Cao Bang is an immensely beautiful, sparsely populated frontier region of North Vietnam. This mountainous expanse sits on the northeast border with China and is home to many ethnic minority communities. Although the Ban Gioc waterfalls have become a popular attraction, this region is often overlooked by tourists which has meant its unique beauty and culture has been well preserved. The landscape here is typified by jagged mountains carpeted in thick vegetation, sporadic rice paddies and thin winding roads. Typically the Vietnamese populations tended to avoid mountainous regions in favour of the better farmland in low-lying, flat areas. This meant that these remote and hilly areas were inhabited mainly by the ethnic minority communities and this is still largely the case in Cao Bang. The main groups living in the region are the Nung, Dao, Tay and H’mong. In April, 2018, the stunning natural beauty of the region was recognized when UNESCO made the decision to include Cao Bang in their Global Geoparks Network, making it Vietnam’s second entry on the list.
Although Cao Bang feels as if it has been left to wild, mostly undisturbed by the troubles of modern day society, the region has seen upheaval during the wars. Being situated directly on the border with China meant that Cao Bang was an area of contention between the two countries. It also played a significant role in the communist movement, acting as a base for the North Vietnamese revolutionaries and earning itself the moniker ‘Cradle of the Revolutionary Movement.’ For a time. Ho Chi Minh also took refuge in a cave in Pac Bo.
The area is beginning to garner more attention from adventurous travellers looking to get away from the overcrowded and over visited tourist areas and wanting to experience the rugged beauty of the frontier region. Because of its northerly location, Cao Bang is cooler than the rest of Vietnam with an average temperature of 25-28 degrees in the summer and 16-17 degrees in the winter. Some of the higher peaks sometimes see snowfall in particularly cold bouts. The cooler climes, rich forests and fresh air make Cao Bang a great nature escape which leaves visitors feeling refreshed and full of appreciation for the beauty of nature.