My fascination with waterfalls led me astray, away from the well-worn travel route I had followed so far from Central to Northern Vietnam. The plan was to see Ban Gioc Waterfall, known as Vietnam‘s most majestic cascade that often comes up in lists of most beautiful waterfalls in the world. This natural wonder can be reached by traveling to Cao Bang Province in Northern Vietnam. It lay right along the border with Guangxi, China and is more famously known, by its name on the other side, as Detian Falls.

Getting there was quite an adventure in itself. It took me the better part of two days, riding local buses, to reach Ban Gioc Waterfall from Ninh Binh. The long journey was definitely worth it! To be honest, I expected a more impressive view, after seeing amazing photos of it online before my trip. I imagined it would look like Rivendell (in Lord of the Rings novels) with thunderous cascades falling into multiple levels of pools, and surrounded by karst cliffs. On arrival, I realized most of the photos I had seen were taken on the mountainous Chinese side of the border that had a full view overlooking the waterfall. The Vietnamese side was more subdued, but breathtaking nonetheless, with a sublime vantage point from behind lush rice fields, looking towards the imposing karst mountains of Guangxi.

Detourista Notes

I’ll be writing more about my experience and travel tips in Ban Gioc & Cao Bang on future updates. In the meantime, here are some quick notes you might find useful if you plan on going.

Where to Stay — There’s Saigon-Ban Gioc Resort found just outside the entrance path to the waterfall. If you’re looking for cheaper options, there are a few guesthouses, known locally as “Nga Ngi” in Vietnam, located a kilometer away or around a 15-minute walk up the road from the entrance.

  • Saigon-Ban Gioc Resort (Doubles from VND1,200,000 per room; saigonbangioc.com.vn)
  • Tung Duong Nha Nghi (Singles from VND200,000 per room)

How to Get there — Local buses to Cao Bang depart from My Dinh Bus Terminal in Hanoi (7.5–8 hours; VND150,000 per person). From Cao Bang, minibuses and shuttles go all the way to Ban Gioc Waterfall (2.5–3 hours; VND60,000). If coming from the south, avoid Lang Son if you can and change buses at My Dinh. I got stuck at Lang Son and spent the night near the bus terminal, after a long bus ride from Ninh Binh. It was horrible.

Ban Gioc Waterfall admission fee — VND25,000 per person.

Previous DestinationNinh Binh, Phong Nha Caves.

Next DestinationHanoi, Ha Long Bay.

You may visit my 2-week trip in Central and Northern Vietnam series page, the Vietnam page, or follow Marcos Detourist facebook page to check for new posts and updates.