The Ban Gioc Waterfalls on the border with China, Cao Bang, Vietnam.

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Ban Gioc Waterfall

Top choice in Cao Bang

Ban Gioc 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 in a highly scenic location. Aim to visit around lunchtime when the upstream dam is opened to allow full flow.

Boat owners here will punt you on bamboo rafts (50,000d) close enough to the waterfall so you can feel the spray on your face. Rafts on the Vietnamese side have blue canopies; on the Chinese side canopies are green.

For a fine overview of the falls and the entire karst valley, head back towards Cao Bang for 1km and climb left to the hillside Phat Tich Truc Lam Ban Gioc Pagoda.

The police station at the waterfall sometimes requires foreigners to buy a border permit (200,000d for up to 10 people) to visit the falls, though we weren't asked during our recent visit. Bring your passport just in case.

How to get to Ban Gioc Waterfall

Frequent buses link Cao Bang and the waterfall (70,000d, two hours, hourly from 5.30am to 6pm). Catch them just east of the Bang Giang Bridge in Cao Bang. To reach Ban Gioc Waterfall from Hanoi, catch a bus to Cao Bang (journey time: six hours) and take onward transport from there.

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