Ban Gioc Waterfall – Vietnam Travel Guide 2024

Ban Gioc Waterfalls, Cao Bang, Vietnam

The spectacular Ban Gioc Waterfall is the number one highlight in Cao Bang for all travelers, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia and, for us, one of the most impressive, comparable to the breathtaking waterfalls of Indonesia.

Even though it is very well visited, it is still undoubtedly worth the visit, especially because after visiting Ban Gioc Waterfall, you can explore hidden gems like Nui Thung Mountain and Phong Nam Valley, which are just a short ride away.

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about visiting Ban Gioc Waterfall, insider tips, and everything about flying the drone there.

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Why You Should Visit Ban Gioc Waterfall

The stunning Ban Gioc Waterfall and the entire Cao Bang Province are must-visits if you’re into beautiful nature, scenic landscapes, and adventures.

Take a look at our YouTube video to see why it’s worth visiting!

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Where is Ban Gioc Waterfall located?

Ban Gioc Waterfall is located in northeastern Vietnam, in the province of Cao Bang. Specifically, it is situated 90 kilometers from Cao Bang City, right on the border between Vietnam and China, with the Quay Son River marking the boundary.

This waterfall is part of the UNESCO-recognized Non-Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark, known for its stunning karst landscapes, lush greenery, and vibrant ethnic cultures.

Ban Gioc Waterfall on Map

Best Time to Visit Ban Gioc Waterfall

Seasons

Timing is crucial when it comes to visiting waterfalls. The optimal time to visit Ban Gioc Waterfall is during the rainy season from June to September or immediately after, in the first weeks of October, when the falls are the most powerful. Another advantage of the rainy season is the beautifully lush green landscapes surrounding the waterfall.

During the dry season from November to May, the water flow is less intense. However, don’t worry; the falls are still stunning, and there is a specific time of day when the waterfall showcases greater power. Let me explain.

The flow of water during the dry season is regulated by a dam upstream. Local operators temporarily stop the water at the top of the waterfall and release it at a specific time to allow visitors to experience the waterfall’s beauty and power, even during the dry season when the natural water flow is lower. We recommend asking your accommodation or tour guide for this specific time.

Our Experience

On our last trip to Ban Gioc Waterfall, we visited in early October, and the waterfall was breathtakingly powerful, with mist creating a magical atmosphere. We highly recommend this time of year for a visit. In the past, we visited once in December, which was a different experience but still very beautiful.

Ban Gioc Waterfalls, Cao Bang, Vietnam
October
Ban Gioc Waterfall in December
December

Best Time of the Day

This Ban Gioc Waterfall gets crowded during the day, as many visitors from North Vietnam come to visit as a day trip. Beat the crowds by staying in the nearby surroundings and being there early in the morning. The tours will start arriving around 9. 

How to Get to Ban Gioc Waterfall?

The most convenient way to experience the famous Ban Gioc Waterfall is by booking a tour. However, if you prefer to plan your own trip, we highly recommend staying near Ban Gioc at the Lan Rừng Homestay to visit the waterfall as early as possible, as it’s a 2-hour drive from Cao Bang City.

Book a Tour

Several tour operators offer guided trips to Ban Gioc Waterfall from Hanoi (2 Days/1 Night) and Cao Bang. These tours often include transportation, meals, and even accommodations, making it a stress-free way to enjoy the falls. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people and share the experience.

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Plan It Yourself

Firstly, make your way to Cao Bang by bus from Hanoi or by motorbike. Check out our North Loop Motorbike tour, we visited Cao Bang just after Ha Giang and before Bac Son and Cat Ba Island.

From Cao Bang, you can either go by motorbike or take a local bus. Simply ask your accommodation for information about the bus to Ban Gioc Waterfall, which costs 85,000 IDR one way. The journey takes around 2 hours.

Consider staying near the Waterfall at the Lan Rừng Homestay and visiting the waterfall at sunset or early in the morning to enjoy it without the crowds.

Information about Ban Gioc Waterfall

Ban Gioc Waterfalls, Cao Bang, Vietnam

Cao Bang is one of our favorite provinces in Vietnam, and the natural wonder Ban Gioc Waterfall is one of the main reasons. Standing at 30 meters in height and stretching 300 meters in width, it’s the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia and the fourth largest in the world.

The entrance fee to the Waterfall is 50,000 VND (≈ 2€), and motorbike parking costs 10,000 VND (≈ 0.30€).

The Ban Gioc Waterfall is more popular among local tourists than foreign tourists, making it a good choice to avoid weekends and public holidays to encounter fewer people there.

The waterfall has geographic importance for Vietnam and China as it shaped the border dynamics between the two countries. Part of the falls lies within Vietnam, while a section belongs to China, making it one of the few waterfalls in the world that belong to two countries.

View of Ban Gioc Waterfall from China
View from China

Best Things to Do at Ban Gioc Waterfall

Photography

The Ban Gioc Waterfall, with its numerous falls and pools surrounded by jungle, offers abundant photography opportunities. The mist rising from the base of the falls catches the sunlight, creating a magical atmosphere perfect for capturing unforgettable memories.

The waterfall is divided into two sections. To the left of the main waterfall, there is a smaller yet equally beautiful one.

Flying Drones

Ban Gioc Waterfalls, Cao Bang, Vietnam

Drones are strictly prohibited in this boarder area. If you decide to fly a drone at the Ban Gioc Waterfall, you risk it being shot down from the Chinese side.

However, if you still want to take the risk, we have friends who flew without any problems by doing this: they flew for only a couple of minutes in the late afternoon, just before sunset, and from the stairs at the Phat Tich Truc Lam Pagoda when no one was around. Be careful not to fly too close to the water to avoid crashing your drone.

Bamboo Raft Rides

For those seeking a bit of adventure, a bamboo raft ride is a must-do. Expertly navigated by local guides, these rafts bring you right to the base of the Ban Gioc Waterfall, offering better views and a thrilling experience as the water roars around you. The ride costs 50,000 VND (≈ 2€) and lasts about 10 minutes, and you’ll definitely get wet.

Pagoda & Viewpoint

Ban Gioc viewpoint: Temples in foreground
Ban Gioc Waterfalls, Cao Bang, Vietnam

The Phat Tich Truc Lam Pagoda is a Vietnamese-style temple built on Phia Nhu Mountain and is the perfect viewpoint for the falls. It can be reached by a short but steep climb up the hill opposite the falls, offering the best views of the entire Ban Gioc Waterfall.

Cultural Insights

Ban Gioc River

The area around Ban Gioc Waterfall is home to various ethnic minority groups, including the Tay and Nung people. Many local families open their homes to visitors, offering homestays that provide a unique glimpse into their way of life.

Staying in a homestay such as the Khuổi Ky Eco Homestay allows you to enjoy traditional meals, learn about local customs, and experience the warmth and hospitality of the Vietnamese countryside.

Tips for Visiting Ban Gioc Waterfall

Close-up view of Ban Gioc Waterfall
  • Try local dishes such as banh cuon (rice noodle roll) and pho chua (noodle soup).
  • Dress modestly and always ask for permission before taking photos of people.
  • Bring enough cash, as there are no ATMs in the countryside of Cao Bang.
  • Download an offline translator and offline Google Maps for communication and navigation.

Best Tours to Ban Gioc Waterfall

Don’t want to plan and arrange everything yourself? Organized tours always ensure a stress-free and enjoyable experience.

Ban Gioc is far from Hanoi (7-8 hours). Tours from Hanoi are a good choice if you’re short on time and want to skip the long bus ride on your own to Cao Bang.

Where to Stay when Visiting Ban Gioc Waterfall?

For an authentic experience, consider staying in a homestay near the Waterfall, such as the Lan Rừng Homestay. Many local families offer accommodation, giving you a chance to experience Vietnamese culture and daily life.

If you prefer more comfort, there are several options available in different price ranges in Cao Bang City, such as the Max Boutique Hotel.

Best Accommodations in Cao Bang City

Budget:

Mid-range / Luxury

Best Accommodation near Ban Gioc Waterfall

What to Bring to Ban Gioc Waterfall?

We highly recommend bringing comfortable walking shoes, as the terrain around the falls can be uneven and slippery. A waterproof jacket is also a good idea, especially if you’re visiting during the rainy season. Don’t forget your camera; the views are incredibly picturesque.

Also, if you’re wondering what to pack for your Vietnam trip, after 2 months and 4000 km on a North Vietnam Motorbike Trip, we’ve put together the ultimate packing list, tips, and costs to help you plan your trip.

Where to Go After Ban Gioc Waterfall?

Nui Thung Mountain, Cao Bang

As mentioned before, besides Ban Gioc Waterfall, there are many best things to do in Cao Bang, including some hidden gems like Nui Thung Mountain. If you have time, we highly recommend checking out the entire Cao Bang province.

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