Located inside the Ba Be National Park in Bac Kan Province, North Vietnam, Ba Be Lake is a captivating natural wonder that offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Not too crowded and common like Sapa or Halong Bay in the same region, this is a lesser-known area with its picturesque beauty, rich biodiversity, and cultural significance. Let Indochina Voyages help you to explore everything this pristine destination has to offer!
Ba Be Lake Resourceful tidbits
- This is the largest natural freshwater lake in Vietnam, covering an area of approximately 500 hectares.
- After the Ba Be Area was established as a national park in 1992, the site was soon recognized by UNESCO as the third Ramsar site in Vietnam – an important wetland of the world.
- Situated in Ba Be National Park, it is surrounded by lush forests, limestone mountains, and cascading waterfalls, creating a breathtaking backdrop for your journey.
- It is home to a diverse range of aquatic species.
- The region is home to 13 tribal villages, mostly Tay minority people and smaller groups of Hmong & Dzao people
How to get to Ba Be Lake?
To reach Ba Be Lake, you can fly into Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. Within a distance of 240 km, reaching the Ba Be Lake from there, you have several options:
- Private Transfer: Arrange a private car or van from Hanoi to Ba Be Lake. The journey takes approximately 5-6 hours, passing through scenic countryside landscapes.
- Public Bus: Take a bus from Hanoi to Bac Kan City, and then transfer to another bus or hire a taxi to reach Ba Be Lake. The total travel time is around 6-7 hours.
The transfer may take you at least 5 hours excluding a stop to stretch your leg on the way so you will reach Ba Be homestay at noon. The ticket per way costs you around 15 – 20 USD/person.
Besides choosing Hanoi as your base above, you can join a Vietnam Tour and choose Ba Be Lake as one of your destinations to go. But overall, to reach Ba Be Lake directly, the only type of transport you can choose are vehicles traveling by road because there are no stations or airports in Ba Be – Bac Kan.
Ideal time to go
Ba Be Lake can be visited year-round, but the best time to go is during the dry season, which runs from October to April. During this period, the weather is pleasant, with mild temperatures and less rainfall. The surrounding landscapes are lush and vibrant, offering beautiful scenery for outdoor activities.
However, it’s worth noting that Ba Be Lake’s charm is ever-present, even during the rainy season when the area is shrouded in mist, creating a mystical ambiance.
Must-do Activities at Ba Be Lake
Ba Be Lake offers a wide range of activities to indulge in, allowing you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region. Here are some must-do experiences:
Throughout your boat trip along the Ba Ba Lake, you will have a chance to see a few beautiful caves with special rock formations developing for more than millions of years. With an average depth of 20 – 25m and the deepest part of 35m, the lake bed is really an ideal home for various marine life where finding over a hundred species of freshwater fish in the lakes.
Explore the hidden corners of the lake, witness the limestone formations, and marvel at the surrounding landscapes. Don’t miss the chance to visit Puong Cave, a mesmerizing limestone cave adorned with stalactites and stalagmites.
If you would like to be more active and get closer to the karst around the lake, going kayaking will more more fun than by motorboat. Paddle your way through the calm waters of the lake, discovering its hidden nooks and crannies. Kayaking allows you to get up close to the lush vegetation, spot wildlife, and experience the tranquility of this untouched paradise.
The cost per kayak is 10 – 20 USD/hour for two persons. Swimming around Ba Goa Island is also a good way to cool you down after a long hour of kayaking.
Trekking and Hiking
Inside the Ba Be National Park, after enjoying a boat trip, it is a great idea to trek and hike through this excellent park. Explore the dense forests, encounter unique flora and fauna, and discover captivating waterfalls, such as Dau Dang and Ba Goa. The park offers a variety of trails suitable for different fitness levels.
Rent a bicycle and cycle around the scenic countryside surrounding Ba Be Lake. Pedal through quaint villages, interact with locals and enjoy the idyllic landscapes at your own pace.
The road to Ba Be Lake also leads to Hua Ma Cave – The first wonder of the Ba Be Area. Don’t miss out on the chance to explore it while immersed in the tranquil atmosphere of the countryside and the scenery of the combination of mountains and forests.
Riding a motorbike for exploring on your own
To visit the Ba Be Lake, you are suggested to hire a motor boat to go through or stop over around 4-5 routes: Widow’s Island, Pagoda, Puong Cave, Dau Dang Waterfall, Fairy Pond… that takes you around 1 hour and a half for maximum. But this way suits for the first-time visitors within a short period of time.
How many days should I stay at Ba Be Lake?
To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Ba Be Lake and explore its surroundings, we recommend planning a 3-day, 2-night itinerary. This duration allows you to experience the highlights of the area without rushing. Here’s a suggested itinerary:
Day 1: Hanoi – Transfer to Ba Be
- Arrive at Ba Be Lake and check into your chosen accommodation.
- Enjoy a boat cruise on Ba Be Lake, visit Puong Cave, and take in the stunning scenery.
- Spend the evening relaxing and savoring a delicious dinner showcasing local cuisine.
Day 2: Ba Be Lake
- Embark on a full-day trekking adventure in Ba Be National Park. Explore the diverse ecosystems, encounter wildlife, and marvel at the cascading waterfalls.
- Immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of the ethnic communities by visiting local villages and interacting with the locals.
- Return to your accommodation and unwind amidst the tranquility of the lake.
Day 3: Ba Be – Farewell
- Start the day with a refreshing kayaking session, exploring the hidden corners of Ba Be Lake.
- Enjoy a leisurely bicycle ride through the picturesque countryside, stopping at scenic viewpoints and local attractions.
- Bid farewell to Ba Be Lake and depart for your next destination, taking with you unforgettable memories.
The trip lasted for 3 days 2 nights which is suitable for both outdoor activities and relaxing during staying at a homestay. Normally, the tour can be designed for 2 days & 1 night but to cover almost highlights of the Ba Be area, it will be too rushed to enjoy so we recommend you to extend one more night so it fitted very well to spend time relaxing.
Where can I stay and savor?
Since the Bac Kan province and Ba Be Lake area is not developed yet, there are not many high-quality accommodation to choose from hotels in big cities but you can try staying at the local homestay of ethnic people which is a very popular way for overnight originating from the tourists’ interest to interact with the people in their own traditional houses.
When you stay at homestays, the owner of these houses will offer you to prepare your meals. They will prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner depending on your request. Believe me, their hospitality will surprise you. A cup of wine, when they invite you for meals (often lunch and dinner), is like a welcome word in their culture, so don’t be surprised or afraid!
The cost for staying overnight is from 8 – 10 USD/person sharing the dorm area or in a private small room at the same house. You can find better quality homestay with more ensuite equipment but the cost may range from 20 – 25 USD/person/night.
Tips to travel
If you travel at weekends, book your transfer as soon as possible with the bus departing at Old Quarter because it will be fully booked soon. Don’t forget to book the return tickets if you are fixed for a 3 or 2-day trip.
- The insect repellent is a must-have item for your trip because the mosquitoes are too many and too big. If your trip includes some trekking to the rural villages, you will also need this to avoid any unexpected bite.
- Prepare some snacks and drinks for the long transfer
- A swimsuit is a need because you may want to spend all day inside the emerald-cool water
- If you are allergic to specific food or want to eat vegetarian, just tell your host to cook suitable food for your meals. The host will be definitely happy to make your meal delicious for you only.
- Walking shoes for biking, and hiking and sandals/slippers for boating will be ideal for enjoying the trip
- You can totally combine your trip to Cao Bang Province or Lang Son Province if time allows up to 4-5 days in the region.
- The best time to travel will depend on which activity you are more interested in doing, such as from April to May, you have a chance to see beautiful rice paddies, April – May, August – October are two good times for swimming, and October to July – trekking.
Are there any entry fees for Ba Be Lake?
Yes, there is an entry fee to the Ba Be National Park Area, which includes access to Ba Be Lake. The fee is about ~USD $3/person (VND 70,000/person) (Updated in 2023). This fee helps with the park’s conservation efforts and the maintenance of its facilities.
Is it safe to swim in Ba Be Lake?
Swimming in Ba Be Lake is generally safe, but it’s essential to exercise caution and follow any guidelines provided by your boat tour guide or accommodation. Pay attention to the water conditions and avoid swimming in deep or unknown areas.
Can I engage in fishing activities at Ba Be Lake?
Fishing activities are permitted in Ba Be Lake, but it’s important to adhere to local regulations and obtain the necessary permits. Local fishing enthusiasts can provide guidance and assistance if you wish to try your hand at fishing.
I wish this trip may satisfy your need to discover the untamed nature as well as the authentic culture in the North-West part of Vietnam during your travel to Vietnam. Plan your trip, soak in the peaceful ambiance, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Ba Be Lake awaits your discovery!
From Indochina Voyages Team