Cao Bang, a mountainous province in the north with a cool climate all year round, has a bunch of magnificent and wild landscapes. Expect mountains, forests, rivers, streams, waterfalls, and more. Not only that, many historic relics that mark a history-rich period of Vietnam can be found here too, this is especially appealing if you’re interested in learning more about the Vietnam War. The best part is, this area is not as crowded as Sapa, so you can relax and enjoy a peaceful trip without the chaos. The following places are the most interesting and famous in Cao Bang, if you are lucky enough to spend time here, do not miss these points of interest.
Looking for an itinerary that covers these spots? Check out our two day itinerary for Cao Bang.
Ban Gioc Waterfall
Ban Gioc is the fourth largest waterfall in the world that is situated on a border between two nations, Vietnam and China. It’s also the most majestic and beautiful waterfall in Vietnam. It is more than 30 meters tall and it flows through many layers of limestone.
The waterfall is divided into two branches. The large branches have low elevation and flow over limestone steps. The smaller branches are higher up and cascade just like a young girl’s hair. Turquoise is the feature color of the waterfall in autumn. At the foot of Ban Gioc Waterfall is a wide and flat river with green grass and forests covering the banks. Tourists can sit on floating rafts on Quay Son River and observe local people fishing.
Address: Dam Thuy commune, Trung Khanh district, Cao Bang province
Phat Tich Truc Lam Ban Gioc Pagoda
Phat Tich Truc Lam Ban Gioc is the first pagoda built in the northern frontier of the country, on Phia Nhu mountain, Dam Thuy commune, about 500 meters from Ban Gioc Waterfall. From the pagoda, you can see the entire Ban Gioc Waterfall and a large area below.
The pagoda was built in the style of Vietnamese architecture, including a three-door gate, bell tower, drum tower, steles, temples of national heroes, Hung Kings, guest houses, and a beautiful landscape.
Address: Phia Nhu mountain, Dam Thuy commune, about 500 meters from Ban Gioc Waterfall.
Nguom Ngao Cave
This is a large cave formed from the ancient weathering of limestone. Nguom Ngao means tiger cave or cave between rock valleys in Tay language, one of the ethnic groups in Vietnam. It was discovered by local people in 1921. This cave is classified as the most beautiful cave in Vietnam. The system of stalactites and stalagmites has created an extremely magnificent and interesting scene.
Nguom Ngao cave has a length of 2,144 meters, with three main gates. Nguom Lom gate is cool all year and hidden under rocks at the foot of the mountain, Nguom Ngao gate is a few hundred steps from the foot of the mountain, and Ban Thuon gate is behind the mountain, adjacent to the Thuon village of the Tay people.
Address: Gun village, Dam Thuy commune, Trung Khanh district, Cao Bang province
Thang Hen Lake
Located in Quoc Toan commune, Tra Linh district, Cao Bang province has an altitude of thousands of meters above sea level. And situated here is Thang Hen Lake, a beautiful lake among 36 lakes located in the mountains of Vietnam. Thang Hen Lake means bee tail because the lake looks like one from above. Its width is about 100 meters to 300 meters, and about 500 meters to 1,000 meters depending on the water level. There is a large cave in front of the lake and water flows all day and night from it.
This lake has a beautiful landscape with green trees stretching out over the cliffs, shining down to the blue water, and bending around the valley of boulders. With a huge river and majestic mountains, you can enjoy your time in beautiful nature on the boat in the ripples of the lake and eat the traditional food and wine of the Tay people.
Address: Quoc Toan commune, Tra Linh district, Cao Bang province
Pac Po Relic
Pac Po is a famous revolutionary relic, where Ho Chi Minh worked and led the revolution of Northern Vietnam. Before that, he visited many foreign countries such as France, Russia, and China to learn about communism. China was the last country he visited, after which he left for Pac Po. He chose Cao Bang because most of the people were on his side and Cao Bang is adjacent to China. There are many famous relics in this area which all mark a historical period of Vietnam.
- Le Nin Stream is famous for its turquoise color and it looks like a long swatch of silk hidden in the green forest.
- Coc Po Cave has a narrow path leading to the other side of the border between Vietnam and China, and if you position yourself inside the cave, you can safely retreat on this path when the cave is exposed. You will also find an old bed which was once the working place of Ho Chi Minh during the war.
- Cac Mac Mountain is in front of Coc Pho Cave. It’s named after Karl Marx in Vietnamese, a thinker and philosopher that has had a great impact on Ho Chi Minh’s career.
- 108 Border Marker, one of the 314 ancient Vietnamese-Chinese border markers, is made of monolithic stone, oval shaped, about 70 centimeters high, with engraved content in Chinese and French on the surface.
- Khuoi Nam Shed is a place where Ho Chi Minh lived for four years. It is built in the style of the local ethnic minority stilt houses. It’s pretty small, only twelve square meters in area with two small rooms. The canyon leading to the shed was once covered in dense forest but it’s since been transformed into consecutive terraced fields.
- House of Ly Quoc Sung is the first place where Ho Chi Minh stayed in this area before moving to Coc Bo Cave and Khuoi Nam Shed. It is also built in the style of the local ethnic minority stilt houses.
Address: Truong Ha commune, Ha Quang district, Cao Bang province
Phuc Sen Forge Village
Forging is a traditional work of the Nung people, an occupation they have been perfecting for hundreds of years. There are many unique features of the forging industry. You must choose good steel ingots, the process of making the steel varies, and the unique technique characteristic of each family in this area all contribute to quality and diverse products. The main products of this village are the knife, scissors, hoe, and sickle which are the main tools of the local farmers.
There are a variety of tools made by the local people on sale along the two-kilometer road after you enter the gate of the village. Go deep inside the village, and you can see the burning furnace, flaming fire pots, and working scene in every corner. Phuc Sen commune has 150 families working regularly. On average, a product cost from 20,000 to 200,000 VND per unit, depending on type and size.
At the end of the year, Phuc Sen Forge Village is busy with orders from many places such as Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Bac Kan, Hanoi, and Nghe An. Forging is the main economy for the local people here and it has become the traditional culture of this land.
Address: Phuc Sen commune, Quang Uyen district, Cao Bang province
Phia Oac – Phia Den
Spread over three communes including Thanh Cong, Quang Thanh, Phan Thanh and Tinh Tuc, Phia Oac – Phia Den is a special-use forest, a valuable heritage of the northeast. With a peak of 1,931 meters above sea level, Phia Oac is the roof of Cao Bang province and the northeast of Vietnam. Surprisingly, Phia Oac receives snow which creates a unique vegetation for this land.
Phia Oac – Phia Den attracts tourists with its beautiful landscapes of diverse forests, nature reserves, national parks with more than 300,000 hectares, and huge salmon aquaculture. Phia Oac is also the source of five large rivers in the area. Water from the mountainous rivers of the Phia Oac special-use forest is an endless source for Ta Sa Hydropower Plant.
The road of more than a dozen kilometers from Phia Den to the peak of Phia Oac Pass snakes its way through the mountains with many dangerous bends. Conquering this road is an awesome challenge for adventurous travelers.
The French built the road, resorts, stone villas, and a tin mining system through the mountains. The villas have been deserted for years but after all this time they still retain their shape, giving an impression of ancient French architecture.
Address: Nguyen Binh district, Cao Bang province
Border Gates and Markers
In addition, there are many border gates between Cao Bang and China such as Ta Lung, Tra Linh, Po Peo, Ly Van, and Soc Giang. Not only that, out of the 1,971 border makers in the seven northern border provinces, Cao Bang has the most border markers (634 markers). Therefore, you can visit them and check in as much as possible.
With all the interesting places above, Cao Bang is really an amazing travel destination in the north of Vietnam. Pack your bag and get here as soon as possible. Keep reading our articles below to prepare for your next trip.
If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at the Christina’s Blog!