Ba Be Lake: A Slice of Paradise in Northern Vietnam

Ba Be Lake: A Slice of Paradise in Northern Vietnam

Ba Be Lake is an ideal place to recharge your batteries, far from the hustle and bustle of the cities. Coming here allows you to disconnect and enjoy a moment of relaxation and immersion in the culture of the Vietnamese ethnic groups by staying in one of the stilt houses of the Tays ethnic group on the edge of the lake. Explore this region for unique experiences and discover the green beauty of northern Vietnam.

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Written by Jade NGUYEN, (local expert) Updated on 08-07-2024
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1. Where is Ba Be Lake Located?

Ba Be Lake is in the heart of Ba Be National Park, located in Bac Kan province, about 250 km northeast of the capital Hanoi. This freshwater lake covers an area of more than 500 hectares, located at an altitude of approximately 150 meters. Ba Be Lake is made up of three lakes, namely Pe Lam, Pe Lu and Pe Leng, in a unique geological setting.

Lake Ba Be is in the north of Vietnam
Lake Ba Be is in the north of Vietnam

During the summer, the lake's waters provide perfect conditions for boating, kayaking, fishing and swimming. The winding paths, located on the slopes of the mountains surrounding the lake, are ideal for many activities, such as cycling to breathe in the fresh air or hiking to discover the wild nature of the region.

Ba Be Lake

In Ba Be, several ethnic groups living in authentic houses on stilts, live on fishing, agricultural crops and preserve a culture and millennia-old traditions. Ba Be Lake is indeed the ideal place to recharge your batteries, far from the noise of the tumultuous cities. Coming here means disconnecting for a pure moment of relaxation and immersion in the culture of the Vietnamese ethnic groups by staying in one of the stilt houses of the Tays ethnic group on the edge of the lake.

The peaceful beauty of Ba Be Lake
The peaceful beauty of Ba Be Lake

2. When is the best time to visit?

Thanks to its rich biodiversity and thick layers of tropical forests surrounding karst rock formations, Ba Be Lake has an extremely pleasant climate all year round. This favorable climate allows for a variety of activities in all seasons, such as hiking in Ba Be, rowing on the lake, and many others. The mild weather of Ba Be Lake in Vietnam will never hamper your plans during your visits.

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food in Ba Ba Lake
Ba Be Lake's food

3. What to do around Ba Be Lake?

  • Boat or Kayak Trips on Ba Be Lake

When the morning sun's rays gradually appear on the lake's surface, awakening the villagers with their reflections, it's the ideal time to explore every corner of Ba Be Lake. If kayaking or canoeing excites thrill-seekers, you can also take a motorboat ride to discover all the unique wonders of this famous lake. You'll have the opportunity to visit a small temple on An Ma islet in the middle of the lake and the enchanting pond hidden along the lush shoreline. In the middle of summer, there's nothing more beautiful than taking a refreshing dip in the cool waters of Ba Be.

>>>> Read more: Best Time to Visit North Vietnam in 2024? Top 10 Must-See Places

Discover Ba Be Lake
In the middle of summer, there's nothing more beautiful than taking a refreshing dip in the cool waters of Ba Be.

For fishing enthusiasts, this is a great opportunity to witness traditional fishing sessions with members of the Tay ethnic group, who fish from their canoes at sunset. Moving from one trap to another, the canoe glides silently on the water thanks to the fisherman's gentle strokes. They skillfully catch numerous fish and shrimps, making it a feast for the fortunate ones. Truly unforgettable memories!

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Boat trip to Ba Be Lake
Boat trip to Ba Be Lake
  • Pac Ngoi Village

Pac Ngoi boasts more than 40 traditional stilt houses nestled into the mountainside, right next to Ba Be Lake. The village is situated in front of the lake, backed by the mountains, making it an even more magnificent landscape of Ba Be.

The roofs of these houses are covered with tiles and are easily recognizable from a distance. Many guesthouses can be found in the heart of the village, offering travelers the chance to spend the night there. During your stay, you will not only have the opportunity to experience touching moments as you inmerse yourself in the daily life of your hosts but also to witness the preparation of a traditional meal with them. This will be the perfect opportunity to share delicious meals, traditional dishes, and, of course, enjoy glasses of homemade rice wine.

Pac Ngoi village populated by the Tay on the banks of Ba Be lake
Pac Ngoi village populated by the Tay on the banks of Ba Be lake

In Pac Ngoi Village, you'll have the opportunity to meet the Tay ethnic group, adorned in traditional black costumes. The Tay people inhabit the lowlands along rivers and streams. Whereas, The Dao community resides halfway up the mountains, while the Mong ethnic group inhabits the upper reaches. The Tay people are renowned for their melodious singing and their 'calculating' lute, which is a source of pride for the Ba Be region.

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Pac Ngoi village populated by the Tay on the banks of Ba Be lake
Pac Ngoi village populated by the Tay on the banks of Ba Be lake
  • Grotte de Puong

Located in the north of Ba Be National Park, Puong Cave is a must-visit destination! It can be accessible by boat either from the Puoc Luom pier or from the village of Pac Ngoi. This natural wonder spans the Nang River. Crossing the water current within the cave, which boasts a height of 25m and a length of more than 200m, will impress more than one.

pac ngoi village

When you explore Puong Cave, you'll discover that it serves as a habitat for bats. The boat ride back to Pac Ngoi along the Nang River offers the opportunity to admire a panoramic view, especially at the end of the day when the birds, contented, return in groups to the riverbanks and the smoke from cooking rises from the roofs of houses.

The entrance to Puong Cave, the largest cave in Ba Be
The entrance to Puong Cave, the largest cave in Ba Be
  • Dau Dang Waterfall

Dau Dang Waterfall offers travelers a delightful surprise during a peaceful boat ride along the Nang River, right next to Chez Ong Pirates Restaurant. Starting from the pier, travelers are invited to follow a narrow path filled with ferns and vegetable plantations on either side before reaching the waterfall. This famous waterfall was formed following a landslide of limestone mountains.

It is currently surrounded by a green setting in three levels, each measuring 4 meters in height. During the rainy season, a large flow of water pours from the top of the levels, transforming the water into mist and making this waterfall as mysterious as in a fairytale world. What a grandiose spectacle!

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Dau Dang Waterfall
Dau Dang Waterfall
  • Hua Ma Cave

Located 6km from the village of Pac Ngoi, at the end of a concrete path bordered by gardens and karst mountains, Hua Ma Cave has recently become an significant speleological attraction. The cave is discreetly camouflaged on the sides of a beautiful cliff, covered with abundant vegetation. It was considered cursed by the locals before becoming a tourist destination due to the strange noises that resonated at the cave's entrance. This has allowed Hua Ma to be preserved in perfect condition with intact stalagmites and stalactites.

At present, a staircase has been put in place to allow travelers to go down to the main room which is definitely worth the effort. Mother Nature definitely creates magnificent places. If you find it difficult to walk for a while from the village of Pac Ngoi, you can also reach the cave more quickly by bike.

>>> You might want to read: Don't Visit Tam Coc, Vietnam Without Knowing These 9 Essentials!

The inside of Hua Ma cave
The interior of Hua Ma cave
  • Hiking in Ba Be National Park

Ba Be National Park, renowned worldwide for its biodiversity, is a veritable nirvana for hikers and bikers. While bikers can easily explore the winding roads around Lake Ba Be, hiking enthusiasts will also find ample opportunities in Ba Be, with trails suitable for all levels of physical fitness.

From short walks lasting just a few hours within the heart of the park to multi-day hikes to meet the Tay, H'mong and Dao ethnic groups, you'll have a plenty of choice. What could be better than admiring the rice terraces and lush mountains during the day and spending the night in a traditional Tay ethnic group house? (For more information, please read: Why Stay at Homestays in Vietnam with Local Hosts?)

Vietnam - A Country with 54 Ethnic Groups
Vietnam - A Country with 54 Ethnic Groups

Additionally, explore the weekly ethnic markets in the surrounding area to enhance your list of activities to do at Ba Be Lake. However, be prepared for the fact that these ethnic markets are not fixed and depend on unforeseen events in the lunar calendar. Lucky travelers may chance upon the market during their stay! It’s like a lottery game!

>>> Explore the best Vietnam Hiking Tours right now!

Hiking in the middle of Ba Be National Park
Hiking in the middle of Ba Be National Park
  • Camping in Ba Be National Park

Camping at Ba Be Lake offers a serene escape with picturesque lake views. Ideal during the dry season (October to April), the area provides amenities for comfortable camping, including designated sites with basic facilities. Activities like hiking, kayaking, and exploring local caves and waterfalls enrich the experience.

Ba be camping
Camping at Ba Be Lake offers a serene escape with picturesque lake views.

You can also opt for engaging with the Tay community for cultural insights. Pack essentials such as a waterproof tent, sleeping bags, cooking gear, insect repellent, and a first-aid kit. Always adhere to 'Leave No Trace' principles to preserve the natural beauty and respect local customs.

ba be camping

4. How to get to Ba Be?

  • By private car: The best way to get to Ba Be Lake is by private car, as it allows you to travel comfortably and enjoy the scenery. It's advisable to book a private transfer service in advance with a travel agency or private driver.
  • By bus: You can also take a bus from Hanoi to Bac Kan. Buses depart from Gia Lam bus station in Hanoi, and the journey takes approximately 5 hours. From Bac Kan, you can take a taxi to Ba Be Lake, which is about 50 km away.
  • By motorbike: If you are an adventurer, you can also rent a motorbike in Hanoi and drive to Ba Be Lake. The journey takes approximately 6 hours, but please note that the roads can be narrow and winding. It is recommended to exercise caution and wear a safety helmet.
  • On an organized tour: Finally, you can opt for an organized tour, offered by many travel agencies. Organized tours usually include bus transportation, a guided tour of Ba Be Lake, as well as activities such as hiking, kayaking and visiting local villages,...
How to get to Ba Be?
How to get to Ba Be?

5. What combination itineraries are suggested in Ba Be?

Ba Be Lake is located exactly in the center of northern Vietnam. Consequently, there are several possible circuit options. Visiting Ba Be Lake is often combined with a trip to the famous Ban Gioc Cao Bang waterfall. This excursion requires 4 to 5 days to complete on-site.

If you have more time, we advise you to extend your trip by making a loop from the Northeast, from Ha Giang to Ban Gioc Falls without forgetting passing Ba Be Lake. This type of trip is designed for all those who are looking for an authentic stay away from the masses.

>>> Read more: Unforgettable Ha Giang Loop: A Motorbike Odyssey Through Vietnam

ba be wildlife
Moments of conviviality await you in Ba Be

Our final words,

This green gem, nestled in Upper Tonkin, remains untouched by mass tourism, and Ba Be Lake is truly worth a visit during a trip to Vietnam. This destination is not just a pure adventure trip or natural disconnection, far from it, because it is also a cultural journey to meet ethnic groups and their traditions. Various itineraries are available to provide a comprehensive exploration of northern Vietnam starting from Ba Be. Moments of camaraderie and warmth await you in Ba Be. Have a good trip!

>>> See more about things to do in Vietnam by month:

JANUARY FEBRUARY | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE JULY AUGUST | SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER

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