Getting off the grid in Cao Bang

My fascination with waterfalls once again led me astray, away from the well traveled route. This time I visited Cao Bang, home of Vietnam’s most majestic waterfall- Ban Gioc. However, seeing the waterfall wasn’t the only thing that fascinated me the most. Cao Bang has more amazing natural wonders and local experience to offer.

I came to Cao Bang in the beginning of May. I can’t really say what the best time to visit Ban Gioc waterfall is. The volume changes between the dry and rainy season. The rainy season (from May to September) is when the falls at its most impressive. However, in the dry season the waterfall lasts from October to May, the water is calm and as clear as mountain air. Also, the rice harvesting season on October couldn’t make the landscape more poetic.

Ban Gioc Waterfall

Getting to see Cao Bang was an adventure in its own. On the way to the waterfall, I could see many rice paddy field dotted with traditional houses creating a picturesque landscape.

Cao Bang

The first thing I notice was the cooler fresh air followed by the mist and spray from the waterfall. At the height of 53m and 300m wide, it is known as the 4th largest fall in the world located on the borderline. With 3 layers, I could hear the echo miles away from a distance.

Ban Gioc Waterfall

At the foot of the waterfall is a large river, as calm as glass. We enjoyed bamboo rafting on the river and discovered the inner peace by which the majority of The Tay and other ethnic minority groups lives their daily lives harmoniously with nature along the riverbank.


water mill of the Thai

After marveling its spectacular beauty, we visited the nearby Nguom Ngao Cave (Tiger’s Cave in Tay’s language), which stretches along 3 kilometers. Yes, the cave is huge and enormous. Most of the travelers take 30’ to only go the first part of the cave. It is amazing limestone grotto with stalactites of various shapes formed by the Mother Nature such as the hand of Buddha, the camel, the lotus and so on.

Rich, 2011

Rich, 2011

However, as soon as we ventured further into the second part that hasn’t been discovered by travelers yet, these hidden treasures immediately captivated my sense of pure adventure and my excitement for cave exploring. Mr. Son – our Managing Director called it “Son Doong of Cao Bang” with amazing cave ecology, underground stream, cave formations and so on.

Deb Limbert 2

Other than natural wonders, Cao Bang is also known for its culture elements. The crafts of Cao Bang are diverse and rich in religion. Along our trek to Ban Gioc, we had an amazing opportunity to visit some of the traditional craft villages producing incense stick, iron forge, roof shingle and so on. It was interesting to explore some of the well-preserved traditional handicraft within the region. The making processes as well as technique have been passed from generations to generations in the attempt to maintain the tradition. I saw this really young woman proudly introduced about the local culture. “You can see that the traditional handicraft has been well-preserved and inherited” she said. This is something to appreciate and celebrate!


Cao Bang is no denying offers some of the most striking landscapes and is home to several settlements of ethnic minorities. Also, you can explore the area by various activities from trekking, cycling to rafting. To explore the Vietnam’s most Northern province, Here are some suggestions on nearby destinations that you can connect from Cao Bang. From Hanoi, you can transfer by car to Thai Nguyen and get a glimpse of the undulating terrain of tea plantations. Then onto Bac Kan to soak up the beauty of Ba Be Lakes on the local canoes before heading to Cao Bang.

Author: Hong Anh

Hong Anh is a true story-teller. For her, travelling is about stepping out of your comfort zone. Each of her stories is a unique travel experience that is told and illustrated by her own distinctive style.

Hong Anh