Ban Gioc is an impressive multi tier waterfall in the east of Cao Bang province. It is located in a beautiful surrounding with an interesting fact – half of the falls belong to Vietnam, the other half to China. The pond between is actually the border. It is one of the main attractions of the province for a reason and should not be missed.
When arriving at Ban Gioc you will be welcomed by a great view from the road, overlooking the whole valley, the falls and ponds. It is a marvellous view. Just follow the road until you see a resort on your right, and a building on your left. Next to the building is the entrance booth to get the ticket. A steep road will bring you down to the valley (if on a bike, be careful). There is a little food place offering a space for your bike for 10.000 Dong. They even put a cardboard on your seat and bags to protect them from the sun…and it is nice not to sit down on a boiling hot seat.
Here you also find a very clean toilet, I was very impressed considering where it is and seeing more frequent use toilets.
A little path leads to ‘sales area’ where vendors selling the usual touristy items from their stalls. There are also some food stalls on your right. And at the end of the one long row full of stalls is a little place selling ice-cold sugar cane juice. The place is run by a man with his little daughter, who seems to be very happy to speak a little English.
After the stalls the area opens up, offering a nice view of the falls. Here you can get a boat to get as close as possible to the main fall. However, during lunch time it might be difficult to get a boar as the staff is taking a lunch break. You might be able to interrupt them at their table between the various stalls.
Exploring by foot
Another option is to follow the path to the open field between the stalls and the falls. From down there you do not even realise that there are some rice fields next to the grass, but the water buffalos roaming freely adds to the feel how rural it is. A path brings you as close to the falls as possible, with a few bridges leading over some little streams. Next to a marker highlighting that you are still in Vietnam is the closest you can get to the falls. Here you can watch massive amount of water crushing down into the blue pond with boats.
On your left you can get to the smaller falls, with a smaller pond welcoming the water from the hills. It is actually a nice spot to cool down your feet in the water.
Throughout the open field there are trees providing some welcomed shades. I can just guess that these are great spot for a little picnic. At least I saw quite a few Vietnamese doing that. With only the noise from the falls, and great view it is difficult to find a better spot. Maybe noon is not the best time, going there in the afternoon might be nicer. Though it is probably much busier as well.
Overall Ban Gioc Waterfall is definitely worth the journey to this area. The falls are impressive, and the location is just stunningly beautiful. It really invites you to relax a bit there, and not just to rush through.
Food & Drinks
At the waterfall are stalls selling some typical Vietnamese dishes. You can also buy water or other drinks from the vendors. The last stall before the fall is selling refreshing sugar cane juice.
Between the falls and the two hotels is a food place (next to the entrance to the temple) where you can get some nice dishes.