Travel · Vietnam

Cao Bang Trip: Nguom Ngao Cave

Nguom Ngao Cave is another attraction in Cao Bang which is 3 km away from Ban Gioc Waterfall. You can hop on a city bus or a motor taxi (or “xe ôm”) or walk like we did to reach the cave. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the cave system on this trip, but it was far more than what I expected.

Nguom Ngao means Tiger Cave in the language of the local Tay ethnic minority as the cave used to be a tiger shelter.  Meanwhile, some people claim that the name derives from tiger roar – liked rhythm of an underground stream in the cave. That underground stream also gave the cave a name “Dong Gio” which means Wind Cave due to strong winds produced by the rapid flow of the water. I actually felt it when entering the cave as a cool breeze picked up at the entrance, touching my sweaty hair, sweeping  all tiredness and replacing it with a refreshing sensation.

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The cave, which was discovered by a Frenchman in 1921, was larger than we thought. Although only 980 metres of the total 2,144 metre length was opened to travellers to visit, it took us roughly a half of hour to stroll around.

Formed over 300 years ago by weathering process of limestone, the cave was full of fantastic stalactites and stalagmites of all shapes, ranging from a boat, a cactus to a lonely stone pillar and a silver tree. They seem to grow from the soil, or hang down, vertical or horizontal with small and big figures piled and fixed in a hustle indulging visitors.

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It is said that the most impressive stalactite is an upside down lotus chandelier, but I was actually blown away by curvy formations resembling terrace fields. Their layers chased one another, as magical as in 3D pictures, which made me feel they were real terrace fields. The nature was genuinely a talented architect creating such an amazing cave system.

Although I have been to numerous cave systems in Vietnam, Nguom Ngao Cave is the most surprising to me. Not having fancy decorations, its charm is just simple, rustic but magnificent, which leaves an unforgettable impression to visitors. Nguom Ngao is truly a masterpiece, an invaluable gift the nature has given to the locals.

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