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Lao Cai

3.3 / 5 15 votes

Country rank: 25 out of 46 Places To Visit In Vietnam

Sub-Region: North-Western Region


Weather:

Ideal duration: 3-4 days

Best time: September - October (Read More)

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"The perfect medley of tribal culture and nature!"

Lao Cai Tourism

Nestled in the midst of mountains and valleys, Lao Cai, an obscure yet well developed Vietnamese region offers you something out of the ordinary - rich Vietnamese culture sans the sultry tropical heat. Lao Cai offers you a picturesque scenery, adventure and a peek into the rich culture and history of the local people, serving as an excellent tourist retreat for all kinds of people.

Lao Cai is an exotic and relaxing retreat away from the everyday qualms of life. Located in the lap of nature, Lao Cai is an untouched, yet developed paradise. Lao Cai has suitable activities for all kinds of tourists. For the adventourous lot, the Fansipan mountains, Hoang lien national park, Silver waterfall offer trekking and adventure activities. For the cultural and religious enthusiasts, the numerous temples provide solace, but the icing on the cake is the warm and welcoming locals who are more than overjoyed to educate tourists about their lifestyle. For those who wish to shop till they drop - the numerous markets such as Indigo Cat, Sa Pa market, Lao Cai market, Sin Cheng Market in addition to the numerous souvenir shops scattered all over are the perfect go to. For those who wish to relax - the breathtaking scenery provides an ideal location to sit back and relax with a cup of piping hot coffee and a good book.

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Lao Cai has numerous local markets to pick up souvenirs. Bac Ha Market, the largest minority market in Vietnam open every Sunday, colours the streets in a medley of villagers dressed in their best, barteriung local produce. Sin Cheng Market is often reached by horse and has the best local rice and native duck based food and Lao Cai souvenirs. Indigo Cat is a shop that brings to you a collection of handicrafts and local items produced by the ethnic minorities of the aea.

The market of Muong khuong village may seem to beb ordinary at first galnce. It has the usual crowd of locals dressed up in their best ethnic clothing, the shopkeepers selling their wares and bartering their goods, but on closer inspection you notice the peculiarity - an entire section of this amrket is dedicated exclusively fo the sale of birds! muong Khuong culture dictates that a bird be placed in a cage outside each house and you will find a number of traders trying to sell all kinds of birds to the locals. The most common bird sold is the nightingale as it can be easily caught in the surrounding forests.

The Nung and Tu Si tribes of this region have a very innovative and exotic way of making house roofs. The roof tiles are made of clay, baked at high temperature in wood kilns buried in the ground. After 5 days of baking, the still hot tiles are sprinkled with water. Those that do not break will protect the houses for a century at least. This technique, known as ñrakouî tends to disappear because the hundreds of kilos of wood necessary to bake the tiles are hard to find. King Hoang A TuongÍs palace in Bac Ha is covered in traditional clay tiles. Some can still be seen in the north of the Muong Khuong, Si Ma Cai and Bac Ha districts.

The Lao Cai region is home to the Hmong, Gaiy and Tay tribes. The Gaiy people practice ancestor worship as religion. Hmong people do not practice any particular religion and offen associate themselves with spirituality. Tay people worship natural and tutelary spirits and protectors as gods.

The Lao Cai region is home to the Hmong, Gaiy and Tay tribes. Gaiy people celebrate the Roong pooc festival on the snake day of the first lunar month to celebrate the beginning of the rice festival. Tay people sing a song called 'Luon' which a love song sung between lovers.

Vietnamese is the officical language. However, each ethnic minory has its own language - the most popular of which is Tay Sa Pa spoken by the Tay community in the Central Tai region and Padi, spoken by the Tay people of Southwest Tai Region.The locals understand a few english words and you will be able to get around quite easily.

Lao cai is a historic location. It has been known since ancient times as a popular trading port. China, Vietnam and the ethnic minorities of the region fought extensively to gain control over the region. The Viet Kings were successful and in 1463, they declared lao Cai as the capital of their northern priovince. In 1889, Lao Cai became a French colony. Lao Cai also served as a millitary garrison during the Vietnamese War and the first Vietnamese train line was built between Hanoi and Lao Cai to transport millitary equipment.

Lao Cai has a raging nightlife. The entry charge for clubs and karaoke bars range from 80,000 - 150,000 VND. Singles often pay more than couples. Some of the best places to unwind include Caf_ in the Clouds (a hilltop bar-brewery which offers you a perfect location to relax and ponder), Color Bar (Offers an enticing medley of table football, reggae, shisha and ice-cold Lao Cai Bia), Mountain bar and Pub (famous for its warm apple wine, this bar also offers competative table football, cold beer and strong cocktails), Hmong Sisters (this is a spacious bar with pool tables, an open raging fireplace and excellent choice of music). Aloha bar is popular for their great cocktails and relaxed atmosphere. Elite Karoke Bar is an upscale bar with great music and the opportunity to sing your heart out to your favourite song. The pubs usually have relaxed dress code, but Karaoke and Dance bars ofetn have strict party clothing and flip flops may seem out of place.

The mountainous Lao Cai has its own flavour of exotic, with a wide array of exquisite local dishes. Some Local delicacies include _ Thang Co (soup made of horsemeat and horse bone, seasoned with 12 kinds of spices including ginger and cinnamon and served with fresh vegetables), Pau Play Day Cake (White balls made with glutinous rice and filled with a special filling made out of green peas), Com Lam (Bamboo sticks stuffed with sticky rice) and locally available Black Mushrooms and Black Chicken. An indigenous drink available in the area is Tao Meo, the local drink of the Hêmoong tribe. This alcoholic drink is made from the fruits of the Tao Meo tree _ a tree that grows locally in the area.


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Holidify's Opinion

  What's Great?

Scenic Views, Relaxing mountain air, Cultural diversity

  What's not so Great?

Not very developed, Lot of tourists

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How to Reach Lao Cai

Lao Cai has a great connectivity through rail, bus and road. It has its own railway station and bus station, located just 300 metrers apart. However, it does not have an airport. The closest airpor... (Read More)

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