The Ma Phuc Pass, Cao Bang, Vietnam
The Ma Phuc Pass, Cao Bang, Vietnam

Cao Bang

Cao Bang is a mountainous province in the North East of Vietnam. Cao Bang offers fresh rice valleys alternated with towering mountains and waterfalls. The province is ideal for the adventure travellers who dream of hiking tours, trekking tours, motorbike tours, mountain bike tours and eco tourism. Cao Bang is off the tourist track at the moment.

Tourist attractions in Cao Bang include the Ban Gioc Waterfall, Thang Hen Lake, Nguom Ngao Lake, Pac Bo Cave. AdventureGreen arranges trekking tours, motorbike tours and mountain-biking tours through Cao Bang.

A breathtaking view of mountains at the Ma Phuc Pass, Cao Bang
A breathtaking view of mountains at the Ma Phuc Pass, Cao Bang

From Hanoi, you can travel to Cao Bang via Lang Son, Thai Nguyen and Bac Kan, or Ha Giang. The shortest distance is via Lang Son, the road with best conditions is that via Bac Kan and Cao Bang and the road via Ha Giang is the longest distance.

1/From Lang Son to Cao Bang, you’ll travel on the historical Route Coloniale 4 (RC4), a former French supply route. The road is hilly and the landscape by the roadside is just wild and breathtaking. There are mountains and narrow stretches of rice fields every now and then.

Leaving Trang Dinh (Lang Son), you’ll enter Dong Khe (Cao Bang) where a famed battle took place in 1950 which helped to change the course of the Franco-Viet Minh War. You can visit the former French fort at Dong Khe before continuing onto Cao Bang. Let’s not forget that the mountains at Dong Khe are close to the road and there were brutal battles which took place the these mountain slopes back in time.

Rice fields at Dong Khe, Cao Bang
Rice fields at Dong Khe, Cao Bang

There are lovely trekking routes around Dong Khe and near the Chinese border and you can climb the Bao Dong Mountain to get good views of the amazing mountain peaks in the area.

Views of mountains from the top of Mount Bao Dong, Dong Khe
Views of mountains from the top of Mount Bao Dong, Dong Khe

The road gets more hilly after Dong Khe with mostly forested mountains by the roadsides. Then it goes down slightly as you make your way into Cao Bang City. If you notice you’ll find raised ground and a stone wall of the former Fortress of Cao Bang to your left.

Ruins of the Old Cao Bang Fortress
Ruins of the Old Cao Bang Fortress

2/The road to Cao Bang via Thai Nguyen and Bac Kan is also a scenic one with very good road conditions. While it is mostly flat in Thai Nguyen and Bac Kan, it goes up quite steeply all the way to Cao Bang City. The last leg offers spectacular views of the forested mountains by the roadsides as most of the amazing landscapes are lower than the road.

The mountains and forests near Bac Kan Province
The mountains and forests near Bac Kan Province

3/From Ha Giang to Cao Bang, you can travel via two routes:

The Gam River in Bao Lam, Cao BangThe Gam River in Bao Lam, Cao Bang

3.1/ From Meo Vac to Bao Lam, Bao Lac, then running along the Chinese border passing through Thong Nong and/or Ha Quang:

A windy road at Xuan Truong, Bao Lac, Cao Bang
A windy road at Xuan Truong, Bao Lac, Cao Bang

This route offers wild mountains and valleys, and is rarely taken by most travelers. It is even more likely that you’ll be by yourself with the wild nature around you most of the time. The mountains and valleys are just breathtaking. During the rainy season, it may not be safe traveling on this route due to thick fog, slippery small roads and landslides. The most beautiful landscapes found on this route are at the Xuan Truong Valley, Can Nong and Can Yen. After Thong Nong or Xuan Hoa (Ha Quang), then the road is quite flat with lots of rice fields by the roadsides. The last leg of the journey offers great road conditions.

Pac Bo Cao Bang Vietnam
Scenic road at Ha Quang, Cao Bang

It may be good to know that at Soc Giang (Ha Giang), there is a road which takes you to Pac Bo where Ho Chi Minh returned to Vietnam in 1941 and conducted the resistance war against the French. It is only a few kilometers and you should not miss this spot.

Pac Bo Cao Bang Vietnam
Pac Bo Cave, Cao Bang

3.2 From Meo Vac to Bao Lam, Bao Lac then to Tinh Tuc, Nguyen Binh and Cao Bang. The scenery on this route is not that wild as the above mentioned one, but no less spectacular. The best landscapes are when you climb the altitude after Bao Lac Town to Tinh Tuc and at Nguyen Binh. You’ll adore panoramic views of the surrounding with myriad mountain peaks and several valleys below you! The last leg of the road is quite flat amid corn fields and rice fields all the way to Cao Bang City.

Tinh Tuc Cao Bang
Tinh Tuc Cao Bang

 

Nguyen Binh - Cao Bang - Vietnam
Nguyen Binh, Cao Bang, Vietnam

4/Visiting Cao Bang, most would definitely look for a trip to the Ban Gioc Waterfall and the Nguom Ngao Cave. These two sites are 3km from each other and are about 90km northeast of Cao Bang City. There are some parts of the roads which are hilly but basically it is flat. The landscapes are just spectacular with amazing mountains and stretches of fields for growing corns and rice.

The highlights of this journey includes: exotic blacksmith village of Nung An People, jaw-dropping waterfall, lovely cave, lovely hike to the cave, lovely mountain views from the Ma Phuc Pass...

Blacksmiths at Pac Rang Village
Pac Rang Village (Nung An Ethnic People)

 

A close view of Ban Gioc
The Ban Gioc Waterfall

 

 Nguom Ngao Cave
The Nguom Ngao Cave