Ban Gioc Waterfall is one of Vietnam’s best-known waterfalls, and its image adorns the lobby of many a cheap guesthouse. The falls, fed by the Quay Son River that marks the border with China, are an impressive sight and in a highly scenic location.
A police permit (200,000d for up to 10 people) is required to visit this region but the permit can be purchased at the police station here beside the waterfall. You’ll need to show your passport.
Frequent buses link Cao Bang and the waterfall, a trip of two hours (80,000d, hourly from 5.30am to 6pm).
Boat owners here will punt you on bamboo rafts (100,000d) close enough to the waterfall so you can feel the spray on your hair (bring shampoo!) and skin. Rafts on the Vietnamese side have green canopies, and on the Chinese side canopies are blue. You’re allowed to swim in the large natural pool on the Vietnamese side, but not in the river or close to the main waterfall.
There are numerous souvenir, snack and drink stalls by the cave and waterfall, and the only accommodation in the immediate area is the Saigon Ban Gioc Resort.