Thac Ba Lake – Travel guide & 5 things to do

Thac Ba Lake is one of the biggest and most beautiful lakes in Vietnam, found in the norther province of Yen Bai. In addition, several ethnic minorities live in this area, who still live very authentically and traditionally because of the undeveloped area. It’s primarily a place for adventurous travelers who like to get off the beaten track and don’t mind an area that isn’t very developed.

About Thac Ba Lake

Thac Ba Lake is one of the three largest man-made lakes in Vietnam, covering an area of approximately 20,000 hectares and containing more than 1,300 large and small islands mostly coverd in forest. The lake is located about 130 km west of Hanoi in the Yen Binh District of Yen Bai Province. The lake was created by the construction of a huge dam on the Chay River for the Thac Ba Hydroelectric Power Station, which began construction in 1962 and was completed in 1970.

thac ba lake – travel guide & 5 things to do
thac ba lake – travel guide & 5 things to do

Before the dam was built there were forests, hills and waterfalls in this area, which all disappeared when the water of the river started to rise through the newly built dam. Now you only see the tops of the hills above the water like newly created islands. The lake itself is named after one of the waterfalls that disappeared.

Around the Thac Ba Lake, there are 13 ethnic minority groups, including Tay, Nung, Mong, Dao, Phu La, and Cao Lan, all of which live on the mountainside or along the lake. These hill tribes still maintain their traditional and unique cultural identity with their traditions, festivals, traditional homes and way of life. When you visit this area, it is therefore highly recommended to visit local villages in addition to the lake to learn more about these unique cultures.

Things to do at Thac Ba Lake

1. Boat trip

thac ba lake – travel guide & 5 things to do

The best way to get to Thac Ba Lake and even the only way to get to the islands is of course with a boat trip. Boats can be arranged in various places, but the most regular place is in the village of Huong Lu in Yen Binh. Agree in advance how long you are going to sail. During a boat trip you often visit an island and a cave along the lake. Along the way you will see the local life of locals fishing and of course the beautiful lake.

Location Huong Ly harbor: tt. Yen Binh, Yen Binh District, Yen Bai

2. Thuy Tien Cave & viewpoint

thac ba lake – travel guide & 5 things to do

A boat trip through the lake often includes a visit to Thuy Tien cave. which was used during the Vietnam War as a base of Yen Bai provincial committee. The cave itself, which is located on an island in the middle of the lake, is not very special. But there is also a stair that takes you to the top of the island from where you have a beautiful view over the lake. In addition to Thuy Tien, there are also other caves in this area, some of which can also be visited.

3. Cao Bien viewpoint

thac ba lake – travel guide & 5 things to do

Cao Bien Mountain is the highest mountain around Thac Ba lake. If you want to reach the top you have to take a 3.5 hour walk, but once at the top you have the best view over the lake. From here you have a panoramic view over the green islands in Thac Ba lake, which makes the walk certainly true.

Location of Cao Bien mountain: Halfway east of the lake

4. Ngoi Tu Village

thac ba lake – travel guide & 5 things to do

Thac Ba Lake is of course the highlight of the region, but what you should not miss here is an insight into the life of the ethnic minorities who live here in the traditional ways. There are several villages around the lake that you can visit, but Ngoi Tu Village is the most accessible. The local municipality has made Ngoi Tu village into a tourist area, so there are also homestays where you can stay for the total local experience. Don’t let the word touristic area scare you, the village still feels authentic, although it is definitely recommended to visit several other villages around the lake if you have the time.

5. Mu Cang Chai

thac ba lake – travel guide & 5 things to do

The most beautiful rice fields in Vietnam can be found in Mu Cang Chai, which is also located in the Yen Bai province. Although Thac Ba Lake and Mu Cang Chai are in the same province, they are still 200 km apart and through the mountains of north Vietnam, this route can take over 5 hours. Worth it? Yes, in the right season. During harvest season, normally around September and early October, the rice fields in this area are indescribably beautiful.

How to get there

Privé transport

With private transport you are the most flexible and you can drive directly to the lake. Rent a car in Vietnam with a driver to drive directly from Hanoi or any other location here.

Tip! Thac Ba Lake tour & Mu Cang Chai with Local Vietnam

Don’t want to arrange your own transportation? We made a unique custom Thac Ba Lake and Mu Cang Chai tour including a private driver.


There are several buses a day to Yen Bai city from Hanoi. The bus ride takes about 3 hours. There is also one bus directly to Yen Binh (4 hour), which is located on the lake and from which you can more easily reach Ngoi Tu village.


Yen Bai, the capital of the province of the same name and also the biggest city that is close to Thac Ba Lake, also happens to be on the train route from Hanoi to Lao Cai (Sapa). So you can visit Yen Bai both from Hanoi (3.5 hours by train) and Sapa (4.5 hours by train).

From Yen Bai city to Thac Ba Lake

From the center of Yen Bai city to Thac Ba lake area (Ngoi Tu village) is about 50km, you can choose to go by car or rent a motorbike from here and go straight to Ngoi Tu area. If you just want to walk around Thac Ba lake and make a boat trip you can take a taxi or motorbike taxi to Huong Ly port (about 12km) and then rent a boat to go around Thac Ba lake.

Best time to visit Thac Ba Lake

If you want to combine Thac Ba more with Mu Cang Chai, it is highly recommended to go around September or early October, so that the rice fields in this area are at their best. In addition, the water in the lake is higher during these months due to more rain and the landscape is at its greenest.

Where to stay at Thac Ba Lake

The best place to stay around Thac Ba Lake is in Ngoi Tu Village. There are plenty of hotels in the city of Yen Bai and in Yen Binh there are also some accommodations, but they lack atmosphere. Staying in a local ethnic minority homestay will certainly be a positive addition to your visit and provide a great insight into the local culture.

Day 1: Hanoi – Thac Ba Lake

  • Departing from Hanoi very early (about 5-6 am) and have breakfast on arrival in Yen Bai city.
  • Visit Thac Ba hydropower plant and make a boat trip over the lake
  • Go to the homestay that you have booked in advance.
  • Explore Nghia Lo Town , rest at night and enjoy Nghia Lo specialties

Day 2: Nghia Lo – Tu Le – Mu Cang Chai

  • After breakfast, go from Nghia Lo to Mu Cang Chai. The distance of about 100km but this section is extremely beautiful with rice fields.
  • Lunch on the Khau Pha pass
  • Across the pass you will be in Mu Cang Chai and continue to admire Cao Pha, La Pan Tan and Che Cu Nha terraced fields.

Day 3: Mu Cang Chai

  • Make a trekking in Mu Cang Chai for a full day

Dag 4: Mu Cang Chai – Hanoi

  • Head back to Hanoi

Interested in this tour…?

Thac Ba Lake & Mu Cang Chai tour

This recommended itinerary is our custom made Thac Ba Lake and Mu Cang Chai tour, including private car with driver, accommodation and activities.

Đăng bởi: Chơn Tấn

Từ khoá: Thac Ba Lake – Travel guide & 5 things to do

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