Vietnam’s largest fresh water lake is in the north east of the Country within a protected region in Bắc Kạn Province. Ba Be Lake is 240 km from the capital Hanoi and just west of the nearest town, Cho Ra. The lake, thought to have been formed 200 million years ago, varies in size between the dry and monsoon season. In similar limestone regions lakes can become completely dry but not Ba Be; it is never shallower than 17 metres and at its deepest it is 35 metres. It runs 8 km north – south and at 150 metres above sea level it is also the highest in the Country. Ba Be Lake has been ranked within the 20 most beautiful freshwater lakes of the world and in 2012, it was recognised as a special National landscape monument.
The name means "Three Lakes" referring to the fact there are three parts, Pe Leng, Pe Lu, and Pe Lam connected into a single continuous piece of water. It is fed by three rivers in its south and west, the Ta Han, Bo Lu, and Leng Rivers. In the dry season the Lake loses water to the north into the Nang River. The reverse happens in the monsoon season with the Lake taking water from that river helping prevent any flooding.
How to get there
Depending on your mode of transport it will take between six and eight hours to get to Ba Be Lake from Hanoi. Some hire cars while Vietnam private tours offer comfortable transport to Ba Be. It is certainly a location for inclusion in Vietnam family tours as well.
Travel should always be by day and even the journey in the slowest buses is enjoyable because of the beautiful countryside.
Best time to visit
Vietnam travel is an experience any time of the year but there are different seasons and you should look at Vietnam travel packages with that in mind.
The dry season is the best time to visit, winter through to April and the Long Tong Festival on the 10th and 11th days of the first lunar month has traditional games and performances by the ethnic groups in the region.
Things to see and do
Trekking in Ba Be national park is particularly popular but you do not have to be especially active to enjoy the Lake. Boat trips are very popular, a chance to relax and look at both the Lake and evergreen forest and limestone slopes. It is perhaps a place to enjoy a honeymoon in Vietnam.
There is varied fauna including the Chinese pangolin, the slow loris, macaques and langurs, black bear, European otter, Asian golden cat and the red giant flying squirrel. Birds are plentiful and varied, likewise fish and butterflies. Take care there are also salamander and king cobra. Our Ba Be Lake travel guide cannot promise anything but you are sure to see several types of fauna.
Puong Cave a large cave in the north near the Nang River is up to 50 metres high and 300 metres in length. It could be described as a bat cave because the population might be even as many as 10,000 of them. In Hua Ma Cave there are beautiful stalactites and a Guanyin Buddha statue on a lotus throne.
Limestone is porous and a "Fairy Pond", on a hill close to the Lake has filled with water. It is 3,000 metres wide.Meanwhile the Dau Dang Waterfall on the Nang River is another great natural feature; the rapids stretch for a kilometre.
Widow Island, one of three in the Lake, in the south and is so called because legend says it was once the home of a widow who was saved from floods by the gods.
Boat tours are one way to enjoy the Lake but you may like to enjoy the Lake by yourself; kayaking is certainly an option and cycling on land as well.
Read more: Ba Be lake homestay tour - 3 days 2 nights
Homestay is the popular way to stay in the region. This is clean and air-conditioned accommodation available near the Lake and organised tour companies offering Vietnam tour packages will make all the arrangements for you.
Ba Be Lake provides a great contrast to the hectic life in the city. This Ba Be Lake travel guide has explained why a holiday in Vietnam should include a balance between the history and culture of Vietnam and the natural environment that has suffered little by the increasing number of tourists that are coming to the country each year. Experienced tour companies await.