Ban Gioc Waterfall Travel Guide
Ban Gioc Waterfall is located in the north-eastern province of Cao Bang and amounts to one of the most striking natural sights in the entire country. The waterfall is approx 300 metres across and 30 metres in height to make it the widest (although not the highest) in Vietnam. It is found in the beautiful jade-blue waters of the Quay Son River, which creates a landscape surrounded by limestone pinnacles, bamboo groves and rice fields, and close to the border between Vietnam and China.
Ban Gioc is regarded as the fourth largest border waterfall in the world. Quay Son River at the foot of the falls helps to create a very romantic landscape with its immense greenery and high mountains, and great to include on the Vietnam private holidays.
The waterfall is easily accessed by walking the length of a gravel path. This path passes through a grassy bank, over wooden bridges, and rice fields. But, before walking the gravel path it is first necessary to stop at the nearby kiosk and pay the $1 entrance fee.
The base of Ban Gioc Waterfall has a variety of beautiful spots that are worth exploring or simply to sit and relax while taking in the surroundings. There are many places to relax such as a tropical tree, perching on a boulder, or sitting on a grassy bank or pebbly beach. The preferred time to visit is during the week when it is a lot quieter compared to public holidays or weekends. Plus, it is great for breathing in the fresh air and taking hundreds of photographs.
A ride on a bamboo raft makes it possible to get a better view of the cascading water. A 10 minute ride on a raft costs in the region of $2.50. Most areas have ‘No Swimming!’ signs, but it is still possible to take a plunge near the small falls with placid rock pools that are close to the central waterfall. By taking a wooden raft across the Quay Son River it is really possible to appreciate this unique ambiance.
It is possible to climb quite a difficult path that takes the traveller up to the first and second tiers. But, the path can be treacherous and best climbed with the right footwear. For those able to climb further up the side of the waterfall, it is possible to get some awesome sights of the surroundings.
There are a few food and drink stands setup close to the waterfalls and great for re-fuelling after a day of admiring the local surroundings.
Ban Gioc in the dry season is generally split across three levels and surrounded by trees and rocks. Also, during this period there are often rainbows that are created and possible to see in the early mornings. But, with more rainfall in the wet season, the three levels of the waterfall merge into one to make the most glorious sight with the cascading water in full flow.
The French built a complex of cottages close the waterfalls in the late 1920s to create a relaxing retreat and often fished in the local waters for the famed tram huong. Also, in the local area are plenty of wildflower species that are certain to interest the tourist into flora.
One of the best-known falls in the country, Ban Gioc Waterfall is a highly scenic location and its image often adorns the lobby of low-cost guesthouse throughout Vietnam.
Also, there is a large cave system approx 3 km from Ban Gioc that is well worth a visit on the Vietnam holiday packages while in the local area. This cave is called Nguom Ngao and is one of the less frequented caves so is relatively quite, yet still able to give a memorable experience. Plus, there are no neon lights installed, so the look and feel of the cave is more natural. There is a small entrance fee to explore this cave system.
The preferred time to visit the Ban Gioc Waterfall is from September to October which is when the summer rainfall is low and the harvest is still in full swing.
But, at other times of the year, the falls still has its own beauty. Travelling to the falls on the Vietnam adventure tour from October to May can give very peaceful scenery. Plus, in May, there are plenty of yellow fields that are located close to the falls to give poetic and peaceful beauty.
How to get there
Ban Gioc Waterfall is in the region of 350 km from Hanoi. The most enjoyable and easiest route to reach the falls is via the national highway that leads to Cao Bang City. The route has seen plenty of improvements in the provincial roads that pass through some of the most beautiful countryside.
This is a great destination for the tourist planning the motorbike excursion that makes its way through northern Vietnam. Plus, the waterfall is a great site for the solo traveller wishing to get off the beaten track. Motorbikes are easy to hire in most locations with plenty of guesthouses and hotels in Cao Bang City providing daily rental at $10.
Alternatively, there are plenty of tour agencies and hotels that can help to provide the fully organized trip to the waterfalls for the day.
Where to stay
The waterfall has limited tourist services so it can benefit to stop at Cao Bang town or Trung Khanh town in an effort to find the guesthouse or hotels with the more attractive rental prices. The best guesthouses in Trung Khanh are those located close to the market. But, for the travellers that head to Cao Bang town, there are plenty more options.
Eat and drink
Before heading to Ban Gioc Waterfall on the Vietnam travel it helps to prepare a snack to keep the energy up while exploring. There aren’t many options near the falls with most things are shipped from the nearby town of Khanh town. Also, for those that pass through Cao Bang it is possible to experience a few of the local specialities, such as Trung Khanh chestnuts, cong phu cakes and ap chao cakes.