On the Chinese/Vietnam Border lies Ban Gioc Waterfall, in Vietnamese Thác-Bản-Giốc, dropping 30 meters split between two ancient Asian countries. The thunderous twin falls can be heard miles away echoing throughout the valley. It’s located 83 kilometers from Cao Bang city, a nearly two hour drive northeast.
The Ban Gioc waterfalls are considered in the same league as Niagra in North America, Angel Falls in South America and Vicotria Falls in Africa. These remote waterfalls are located significantly north of Hanoi at 360 kilometers, and may take the good part of a day to reach them, but the sight is well worth it in the end.
Surrounded by cascading limestone pillars, the waterfalls are known for their tranquility, peace and rejuvenation properties. Any visit to these falls will make even the most enthusiastic technology lover wish to go back to simpler times.
Touring Ban Gioc Waterfall
You’re not just limited to the shoreline at the falls themselves. For around 50,000 Dong (~$2.50 USD) you can ride a small boat for some 20 minutes right up to the falls. Feel the misty spray on your skin. For a point of reference, the boats you see on the river with the blue roofs are from the Vietnamese side whilst the Chinese ones are green. However, keep in mind from the bottom of the falls you only see the lower tiers and not the whole landscape.
To take the whole scene in, it is best to head to the Pagoda on the Phat Tich Truc hillside approximately one kilometer away towards Cao Bang. It’s an easy climb from the falls and gives you a birds eye view of the whole valley.
There are signs along the river that indicate no swimming, but the water is clear, full of life and particularly refreshing on cool days. The rules don’t seem to be enforced and there are some large sandbanks that you can cool off on around the lower part of the falls. Just don’t risk swimming in the upper falls after a rainstorm as the current can be fierce.
In recent years the waterfalls have become more popular (especially for Chinese tourists who crowd the Chinese side of the river banks for a good view) but on mornings and evenings, you can almost have the entire place to yourself. Visit during the tail end of the rainy season for the most water or just after a major rainstorm to see the twin falls merge into one thundering applause.
To get here, its best to take a private car hire from Hanoi or a local bus from Cao Bang. It will cost around 70,000 Dong ($3 USD) and take around two hours. For a return journey, you can hail the bus from the main highway route at any point (perfect if you do any of the nearby walks).
Allegedly local Vietnamese police occasionally target foreigns to buy a ‘visa’ to visit the falls (as its crossing an international border) of around 200,000 Dong ($8.50 USD) for the whole group so have your passports on you just in case you are prompted.
Many locals suggest that if you make a trip to Vietnam, your trip isn’t complete without discovering Ban Gioc Waterfall, and we wholeheartedly agree with them.
Address: TL 211, Đàm Thuỷ, Trùng Khánh, Cao Bằng
Season: Year round
Number of drops: 3
Longest drop: 98′