Ban Gioc waterfall, located on the Vietnam – China border in Cao Bang province, is considered the most spectacular waterfall of Vietnam. Standing at the foot of waterfall, the cool atmosphere from the dense water vapor will literally bring you to the heaven of freshness and relaxing. It will be very big regret if you miss this attraction during your stay in Vietnam. So pack up together with some of my experience and get to Ban Gioc Waterfall now!
Attractions on Ban Gioc Waterfall trip
While Ban Gioc Waterfall is the absolute final destination and the main highlights of the day, Cao Bang also offer its visitors a generous number of destinations to incorporate with the trip to Ban Gioc Waterfall. Check out Thang Hen lake, Nguom Ngao cave (động Ngườm Ngao), Pac Bo cave (hang Pắc Bó – where Ho Chi Minh president used to live). If you have enough time, consider combining Ba Be lake and Ban Gioc waterfall to make a circular trip to include all of the main attractions in Cao Bang.
How to get to Ban Gioc waterfall
You can get to Ban Gioc by private car, motorbike or bus from Hanoi.
By private car or motorbike
The distance from Hanoi to Ban Gioc waterfall is 350km (220 miles) so try to leave early to arrive arrive in the afternoon. On the route, you will pass Trung Khanh town first where you should stop to book an accomodation before proceeding to the waterfall.
If travelling by motorbike, which should take a lot more time) then you can stay overnight in Bac Can (a city on the way with many hotels and motels) so you can continue your ride the next morning.
Buses from Hanoi should take about 8 hours to get to only Cao Bang city, from where you would have to rent car or motorbike to get to Ban Gioc. Or if having motorbike, you can also carry it on the bus, which is advised because renting motorbike in Cao Bang is not easy. Here are some sleep bus firms to consider:
1. Hai Van bus, leave from My Dinh bus station (20 Pham Hung – Tu Liem – Hanoi). Tel: (office in Hanoi) +844.3722.3588 or +841677.242424, (office in Cao Bang) +84126.96.36.199.24
2. Hung Thanh, office add: 162B Tran Quang Khai street (tel: +844.3927.4284 – +8497.632.9090) or 39 Cau Giay street – Dong Da (+844.3766.6199 or +844.3766.8641).
3. Thanh Ly bus, from My Dinh bus station. Tel: +84912.237.252
4. Khanh Hoan bus, from My Dinh station. Tel: +84915.660.062
Sleeper buses usually leave in evening and arrive in the early morning of the next day.
Hotels and motels
In Trung Khanh town
1. Hoan Le motel, tel: +8426.826.221 or +84915.425.531
2. Thien Tai motel near Trung Khanh market, +8426.382.6537
3. Dinh Van hotel is close to Trung Khanh market. +8426.3602789
In Cao Bang city
4. Anh Duong hotel at 78 Kim Dong street – Cao Bang city. Tel: +8426.385.8467
5. Bang Giang hotel on Kim Dong street, +8426.385.3431
6. Duc Trung hotel at 85 Be Van Dan street, +8426.385.3424
7. Hoang Anh hotel at 131 Kim Dong, +8426.385.8969
Ban Gioc waterfall travel itineraries
Highlights: Ban Gioc waterfall (most beautiful waterfall in Vietnam), Nguom Ngao cave (near the fall), rice fields along the route, Thang Hen lake, Ma Phuc mountain pass (one of most beautiful mountain passes in Northern Vietnam),…
One trip to Ban Gioc Waterfall should be given 2.5 days, 3 days or 4 days if combined with travelling to Ba Be lake. November and March, season of Tam Giac Mach flower, are the best time to visit Ban Gioc.
Itinerary 1: 4 days by car
In addition to Ban Gioc fall, you will visit Ba Be Lake and Lang Son border city.
Day 1: Hanoi – Ba Be Lake
– 6.30am. Leave for Ba Be Lake, the distance is 230km (140 miles) from Hanoi.
– 11.30am. Have lunch in Ba Be. You can have lunch at homestays of Tay ethnic group, which are in abundance.
– 2pm. Rent a boat to visit Ba Be lake, caves and enjoy the nature.
– Evening, back to the village to rest and interact with the locals.
Day 2: From Ba Be to Pac Bo cave then back to Cao Bang city.
– 7am. Have breakfast and leave soon to save more time. On the route, remember to stop at the foot of Gio mountain pass (Wind pass), where the landscape is very beautiful.
– 11.30am. Have lunch in Cao Bang city where Pho Chua (sour noodle) is waiting for you.
– 1.30pm. Visit Pac Bo cave. If you travel on Tam Giac Mach flower season, the landscape is very truly breathtaking, ideal for photos.
– 5pm. Back to Cao Bang for overnight rest.
Day 3: Cao Bang – Ban Gioc waterfall – Nguom Ngao cave – Thang Hen lake
– 6am. You should start soon for a nice day with many beautiful sites. From Cao Bang, you go straight to the waterfall. On the route, you will cross Ma Phuc mountain pass.
– 9am. Arrive at the waterfall but don’t rush going down the fall. Enjoy the hike down and take beautiful photos. If you like to adventure, you can climb to the big fall to take a closer look.
– 10am. On the route back to Trung Khanh town, you can stop for Nguom Ngao cave, which will take a nice trek through a small mountain and a 3km (2miles) walk to the cave.
– 12.30pm (or 1pm). Lunch in Trung Khanh town.
– 1.30pm. Back to Cao Bang. On the route, don’t forget to visit Thang Hen lake. It’s located on a mountain and offers a very beautiful view. Its water is blue at all time. Keep in mind to question about the accessbility for car, which was impossible at the time I visited in 2011 due to road expanding. It might not be a problem now.
– 4.30pm. Back to Cao Bang city from the lake. Overnight in Cao Bang.
Day 4: Cao Bang – Lang Son – Hanoi
– 7am. The road from Cao Bang to Lang Son is quite nice. During rain season, its is also very beautiful with yellow rice fields (though it’s not terraces).
– 12pm. Have lunch in Lang Son city. Then ship at local markets. Lang Son is famous for the paradise of Chinese merchandise. You should bargain when shopping.
– 3pm. Back to Hanoi. The distance is 160km (100 miles) on 1A highway.
– 6pm. Arrive in Hanoi
You won’t be too tired if travelling by car, but might be slightly inconvenient with some small roads. Travelling in Northern mountains, you should pick the car with less than 16 seats.
Itinerary 2: 3 days by motorbike
Day 1: Hanoi – Thang Hen lake – Trung Khanh town
– 6am. Head to Cao Bang city. On the route, take your time stop for any beautiful spot for photos. Just ensure arrive in Cao Bang city at the right time to have lunch.
– 11.30am. Lunch in Cao Bang city.
– 12.30pm. Leave for Ma Phuc mountain pass, remember to ask for the way to Thang Hen lake, which goes through very beautiful and poetic villages.
– 3pm. Keep going to Trung Khanh town. You should go along Tra Linh (Trà Lĩnh) road, a beautiful road, especially on the Tam Giac Mach flower season. However, if you visit the lake late, you should follow the one leading through Quang Uyen (Quảng Uyên).
Day 2: Trung Khanh – Ban Gioc – Nguom Ngao cave – Ha Lang – Cao Bang
– 7am. Pack lunch and sisit Nguom Ngao cave first.
– 10.30am. Head to Ban Gioc waterfall, which is most beautiful in during rain season when the water flows down fiercely.
11.30am. Have lunch at Ban Gioc water fall.
– 1.10pm. Back to Cao Bang. You run along the border, from Ban Gioc, go straight to Bang Ca (Bằng Ca), then go through Ha Lang (Hạ Lang) to Quang Uyen (Quảng Uyên). Along the route are a number of beautiful valleys and waterfalls.
– 5.30pm. Arrive and stay overnight in Cao Bang city.
Day 3: Cao Bang – Lang Son – Hanoi
– 7am. The last day is light and easy with nice road.
Important note: Most of the road is very good with mild slope for amazing ride, but towards the end of road, there’s a very dangerous curve. I don’t clearly remember where exactly it it, just remember it runs along a shallow river.
– 12pm. Have lunch in Lang Son city. Then visit Lang Son’s markets and shop for souvenirs.
– 3pm. Back to Hanoi.
Above is my experiences and recommended itineraries for a trip to Ban Gioc waterfall – Cao Bang. If you have any question, feel free to leave in the comment section!