Cao Bằng is the only place in Vietnam with no Covid-19 cases

Nestled between northern Vietnam’s cities and only 240KM from Hanoi is a province with a wealth of pristine forests, snow-capped mountains, vast glens, and cascading waterfalls dating back to the Bronze Age. 

What’s more, this mountainous territory is also the only place in Vietnam without a trace of Covid-19 in the community. 

Scroll through to get your virtual fix of wildness and find out more about the Covid-19-free life in Cao Bằng, a natural wonder unto itself. 

Geography and demography

Cao Bằng
Image credit: Nguyễn Lệnh An

Cao Bằng is a mountainous province in northern Vietnam, bordering Hà Giang, Tuyên Quang to the west and Bắc Kạn, Lạng Sơn to the south. Thanks to its remote terrain that’s totally off the beaten trail, the city rarely looks touristy even amid peak holiday seasons.

Ninety percent of the province is made up of forests, and a majority of the land area here remains uninhabited.

Cao Bằng
Image credit: @benz.mind

The average temperature here is around 22°C and can drop to below 0°C during winter. 

Cao Bằng
The province is filled with steep roads formed in hairpin turns
Image credit: @mavis.vivuky

Keen mountaineers coming here during winter or early spring might be rewarded with rare vistas of snow-capped mountain peaks as much as 1,931 meters above sea level.

Cao Bằng
Ladies of Lô Lô ethnicity
Image credit: Báo Cao Bằng

Most of the residents of Cao Bằng Province are from ethnic minority groups, most of whom are the Tày, Lô Lô, Nùng, Dao, and Hmong. As of 2019, the population of the area was 530,341, according to the General Statistics Office. It means that each square kilometer is inhabited by only 79 people on average. 

Image credit: Lữ Hành Việt Nam

Where to go in Cao Bằng

Cao Bằng
Image credit: Thác Bản Giốc – Ban Gioc Waterfall

An unskippable spot for nature lovers in the north, Cao Bằng is home to a wealth of natural sites that are so eminent that a few lines of description only hint at their grandiosity.

No trip to Cao Bằng is complete without a journey to the sublime Bản Giốc Waterfalls, which originate from Quỳ Xuân River and straddle the border between Vietnam and China. The three-tiered waters cascade from a height of over 30 meters and span 300 meters in width.

Cao Bằng
Image credit: Long Huy

The Bản Giốc Waterfalls are among the world’s largest waterfalls, alongside Iguazu Falls, Victoria Falls, and Niagara Falls. 

The best time to visit the falls is between October and March, when the falls are less intense and the waters are an emerald color. Between April and September, the falls come crashing down vertically at their fullest capacity and sound like thunderstorms.

Cao Bằng
Image credit: Thác Bản Giốc – Ban Gioc Waterfall

If you don’t mind the freezing temperature, you can also hire a boat at the price of VND50,000 (~USD2.20) per person to travel around and marvel at the falls from as close as one can possibly get. 

Thang Hen Lake is also among the numerous natural splendors that you can find here and totally postcard-worthy.

Cao Bằng
Image credit: @thiennguyen1012

Surrounded by vast, tranquil mountains and picturesque wooden houses dotted here and there, this loch is an ideal place to disconnect. Getting here is not easy, but the view you’ll get and the fresh air you’ll breathe makes everything worthwhile.

Cao BằngImage credit: Phạm Hữu Tuyền

Impressed? These natural wonders are just the cherry on the cake. 

Aside from beautiful landscapes, Cao Bằng also takes pride in being the only place in Vietnam with zero Covid-19 cases in the community.

The presence of 24/7 security booths at border gates

Image credit: Biên Phòng

Sharing a 333 km-long border with China, Cao Bằng was regarded as a city with a high risk of Covid-19 outbreaks when the pandemic first struck Vietnam. Besides, a lack of medical resources and rocky terrains also put the province in a disadvantageous position.

For this reason, Cao Bằng authorities and residents have been on high alert since the get-go and their efforts have paid off.

According to Tuổi Trẻ, all routes leading to Cao Bằng Province have been filled with security booths since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic until now.

To tackle the challenge of illegal immigration, patrol soldiers also set up patrol booths, ramp up control, and Covid-19 testing at the border gates. 

From February 2020 till July 2021, Cao Bằng had received over 23,570 immigrants from China and sent them to dedicated Covid-19 facilities.

Image credit: Báo Tài Nguyên Môi Trường

Since the 4th outbreak struck Ho Chi Minh City in late April, Cao Bằng leaders imposed stringent restrictions out of sheer precaution. All non-essential businesses are required to close, gatherings are reduced, and arrivals into the province are strictly monitored. 

To raise awareness about the danger of Covid-19, authorities keep residents posted on the pandemic through loudspeakers at public venues as well as handing out leaflets. 

When Bắc Giang was the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year, many Cao Bằng residents were living there at the time and got infected

To ease the pressure on Bắc Giang’s administrative and medical staff, Cao Bằng authorities organized 60 buses to bring their residents home. These infected patients were brought straight to localCovid-19 facilities, thereby reducing the risks of coronavirus exposure in the community.  

Transportation links between Cao Bằng and other provinces remain open so that businesses are not disrupted.

At the same time, Cao Bằng is also trying to accelerate its vaccination rate so that the province can soon return to complete normalcy.

Prevention is better than cure

As a famous saying goes, “Prevention  is better than cure.” This can’t be any truer for Cao Bằng.

Fully aware of the province’s vulnerabilities in terms of geography and resources, the province’s leaders were determined to help everyone survive.  They raised awareness among residents and ramped up control on all fronts. Even though the province has survived four outbreaks without any community cases, city leaders still limit non-essential businesses to nip any risks of transmission in the bud. 

This is such an amazing concerted effort from both leaders and residents.

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Cover image adapted from: Long Huy

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