Lao Cai VietnamLao Cai, Vietnam
Lao Cai is a province of the mountainous Northwest region of Vietnam bordering Yunna (China), Lai Chau, Ha Giang and Yen Bai, Son La.
Lao Cai Vietnam is a mountainouus province in the northwest region of Vietnam bordering the province of Yunnan in China. Lao Cai province covers an area of 6383 square kilometres. It is the most important travel destination in Vietnam for offering beautiful mountain scenery, terraced paddy fields, colorful ethnic market, and the rich ethnic culture.
Lao Cai province contains 1 city and 8 districts including Bac Ha, Bao Thang, Bao Yen, Bat Xat, Muong Khuong, Sapa, Si Ma Cai, Van Ban, and Lao Cai city.
Lao Cai city and Sapa town are two important cities within the province. The former is well known as key trading post and the latter is hill station famous for tourism, in the Northwest region of Vietnam. Lao Cai is also the capital of Lao Cai Province and shares border with the city of Hekou, in the Yunnan province of Southwest China. This border town was closed after the 1979 war with China, since reopened in 1993, has become a major tourist centre between Hanoi, Sapa and Kunming (China).
With 3,143m in height, Fansipan is considered the highest peak of the Indochina Peninsula. The province has 107 rivers including Red, Chay and Nam Mu rivers… The province also owns 31 types of mineral, of which apatit, cooper, iron are most valuable.
The remarkable feature of Lao Cai is biologic diversification. There are 2,000 kinds of flora, 442 kinds of birds and animals… of which 60 kinds of animals only found in Lao Cai, 9 kinds of floras only found in Sapa. So that Lao Cai owns a treasure of valuable and rare genes, making up 50% rare floras in Vietnam.
There are 27 ethnic groups living together in Lao Cai province. They are Kinh, H’Mong, Tay, Dao, Thai, Giay, Nung, Phu La, Ha Nhi, Lao, Khang, La Ha, Muong, Bo Y, Hoa, La Chi, San Chay, San Diu, Khmer, Lo Lo, Ka Doong, Pa Co, E De, Gie Trieng, Gia Rai, Cham, Ka Tu. The life of minority people groups base on planting rice on the paddy, on the fields in the mountains or on terraced field.
Traditional festivals here are very special including Pray for good crop, Spring Mountain, and Long Tong festivals. There are many merry games such as nem con, tug-of-wars, cockfights.
When to go
As the province is mostly mountainous, it experiences a dry cold climate from October to March, while the tropical monsoon is rainy season which lasts from April to September. The annual average temperature is 23 °C (73 °F). The temperature generally ranges between18 °C (64 °F) and 28 °C (82 °F) in the mountainous region, with the lowland areas showing a temperature variation of between 20 °C (68 °F) and 22 °C (72 °F). In Sapa town however, the temperature drops to less than 0 °C (32 °F) with snowing conditions. Fog and frost are a common phenomenon in the province.
Getting to Lao Cai
There is no airport in Lao Cai province. The best way to get to Lao Cai is to take the train. There are several night trains each day from and to Hanoi. One train starts about 6 am and arrives about 6 pm. There’s a simple restaurant in the train. People are selling food through the windows or walking through the train during stops around lunch time. There are 220 Volt / 50 Hz power outlets in the soft seat coaches.
Rent a car is a great way to get to Lao Cai from Hanoi. It takes about 6 hours on the new highway Hanoi – Lao Cai.
Buses run from Kunming and other cities in Yunnan (China) to Hekou from where it is a short walk over the border to Lao Cai. The border is open from 7am to 10pm (8am to 11pm Chinese time). Crossing the border is pretty easy and fast.
It’s lovely to travel to Lao Cai from Lai Chau, following the National Highway No. 4D because of scenery along roadsides and impressive sight of Hoang Lien Son Range.
What to see
Lao Cai preserves lots of special cultural and historical sites. Outstanding vestiges include the ancient stone engrave area with picture of map, handwriting, people thousand years ago in Muong Hoa Valley (Sapa), Pho Rang vestige. There are many beautiful caves like Thuy Tien (Bat Xat), Ta Phoi (Cam Duong), Tien-Trung Do (Bac Ha), Xuan Quang (Bao Thang).
Sapa is the most popular tourist destination of Lao Cai province. Traveling to Sapa, visitors enjoy discovering interesting places including Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo forest, Ta Phin Cave and Sapa ancient rock field. In Cat Cat Village many H’Mong residents are good at manipulating gold and silver jewelry.
In addition, Bac Ha Market hosts the biggest fair near the mountainous highlands. It is a typical weekly activity for the H’Mong and other minority groups living in the locality.