Cao Bang Vietnam, a captivating region off the beaten track
- on Feb 12, 2020       By: BN
Want to get off the beaten track? The Cao Bang region is for you! Located in the North East of Vietnam and sharing a border with China, Cao Bang is a remote mountainous region of wild beauty which is characterized by uneven terrains and tormented landscapes composed of an inextricable maze of karst peaks. A natural surreal decor signs some of the most beautiful imprints of the country where several ethnic minority groups live. It was in this grand limestone labyrinth that the Expeditionary Force experienced one of its heaviest defeats during the Indochina War. Follow yourself on the roads and tracks of this fabulous region which is still little visited and yet oh so captivating!
The bloody battle of RC4
The RC4, colonial route 4 or "bloody route" connected during the colonial era the garrisons of Cao Bang and Lang Son to then continue towards the Hai Phong commercial port. This route was the scene of multiple clashes between the forces of the French Expeditionary Force and those of the Viet Minh who never stopped attacking French convoys. In September and October 1950, an operation was carried out by the French Expeditionary Force to evacuate Cao Bang town and that of Lang Son and all the military posts located on the road. An operation which turned to tragedy since the Expeditionary Force was ambushed byrolled up by the forces of the Viet Minh. In this limestone shambles, 5,000 French soldiers were killed overnight in the Coc Xa basin. A defeat which before Dien Bien Phu marked the end of the French presence in Indochina. Traveling on the old RC4 will allow you to discover some vestiges of the Indochina war.
Pac Bo historical site
Pac Bo historical site, located in a set of hilly and picturesque landscapes breath-taking about 60 km North of Cao Bang city, is a place closely tied to the revolutionary life of Ho Chi Minh. In 1941, back from thirty years spent abroad, it was in the cave of Coc Bo that the father of the nation found refuge and began the long evolution which would lead to the independence of the nation.
Nguom Ngao cave
The Nguom Ngao Cave is certainly one of the most impressive caves in Northern Vietnam. This magnificent cave, discovered in 1921 but opened to visitors only in 1996, is a masterpiece of nature. Over two kilometres long, the Nguom Ngao cave offers several large rooms that compete in beauty. They contain superb stalactites and stalagmites skilfully enhanced by subtle lighting. The cave is called "cave of the tiger" by the local population since according to legend, several tigers lived in this cave. The visit to Nguom Ngao cave can be combined perfectly with the visit to the magnificent Ban Gioc falls, which are only a few kilometres away.
Ban Gioc Falls
Ban Gioc Falls is one of the most spectacular natural landscape sites in Vietnam and is a must-visit during your stay in Cao Bang province. The most majestic waterfalls in Vietnam are nestled in a beautiful natural setting, in a circus of karst peaks covered with lush vegetation, 85 kilometres from Cao Bang city, the province's eponymous capital. The Ban Gioc Falls which are located on the border with China fall from a height of 30m and are divided into three stages separated by rocky spurs spread over a total width of more than 300m. A magnificent spectacle that Vietnamese and also Chinese tourists come to enjoy. You can take a raft to get as close as possible to the falls and hear their deafening noise.
The road that leads to Ban Gioc Falls offers the opportunity for a magnificent ride through a sublime countryside. From Cao Bang, a stopover city, we take one of the most beautiful roads in Northern Vietnam. We enter an incredible jagged mineral universe where small hamlets of the Tay, Nung and Dao ethnic groups are nestled.
Along the way, you can see the bamboo water wheels that irrigate the vast expanses of rice fields. From the Ma Phuc pass, you have a sublime view of the hypnotic Vietnamese countryside.
The best season to experience Ban Gioc Falls runs from June to September when the water flow is greatest, making the show even more impressive. Between September and October, the spectacle becomes stunning when the rice fields which surround the falls have the colour of gold and the harvest begins.
>> To read more: Ban Gioc waterfall from every angle in autumn
Cao Bang, paradise for hikers
The vertiginous landscapes of Cao Bang province are a true paradise for hikers. Non Nuoc Cao Bang, its natural setting recognized as a global geopark by UNESCO, was voted as one of the 50 best places to visit around the world by the American site 'Insider'.
On one or more days, go on the small paths to sink into this awe-inspiring limestone labyrinth and to meet the ethnic minorities who populate these fantastic natural settings. Homestays will give you the full measure of mountain hospitality and the complexity of their cultures.
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