Remote hilltribes and stunning cliff scenery
Parts of Vietnam's northeast are particularly isolated and fairly challenging to visit. However, this isolation adds to the region's beauty, as many areas are still extremely undeveloped, and unadulterated by tourism - make the effort to explore this part of the country and you will be rewarded.
Highlights include Ba Be Lakes in Cao Bang Province, the road between That Khe and Lang Son, whose beauty of plunging ravines riddled with caves, hides a grim and bloody past and to the north of Cao Bang, the cave in which Ho Chi Minh lived upon first returning to Vietnam from China.
This region of Vietnam is also home to numerous tribes of ethnic minority groups. They live in some rather isolated areas, subsisting through traditional means. Some of the tribes in this developing trekking area include Tay, Nung, Zoa, Meo, Man and the San Chay.
During the French Indochinese war, this region of Vietnam was the scene of some extremely heavy fighting, especially on the road from Lang Son to Cao Bang. The French had attempted to police cross border smuggling into China by installing a series of garrisons at That Khe, Cao Bang, Dong Khe and Lang Son. All of these bases were eventually destroyed by guerilla action, along with their supply convoys which plied Colonial Routes 3 and 4. The Viet Minh would often destroy parts of the roads partially for ambush purposes and looking at some of the roads now, especially Route 3 to Lang Son, it is debateable whether they have actually been fixed since.
Get orientated with a map of Northeast Vietnam
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