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Cao Bang - Destination for Limestone Mountains Landscape and Historic Relics

Cao Bang is an off the beaten path travel destination in the northeast Vietnam that is known for magnificent limestone mountains landscapes and historic relics. Taking a car trip, trekking homestay tour, mountain biking holiday, motorbike riding are top fun activities to explore the region.
Cao Bang is an off the beaten path travel destination in the northeast Vietnam that is known for magnificent limestone mountains landscapes and historic relics. Taking a car trip, trekking homestay tour, mountain biking holiday, motorbike riding are top fun activities to explore the region.

Cao Bang is located in the northern part of Vietnam, sharing its borders with Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Bac Kạn, and Lang Son provinces within Vietnam. It also has a common international border with the Guangxi province of the People's Republic of China.

Cao Bang town is located on Highway 3 and is 270 kilometres (170 mi) from Hanoi. The road from Nao Pac to Cao Bang passes through the Cao Bac Pass. Since the elevation of the town is 300 metres (980 ft) it has salubrious temperate climate throughout the year.

The province of Cao Bang has a rich history tracing to the Bronze Age of the Tay Au Kingdom in Vietnam. The dynasties which ruled the area were Tay lords, Be Khac Thieu and Nag Dac Thai. The province is in the region where the Vietnamese people lived thousands of years ago before their southwards expansion. Cao Bang has several points of historical interest as well as many natural features such as the Pac Bo where Ho Chi Minh in January 1941 established a revolutionary force at Coc Bo cave, the Mac emperor's Temple, the Ky Sam Temple, Coi Bin Church, the Ban Gioc waterfall area at the international border between Vietnam and China, and the Thang Hen Mountain Lake.

The Peninsular valley of the Cao Bang Province is formed between the Bang Giang and Hien rivers. The two rivers confluence to the northwest of the town. In the war with China the town was damaged in 1979 and has been since rebuilt. The market in Cao Bang town is believed to be the largest in Vietnam.

When to Visit Cao Bang

Cao Bang has temperate climate. There are 4 seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. The average temperature is 25°C-28oC in summer and 16°C-17oC in winter. Snow sometimes falls in winter on high mountains such as Trung Khanh, Tra Linh.

Cao Bang Things to Do

The cool weather combines with many high mountains, beautiful sightseeings to form the convenient for relaxing tour and discovery tour. Famous sites include Thang Hen Mountainous Lake in Tra Linh, Ban Gioc Fall and Nguom Ngao Cave in Trung Khanh. Among of them, Ban Gioc Fall probably is one of most beautiful waterfall in Vietnam. Several sites where Uncle Ho lived and worked before the August 1945 Revolution include Pac Bo, Coc Bo Cave, Lenin Stream, and Khuoi Nam Stream.

Pac Bo Cave (Coc Bo Cave)

Pac Bo, located at the mouth of the confluence of two rivers namely Bang Giang and Hien rivers. Its historicity is due to the fact that Ho Chí Minh, on his return from China (where he had lived for 30 years) on 28 January 1941 established a revolutionary force at a cave near Pac Bo valley inhabited by the Nung tribes.

Ky Sam Temple

Ky Sam Temple was built as a memorial at Nung village (200 metres (660 ft) east of Highway 203) of Ngan in honour of Nung Tri Cao, Nung Lord of Quang Uyen for organizing the ethnic minority revolt in the 11th century against the Vietnamese monarchy.

The first effort at rebellion against the King Le Thai Tong was started by Nung Tri Cao's father, Nung Ton Phuc, and elder brother, Nung Tri Thong. This failed and both were caught and executed. Two years later Cao mobilized rebellion army and captured the territory and declared himself as the king of the Nung Kingdom and named it as Dai Lich. However, this occupancy was short-lived as he was captured by Viet forces. He was, however, let go by the King and allowed to return to Quang Uyen. Six years later he again launched a rebellion against the king in 1048 and captured the territory in southern China and declared himself as the "Emperor of Dai Nam." His kingdom survived for 5 years by manipulation of the King of China and the King of Viet. However, in 1053 the Vietnamese king Le Thai Tong captured Cao and executed him.

The temple built in his honour, though ancient, is now a refurbished monument (renovated in the 19th century) consisting of two buildings. The outer building has the altar of one of his generals and the inner shrine housed the images of Cao, his wife and his mother till they were stolen a few years ago. An inscription still seen here narrates Cao's war exploits and his avowed commitment to the cause of his nation.

Coi Binh Church

Coi Binh Church is one of the three churches that was built in 1906 by the French; the other two are at Cao Bang and That Khe. Except for the Vicar's house the rest of the residential buildings around the church were destroyed in 1979. The vicarage is now the venue of "Cao Bang region's most famous apiaries".

Mac King's Temple

Mac King's Temple is the 16th-century palace of the Mac Dynasty. It is located on a hill top above the Lang Den (meaning the "Temple Village"). It is located on the west bank of the Dau Gen River, which is a tributary of the Bang Giang River. The construction of this palace is credited to a general of the Le Army in 1521–1522 after he forcibly dethroned the 11 year King Le Chieu Tong, exiled him and installed his brother Le Thung as the king. However, two years later Le Chieu Tong was reinstalled as the King of Dai Viet. The Mac Dynasty then ruled for 65 years. The Le dynasty continued to fight the Mac Kings and finally succeeded to regain power in 1592 for a short time with the help of the powerful Trin family. A nephew of Mac Mau Hop took control of Cao Bang and three generations of his family ruled for 75 years till the armies of the Trin family captured Cao Bang in 1667.

Ban Gioc Waterfall

Ban Gioc Waterfalls are located 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Cao Bang at the Vietnam-China International Border. It originates from the Quy Xuan River and falls over a height of 30 metres (98 ft) and is300 metres (980 ft)wide At the top, the waterfall is seen in three parts divided by rocks and trees. As the water falls down the cliff and merges with sunlight, a seven-coloured rainbow formation is witnessed. Many green trees and flowers that perfume the air are located at the base of the fall.

Ban Gioc waterfall is the 4th largest waterfall along a national border in the world, the other three are Iguazu Falls, Victoria Falls, and Niagara Falls, in that order. It was also one of the crossing points for China's army during the brief Sino-Vietnamese War. Ban Gioc Fall is also famous for the fish species "tram huong."

Thang Hen Lake

Thang Hen lake, in Trà Linh district, consists of 36 small natural lakes located on the top of a hill at 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) elevation. The lakes have been created in limestone formations and some of them flow out as steams. An unusual feature of the lakes is that their water level fluctuates like the tides of the seas, which phenomenon is attributed to the springs of water emerging from artesian wells in lime stone formations. The lakes flow through the river, which eventually becomes the Ban Gioc waterfall.

Nguom Ngao Cave

Nguom Ngao Cave was formed from weathered age-old limestone by wind and water. It is considered as one of the most beautiful caves in northeast of Vietnam. It is discovered in 1921 by local people then opened for tourists since 1996. With the length of 2,144m, Nguom Ngao cave is relative enormous, includes three main entrances.

Now, Cao Bang Province only exploits 900m. The scenery in the interior of the cave is as picturesque as that of a fairly land. Visiting cave, tourist come in Nguom Luom entrance and go out Nguom Ngao entrance.

Vietnamese Ethnic Groups in Cao Bang

The province of Cao Bang is home to many people belonging to Vietnam's ethnic minority groups. It is one of the least populated provinces in the Northern midlands and mountain areas of Vietnam. Many ethnic groups live together here. It creates plentiful traditional culture. Tay group makes up a large amount of population. They have own handwriting (Tay-Nung language group). The Tay's special culture is showed in village festival, vi and then singing.

Cao Bang Destinations

The main town is also named Cao Bang. Other administrative divisions include Bao Lac, Bao Lam, Ha Quang, Thong Nong, Tra Linh, Trung Khanh, Nguyen Binh, Hoa An, Phuc Hoa, Quang Uyen, Ha Lang, Thach An.

Cao Bang Map

Other places to explore

Ha Giang, Lang Son, Ba Be National Park are some top places you may consider to explore while you are in Cao Bang.
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