YOU CAN EDIT THIS PAGE! Just click any blue "Edit" link and start writing!

Cao Bang

From Wikitravel
Jump to: navigation, search

Cao Bằng is the capital of Cao Bằng province in northern Vietnam. While unremarkable in and of itself, Cao Bằng is an easy-going gateway to the surrounding lakes, minority villages, karst peaks, caves, and the Ban Gioc Waterfall [[1]] on the Chinese border. Just 30km from China, it is an excellent stop for travelers coming from or going to the Pingxiang border crossing. For those tired of the tourist circuit of coastal Vietnam, Cao Bằng is also a refreshing glimpse into a city that exists solely on its own terms.

Get in[edit]

There are no rail connections, making buses the most convenient way to get to Cao Bằng. A bus from Lạng Sơn on the China-Vietnam border take 4-5 hours and costs 90,000 dong. There are also buses from the neighboring provinces in northern Vietnam. You can rent a bus from Hanoi to CaoBang , about 5 hours on road, cost around 15 USD

Meo Vac -Bao Lac- Cao Bang You can drive from Meo Vac to Cao Bang, and do a stop over at Bao Lac town (about 70km from Meo Vac, the road is nice,by the end a bit underdone and shaky). It's a nice small town by the river, a bit dusty, but has its charm. It has a few nice hotels by the river near the market with reasonnable prices (~10usd)and a nice view, also a few eateries along the motorway with fresh beer (Saigon, Nada) and food. There's a petrol station and Agribank atm.

Bao Lac - Cao Bang by bus, about 100.000 and a 4 hour journey.

Bao Lam - Cao Bang by bus, about 120.000 and 5 hour journey, if coming from Ha giang, you can also break the journey in Bao Lam, then take the local bus to Cao Bang, many local buses from 6am to 1pm.

Get around[edit]

Cao Bằng is easily navigated on foot, but xe ôm (motorbike taxis) are convenient and cheap.

The Bằng Giang River splits the city into two. The bus station is on the eastern side of the river; cross the bridge to find the main street, Kim Dong (parallel to the river), the market, and most of the hotels.

See[edit][add listing]

Ban Gioc Waterfalls
  • Thang Hen Lake - surrounded by mountains, this serene lake is at its best in the rainy season. During the dry season the lake shrinks and is not as impressive, but there are a few rafts that you can take. Walking in the nearby mountains brings you past local herders and farmers. There are no buses to Thang Hen, so the cheapest option is to hire a motorbike driver for the half-day trip. It's about 1 hour away, and try to negotiate a round-trip price of 125,000 dong. No entrance fee.
  • Ban Gioc Waterfall - this breathtaking waterfall, the largest in Vietnam, straddles the China-Vietnam border. The water is particularly thunderous in the wet season but is still beautiful during the dry. You can take a raft out into the river to the base of the falls and greet Chinese tourists doing the same from the other side. Ban Gioc is about 85km from Cao Bằng, about 3 hours away. There is a bus at 6, 7 and 8am that goes direct to the water fall for 70,000 dong. Also,there are public minibuses to Trung Khanh for around 50,000 dong. Once in Trung Khanh, the minibus driver may offer to take you the rest of the way to Ban Gioc for an extra 150,000 dong, which includes waiting time, the nearby Ngườm Ngao Cave, and the return trip to Cao Bằng. You can also rent a motorbike in Trung Khanh to take you the rest of the way to the falls (about 20-30 minutes). There are at least a couple return buses passing on the main road in the afternoon, between 12am and 2 pm. Those with a bigger budget can rent a jeep for the day. Entrance 45K VND - Boat Ride 200K VND per boat.
  • Nguom Ngao Cave - ask your driver to take you to Nguom Ngao before or after Ban Gioc. This immense cave holds a series of majestic, jaw-dropping caverns, filled with delicate, intricate formations of stalactites and stalagmites. In the low season, you may even have the cave to yourself, an experience probably not to be had elsewhere. Optional guides will helpfully point out particularly interesting rocks and bat roosts. Entrance 45K VND - 15 mins walk from main road to cave. Cave to waterfall is 30 mins walk along lovely scenery flat walk)
  • Pac Bo Cave

Do[edit][add listing]

Many minority tribes live in the area surrounding Cao Bằng, and their village markets make fascinating places to visit. Markets take place according to the lunar calendar, and the early morning is the best time to go. Hiring a motorbike is the only way to get there.

Buy[edit][add listing]

There are two fruit and vegetable markets on the western side of the river. The more organized one sprawls under a roof just north of the bridge along Kim Dong. It also sells some cooked foods and household goods. The second market stretches along the river south of the bridge and is only in the morning. Women from the countryside spread their fresh fruits and vegetables on blankets or in the baskets used to transport them. There is a night market every weekend when part of the main Kim Dong Road is closed for vehicles with music, food and other activities.

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are few restaurants in Cao Bằng, and those that exist are expensive by backpacker standards. Fortunately, eating on the streets is delicious, easy, and cheap. For breakfast, look no further than bahn mi, toasted baguettes filled with cuts of pork, egg, cilantro, and a sweet-spicy sauce. A woman on Pho Hoang Nhu, a few minutes' walk north of the Bac Lam Hotel, makes particularly tasty bahn mi. Pho shops line the street facing the bus station (around 12,000 dong per bowl).

By dinnertime, certain areas become temporary food markets, with each area specializing in a certain dish. Walk south down Kim Dong from the bridge to find chao (rice porridge) and stir-fried instant noodles. On Kim Dong just south of the bridge there are several stands that serve pho and fried rice. For a sweet dessert, in the evening women set up small tables on the streets, where they cook up sticky rice balls in a sweet ginger soup. Served with crumbled peanuts on top, this is the perfect way to end a day of eating on the streets.

  • Thu Ngan, 121 P Vuon Cam. Just south of the night market. Popular local point and choose style restaurant. Everything is excellent and owner speaks some English and is very friendly. Fresh, cheap, and fast. Across the street from two story cafe, "Coffee Pho." 50000 dong.  edit - Google maps location is wrong. Follow street address

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Bac Lam Hotel, 25 Pho Hoang Nhu, 852 697. Near an elementary school, this hotel is a peaceful neighborhood a few streets in from Kim Dong. Spacious rooms are comfortable and have A/C and mosquito netting. No WiFi. 300,000 dong.  edit
  • Bang Giang Hotel, KimDong ward, tel: (84-26) 853431 fax: (84-26) 855984
  • Huong Sen Hotel, near KimDong. 200,000 dong for a single room, WiFi included, A/C, neat bathroom with decent pressure hot showers. No mosquito netting. Nice view from the higher floors. tel: (026) 3854 654 Fax: 0983 256176
  • Huong Thom Hotel, 45-46 Kimdong, tel: (84-26) 855888 fax: (84-26) 856228
  • Vi Hoang Hotel, 5 Hoang Van Thu, Hop Giang, tel: (84-26) 857176 / 857671
  • Jeanne Hotel - 99 Kim Đồng, P. Hợp giang, Cao Bằng tel: 84 91 213 01 26

Get out[edit]

Buses and minibuses leave frequently in the morning for the various bus stations in Hanoi (170,000 dong), about 7 hours away. Buses leave less frequently after 10:00, and there are only a few buses in the afternoon. Hanoi buses stop at Thái Nguyên and often include a stop for food if running during meal times.

Overnight sleeper buses from Cao Bằng to Hanoi's Mỹ Đình bus station depart at 20:00 and arrive in Hanoi at 05:00 the next day (200,000 dong).

You can reach China through the border crossing at Lạng Sơn, five hours away by bus. Another daytrip possbility is Ba Be National Park, between Cao Bằng

This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!