Phong Nam is a very nice non-tourist area in Cao Bang province.
- Phong Nam (Phong Nậm) in Cao Bang province (Trung Khanh District) is a small area/commune, not marked as „must see“ on various tourist guides or websites. And for those who are looking for less tourist places I can definitely say – take a short stop there, you will not regret it. It is not a place where you can see some temples with tourists or other tourist insanities and attractions, crowds of tourists, this is just true Vietnam in a village illustrated by photogenic hills and without tourists. Practically the whole province of Cao Bang is similar, but many people go down the main road only towards the biggest attraction of this province – Ban Gioc Waterfalls.
Go to Ban Gioc Waterfalls and make a short stop along the route in Trung Khanh.
- Phong Nam is located and starts about 6 km beyond the town of Trung Khanh, which is about 60 km from Cao Bang town. Trung Khanh is located on the route to Ban Gioc Waterfalls (on DT206) and you cannot miss it. Well, those who have more time – I recommend turning and going towards Nà Tổng village and continue further to Phong Nam. You can use Google maps to navigate, but some smaller roads and paths are not marked in the area, but you can’t get lost because there aren’t many roads. Outside Trung Khanh town, the first hills of the Phong Nam area will peek at you.
The whole area is very photogenic and you are so close to it, practically in it.
- To Phong Nam you have to go on a motorbike, otherwise you have no other way to ride through the area (if you do not ride your bike or do not have your private transfer), do not count with buses there. It is a remote area near the Chinese border, which is intersected by concrete, quite good roads on which you can ride a motorcycle without problems, here and there is some smaller dirt road. So the roads lie mostly in the lowlands and along the roads are the hills, or the river flows. Phong Nam is a classic agricultural area, rice fields, growing corn, vegetables, etc. In the area you can see very small villages, mostly inhabited by Vietnamese, and occasionally to a lesser extent, also ethnic minorities.
This is not an area where you should look for some hotels or homestay.
- This place, but actually not only this one, and the whole Trung Khanh district I highly recommend to travel. Those looking for non-tourist authentic sites could be satisfied. In Phong Nam you will not find any accommodation for tourists (accommodation only in Trung Khanh town), because there are none (and maybe even well). A short trip for a few hours, I strongly recommend doing this place, if you continue to the Ban Gioc Waterfalls or vice versa, buy petrol in Trung Khanh and ride the entire area on a motorcycle. A part of this place is also a nature reserve, but during my visit I did not see any monkey that was on the billboard (maybe sleeping, I have no idea).
How to get to Phong Nam (Trung Khanh town)?
- Your starting point will be the city of Cao Bang. The best choice, if you can, is to travel on a motorcycle. There are also buses to and from Ban Gioc Waterfalls, but with the bus it is a bit of an experiment. It is possible that there is a local bus to Trung Khanh, but unfortunately I do not know about it. Transport by bus and looking for a motorbike in Trung Khanh would take a long time. So the best way is to rent a motorbike in Cao Bang town and travel on your own to Ban Gioc Waterfalls and on the way back you can stop in Trung Khanh.
How to travel from Hanoi to Cao Bang? You can travel by sleeper bus.
- From Hanoi to Cao Bang you can travel by sleeper tourist bus or motorbike (for experienced drivers). There is no train or air connection. Traveling by bus from Hanoi to Cao Bang can take up to 7-10 hours. Some of the busses depart from My Dinh and Gia Lam bus stations in Hanoi, you need to check the time before your departure. If you arrive by bus, I recommend staying in Cao Bang province for more days and try to explore it on your own, preferably on a motorcycle. In my opinion it does not make a sense to travel only to Ban Gioc Waterfalls and go back to Hanoi, stay longer in this beautiful province, the whole province is very nice and not so touristy.
- Read full story: How to travel from Hanoi to Cao Bang?
When to go and visit Phong Nam (Trung Khanh, Cao Bang)?
- In Phong Nam and Cao Bang province again, what is true in many other places in northern Vietnam. It is recommended to avoid the monsoon season when there is more rain, but you can come there all year round. Rice harvest is here from mid-September to mid-October (it can change). Personally, I would recommend to come here in October, but always watch the weather in advance as it develops and whether there is a risk of heavy rain. The area is situated in the lowlands, so in the summer months there are high temperatures and in the autumn-winter period the temperatures can be quite pleasant and lower.
Where to stay in Trung Khanh, Phong Nam, Cao Bang or Ban Gioc?
- If you would like to stay in the Phong Nam area, the nearest accommodation will be in Trung Khanh town. There are mostly cheaper typical Vietnamese guesthouses – Nha Nghi and prices are low. There is no accommodation right in Phong Nam area, I do not exclude that maybe over time some accommodation will grow. Another option is to go to Ban Gioc Waterfalls, stay there for 2-3 days and return to Phong Nam to visit or just ride. At the Ban Gioc Waterfalls there are various options, such as guest houses, homestay, cheaper hotels, but still it is a little bit limited.
icon-home Accommodation in Trung Khanh town:
icon-home Accommodation at the Ban Gioc Waterfalls:
icon-info-circle Frequently asked questions – Phong Nam (Trung Khanh):
1️⃣ How to get from Hanoi to Cao Bang town?
2️⃣ How to travel from Cao Bang town to Phong Nam?
- The best option is to travel on a motorcycle. You must check if the local bus from Cao Bang to Trung Khanh is on site. There is a local bus between Cao Bang and the Ban Gioc Waterfalls, so you can use this connection and get thrown away at Trung Khanh. However, you must have a motorbike to move around Phong Nam, as there are no buses going directly to Phong Nam.
3️⃣ Where is Phong Nam (Trung Khanh town)?
- Phong Nam starts about 6 km north of Trung Khanh town, Cao Bang Province – Trung Khanh District. Phong Nam is about 65 km from the town of Cao Bang and it is a border area with China.
4️⃣ When to visit Phong Nam (Trung Khanh)?
- You can visit Phong Nam at any time and month, but it is recommended to avoid the monsoon season if more rain occurs. There may be floods. In summer there are higher temperatures, in autumn and winter temperatures are lower and the climate more pleasant.
5️⃣ Is it possible to buy some food in Phong Nam?
- There are a few small villages in the Phong Nam area, sometimes a very small and modest shop appears. So do not expect a large selection, traditionally various Vietnamese-Chinese crackers, biscuits, instant soups and drinks, mineral waters, juices, lemonades, but it’s really very limited. There are plenty of shops and a big market in Trung Khanh town.
6️⃣ Why to go to Phong Nam (Trung Khanh)?
- The area of Phong Nam is very photogenic, picturesque, it is an area without commercial and mass tourism. Agricultural rural area. For me personally, it is a very nice stop when traveling between Cao Bang and Ban Gioc Waterfalls.
7️⃣ Where you can travel from Phong Nam (Trung Khanh)?
- Definitely you should visit Ban Gioc Waterfalls. Ban Gioc Waterfalls is the most impressive site of Cao Bang province, the largest waterfall of Vietnam.
8️⃣ How to move in Phong Nam (Trung Khanh)?
- In the area of Phong Nam you must have a motorbike or private transfer otherwise you will not move here. If you want to rent a motorbike in Hanoi try to search your motorbike with Bikesbooking. There are various concrete paths that are quite easy to move on, sometimes smaller field paths, but the movement is trouble-free because this are is in the lowlands. You can use Google Maps to navigate, but not all roads may be marked.
icon-map-marker Map of Phong Nam and travel route from Cao Bang:
(main and very decent road from Cao Bang town to Phong Nam, via Trung Khanh town)