Ba Be Lake, a jade of northeastern mountains
Ba Be Lake, Bac Kan province, 230 kilometers north of Ha Noi, was formed 200 million years ago. Now part of Ba Be National Park, the Lake has become a popular tourist attraction.
“Ba Be” means “three lakes”. It is at the confluence of three rivers. At eight kilometers in length with 500 hectares of water surface, Ba Be is one of Vietnam’s largest natural freshwater lakes. The jade-green lake sits 150 meters above sea level, where it enjoys mild temperatures all year round.
Spring, summer, and early fall are all good times to visit Ba Be Lake and enjoy swimming, kayaking, fishing, trekking to nearby waterfalls, or cycling on one of the shady paths that wind through the forest.
Dong Minh Cuong, Director of the Asian Lotus Travel and Trading Joint Stock Company, said “I love Ba Be Lake so much that I come here again and again. The natural scenery is stunning. This is a really big freshwater lake in the mountains. There are many ancient giant trees in the dense forest.”
Visitors can take a boat trip around the lake that visits a number of islets and temples. One of the top attractions in the area is Puong cave, which is 300 meters long and 30 meters high. The cave’s stalactites shelter many bats belonging to 23 species. Puong cave is actually a complex of two sub-caves, where archeologists have found 73 artifacts believed to have been used by people who lived here 20,000 years ago. There are also traces of the 16th century Mac dynasty.
Tran Thanh Tung, a tourist from Hanoi, told VOV “Inside the cave are amazing stalagmites and layers of stone that resemble the terraced rice fields of the ethnic people.”
Other attractions include Hua Ma cave, Tat Ma waterfall, Tham Phay cave, and the mountain villages of the Mong and Dao ethnic minority groups. The local specialties are grilled fish, grilled shrimp, grilled banana, and bamboo-tube rice.
A trip to Ba Be lake gives visitors a glimpse of the culture of the Tay and Nung ethnic groups who live near the lake. If your trip coincides with a Tay festival, you will be treated to Then singing accompanied by the Tinh musical instrument.
Nguyen Tan Linh, director of Mr. Linh homestay service company, said “We serve visitors locally produced food. The company collaborates with locals to provide its services, boosting their incomes.”
Ba Be Lake was recognized as one of 20 freshwater lakes in need of protection at a conference held in the US in 1995. At the end of 2004, Ba Be National Park was recognized as an ASEAN Heritage Garden and a special national relic.