay from which you can stay here and go hiking from the Black Lolo village to Khuoi Khon or the Quang Uyen area. You can also book trekking tours with Kieu Chinh’s sister, she works in Cao Bang and you can reach her at +84 1278454383.

Ma Phuc Pass - one of the most famous trekking destinations in Cao Bang
Ma Phuc Pass – one of the most famous hiking destinations in Cao Bang

For treks that last for several days in areas close to the Chinese border, you must obtain a permit and be accompanied by a police officer.

Hotels and restaurants in Cao Bang Vietnam

In Cao Bang, Jeanne Hotel is the best hotel, another good one is  Thanh Loan Hotel.
It is easy to find restaurants, tour agencies, cafes, clothing shops, motorbike rental business … in Cao Bang. The wifi internet is available in all the hotels.

Comfortable rooms at Jeanne Hotel
Comfortable rooms at Jeanne Hotel

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About Me

Welcome to Local Life In Vietnam Blog. I’m a Vietnamese who love traveling around the world. My mission is to share with those who are interested in traveling in Vietnam the best travel experiences, things to do in the most popular tourism destinations in Vietnam. Vietnam is definitely a great place to visit and has much to offer. I strongly hope that someday you will take on a trip to visit my beautiful country.