CAO BANG AND BAN GIOC WATERFALLS

CAO BANG AND BAN GIOC WATERFALLS

In this brief 1-day-trip we explore the northeastern province of Cao Bang, with Ban Gioc-Detian waterfalls as final destination at the border with China.

After a decent night on the sleeping bus from Hanoi, we step off at Cao Bang bus station at dawn, 5.30am. Still half asleep, we walk through locals who press us asking where we want to go, and we sneak away quickly.
Cao Bang is a small town with about 80.000 inhabitants, facing the Bang Giang river. We cross the Vietnamese and Socialists red-flag-decorated bridge and we head to the main road. Hotels and guesthouses are numerous for an isolated place like this, so after a few attempts we settle in a room on the ninth floor with riverview for 10 bucks!

They let us check-in super early at 7am and, after a few hours resting, we rent a motorcycle (for 200.000 VND, almost double price compared to Da Nang) and we leave eastbound towards the waterfalls. The road is in good conditions, all turns at first, with long straight roads after.

A road with a view

A road with a view

At noon we get to the waterfalls, that reveal to us suddenly after a bend, with the Chinese border just a bunch of km away.

Ban Gioc Waterfalls are in fact so wide they have a side diving into Vietnam, and the other into China. The fall is “only” 30 meters, what is impressive is the overall width that reaches 300m.

Ban Gioc-Detian Waterfalls

Ban Gioc-Detian Waterfalls

On the Vietnamese side there’s calmness and laziness, some stands sell souvenir, but the owners lie on hammocks. The Chinese shore is super busy, rafts go up and down to bring tourists close to the fall. This describes the different organisation and mentality between the two Countries in tourist matters, Chinese do it better in this case. Indeed, as on the Chinese side a wooden stairway leads to the top of the falls to appreciate them from above too, on our side the muddy uphill path is blocked by an iron safety fence. Still we look at the brightside and we enjoy the waterfalls almost us alone.

#worldkissproject

#worldkissproject

Later on, after stepping into China, according to our GPS (the border check is further on, some women cross clandestinely the river…), we make our way to the Nguom Ngao caves. The road leading to the entrance is not well indicated, all dirt, definitely off road. We won’t be surprised to be almost the only visitors (we’ll only meet 2 people), good for us because we will enjoy the exclusive show on our own. Actually dredges were doing some works to improve the 3-4 km road that brings to the caves, so surely it will be crowded in the future.

We get in the caves at about 2pm, and we’ll get out almost 2 hours later! A breathtaking scenery that leaves us speechless, very hard to describe. Stalagmites and stalactites of huge dimensions, of all shapes, continuously evolving. Water is everywhere, the drops that form the stalagmites come down as pouring rain, we hear the underground rivers flowing all around. Speleologists have discovered that the grottoes are linked with the waterfalls 4 km away, but these other caves aren’t open to public yet…

Stalactites rain

Stalactites rain

We have been in some caves in Vietnam, from Da Nang’s Marble Mountains to Ha Long Bay’s Thien Canh Son Cave, (unfortunately we missed Phòng Nha in central Vietnam) but these ones have been undoubtedly the most impressive. Surely the fact we were alone with no people around had deep influence. I don’t want to bore you more with descriptions, so check this pictures out and try to imagine the view from live, just 100 times better than in photo!

Nguom Ngao Caves

Nguom Ngao Caves

We leave back direction Cao Bang at 4pm, coming back just in time to avoid riding in the darkness, an experience that would be better not to try, but will happen to us later on…
Bbq dinner close to our hotel and early bed, tomorrow another minibus awaits us at 5.30am.
Accomodation:
Transports:
  • Head to Hanoi main bus station to buy tickets to the North, from 150.000 VND.

 

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