The landscape along the Chinese border, in Vietnam’s Cao Bang Province, is characterized by forested limestone mountains, blue rivers, and green rice paddies. Small villages of mud and straw houses dot the narrow valleys. The scene can’t have changed much since 1941, when Ho Chi Minh walked across the border from China, entering his native Vietnam for the first time in 30 years. In the following guide, I tell a brief history of Pac Bo Cave, a description of the site, and some basic travel information.





Pac Bo Cave is an hours’ drive from Cao Bang, the provincial capital, on the Ho Chi Minh Road. This road now runs the length of Vietnam: starting, appropriately, at Pac Bo and ending nearly 2,000km to the south, in the Mekong Delta. After a beautiful drive through steep, verdant valleys, the road comes to an abrupt end at a big car park. If you visit on a weekend or national holiday, chances are this car park (and the rest of the Pac Bo site) will be full of coaches, carrying Vietnamese tour groups who make the pilgrimage here. However, if you come on a weekday, especially during the middle of the day, the car park will probably be empty and you may well have this beautiful site all to yourself.





Tickets (20,000vnd [$1]) are bought at a kiosk by the car park, and the site is open from dawn until dusk. On the left, before entering the site, there’s a huge pagoda-esque shrine to Ho Chi Minh. Reached via a long staircase, you can purchase sticks of incense and place them in front of a grandiose gold statue of Ho, seated on a throne as if he were an imperial monarch (an image he never cultivated during his lifetime). There’s a large new museum next to the shrine, telling the story of Uncle Ho’s life through displays, photographs, and memorabilia.



According to VietKings (