Cao Bang is the capital of the Cao Bang province in the far north-east of Vietnam, around 240km away from Hanoi, located in a mountainous area with some stunning scenery in the surrounding area. It is by far the biggest place in the province. It has some charm, especially along the waterfront of the river that passes through the middle of town. But overall the attraction of Cao Bang is being a great base to explore the province.
The area on the west of the river, opposite of the bus station is what you could call the tourist area of the town. However, the hotels are not aiming for foreign tourists, but for the large numbers of Vietnamese tourists that visit this area. The place is still not on the radar for most foreign tourists, and are mainly visited by backpackers who are exploring the far north on the back of the bike. Still, any tourist will find plenty of choices for accommodation and places to eat. However, it was very difficult to rent a motorbike here. So be prepared to look around for a while if planning to come to Cao Bang by bus and wanting to explore the area on the back of a motorbike.
However, the lack of western tourists has its advantage as locals are happy to approach you to practise their English, and do not be surprised if you are invited for a beer or some rice or corn wine. This very welcoming approach adds to the rather nice vibe in this town.
The surrounding area not highly populated is mainly defined by limestone karst and hills, rice fields, vegetable fields and numerous minority villages. The highlights of the province are surely the beautiful Ban Gioc waterfall, the Động Ngườm Ngao cave and the Pak Bo cave. Cao Bang is the perfect place to visit these places and also to enjoy the stunning scenery.