Hang Coc Bo

Historic Site in Mong Cai & the Chinese Border

After 30 years of exile, Ho Chi Minh re-entered Vietnam in January 1941 and took shelter in this small cave in one of the most remote regions of Vietnam, 3km from the Chinese border. The cave and surrounding area are sacred ground for Vietnamese revolutionaries – this is the base from which Ho launched the revolution he’d long been planning.

Hang Coc Bo is 58km northwest of Cao Bang. For a return half-day trip by xe om, expect to pay at least 300,000d.

Even if you have little interest in the history of Vietnamese communism, the cave is in a beautiful location surrounded by evergreen forests filled with butterflies and birdsong, and overlooked by limestone mountains.

Ho Chi Minh lived in the cave for a few weeks in 1941, writing poetry and translating key texts by the fathers of socialism. He stuck close to China so that he would be able to flee across the border if French soldiers discovered his hiding place. Ho named the stream in front of his cave Lenin Creek and the jungle-clad mountain that overlooks this stream Karl Marx Peak.

There’s a modest Uncle Ho Museum at the entrance to the area. About 2km beyond this is a parking area. The cave is a 10-minute walk away along a shady stone path that follows the riverbank. You can step inside the mouth of the small cave, but not enter. The path then loops past various other points of interest, including a rock table that Ho is said to have used as a kind of jungle office for his translations and writing.

In a patch of forest about a 15-minute walk in the opposite direction is a jungle hut, another of Ho’s hideouts. On the way to the hut is a rock outcrop used as a ‘dead-letter box’, where he would leave and pick up messages.

No permits are currently needed to visit this area, despite the proximity to the Chinese border.