TRAVEL GUIDE TO BAN GIOC WATERFALL - AMAZING BORDER BETWEEN VIETNAM AND CHINA


15 Jan 2021

Ban Gioc Waterfall in Vietnam is one of the top 4 largest transnational waterfalls in the world, this place is attracting more and more tourists every year. The best time to get the breathtaking view of this bordered waterfall is in summer time from June to October.

Table Contents
  • I - Overview of Ban Gioc waterfall 
  • 1 - Ban Gioc Waterfall location
  • 2 -  Travel to Ban Gioc Waterfall from Hanoi
  • 3 - Sovereignty dispute 
  • 4 - Ban gioc waterfall weather and climate
  • II - Admire the beauty of Ban Gioc waterfall
  • III - Top attarctions should not be missed in a Ban Gioc waterfall tour
  • 1 - Pac Bo Cave
  • 2 - Ethnic handicraft villages in Quang Uyen district
  • 3 - Thang Hen Lake
  • 4 - Nguom Ngao Cave
  • IV - Ban Gioc waterfall accommodation
  • V - What to eat in Cao Bang
  • 1 - Grilled Tram Huong (Agarwood) fish in Ban Gioc Waterfall
  • 2 - Ant egg cake
  • 3 - Cao Bang seven flavor roasted duck
  • 4 - Trung Khanh chestnut
  • 5 - Smoked sausage
Ban Gioc waterfall
Source: Olivier Langevin

Vietnam Ban Gioc Waterfall stands out in the mountains and hills, like a ribbon crossing the sky, reminiscently a long-haired Nung girl washing and combing her hair by the stream. The lightness of the water pouring in the dry season brings a gentle, indescribable feeling that makes visitors full in their hearts and not want to leave. This article will introduce more details of location and travel information which will guide you how to get to ban gioc waterfall, when to visit and what to do there. 

I - Overview of Ban Gioc waterfall 

Ban Gioc waterfall in Vietnam

 (Source: MeadowZ)

In the rainy season, the water flows strongly from above, bringing the sound of the waves like a song from the high mountains that never stops. White bubbles of water fall down into the ground and scatter all over the sky. Do not forget to bring a camera or phone to keep memorable pictures while admiring the majestic nature.
In addition, the image of green mountains and open space helps you relax and breathe the fresh air. All like merging into one, creating the most beautiful picture that can be found nowhere else.

1 - Ban Gioc Waterfall location

This breathtaking waterfall is a transnational waterfall, located in the border of Vietnam and China. It is about 360km to the north of Hanoi and in Dam Thuy Commune, Trung Khanh district, Cao Bang province, Vietnam.
The waterfall lies on the flow of the Quay Son River (歸 春 河 Guichun He in Chinese). Originated from China, the river enters Vietnam in Ngoc Khe commune, then it  flows through Dinh Phong and Chi Vien communes. Coming to Dam Thuy commune, the river winds around the foot of Co Muong mountain and then crosses the fields of Dam Thuy to the cornfield on Gioc village, then goes back to the borderline and splits into many branches. The river bed there suddenly dropped down about 35m, forming the waterfall. From the foot of the waterfall, it flows back to China.
The waterfall is divided by two smaller ones, the main and the secondary waterfalls. According to the 1999 treaty, the secondary waterfall belongs to Vietnam, the main waterfall is shared between Vietnam and China.

2 -  Travel to Ban Gioc Waterfall from Hanoi

With the distance of 370km from Hanoi, to go to the waterfall tourists need to spend about a half day travelling. There are two ways of getting here: by private transport (car, motorbike) or by public bus. 

Ban Gioc waterfall from Hanoi

(Source: Stocksy)

By private car/motorbike
If you go by a car/motorbike from Hanoi, you can go for a 2 day round trip to Ban Gioc and go back to Hanoi, though a 3 day trip is much more comfortable. The schedule can be as below: Hanoi - Bac Kan - Cao Bang – Trung Khanh - Ban Gioc Waterfall - Cao Bang - That Khe - Lang Son - Hanoi
By bus
- Go by bus to Cao Bang, then rent a motorbike to Ban Gioc
If you do not want to ride a motorbike from Hanoi, you can take a sleeper bus to Cao Bang City, where you can rent a motorbike in Cao Bang City and go to this Waterfall, then go back to Cao Bang city and return the car, take a sleeper bus and go back to Hanoi.
- Go by bus to Cao Bang, transfer to another bus to Ban Gioc.
From Hanoi, you take a sleeper bus to Cao Bang City, then transfer to Thanh Luan bus according to the following route: Cao Bang - Nguom Ngao Cave - Ban Gioc Waterfall. The bus operates daily from 6:30 to 15:30 with the schedule of 1hour/trip, the last trip from Ban Gioc is at about 14:00 so prepare to leave by this time.
- Go directly to Trung Khanh district, Cao Bang province (near Ban Gioc)
If you do not want to transfer buses in Cao Bang City, you can take Vinh Dung bus from Hanoi to Trung Khanh market and from there take a motorbike taxi to go to Nguom Ngao and Ban Gioc.
- If you want to visit border markers: Along the road from Cao Bang to Quang Uyen distrcit, there is a T-junction between Provincial Road 206 and Provincial Road 207. These two roads connect into a circle and the common point is the waterfall. Therefore, on the way to the waterfall, you can take the road 206. On the way back, take the road 207 where you can visit many Vietnam-China border markers along the way.

3 - Sovereignty dispute 

Ban Gioc detin falls Vietnam China border

(Source: Bcfamilytou)

“Ban Gioc Waterfall belongs to Vietnam or China?” has long been a hotly debated topic among residents of the two countries. This waterfall also called Detian-Banyue Waterfall in China, is one or two waterfalls located on the Quay Son River at the border between Vietnam and China. If seen from Vietnam side, the left fall and the western half of the right fall are under Vietnamese sovereignty in Dam Thuy commune, Trung Khanh district, Cao Bang province; The eastern half of the right fall belongs to Chinese sovereignty in Detian village, Shuolong town, Daxin district, Chongzuo city of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
For many years, these areas were discussed in several rounds of negotiations between the Viet Nam-China Joint Committee for Land Border Demarcation and Landmark Planting but the issues have not been resolved. In fact, in these two areas, there used to be a complicated and prolonged dispute for many years.
In 2008, Vietnam and China agreed to resolve all land border disputes, including these two areas with the "package" solution, based on the principle of fairness, respecting historical vestiges, giving priority to stabilizing the lives of border residents, in line with the legal documents left by the history. The two sides took the Franco-Qing 1887 Convention and Franco-Qing 1895 Convention as the only legal basis for negotiating the establishment of a new border and reached an agreement about this waterfall The secondary waterfall belongs to Vietnam
The main waterfall is divided by two, each side owns a half.

4 - Ban gioc waterfall weather and climate

Best time to visit Ban Gioc waterfall

Ban Gioc attracts numerous tourists everyyear (Source: Pinterest)

The climate and weather in Ban Gioc as well as Cao Bang province is divided into 2 distinct seasons: rainy season and dry season. The rainy season is between June and September. This is also the time when the waterfall pours water strongly with white foam, which makes your trip here unforgettable, especially in August and September.
The waterfall has a completely different shade in the dry season. At this time, Ban Gioc is quite peaceful, with a romantic scene of the golden rice fields at its foot.
So of the two seasons, which one will be the best time to visit Ban Gioc waterfall? As you might have guessed, in the rainy season at that time, there will be a great amount of water falling from the waterfall, which makes it so beautiful and shimmering. Therefore, the waterfall in the rainy season will be more beautiful, but as the rainy season in the North of Vietnam often brings along quite dangerous flash floods, you should choose the time after the end of the rainy period for your safety.
Hot summers can make your journey a bit exhausting. However, traveling to Cao Bang in the summer is not without its own interest. You can hide from the sun in the immense mountains, and sit in the wind watching the fish dance. More specifically, summer is also the aromatic plum season throughout Cao Bang mountains. You will be able to enjoy the plum and summer fruit in this border area. 

II - Admire the beauty of Ban Gioc waterfall

Ban Gioc is considered to be the most beautiful waterfall in Vietnam. It is also in the top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in the world and is the most beautiful waterfall in Southeast Asia.
This waterfall is located on the border of Vietnam and China, and is the second largest cross-border waterfall in the world. A special feature of the waterfall compared to other waterfalls is divided into two parts: the main waterfall and the secondary waterfall separated by border marker No.53 under the previous French - Qing convention.
The beginning of October is when the waterfall is at its most beautiful, also the time when the waterfall is at its most majestic and powerful. The water flows massively, launching white foam which seemingly covers the whole sky. For those who prefer to experience and explore, this season is the best time to admire this fall. In the dry season, the waterfall shows a peaceful and mellow outfit to every visitor.
Ban Gioc waterfall is tens of meters high with water pouring down through many layers of limestone, forming a white water curtain. In the middle lies a small islet covered with trees that split the water into three streams like three white silk bands. At the foot of the waterfall is the surface of the Quay Son river which is as calm as a mirror, reflecting the mountains, forests and clouds. On both sides are lush fields of the Tay and Nung people who have lived for many generations in Ban Gioc village. 
Coming here, visitors will feel lost in a green world. With fresh air, you will be immersed in nature with birds singing, water pouring and wind murmuring in the leaves. Sitting on a floating raft at the foot of the waterfall, visitors can feel the clear blue river like a giant jade, with just a little touch you can feel the cool water. 

Ban Gioc waterfall in Cao Bang

A stunning waterfall (Source: Viet Hai)

With the charming natural beauty and peacefulness of a rural area, since 1997, Ban Gioc waterfall has been recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Information (now the Ministry of Culture - Sports and Tourism) as a National landscape site. In recent years, due to the infrastructure investment and promotion, this place has increasingly attracted many domestic and foreign tourists to come and enjoy.
This waterfall is like a haughty girl, with a charming and wild beauty, that has won many people’s hearts. It is a gift that Mother Nature has dedicated to this land. If you have the opportunity to travel to Cao Bang, don’t forget to visit this majestic waterfall.
Ban Gioc waterfall entrance fee: 50,000VND ~ 2USD/person 

III - Top attarctions should not be missed in a Ban Gioc waterfall tour

1 - Pac Bo Cave

Pac Bo relic is a special revolutionary national historical site. 55 km to the north of Cao Bang City, the relic includes: Uncle Ho Memorial Hall, Coc Bo cave, Lung Lan cave, Nguom Vai cave, Lenin stream, Rock Table where Uncle Ho used to work, the floor of the Ly Quoc Sung’s, and the floor of the La Thanh’s.

Ban Gioc waterfall tour

(Source: Dantri)

Pac Bo cave is a rock cave in a large mountain range. In front of the cave is a small stream flowing through, which Uncle Ho named Lenin stream. Standing outside the cave, looking down, you can still see Uncle Ho's old words "February 8, 1941" - that is the day he came to this cave after a long time doing revolutionary activities overseas. This cave is small, humid and cold, unnoticed by most people. The Lenin stream in front of the cave is crystal clear, bringing a gentle and peaceful feeling.

2 - Ethnic handicraft villages in Quang Uyen district

Along the way to the Ban Gioc waterfall, tourists cross Quang Uyen district - a mountainous region of Cao Bang which has long been known for its rich ethnic culture, beautiful natural landscapes, and friendly people. This place is also famous for handicraft villages such as: blacksmithing, weaving, cloth dying, tile making, bamboo knitting, incense and Do paper making.
Blacksmithing of farm tools
The occupation of forging knives and hammers is mainly located in Pac Rang commune. It has appeared for hundreds of years and has been handed down through many generations, which brings the art of forging here to a brilliant peak.
Currently, there are more and more blacksmiths and farm tools’ shops along National Road No.3 in Phuc Sen commune, but the blacksmiths follow a unique process from selecting materials to burning fire, and strapping hammer, plus their own secrets to create durable, beautiful farm tools, hence popular with consumers.
Another worth-visiting handicraft village is the weaving village in Quang Uyen district
In Phuc Sen area, Nung An people still retain the traditional culture of wearing indigo clothing of their ethnic groups, so far, many households still maintain the occupation of weaving and indigo dyeing. Particularly in Khao A and Khao B with more than 100 households, basically people still keep weaving to serve the needs of their people".
Phia Thap incense making village

Ban Gioc waterfall day tour

 (Source: Vietnamresponsibletourism)

About 5km from Phuc Sen craft village, Phia Thap incense making village and Lung U paper making village of Quoc Dan commune are located at the towering foothills, only a few hundred meters from National Road No.3. Phia Thap is a long-standing incense making village that has been handed down for generations. Currently, all 51 households in the village make incense with a ‘devoting” mind: negligence and poor quality not accepted. With good quality, Phia Thap incense is sold at all markets in the province.
The paper-making village in Lung O, Quoc Dan commune has existed for a long time. While many traditional craft villages in the province are struggling, at the risk of disappearance, paper-making jobs (called chia sla in Nung language), have been developing stably, sustainably and favored by the market.
Upper Lan and Lower Lan villages     
Other handicraft villages near Ban Gioc waterfall are Lan Duoi and Tren Lan villages which are located about 3 km from National Road No.3 in Đoai Khon commune, Quang Uyen district. They have long been famous for their bamboo products.
Every year, around August in the lunar calendar, their products, such as crates, rice baskets, are sold the most. On some market days, they can sell hundreds of pairs of baskets and rice pots with the price of 100 - 120 thousand VND/pair. This knitting job not only contributes to the income of the people but also preserves the characteristics of the ethnic group and long-standing agricultural practices of the people.    
Speaking of traditional handicraft villages in Quang Uyen district, it is impossible not to mention the occupation of making tiles of Nung An people in Tu Do commune including 3 villages of Lung Ri, Lung Cac and Keo Ro. Tu Do products are famous for their durability and beauty, so they are consumed throughout the province.
To make a tile, people have to get three types of soil dug more than a dozen meters deep in Doc Lap commune, including: black soil, red soil, and clay mixed together in a certain proportion and then for buffalo trampled and kneaded for 3-4 days before putting into the frame.
The raw tile is then put into an oven for 4-5 days to become a tile. A beautiful, durable tile must have a beautiful red color, not warped, which greatly depends on long-term experience as well as the secret of soil mixing.

3 - Thang Hen Lake

Ban Gioc waterfall tour 2 days

The clear Thang Hen lake (Source: Foox)

Thang Hen Lake is located on a mountain at the height of thousands of meters above sea level. The lake has a diamond shape, about 300m wide, more than 1,000m long, and in the middle of the white, a black canopy forest protrudes from the rugged rocks.
Thang Hen lake is located in Quoc Toan commune, Tra Linh district, Cao Bang province. The name of the lake means “bee tail” in Tay language as the lake looks like a tail of a bee from above. Upstream is a large cave, from where the water flows out day and night. What makes the lake a unique one is it has “tides” everyday. During the flood season, while other lakes’ water is red, Thang Hen Lake’s water still remains green. Due to the emerald green water all year round, Thang Hen Lake attracts thousands of tourists to discover the folk legends associated with it.

4 - Nguom Ngao Cave

Ban Gioc waterfall location

Nguom Ngao is a huge cave (Source: Vietnamresponsibletourism

Nguom Ngao cave located in the heart of a mountain in Cao Bang province, about 3km from Ban Gioc waterfall.
According to the Tay language, Nguom Ngao means tiger cave or "cave in the middle of the rock valley". The cave was discovered by local people in 1921 with a length of 2,144m, including 3 main gates: Nguom Lom gate, hidden under the rocks at the foot of the mountain, is cool all year round. The cave closes and opens again and again, bringing viewers a surprising feeling. Stalactites grow from the bottom up, drop down from the top, some vertical, some big, some small, all intertwined to form a magical maze.

IV - Ban Gioc waterfall accommodation

With many famous historical places, the service and tourism industry in Cao Bang is quite diverse, the average price of hostels in Cao Bang city is about 200,000 VND/night. The price of a hotel room is higher, about 500,000 VND/night. Visitors to Cao Bang travel mostly choose to stay in the city center or Trung Khanh district because this place is only 20 km from Ban Gioc waterfall, which is more convenient for exploring other places in Cao Bang.Some low cost but high quality hotels in Cao Bang
   
Ban Gioc waterfall accomodation

Bang Giang hotel (Source: Caobangtourism)

Hotels in Cao Bang city
– Anh Duong hotel: 78 Kim Dong,  Hop Giang ward, Cao Bang city
– Bang Giang hotel: Kim Dong, Hop Giang ward, Cao Bang city
– Hoang Anh hotel: 131 Kim Dong, Hop Giang ward, Cao Bang city
– Hoang Gia hotel: 26B Le Loi, Song Bang ward, Cao Bang city
Hostel in Trung Khanh district
– Hoan Le hostel: Trung Khanh town, Trung Khanh district, Cao Bang City
– Thien Tai hostel: Trung Khanh town, Trung Khanh district, Cao Bang city (near Trung Khanh market)
- Dinh Van hotel: Trung Khanh town, Trung Khanh district, Cao Bang city (to the right side of Trung Khanh market)
- Quay Son Homestay: Keo Na, Dam Thuy, Trung Khanh, Cao Bang.
Hotel in Ban Gioc
- Dinh Van 2 Hotel: Ban Gioc, Dam Thuy, Trung Khanh, Cao Bằng.

V - What to eat in Cao Bang

It would be a big mistake if you come to Ban Gioc (Cao Bang province) without enjoying the food here. Below are the top 5 specialties of ethnic minorities in Cao Bang.
 
Ban Gioc waterfall facts

(Source: Abudandbeyond)

1 - Grilled Tram Huong (Agarwood) fish in Ban Gioc Waterfall

Tram Huong fish meat is very delicious, when you eat you can feel the subtle flavor of agarwood. They often swim upstream so the meat is very firm, unlike the fish we eat on a regular basis. This fish is caught by locals at the foot of the waterfall and sold to the market. Their food source is the roots and decaying leaves of agarwood growing along the banks of the Quay Son River. The delicious fresh fish sold at each market is the raw material to make specialties only in this region.
The method of processing grilled fish is also very special, after cutting the stomach and preliminary processing, the cook will put some vegetables and spices into the belly of the fish, then wrap a layer of banana leaves and grill on charcoal. If you witness the process of grilling Tram Huong fish firsthand, you will smell the irresistible aroma when the fish is cooked. Even the pickiest guests would have to take their hats off to this dish.
 
Egg cake Ban Gioc waterfall

 (Source: Baomoi)

2 - Ant egg cake

Ant egg cake is made from… ant eggs. As crazy as it may sound, the cake is one of the specialties of Tay people in Cao Bang province. The cake is made from glutinous rice flour, black ant eggs and young leaves of the fig tree. The black ant egg cakes are often fatty and high in protein. However, not eggs from any type of ants can be used to make the cakes, only eggs of the black ant that the Tày people call tua ray with a sm
all body, pointed tails can be used. A large ant nest can give a few cups of eggs. Ant egg cake is chewy, with aroma of fig leaves and ant eggs.

3 - Cao Bang seven flavor roasted duck

This is one must-try dish when visiting Ban Gioc waterfall and Cao Bang. Many visitors coming here wonder why the dish is called 7 flavor roasted duck. The reason is that the people of Cao Bang have to use up to 7 kinds of spices to marinate the ducks before sending them to roast. Marinating meat is the most important step, because it will decide if the dish is delicious or not.
After preparing 7 kinds of spices, the Tay people will add sauce, salt and put inside the duck’s belly. This helps the spices to penetrate deeply into the meat so that the flavor of the dish will be better. The duck then is woven with bamboo strings to prevent the spices from falling out. The duck is then inflated, rare boiled one last time before being swept with vinegar and honey outside.
This way of processing helps the skin not be too dry but crispy, the meat be soft and fragrant. The taste of seven flavor roasted duck will surely be unforgettable even after you have gone home.

Ban Gioc waterfall in December

(Source: Wikipedia)

4 - Trung Khanh chestnut

Chestnut can be found in many places in the world, but in Vietnam, it can only be found in Trung Khanh district, Cao Bang province. Trung Khanh chestnut has its unique flavor and aroma, even when boiled, dried or cooked. It is mostly sold in September and October when chestnut is harvested.

5 - Smoked sausage

Smoked sausage in Cao Bang with a very specific flavor has become a specialty not to be missed when coming here.
The main ingredient for sausage is lean meat marinated with typical spices, including the sourness of smoked meat, leaves, fruit of Mac Mat tree, toughness of thinned pig’s small intestine. You can feel secure about the hygiene of the dish, because the food does not contain preservatives and ingredients are carefully selected.
Cao Bang smoked sausage can be fried or grilled with charcoal then sliced thinly and enjoyed with sliced cucumber and chili sauce.
Ban Gioc waterfall in Cao Bang is one of the most breathtaking and majestic wonders in Vietnam that needs to be in your travel destination list. 

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Hi, my name is Quan, and you can call me “Kun”. Having a big passion for travel, I spent 6 months traveling to most of the regions & provinces in Vietnam. I find Vietnam's landscapes are so beautiful, Vietnamese people are so friendly.

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