Dazzling white silk bands shimmered through a break in dense forests and mountains. The arresting sight quickened our pulses.
We were already feeling the ‘buzz’ at this point.
The scenery had been captivating on either side for several hundred kilometers along the trip from Hanoi to the Ban Gioc Waterfall. Scenic mountains, little houses nestling in mountainsides, buffaloes grazing in green fields, and wild flowers blooming everywhere made for a beautiful drive.
So when we had our first sighting of the Ban Gioc Waterfall, we became even more eager to get there.
The Quay Son River flows across the border from China before meandering along the Co Muong Mountain and through rice and maize fields of Ban Gioc Village in Dam Thuy Commune.
The river then splits and cascades down 30 meters to form the spectacular Ban Gioc Waterfall.
Soothing and awe-inspiring at the same time, the roar of the cascade echoed through the forest.
The waters gushed down in a white foamy rush into sparkling freshwater pools. Immediately, we grabbed our cameras to capture the magic.
The peaceful atmosphere of the nearby village of ethnic minorities adds greater depth to the beauty of the area.
Hire a car from Hanoi to cover the 272 kilometers to Cao Bang Province.
From the town of Cao Bang, the drive to Trung Khanh District is only about 65 kilometers.
Ban Gioc is around 20 kilometers northeast of Trung Khanh.
There are regular buses from Hanoi's Giap Bat Bus Station to Cao Bang. Buses depart every hour between 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The trip takes about eight to nine hours.
After arriving in Cao Bang, catch another bus for a three-hour trip to reach Ban Gioc.
We sat down on the grassy banks of the river to enjoy panoramic views of the waterfall, surrounding forests and rice fields. Despite the heat of the midday sun, the greenery and spray from the waterfall had a cooling effect.
While there is enough water year-round to guarantee beautiful vistas, the volume of water varies drastically in dry and rainy months. The best time for tourists to visit the Ban Gioc Waterfall is between May and September, when it assumes its most majestic and impressive form.
Bamboo raft rides along the Ban Gioc are a great way to sit back and enjoy the grand vistas. We were also fortunate to enjoy an autumn specialty of the region – the delicious Trung Khanh chestnuts.
Three kilometers from the Ban Gioc Waterfalls are the Nguom Ngao caves in Trung Khanh District’s Gun Village.
It takes just an hour to walk through Nguom Ngao, a limestone grotto with colorful stalactites and stalagmites.
Local people discovered the cave in 1921, but it was not officially opened to tourists until 2006 when paths were built to lead visitors to the most astounding natural stone and lime formations in the underground labyrinth.
The caves are full of limestone formations in the shapes of mythical animals, sweeping boughs, tangled plants, spires and canopies. Elsewhere in the cave, beautiful fairies pose or run a comb through their hair.
Among the most stunning formations is one that looks like a huge piece of coral and another that resembles an inverted lotus.
The tunnel network of Nguom Ngao, a national relic, is actually 2,144 meters long. However, for safety reasons, only 980 meters is open to tourists.