Lai Chau VietnamLai Chau, Vietnam
Lai Chau Vietnam offers beautiful off the beaten track jungle treks, hiking, trekking homestay, road cycling tours, mountain biking holidays, motorbike, and motorcycle tours from Hanoi. Lai Chau province is situated on high mountainous region in the North West of Viet Nam, in the northern of the Black River. Its neighbors are Yunna (China) on […]
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Lai Chau Vietnam offers beautiful off the beaten track jungle treks, hiking, trekking homestay, road cycling tours, mountain biking holidays, motorbike, and motorcycle tours from Hanoi. Lai Chau province is situated on high mountainous region in the North West of Viet Nam, in the northern of the Black River. Its neighbors are Yunna (China) on the north, Dien Bien, Laos on the west, Lao Cai Province on the north-east, Yen Bai, Son La provinces on the south.
Lai Chau province contains 1 city and 7 districts including Muong Te, Phong Tho, Sin Ho, Tam Duong, Than Uyen, Tan Uyen, Nam Nhun, and Lai Chau city.
Lai Chau’s main agricultural products are rice, maize, cassava and tea. The production of rice and maize tripled since 2000, while the output of cassava and tea has been increasing by around 40% and 120%. Tea from Lai Chau is sold to other provinces in Vietnam and also exported to other countries.
Getting to Lai Chau
National Road 4 connects Lai Chau to Lao Cai Province, National Road 12 to Dien Bien Province and National Road 32 to Yen Bai Province. There is also a road to Gejiu in China. There is neither an airport nor a railway in the province. Road transport has grown rapidly in recent years. Road infrastructure is still not very developed.
The best way to get to Lai Chau from Hanoi is to take a flight from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu city, Dien Bien province. From Dien Bien Phu you can either rent a car or take a Dien Bien Lai Chau local bus to get to your destination. There are direct Hanoi Lai Chau buses leaving from My Dinh bus station, taking you through Nghia Lo, Mu Cang Chai to Lai Chau city. The other way is take Hanoi Sapa bus which follow the newly-open Express Highway Hanoi – Lao Cai (6h). From Sapa town, hire a car, moto-taxi or take a local bus to be brought to your place in Lai Chau. The road from Lai Chau to Sapa is one of the most beautiful drives in Vietnam but it is very lumpy.
Traveling by road from Hanoi to Lai Chau is a great way to discover the north west Vietnam. The stretch of road goes uphill and downhill alternately with many sharp bends. Booking a guided tour is highly recommended. An English-speaking guide is helpful in a such off the beaten path place.
When to go
Lai Chau has the typical tropical climate with two seasons: dry and rainy season. Rainy season lasts from May to September with much rain, high temperature and humidity. If you travel to Lai Chau in June, July, August of lunar calendar, be prepared that you trip might be interrupt due to hard rain. It is because 80% the rainfall of the year is allocated within these months. The average temperature in rainy season ranges from 25 – 35oC. Dry and cold season begins from November to March of the following year. This season features with cold weather and low humidity. The temperature falls low during these months with the lowest temperature of 4-5oC and thick mist, dry and cold wind, and frost. Between April and October is the transition period from rainy season to dry season. During these months, there is great difference between temperature between day and at night. Maybe, temperature in the afternoon reaches 38oC and falls down to 18-20oC.
Things to see
There are sloping mountains, hill, valley, plateau, spring alternately. Falls and waterfalls with high flow are potential of hydroelectricity in Lai Chau. Pu Ta Leng mountain, at 3,096m in height is the highest peak in the province. Among others, some plateaus such as Sin Ho, Ta Phinh, Dao San are even higher than 1,500m, thus being covered in cloud and purely cool atmosphere all the time.
Apart from high mountains, Lai Chau is also rich in narrow valleys, beautiful rivers and springs. The longest and largest river in the province is Da river. These together with others, such as Nam Na, Nam Mu flowing between the ranges, make several roaring and white frothy waterfalls in the quiet forests. One among the most popular waterfalls is Thac Tinh, which is higher than 50m with 2 classes, and frequently full of water flows, bringing a magnificent picture of natural beauty.
The fanciful villages of ethnic minorities on the banks of the River are gathering in picturesque scenery. For those fond of health-care elements, there are some hot and mineral water springs scattering in the province, for examples, Van Bo (in Phong Tho District), Na Dong, Na Don (Tam Duong), and some other hydroelectricity lakes.
Can you imagine that the caves and grottoes in the mountain ranges in the area still remain their original states, such as Binh Lu and Tien Son grottoes, which are no doubt the magic beauties of nature! Moreover, there exists a thousands-of-hectare forest, in the 6 km southwest of Lai Chau town, consisting of more than ten original caves. All of those are truly beautiful with sparking brightness and varied shaped stalactites and stalagmites. Thanks to this gifted scenery, the area is called “Phong Nha Grotto of the Northwest”.
What to do
Lai Chau’s mountainous terrain with lakes, caves and forests is an outdoor lover’s dream. Activities include cycling, an ethnic minority walk, market and Sunday market tours, homestay trekking, kayaking, boating, cooking and handicraft tours.
Trekking is the most popular activity in Lai Chau, with guided tours available to take you into tribal villages, along rice fields and up some challenging hills. Tam Duong serves as a base for most of the province’s trekking journeys. The caves of Lai Chau are fascinating not only for their stunning geographical features but as historical sites containing many ancient artifacts.
While it is possible to go hiking around Lai Chau town on your own, it is better to have the assistance of a guide to guarantee a more enriching experience. When it comes to longer treks or overnight stays in the villages, the knowledge of a local will come in handy.