Ban Gioc - Top choice Waterfall in Cao Bang



Ban Gioc Waterfall is one of Vietnam’s most impressive natural sights. Located in the northeastern province of Cao Bằng, the falls are 30 metres high and 300 metres across, making Bản Giốc the widest waterfall in the country. The falls occur on the Quay Son River, a beautiful jade - blue body of water flowing from China through a pastoral landscape of rice fields and bamboo groves surrounded by limestone pinnacles. At Ban Gioc, the Quay Son River forms the border between Vietnam and China. Consequently, the falls are half in Vietnam and half in China. Both countries have bamboo rafts that punt visitors around the base of the falls for better views of the cascade.


                                                           Borderlands: Ban Gioc waterfall is half in Vietnam, half in China


Bamboo rafts (50,000vnđ ~ 2$/per person) punt visitors closer to the cascade for better views. The ‘ride’ lasts about 10 minutes and you’ll definitely get wet.


                                                       Getting wet: bamboo rafts punt visitors around the base of Ban Gioc falls


Because the falls are located right on the Chinese border, foreign travellers used to require a special permit to visit the area. But today, you can just turn up and buy a ticket (50,000vnđ ~ $2) at the kiosk without any documents at all, before walking down a gravel path to the waterfall.


 The path threads through rice fields, over wooden bridges above gurgling creeks, and onto an exposed grassy bank at the bottom of the falls. The wide, white cascade is fringed with foliage and framed by sharp, tooth-like limestone mountains, which are partly obscured by drifting clouds of vapour from all the spray generated by the waterfall. A good viewing point is from the newly constructed hilltop temple and pagoda on the south side of the road, opposite the falls.


Food & Drink:

Although there are plenty of good places to eat in Cao Bang City, food at and around Ban Gioc waterfall is not so readily available. At meal times you’ll find basic local rice and noodle eateries in most small towns in the area, like Trung Khanh (especially around the market) and Quang Uyen. There are also a few informal rice joints along the roadside between Ban Gioc.



                                              Cao Bang City has plenty of eating options, including local noodle soups for breakfast



Ban Gioc waterfall is 90km east of Cao Bang. The easiest and most enjoyable way to reach Ban Gioc is by motorbike. If you don’t already have one, motorbikes are available for rent from some hotels and guest houses in Cao Bang for around 200,000vnd (~$10) per day. Alternatively, many accommodations in Cao Bang can arrange a day trip to the falls by hired car with a driver. Another option is to take public transportation: small local buses run from Cao Bang to Ban Gioc and back again several times each day. Ask the staff at your accommodation for more information. 


                                    Local buses, like this one, run between Cao Bang City & Ban Gioc waterfall several times daily


Getting to Cao Bang from Hanoi is pretty straightforward: Either take a bus (including comfortable, two-level sleeper buses) from Hanoi’s My Dinh Bus Station (8 hours) or, if you have your own wheels, take Highway 3 (which is in excellent condition for most of the way and passes great scenery) from Hanoi to Cao Bang (280km). From Cao Bang to the falls stay on Highway 3, then turn left (due north) on Road DT206, which veers east at the town of Trung Khanh before reaching Ban Gioc waterfall.

Further readings