CAO BANG – Travel guide + Tips + Transport

Cao Bang - Vietnam
Cao Bang – Vietnam (Travel guide). Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang province.

Information about Cao Bang
How to get to Cao Bang
Weather in Cao Bang
Accommodation in Cao Bang
Interesting sites in Cao Bang
Map of interesting places

Cao Bang is one of the least populated provinces in northern Vietnam.

    • Cao Bang province (Cao Bằng) with its capital of the same name borders China on the east of northern Vietnam. There are approximately 550,000 inhabitants in this province. A lot of people are from the ethnic groups such as Tay, Nung, Dao and Hmong. Cao Bang province belongs to the one of the poorest region in the north of Vietnam, but nature is fascinating and you should definitelly visit this place if you are already in the north of Vietnam.

Practically the entire province of Cao Bang is dotted with hills and villages.

    • Cao Bang town was damaged in the war with China in 1979 and has since been rebuilt. It lies at an altitude of 300m, so there is a very beneficial climate all through the year. In 2018, a big part of Cao Bang province was established like Non Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark, this is the second geopark in Vietnam after Dong Van Karst Global Geopark in Ha Giang. Non Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark covers a large area of Cao Bang province and if you want to explore this site, you should travel on motorbike, because travel by local bus it is not easy and sometimes not possible.
Tinh Tuc Tin mine (Mo Thiec) in Cao Bang province.

The area of Cao Bang is a little bit forgotten by foreign tourists.

    • Cao Bang is mainly mountainous with spectacular scenery and good trails for trekking and exploring the ethnic minorities in the surrounding villages. In the winter snow fall is possible and there will be freezing conditions in the mountains of Cao Bang province, so be prepared with appropriate clothing.
    • One of the most visited place is Ban Gioc Waterfall on the border with China and also beautiful Thang Hen Mountain Lake. The other beautiful places in Cao Bang are Ky Sam palace, Coi Bin monastery and various mountains passes and scenic views. Thang Hen Lake is now a popular tourist resort, visited mainly by Vietnamese.
These rice fields you will see almost everywhere in Cao Bang province.

Cao Bang has several important points of historical significance.

    • For example Pac Bo Historical Site (at the Bang Giang and Hien rivers). Coc Bo cave is the place where Ho Chi Minh established a revolutionary force in January 1941. In 1920, the area became an important cradle of the revolutionary movement in northern Vietnam.

    Accommodation in Cao Bang

  • Pac Bo Historical Site include – Coc Bo cave, Lung Lan, Nguom Vai, the house’s floor of Mr. Ly Quoc Sung, Le Nin spring, Cac Mac mountain, Gooc Mu field, Na Chang, Khuoi Nam hut, memorial house of Ho Chi Minh president, etc. It is also very easy to get there by motorbike from Cao Bang town, road is in a good condition.
Pac Bo historical site in Cao Bang province. Km 0 marker of the Ho Chi Minh Highway.

Cao Bang province will ofer various amazing sceneries almost everywhere.

    • If you are traveling on a motorbike in Cao Bang, you have the advantage of being able to go outside the main road. However, not everywhere there are roads in a good condition, but these sceneries are beautiful, some of them you can find near the main roads, I highly recommend such places to visit.
    • You should have a time, motorbike and self-determination. One of the most impressive area for me, the less visited place, but easily accesible by motorbike is – Phong Nam or Tra Linh and then the area around Ban Gioc Waterfall, Ban Lung. These places are ideal for visit if you are traveling on motorbike in this province.
Cao Bang offers various scenic areas, this is Phong Nam, about 5 km from Trung Khanh town.

Soc Ha in Ha Quang district – another spectacular views close to Pac Bo.

    • Many visitors of the historical site Pac Bo, north of Cao Bang town, usually only visit this place. However, if you have a time and want to see an interesting agricultural area full of rice fields and beautiful mountain sceneries without tourists, I recommend to travel about 10 km west of Pac Bo to Soc Ha (Sóc Hà). This area consists of several smaller villages and lies practically on the border with China near the city of Pingmengzhen.

Accommodation in Cao Bang town (good reviews):

▶️ Cao Bang Eco Homestay
▶️ Jeanne Hotel
▶️ Max Boutique Hotel
▶️ Duong Ha Hotel
▶️ Primrose Homestay Cao Bang
▶️ RuBy Motel

Sóc Hà in Hà Quảng District, only about 10 km west of Pac Bo historical site.

Ban Gioc is the 4th biggest waterfall in the world, and leads over the boarder.

    • Ban Gioc Waterfall is located 80 km north of Cao Bang town on the border with China. Ban Gioc Waterfall is over 200 m wide and the water falls from a height of 70m over 3 sections. In the sunlight you can watch the seven colour waterfall. The colour of the water depends on the weather in this area. You can ride on a boat (bamboo rafts) and watch the waterfall directly, it is fascinating.

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    • This waterfall is the largest in Vietnam, but not the highest. Ban Gioc Waterfall is one of the top tourist and visited site in Cao Bang province. Recommended – rent a motorbike in Cao Bang town and travel on your own, road to the waterfall is in a good condition and it is not difficult.
Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang province.

Phat Tich Truc Lam Ban Gioc pagoda and the best spectular view at the waterfall.

    • Phat Tich Truc Lam Ban Gioc pagoda is only about 500m from the Ban Gioc Waterfall and it is very easily accessible. Go up and you will be surprised by the fascinating view of the entire area by the waterfalls. Phat Tich Truc Lam pagoda was inaugurated in 2014 and it is a part of Cao Bang national tourist site and attracts many tourists (mainly Vietnamese) throughout the year. In my opinion, this is the best view to the area around Ban Gioc Waterfall.
Phat Tich Truc Lam Ban Gioc pagoda, close to Ban Gioc Waterfall.

Nguom Ngao Cave is an amazing cave system, close to Ban Gioc Waterfall.

    • Only about 4 km from the Ban Gioc Waterfall, you can visit one of the most interesting cave systems in Vietnam – Nguom Ngao. It is one of the largest caves in Cao Bang province and very easilly accesible. You come, buy ticket and you can go to the cave. Nguom Ngao Cave is about 1 km long for tourists (totally about 2 km), and you can see there some huge stalactites and go into the 100m high cave chamber.
    • There are a few very large chambers and you should definitely visit this place, really stunning. In front of the cave you can buy some refreshments and there is also a parking lot. There are also some local small homestays nearby.
Nguom Ngao Cave in Cao Bang, only about 4 km from Ban Gioc Waterfall.

Only 20 km from Cao Bang town is the beuatiful Thang Hen mountain lake.

    • Thang Hen Lake in Tra Linh District consists of 36 small natural lakes on the hill at a height of 1,000m above sea level. The lakes were formed in limestone formations. An unusual phenomenon of these lakes is that the water level moves like the tide of the sea.

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  • The lakes in Cao Bang form the rivers that feed Ban Gioc Waterfall. Thang Hen is also a tourist resort, in the season is visited mainly by vietnamese tourists, you can find there also restaurant and some homestays.
Thang Hen Lake in Cao Bang in the no-tourist season.

Bao Lac can be the first stop if you are traveling from Ha Giang to Cao Bang.

    • Bao Lac is located in the far west of Cao Bang province, about 120 km from the city. If you travel from Ha Giang, it may be your first stop in Cao Bang province. This place definitely can not be described as tourist place, it has no top tourist spots. However, this may be an advantage, and what is not much touristy in Vietnam, sometimes it is most authentic.
    • If you stay in Bao Lac longer, you can go to the beautiful area of Xuan Truong by motorbike. The whole area of Bao Lac is a place of different ethnic groups and minorities, for example, the Lo Lo and Mong ethnic groups.
    • Accommodation in Bao Lac: Việt Hoàng hotel (a good reviewed hotel in the town) or Hotel Đức Tài.
Mong ethnic women in the ethnic festival in Bao Lac town.

Xuan Truong – a rural village only about 25 km from Bao Lac.

    • Cao Bang is a province where you can see and visit various ethnic rural villages, but lots of them are not easily accesible. So the best way how to see Cao Bang province is to travel by motorbike on your own.

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  • Travel by motorbike to Xuan Truong (20 km from Bao Lac) is not so hard, there is a good road and you will be traveling in very nice mountains area. This village is located in a nice valley surrounded by mountains. Inhabited mainly by ethnic people. The only way how to get there is to travel by motorbike and you will see Me Pia Pass (đèo Mẻ Pia).
Xuan Truong in Cao Bang province, about 25 km from Bao Lac.

Ba Be National Park is a good place for trekking and homestay accommodation.

    • Ba Be National Park is located about 100 km west of Cao Bang town, it is already in Bac Kan province. It is a good place for trekking and exploring ethnic local minorities or visit Ba Be Lake. Visit some ethnic villages with residents who actually live here. A lot of residents are from the Dao and Tay ethnic group. Around Ba Be Lake there are several villages, with some smaller waterfalls and caves. There are plenty of precious and endangered species that inhabit this region. It is not a problem to stay in homestay, most of them are typical wooden cottages, you can book them here > Homestays in Ba Be National Park.

Ba Be National Park is a valuable natural heritage site of Vietnam.

    • Ba Be Lake is composed from three interconnected lakes and its length is about 8 kilometers. You can try boating or bamboo rafts and there is an opportunity to explore local caves, with or without the boat. You can stay here in homestay accommodation with the local people and try very good local food. These homestay accommodation houses are adapted for travelers and tourists from Vietnam. You can also travel by bus or comfort limousine directly from Hanoi to Ba Be National Park > Book and buy bus tickets from Hanoi to Ba Be National Park.
Ba Be National Park and lake in Bac Kan province.

Ba Be National Park still holds its unique authentic look.

    • A very good option is to try a homestay with the Tay ethnic residents in the village of Pac Ngoi. Pac Ngoi is a small village directly by Ba Be lake on the south side of the lake. There are about 30 original buildings of Tay ethnic residents on “stilts“ and there is also accommodation available. Accommodation costs approximately 100,000 Vietnamese dongs for one person.

Pac Ngoi village offers homestay with Tay ethnic residents.

    • The locals are happy to show you their culture, customs, food offerings, or just sitting by the fire. This village is the best place to be in easy reach of Ba Be lake. For more information about the Tay ethnic group read the article – ethnic minorities of Vietnam.
Ba Be - Pac Ngoi village
Pac Ngoi homestay (photo from Wikimedia commons, licensed under CC by 3.0)

 How to get from Hanoi to Cao Bang:

1. From Hanoi to Cao Bang town by sleeper bus or taxi:

    • there are some sleeper buses from Hanoi to Cao Bang
    • there are mainly overnight sleeper tourist buses from Hanoi to Cao Bang
    • bus tickets from Hanoi to Cao Bang costs about 8-11 USD
    • travel by sleeper bus from Hanoi to Cao Bang takes about 7.5-10 hours
    • bus companies from Hanoi to Cao Bang: Thanh Ly, Khanh Hoan
    • sleeper buses from Hanoi to Cao Bang depart from Mỹ Đình Bus Station (Bến xe Mỹ Đình, 20 Phạm Hùng, Mỹ Đình)
    • sleeper buses arrive to Cao Bang Bus Station (M6J2+5X Khau Sả, Đề Thám) or there is a bus to Ban Gioc Waterfall
    • travel by private taxi/minivan from Hanoi to Ban Gioc Waterfall costs about 200-275 USD/car
    • Book and buy bus e-tickets from Hanoi to Cao Bang on Baolau icon-external-link-square
    • Book private taxi/car from Hanoi to Ban Gioc Waterfall on icon-external-link-square

You can also use some of these buses if you want to get in to the National Park and Ba Be lake. Some buses go over the Phu Tong town, get off there and take a local bus/mototaxi to Cho Ra (10 km from Ba Be National Park). You need to ask your bus driver in Hanoi.

2. From Hanoi to Lang Son and from Lang Son to Cao Bang:

    • A good choice is also to take a bus or train from Hanoi (Gia Lam bus stop) to Lang Son (+Dong Dang city).
    • In Lang Son you can stay for 2-3 days, explore this area and then continue by bus to the city of Cao Bang.
    • Or you can use a train from Hanoi (Gia Lam station) to Lang Son or Dong Dang city.
    • Use a search engine of transport links Baolau or, where you can also buy train tickets online).
    • There is no train connection in Cao Bang province.

How to get from Cao Bang to Ban Gioc Waterfall:

    • The only way is to travel by bus or motorbike. There are some local buses in Cao Bang town, for a current schedule I recommend to ask at the bus station or at the hotel. If you can, rent a motorbike in Cao Bang town and travel and explore this very nice area on your own.

Where to rent a motorbike in Cao Bang?

    • QT Motorbikes (from Ha Giang) opened in February 2019 their new branch in Cao Bang town (054 Cầu Bằng Giang). Reliable and very good company, operating also in Ha Giang, you can rent there a motorbike.

How to travel from Ha Giang to Cao Bang:

    • there are 2 options how to reach Cao Bang from Ha Giang – bus/minivan or motorbike.
    • the most beautiful travel route is from Ha Giang town to Dong Van town, Meo Vac, Bao Lac.
    • there are mainly small local buses, cheap bus tickets, but travel by bus takes a lot of time.
    • there is no train and there are no flights from Ha Giang to Cao Bang, Cao Bang has no airport
    • read this article: How to reach Cao Bang from Ha Giang?

How to get from Cao Bang town to Ba Be National Park:

    • There are 2 roads from the town of Cao Bang to the National park, it is about 130 km. From Cao Bang town some buses go to Phu Thong (ask in the hotel or at the bus station). In Phu Tong take a local bus to Cho Ra town, which is about 20 km. Cho Ra is about 10 km from Ba Be National Park. In Cho Ra take a mototaxi (Xe Om). If you have a motorbike, just look at the map, and go on one of the 2 main roads leading from the city of Cao Bang.

Weather in Cao Bang, when to go:

    • Cao Bang it is not so mountains area like Ha Giang, there are some hills area, but this place lies in lowland.
    • There is very hot in the summer months and in the winter months may be cold.
    • You can visit Cao Bang all year round.
    • Current weather in Cao Bang

Accommodation in Cao Bang:

    • Cao Bang town offers lots of possibilities of various accommodation – hotels, homestays, guesthouses.
    • There is no problem to book some of these accommodation online.
    • You can also find some accommodation at the area of the Ban Gioc Waterfalls.

Accommodation in Cao Bang (hotels, homestay…) – Book Here
15 Best Hotels + Homestays in Cao Bang

Hostels + Homestays in Cao BangHomestays in Ba Be National Park
Primrose HomestayHoàng Nguyên Homestay
Minh Hoang Hotel ★Hoa Sơn Homestay
Dương Hà Hotel ★Huyen Hao homestay
Jeanne Hotel ★Hoàng Chuyền Homestay
Khuổi Ky HomestayQuynh Mai Homestay
Green Door houseDuy Tho Homestay

 Places of Interest in Cao Bang:

    • Pac Bo Historical Site (Coc Bo cave – a place where Ho Chi Minh founded the revolutionary force)
      (Pac Bo include Coc Bo cave, Lung Lan, Nguom Vai, the house’s floor of Mr. Ly Quoc Sung, Le Nin spring, Cac Mac mountain, Gooc Mu field, Na Chang, Khuoi Nam hut, memorial house of Ho Chi Minh president, etc.)
    • Relic of Heroic Martyr Kim Dong (near Pac Bo)
    • Ban Gioc Waterfall (Detian Falls) + Nguom Ngao Cave
    • Trúc Lâm Phật Tích Pagoda (near the Ban Gioc Waterfalls)
    • Non Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark (geopark recognized in April 2018 by UNESCO)
    • Phia Oac – Phia Den National Park (area at the town of Tinh Tuc in Nguyen Binh district)
    • Phong Nam scenic area (Trung Khanh District)
    • Thang Hen Lake + Resort (+Thác Nặm Trá)
    • Bao Lam District (+Pac Miau town)
    • Ma Phuc pass on the road to the Ban Gioc waterfalls
    • Bao Lac + Xuan Truong
    • Ky Sam palace
    • Coi Binh Monastery
    • Markets in Cao Bang town
    • Me Pia Pass (đèo Mẻ Pia) in Xuan Truong (about 25 km from Bao Lac)
    • National Park Ba Be in Bac Kan province (Dau Dang waterfall, other caves and local villages)
    • homestays at the National Park Ba Be

 Cao Bang + Ba Be Lake – tourist map:

Frequently asked questions about Cao Bang:

1️⃣ How to book bus tickets or private car from Hanoi to Cao Bang?

    • You can book bus tickets or car from Hanoi to Cao Bang on Baolau or

2️⃣ How to search and book a tour or other activity in Vietnam?

    • You can search and book a tour, tickets for attraction or other tourist activity in Vietnam online with KLOOK. There are various tours or motorbike trips in northern Vietnam.

3️⃣ How to move in Cao Bang province?

    • The best way is to travel on motorbike or private transfer. IDP is necessary if you want to drive a motorbike in Vietnam. You can book your motorbike in Vietnam online with Bikesbooking. It is good to know, roads in Vietnam are dangerous, drive carefully and slowly, watch the traffic. There are also some local buses in Cao Bang province (eg. between Cao Bang and Ban Gioc…), but it is limited.

4️⃣ What is the travel time from Hanoi to Cao Bang?

    • Travel by tourist bus from Hanoi to Cao Bang takes about 8-10 hours.
    • Travel by private taxi / car from Hanoi to Cao Bang takes about 8 hours.

5️⃣ How much is the bus or taxi from Hanoi to Cao Bang?

    • Travel by tourist bus or minivan from Hanoi to Cao Bang costs about $8-11/pp.
    • Travel by private car from Hanoi to Ban Gioc Waterfall costs about $190-275/car.

6️⃣ Is there an airport and railway in Cao Bang province?

    • No, Cao Bang has no airport and there is no railway in this province, travel by train is not possible.

7️⃣ How far is Cao Bang from Hanoi?

    • Travel distance from Hanoi to Cao Bang town is about 300 km by road.

 Where to go from Cao Bang:

You can continue to Lang Son, Ha Giang (Dong Van, Meo Vac).

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