The Detian Waterfall (德天瀑布 [Détiān Pùbù]; Virtuous Heaven Waterfall) is said to be Asia's largest transnational waterfall because it is shared by both China and Vietnam. Surrounded by picturesque karst peaks (more famously present in places like Guilin in China, Phang-nga Bay in Thailand, and Halong Bay in Vietnam), this is definitely one of the more scenic waterfalls we've seen let alone one of the most scenic waterfalls in the country.
The falls consists of two parts. There's the main waterfall (named Detian Waterfall) on the Chinese side of the Guichun River, and then there's the Ban Gioc Waterfall (Banyue Waterfall [half-way across?] in Chinese) on the Vietnamese side of the river. We had no trouble seeing both falls from the Chinese side, but I'm not sure about actually getting up to the Ban Gioc Waterfall since we didn't actually take a boat across the river (plus I'm not sure if there were border implications in doing that).
As for statistics, the overall cumulative drop over the three tiers of the falls is said to be 60m. The main falls on the Chinese side is said to be 120m wide. However, if you include the Vietnamese side with the Chinese side as one giant entity, then it's got 200m in width. It's said to be the largest transnational waterfall in Asia, but it's certainly not the 2nd largest transnational waterfall in the world as we've seen was falsely proclaimed in the literature (Iguazu Falls, Victoria Falls, and Niagara Falls are all transnational waterfalls that surpass Detian Waterfall in size).
A walking path allowed us to get right up to the main waterfall on the Chinese side. And that included being able to walk alongside the series of cascades and falls comprising this side. We enjoyed taking long exposure photos trying to show the details and graceful beauty of the river rushing through thick tropical foliage.
The closer to the waterfall that we got, the less of it that we were able to see. But at least we were able to feel some of the spray from the falls to help alleviate some of the discomfort brought about by the stifling heat and humidity (no relief from mosquitoes though). In order to get a more panoramic view (other than staying further back on the walk closer to the hotel there), we took some time to go up a series of steps (which were quite slippery when wet thanks to the humidity and sporadic showers) to a lookout that provided us with a wide open view towards the Vietnamese side encompassing the entire waterfall plus the majestic and ghostly karst mountains in the backdrop.
If there was one complaint I had about our visit, it would be that we happened to show up when Detian Waterfall was at its lowest flow of the year (late April). It was almost analogous to saying we were visiting Yosemite Falls in late August when it was either dry or barely trickling.
Still, this waterfall was still flowing fairly well, which was definitely saying something about its permanence as well as how much better it would have been in late Summer through Autumn when the falls would be its magnificent earth shattering self. Plus, the relative (and I do mean relative since we're talking about China) quiet of this place deep in a humid rainforest flanked by terraces, old fashioned rafts, and jaw-dropping gorges made this a very pleasant getaway from the chaos of the country's cities (where the crush of over a billion people can be a bit overwhelming).
From some of the signage and relics at the Detian Waterfall, it seemed apparent to us that this place had been the site of many conflicts with the Vietnamese. I believe it was said that there was a canon perched atop one of the cliffs overlooking the area. Moreover, we were able to walk along a path that followed the Guichun River upstream to the 53rd boundary tablet marking the border between the countries. But contrasting those relics, we also saw a small shrine along the walk as well as some outdoor stalls where both Chinese and Vietnamese traders routinely hawk their wares (and both languages can be heard here). But we didn't feel comfortable straying too far into the other side of the border for we heard that border patrols were quite strict about entering the country illegally.
Perhaps one day we will return to this waterfall in a more reasonable time of year where we can see the falls in its "normal" flow. But for now, check out the photos here and take comfort in the fact that you're likely to have better photos when you show up to this wonder.
Directions: To get to this waterfall, the nearest hub is in Nanning, capital city of Guangxi Province. The nearest major town on the way here is Daxin (the Big New?).
We based ourselves in Nanning on an escorted tour, and it took us about 4 hours one-way by car to get here. But I have to caveat that with the fact that our driver went real fast and drove somewhat crazily in his haste to get us here. So it's conceivable that the drive time could be up to 5 hours in a more leisurely pace.
The drive itself was quite scenic with lots of shapely mountains surrounding the road we took (which even included the Shatundie Waterfall), but we didn't get a chance to stop and enjoy the scenery due to the hasty pace we were on.