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Cao Bang province is located in northern Vietnam, sharing its border with Ha Giang, Lang Son, Bac Kan, and China. Cao Bang is an easy-going gateway to the surrounding lakes, minority villages, karst peaks, caves, and the Ban Gioc Waterfall on the Chinese border. Just 30km from China, it is an excellent stop for travelers coming from or going to the Pingxiang border crossing. For those tired of the tourist circuit of coastal Vietnam, Cao Bang is also a refreshing glimpse into a city that exists solely on its own terms.
There are no rail connections, making buses the most convenient way to get to Cao Bang. A bus from Lang Son on the China-Vietnam border take 4-5 hours. There are also buses from the neighboring provinces in northern Vietnam. You can rent a car from Hanoi to Cao Bang, about 5 hours on road.
You can drive from Meo Vac to Cao Bang, and do a stop over at Bao Lac town (about 70km from Meo Vac, the road is nice,by the end a bit underdone and shaky). It's a nice small town by the river, a bit dusty, but has its charm.
Xe om (motorbike taxis) are convenient and cheap. The bus station is on the eastern side of the river; cross the bridge to find the main street, Kim Dong (parallel to the river), the market, and most of the hotels.
Buses and minibuses leave frequently in the morning for the various bus stations in Hanoi, about 7 hours away. Buses leave less frequently after 10:00, and there are only a few buses in the afternoon. Hanoi buses stop at Thai Nguyen and often include a stop for food if running during meal times.
Overnight sleeper buses from Cao Bang to Hanoi's My Dinh bus station depart at 20:00 and arrive in Hanoi at 05:00 the next day.
You can reach China through the border crossing at Lang Son, five hours away by bus. Another day trip possibility is Ba Be National Park, between Cao Bang and Hanoi.