Cao Bang, the northwest corner of Vietnam is a diverse region. It consists of verdant paddy fields, rolling hills, virgin forests, large open-aired markets, untouched countryside, and picturesque ethnic villages. However, despite the variety, there are two constants: First, it has one of the most vibrant food scenes in Vietnam; and second, Cao Bang feels like the Vietnam that time forgot.
What to see in Cao Bang
Ban Gioc Waterfall
Ban Gioc Falls-one of the most awe-inspiring waterfalls in Vietnam (Source: Internet)
Ban Gioc Waterfall has an edge on grandeur and atmosphere. As one of the largest in Asia, these falls have the drop of over 70 meters and a 300 meter span. Ban Gioc is framed in karst peaks and lush green patches of trees, and this context colors its overall impression. Pay a visit from May to September to see the falls in their most mighty state.
Nguom Ngao Cave
Inside Nguom Ngao Cave (Source: Internet)
From the parking lot, take a trail for about 10 minutes past Cao Bang’s characteristic limestone hills, paddies and soybean fields up to a spectacular underground cave system that extends for several kilometers. The highlight of the one-hour-long tour is the huge stalagmite and stalactite outcrops as well as a 100 meter long chamber.
Pac Bo Cave
Lenin Stream near Pac Bo Cave (Source: Internet)
In terms of elegant surroundings and abundant wildlife, Pac Bo Cave is second to none. The cave is clustered in an evergreen forest filled with butterflies and songbirds. Threading through the region is the emerald green, tree-lined Lenin Stream. The stream has the contrast between a modern touch, given by the paved road on one side and the rustic enchantment created by green forest on the other.
Nguyen Binh open-air market
Vendors with their merchandises in Nguyen Binh Market (Source: Internet)
For a small place, Nguyen Binh is not short of exotic merchandise. Six times a month Nguyen Binh is filled with people from nearby villages in their ethnic colorful costumes. They line the roads with fruit and vegetables such as: Burmese grapes, pears, gourds, and piglets. Handmade paper sheets and bamboo back baskets, which characterize the traditional crafts of ethnic tribes in Cao Bang are also on sale here.
The Black Lolo hill tribe of Bao Lac
A Lolo woman in cultural costume (Source: Internet)
While the hill tribe villages in Sapa are taken over by tourism, the Black Lolo settlement in Cao Bang is an ideal substitute destination. The people here are hospitable and seldom see tourists. Lolo women still dress in their cultural costumes with black baggy trousers, a black turban, and a hand embroidered cropped jacket. Hire a translator in town to better communicate with the locals if you want to further understand their culture.
Good foods in Cao Bang
Pho chua Cao Bang
A dish of pho chua Cao Bang (Source: Internet)
This dish offers an unusual take on Vietnam’s ubiquitous noodle soup. Consisting of a deeply savory sauce laced with flat rice noodles, and slices of roasted duck, deep-fried pork belly, and crispy-fried grated sweet potato, it is perfect for breakfast or as a comfort food.
Pho chua Cao Bang is available at Xanh Market (near the town’s bus station). A standard dish comes at about 20.000 VND.
Banh cuon Cao Bang
Banh cuon Cao Bang with minced pork and mushroom (Source: Internet)
This rolled up rice pancake is a warming dish, perfect for winter. The rolls are bathed in warmly spiced pork broth with a handful of spring onion. Although it seems slender and empty at first, each roll is bulging with minced pork and mushroom. A highly recommended version is banh cuon with egg filling.
Banh cuon Cao Bang can be found anywhere in Cao Bang Town. For a sure sign of a good place to eat, the best advice is to keep an eye out for a stall with a large crowd around it.
Banh ap chao
The bite-size banh ap chao (Source: Internet)
This is a popular fried goody for winter and popular with both the after school and after work crowd. A bite-size banh ap chao consists of duck meat stuffed in glutinous rice dough.
Homestays in Cao Bang
Green door Ban Gioc homestay
The bamboo-lined road to Green door Ban Gioc homestay (Source: Internet)
Nestled in a lush green bamboo forest and built by locals using traditional techniques, this brick house is exactly what a building in Cao Bang used to look like. The house sits in a lovely garden and has a fireplace for the cold nights.
Xoi homestay Ba Be
Xoi homestay Ba Be (Source: Internet)
This homestay is clustered in the idyllic village of Pac Ngoi, Cao Bang. Xoi offers the rare opportunity to live among a four-generation Tay ethnic family in their cultural wooden stilt house. For more seclusion, opt for the two small chambers in front of the house. hellovietnam advises you to choose this location for swimming, cycling, and trekking.
Vietmountain Hong Vinh homestay
Vietmountain Hong Vinh stilt house (Source: Internet)
This is a spacious wooden stilt house that sits in a tranquil corner of Pac Ngoi village. The hosts are Mr. and Mrs. Xao, Mr. Xao’s mother and their two children. They offer guided tours around the town or to exotic places that tourists rarely venture to.
Cao Bang is not as well-known as its neighbor Ha Giang, but it has the edge in towering karst limestone mountains and idyllic nature scenery. Cao Bang’s food scene is no less diverse than any other region in Vietnam and rightly deserves some attention.
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