Guide to Ban Gioc Waterfall & Tips

Have you ever contemplated seeking out a natural masterpiece in Northern Vietnam? In just 2 days, a visit to Ban Gioc Waterfall (Cao Bang Province) should be at the top of your to-do list to escape the hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in the spectacular beauty of the landscape.

Location: Dam Thuy Commune, Trung Khanh District, Cao Bang Province

Entrance fee: 45,000 VND per person

I. Highlights of Ban Gioc Waterfall

Highlights-of-Ban-Gioc-waterfall
Highlights-of-Ban-Gioc-waterfall

Ban Gioc is known as one of the largest transnational waterfalls in the world in general and particularly one of the most famous waterfalls in Vietnam. In recent years, tourists from all over the world have flocked here to admire its unique and natural beauty.

Located in Dam Thuy Commune (Cao Bang City), 335km from Hanoi, Ban Gioc Waterfall shares a border with Guangxi Province, China, to the west (belonging to Vietnam) and is contested by China to the east. Therefore, the Ban Gioc area boasts a rich cultural diversity of indigenous ethnic minorities.

Both countries are committed to reaping significant benefits from this location in terms of tourism and economic profit. What makes the Ban Gioc landscape enchanting is the extraordinary flow of water cascading down what looks like giant natural stone steps. This allure is undoubtedly the main factor attracting tourists from all over the world.

II. What to Do and Where to Go at Ban Gioc Waterfall?

The Ban Gioc area not only receives praise for its waterfalls but also attracts many other stunning landscapes. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit these beautiful places:

1. Nguom Ngao Cave

Nguom-ngao-cave-christinas.vn_
Source: christinas.vn

Carved deep into a mountain, this 2,144-meter-long cave is one of the most captivating caves in Vietnam and was discovered in 1921. In the traditional language of the Tay people, “Nguom Ngao” means “tiger” or “cave of stone valley.” The stalactites hanging from the cave ceiling will leave a lasting impression as they have been formed by countless water droplets over millions of years.

2. Thang Hen Lake

Thang Hen Lake
Thang Hen Lake

The Thang Hen Lake area consists of 36 natural lakes nestled in a sloping valley, all coming together, surrounded by lush forests and rocky fields. In the Tay language, the name Thang Hen is derived from “bee’s abdomen” due to the lake’s curved shape. In the morning, you’ll be awestruck by the scenery covered in mist rising from the pristine lake.

3. Ma Phuc Pass

Ma-Phuc-Pass-near-Ban-Gioc-waterfall
Ma-Phuc-Pass-near-Ban-Gioc-waterfall

Ma Phuc Pass, located between Tra Linh District and Hoa An District, is known for its outstanding beauty. To cross it, locals have to navigate a narrow, winding road that only skilled drivers can handle. The pass offers breathtaking views of the highlands and the majestic mountainous landscape.

4. Pac Bo Historical Site

Pac Bo Historical Monument
Pac Bo Historical Monument

Pac Bo Cave, where Uncle Ho (Ho Chi Minh) once resided and contemplated the future of a revolution, is recognized as a national-level historical site. Apart from the cave, the Pac Bo area also features Lenin Stream, Uncle Ho’s Memorial House, Lang Lang Cave, and more. This is the most authentic evidence of Uncle Ho’s simple lifestyle, his significant contributions to the revolution, and his plans for a better welfare state.

III. What to Eat When Visiting Ban Gioc Waterfall?

Here are four highly recommended local dishes when you have the chance to visit Ban Gioc Waterfall and the surrounding area:

1. Grilled Tram Huong Fish

Grilled “Aloeswood Fish”
Grilled “Aloeswood Fish”

The name of this fish comes from its habit of eating leaves and the bark of lophira trees. Before grilling, they are thoroughly cleaned with water to remove dust and then stuffed with spices like shallots, chili, and lemongrass before being wrapped in banana leaves. You can taste the flavor of lophira wood when you try the fish.

2. Ant Egg Cake 

Ants-Egg-Cake-what-to-eat-in-Ban-Gioc-waterfall
Ants-Egg-Cake-what-to-eat-in-Ban-Gioc-waterfall

One of the most unique dishes in the Cao Bang mountainous region, this cake is only available from April to May when black ants in the garden are reproducing rapidly. Covered by mochi and leaves, the main ingredient is young ant eggs. In case you’re concerned about pollution, the eggs are stir-fried with onions, peanuts, and a bit of pork before being stuffed into the cake.

3. Cao Bang Pancakes (Banh Xeo Cao Bang)

Cao-Bang-Steamed-Rice-Pancake-What-to-eat-in-Ban-Gioc-waterfall
Cao-Bang-Steamed-Rice-Pancake-What-to-eat-in-Ban-Gioc-waterfall

Unlike regular pancakes, Cao Bang pancakes are known for their special sauce made from bone broth. Typically, the bones are simmered for hours before adding minced meat and spices to create the dish.

4. Roasted Suckling Pig 

Roasted-Suckling-Pig-What-to-eat-in-Ban-Gioc-waterfall
Roasted-Suckling-Pig-What-to-eat-in-Ban-Gioc-waterfall

Local residents should know that suckling pigs weighing between 4-6kg will serve you best. After preparation, the pig is stuffed with specialized medicinal leaves, skewered, coated with honey and spices, and then roasted over a fire. Most people prefer it to be cooked just right because the pig’s skin looks attractive, is crispy, and has an irresistible aroma.

IV. How to Get to Ban Gioc Waterfall?

1. By Bus/Coach

If you are not in Hanoi, please take a flight to the capital city, Hanoi, to continue your journey.

Usually, it takes 7 hours from Hanoi to Cao Bang City, so here’s the itinerary:

Start from National Highway 1A -> Bac Giang-Lang Son Expressway -> National Highway 4A -> Dong Khe Town -> Road 208 -> National Highway 3 -> Road 206 -> Arrive at Dam Thuy Commune -> Ban Gioc Waterfall.

2. By Personal Car/Motorcycle

When traveling by personal vehicle, some people like to take different routes to explore more tourist destinations along the way. Some potential plans include:

From Hanoi, take National Highway 3 to Bac Kan Province, where you can visit Ba Be Lake and Ba Be National Park. Here, you’ll find many rare ecological species, not to mention impressive landscapes and geology.

Instead of National Highway 3, take National Highway 4 to Lang Son Province, where you can visit Mau Son Mountain and have a unique experience.

Then, you can return to the route leading to Dong Khe Town and proceed to Cao Bang City from there.

V. Additional Tips for Visiting Ban Gioc Waterfall

Carry all your personal documents in case you need them for identification and deposits.

Drive safely! The roads and trails are remote and winding.

Prepare mosquito repellent and necessary medicines for conditions like colds, cramps, or diarrhea.

Bring a supply of food and drinks – there are hardly any food stores near Ban Gioc Waterfall.

Show respect for the customs and traditions of the local ethnic groups when in the village – some may prevent you from wandering around their homes or touching their property. It’s advisable to hire a local tour guide for detailed guidance.