Ba Be National Park
The best time to visit Ba Be Lake is during the dry season (winter and spring). In the wet season, the lake takes up water from the Nang River and is regularly flooded. If travelling at the time of Long Tong Festival on the 10th and 11th days of the first lunar month, there are traditional games and performances by surrounding ethnic tribal groups.
Ba Be Lake
Ba Be Lake is a freshwater lake between Ba Be and Cho Don districts of Bac Kan province. The lake formed over 200 million years ago while the surrounding the ancient limestone mountains date back more than 450 million years. It is recognized as a national tourist site in Vietnam. Ba Be Lake is located in the centre of Ba Be National Park, 70km southeast of Bac Kan city. Ba Be Lake is one of the most unique and beautiful natural tourist attractions in Vietnam. The lake was formed by the geological structural changes millions of years ago that made the limestone mountains and caves. The lake was composed of three parts(Pe Leng, Pe Lu, Pe Lam) so it was called Ba Be Lake. The lake is 8km long, and 2km wide at its widest spot, with a water surface area of 500ha and an average depth of 20m, the deepest part being 35m. There are beautiful small islands on the lake and hundreds of freshwater fish. Due to its special geological structure, Ba Be Lake is very different in comparison with other Karst lakes in the world. At the International Conference of Freshwater Lakes held in March 1995 Ba Be Lake was ranked as one of 20 most beautiful natural freshwater lakes of the world that should be protected. In 2012, Ba Be Lake was recognised as a special National landscape monument. Ba Be Lake, is surrounded by the high limestone mountains and primeval jungle and retaining its beauty year-round, the panorama of the lake is like a watercolour painting.
Legend of Ba Be Lake
A long long time ago, in the past, in the area of Bac Kan, Nam Mau villagers each year held a ceremony to worship the great Buddhas. On this occasion, people everywhere would gather at the lake, forming large crowds. During one year, in the middle of all the village people worshipping Buddha, a beggar woman who nobody knew suddenly appeared. She looked hideous, with a thin body, sores, and a strong stench making everyone very uncomfortable. "I'm very hungry, you, ladies," she whispered, and extended her hand to four sides begging. But she was expelled. Stepping out of the party, from which she was rejected, she met a widowed mother and her daughter at the other market. Seeing the old woman beg for pity, the mother brought her home to her house where she lived with her daughter, gave her food to eat, then invited her to stay overnight. In the middle of the night, the mother and daughter suddenly found their place brightening with light. But strangely, there was no old beggar, but there was a big skeleton wrapped snugly, his head hanging up the rafters, his tail to the ground. The widow left in horror, her eyes closed, leaving the ghastly scene. The next morning they woke up, and the skeleton had disappeared, but the old beggar had returned begging them to be prepared. "This area is going to be flooded," she said. I give you two packages of ash, remember to sprinkle it around your home to avoid the accident.
The mother was surprised and asked, "Madam, so how to save everyone from drowning?" The old lady thought for a moment and picked up a grain of rice, broke it, gave it to the mother and said, "Two pieces of this husk will help you and your children do good deeds." After speaking, the woman suddenly disappeared. The mother hurried to do as instructed and told the nearby people what she knew. They all laughed, as they didn't believe her. That evening, the festival was bustling, and while people were bowing in worship, suddenly a column of water sputtered from the ground. The surrounding land was gradually wiped out. At that time, everybody was panicked, jumping over each other to run away. But unable tp keep up, the land under their feet began to shake in a fierce rumble, and the houses, people and all their belongings were submerged under water. While all the other houses were submerged in the water, the small house of the widow and her daughter stood tall. When the water was rising around the house, the ground upon which it rested rose as well. Watching the people struggling in the water, the mother and daughter were very sorry, and felt pity for their neighbours. Remembering what the old lady told her, she brought two pieces of rice husks out. When placed in water, the rice husks grew into two large boats. Ignoring the rain, they rowed around, trying to rescue the victims. Later, the land fell deep into a large lake, locally called Slam Pé - meaning Ba Be (3 smaller lakes incorporate Ba Be Lake: Pé Lam, Pé Lu, Pé Leng). The floor of the house where the mother and her daughter lived widened, emerging in the middle of the lake into a small island called Ba Goa, meaning Relict or Widow Island. However, legend is legend, as the lake was created over 200 million years ago, but the cultural value of the legend is significant.
Dau Dang Waterfall
Dau Dang waterfall is about 3 km to the west of Ba Be Lake. It straddles the border between Bac Kan and Tuyen Quang provinces. Here the Nang River flows over a rocky section, forming a 1km long stretch of rapids and dropping several hundred metres. Water from above thunders down with dazzling white bubbles all year, creating a mighty music within the grandiose jungle. Dau Dang waterfall has many valuable species of fish, and some of them are tens of kilos in weight. In March and April, after the first rains, each school of fish races to pass the waterfall, creating the exiting spectacle known as "Fish passing dragon gate From Dau Dang waterfall". About 300m further on tourists can get on a boat to visit the ecotourism project of Na Hang hydroelectric lake (Tuyen Quang province) and visit Bac Me in Ha Giang province. The waterfall is where the Nang River is broken with small rocks stacked hundreds of meters high, for more than 1 km. The water flowing from the top produces a loud rumble, flushed with white foam all year round, forming majestic music in the midst of the majestic mountains.
Thac Bac WaterfallSilver Waterfall, Vang Village Hoang Tri commune, Ba be Suburban District, is 8km south of Ba Be Lake, and 3km from Hua Ma cavern. Silver waterfall is a multi-layer natural waterfall, the base forming small lakes with areas of from 100 to 200 m, thus creating beautiful natural beaches.
Fairy Pond is a small lake located on the northern hilltop 100m from Ba Be Lake. It is more than 3,000m wide, surrounded by limestone- mountains and primeval jungle, and the pond water is blue and cool. There are many kinds of valuable fish such as glass carp hemibagrus, fried fish, etc. Coming to Fairy Pond, tourists can see footprints on the rocks and listen to the legend about a hunter and seven fairies.
Widow Island (Dialect is Po Gia Mai) is a beautiful small island located in the centre of the lake 1(Pe Leng)of Ba Be Lake. The Island is made up of rocks, and the roots of the evergreen plants wrap around the rocks so the island looks like a painting on the lake from a distance. Legend has it that the island is inhabited by a kind-hearted widow and her son who used two rice husks from a rice grain given by a fairy, which were grown into two dug-out canoes to rescue civilians during the cataclysm which formed Ba Be Lake in the past. Widow Island is an attractive tourist attraction, a green jewel silhouetted against the clear green lake, an ideal place for tourists to visit when in Ba Be National Park.
Hua Ma CaveHua Ma Cavern is located in the Hua Ma range of Horse Head mountain, Quan commune, Ba Be Suburban District, 6k south west of Ba Be Lake. The cavern was discovered, invested in and put into tourism service in 2004.
Hua Ma Cavern is a huge cavern, situated 350m above sea level and reaching a depth of nearly 700 metres. The average ceiling height is 50m, and the width is 30-50m. The cavern floor is dry and cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. In the cavern, there are stalactites with many beautiful unique shapes like: Guanyin Buddha statue sitting on a lotus throne, terraced fields, stone curtain, stone gate, etc. Tourists judge Hua Ma cavern to be the most beautiful intact natural cave the region.
Na Phong Cave
Na Phoong cave is in Bo Lu Village, Nam Mau commune, Ba Be Suburban District, about 2 km south west of the southern wharf of Ba Be Lake. The cavern's heart is an underground stream flowing from Nam Cuong commune, Cho Don Suburban District through limestone range of mountains, passing Bo Lu Village and flowing into Ba Be Lake Due to the dangerous terrain, Na Phoong cavern was selected as the headquarters of Voice of Vietnam during the war against French colonialists(1950-1954). Na Phoong Cavern is one of the most attractive sights in Ba Be National Park.
Lo Mo Cave ExpeditionDiscovered in July 2016 by Mr Linh's Adventure, Lo Mo cave
The cave itself is limestone karst formed by water erosion over millions of years, resulting in an incredible subterranean landscape. The main body of the cave stretches underground for about three thousand metres following a mineral rich underground river. Inside the chambers of the cave are a variety of stalagmite columns reaching heights of up to forty metres, mirrored by large stalactite formations hanging from the ceiling. During treks, guides will use lights to illuminate sculptured formations, rare fauna and flora, and the iridescent colours of the water and rock.
Private transports are available for rent from Hanoi at Mr Linh's Adventures office, 83 Ma May street.
Shuttle Bus Hanoi ↔ Ba Be National Park
Mr Linh's Adventures run daily buses from Hanoi to Ba Be National Park. Bus price: USD $15/ one way Hanoi - Ba Be National Park - 5 hours of travelling
- Pick up: 7:30 AM at Mr Linh's Adventures Office, 83 Ma May street. Hoan Kiem. Hanoi AND 8:00 AM at Hanoi opera house, 01 Trang Tien street. Hoan Kiem. Hanoi - Drop off: 12:30 PM at Ba Be National Park entrain, Boat station, Pac Ngoi village, Bo Lu village and Coc Toc village and Ba Be Tourism Centre.
Ba Be National Park - Hanoi - 5 hours of travelling
- Pick up: 1:00 PM at Ba Be Tourism Centre in Bo Lu village, homestays in Coc Toc and Pac Ngoi village AND 1:30 PM at Ba Be National Park train and boat station and hotel in Khang Ninh commune. Drop off: 5:30 PM at Mr Linh's Adventures Office in the old quarter, 83 Ma May street. Hoan Kiem. Hanoi.
Local Buses to Ba Be National Park
FROM HANOI (The bus operators will make every effort to operate according to published schedules. However, the travel route can change depending on local conditions)
Option 1: My Dinh station (9h30) - Bang Lung town (16h00) - Bu Lu village
Option 2: My Dinh station (6h00) - Bang Lung town (12h00) - Bo Lu village
-09:30 am in MY DINH bus station look for a local bus to CHO DON town of Thuong Nga company at gate 33. This is unique one that WILL take you direct all the way to CHO DON via THAI NGUYÊN city and is a red one with number plate 29B11637, leaving about 10:00 Am. The staffs on the bus will collect your monies one time before stop at CHO DON. Another mini Van of this company also will be accountability take you to Ba Be lake-shore (Ba Be Tourism Centre).
FROM SAPA Sapa - Lao Cai station (17h00) - Thai Nguyen night sleeping bus (6h00)- Bang Lung (10h00) Ask your hotel, or look for a “Xe Om”, (a motor bike taxi) who will take you to Lao Cai bus station. Motor bike taxis manage to carry reasonable luggage and should provide you with a helmet. At Lao Cai bus station buy a ticket for night bus to Thai Nguyen. 4.30 to 5.30 pm Catch night bus. Buses usually stop every 1 or 2 hours. They are sometimes chilly with A/C. Arrive at Thai Nguyen bus station at 6.30 am the next day. (You can get breakfast at a local restaurant) The bus to catch that WILL take you all the way to Ba Be National Park is a white one with the number plate THUONG NGA 20k 8496. Departure at about 8.20 am. 8.20 am catch the above bus from Thai Nguyen bus station. This should take you to Cho Don town then transfer you to another bus before you off on Nam Cuong market which far Ba Be Tourism Centre 2 km.
FROM CAO BANG Cao Bang (7h00) - Phu Thong town (11h30) - Bo Lu village (14h00) Ask your hotel, or look for a “Xe Om”, (a motor bike taxi) who will take you to Cao Bang bus station. Motor bike taxis manage to carry reasonable luggage and should provide you with a helmet. At Cao Bang bus station look for a bus bus to Thai Nguyen or Hanoi. However, Please ask Bus driver droop you off Phu Thong to catch another bus to Ba Be (Cho Ra). At Phu Thong have some buses to Cho Ra every one hours. At Cho Ra LOOK FOR a “Xe Om”, (a motor bike taxi) who will take you to Bo Lu village (Ba Be lake-shore)
FROM HA GIANG Ha Giang (6h00) - Thai Nguyen town (13h00) - Cho Don town - Bo Lu village
Highlights of Ba Be National Park are peaceful boat trips on the lake, visits at nearby tourist spots such as Puong Cave and Dau Dang Waterfall and trekking to minority villages. Basic homestay at villages in the park is also a great experience. Further north of Ba Be is Cao Bang Province , a remote area where you can see authentic ethnic minority lifestyle as well as the famous Ban Gioc Waterfall.
Trekking & Hiking
Ba Be is considered by both native Vietnamese and visitors to be the best trekking area in the country. The whole district is dominated by the Pia Booc mountain range rising to a height of 1527m. It is the combination of the scenery, from the karst outcrops clad in rich vegetation, to the paddy fields carpeting the lower slopes of the Na Nghe mountains; the rich variety of flora and fauna; and the relationship between the ethnic minority and nature, which together make this a unique and rewarding trekking location. Local guides know the best routes to take you to the hidden gems and best viewpoints, to keep your trek enjoyable but safe.
Climbing and Mountaineering
Ba Be Tourism Centre can help you with everything you need to climb in Ba Be National Park. Whether you are touching limestone for the first time, looking for guided instruction, or ticking an international climbing destination off your list, we can get you off the ground! Check out the tabs to the left for details on all we provide. Our climbing guides are experts on the area and are excited to show you the best Ba Be has to offer. Our staff is more than happy to provide you with gear rentals, guided trips, private instruction, and a wealth of helpful advice. We’re here to help you can get the most out of your experience in Vietnam.
Kayaking is the best way to explore the breathtaking beauty of Ba Be Lake. Paddle through the islets; discover hidden caves; and visit fishing villages. You can get closer to the limestone karsts and find some secret corners of Ba Be lake and the Nang river. Kayaks can go where big boats can't reach, and with their lack of engine noise are much less intrusive, making them a real eco way to travel. When on the boat wearing a life jacket is a must. You need to wear suitable clothes; T shirt and shorts and swimming suits in summer, warmer clothes in winter, and you should also bring wet shoes, a hat, sun cream, sun glasses, a dry bag for storing cameras etc., insect repellent, and water. Kayaking is only provided by the Ba Be Tourism Centre and Mr Linh's Homestay in Bo Lu village.
Ba Be is great for exploring by bicycle. Sport bikes can be rented for around $10 per day. The main roads around the national park are mostly in good condition and don't see much traffic. One day around the park should enable you to visit the Hua Ma cave, Thac Bac waterfall and some villages. Car hire and motorbike taxis can also be arranged in Ba Be. Motorbike taxis (xe om) can be a good way to explore the park as the drivers usually know the best spots. Be sure to clearly agree on your plans and price in advance.
Ba Be Lake Tours
Ba Be Tourism Centre is Tay-owned and can arrange homestays, boat trips and multiday tours of Ba Be National Park, including trekking and kayaking. They arrange tours to Ba Be National Park waterfall from Hanoi, in their head office located at 83 Ma May street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the open-air dining area at the first floor. According to your wishes, the proprietor of the homestay can serve you traditional Vietnamese style on mats or at tables, both with Vietnamese cuisine or Tay ethnic cuisine. At the homestay in Ba Be national park you will discover farm-fresh produce, meat and Ba Be Lake fish prepared by a talented and experienced cook. Many guests have said that it is the best Vietnamese food they ever ate.
All ingredients come from the homestay farm or, in some cases, from neighboring farms. You will have dishes featuring freshly-picked vegetables and fruits, natural tofu, completely free-range chicken, fish and pork. If you have special dietary preferences, such as vegetarian or no red meat, please let us know in advance
There are plenty of real homestays located in Pac Ngoi village which all offer very inexpensive shared and private rooms and excellent meals made with local ingredients and care. For the best experience arrange transport to the village and check out one of the lesser known but genuine homestays rather than a commercial one with a large, online presence. You won't be disappointed and your money spent here is much more appreciate.
This is quite different from the usual Homestay. This lovely house, built of wood and with a palm leaf roof, is situated in a magical setting overlooking the lake. The rooms and balcony are on the first floor, commanding stunning views of rice paddies, the lake and the karst mountains, while the house backs onto the forests. Being newly built, the bathrooms are of western standard with hot water. Bedrooms are comfortable with beds, fresh white linen, towels and mosquito nets. All facilities are kept sparkling clean. Guests may take breakfast and dinner on the balcony, enjoying stunning views. Delicious Vietnamese cuisine is prepared from local produce, collected fresh from the markets, the fields and the lake. It is cooked in the traditional way over an open fire. Mr Linh feels it is most important that the village should benefit from any visitors, and so all his staff are locals. You can have complete trust in this young, professional and enthusiastic staff, who are also easy going, always ready to listen to your requirements, and most of all great fun. You will always remember the great atmosphere in this unique Homestay which combines elegant luxury, modern facilities with traditional Tay charm in a setting that is one of the most beautiful in Vietnam. Most of all you will remember the warmth and hospitality of this remarkable family.
All of the accommodation in Ba Be National Park is safe and posesses security certificates issued by the government! The Tay people are very friendly and always ready to welcome you!