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Lao Cai Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 3-4 days

Best Time: March to April 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.

Things to do in Lao Cai

1. Hoang Lien National Park, Lao Cai

Hoang Lien National Park, Lao Cai
Hoang Lien National Park is a popular ecotourism destination and is also a hub for scientific research.

2. Silver Waterfall

Silver Waterfall
Silver Waterfall or Thac Bac waterfall is a picturesque cascade of water located right beside the Highway 4D. Located about 30 minutes away from the Sapa main town, Silver waterfall lives upto its nam (Read More)e. The white waters cascading down the hill slope glint in the sunlight, making it appear as though molten silver is flowing down the slope. From the base of the waterfall, you can climb upto a distance of 30 metres to get a better view. If you look in the other direction, you are greeted by sights of green pine forests on the hill slopes.

3. Fansipan

Fondly known as the 'Roof of Indochina', Fansipan, in Vietnam, is the largest mountain in the Indochina region (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos. Standing at over 3 Km (3147 ft) in the Hoang Lien Son mountain (Read More)range, it is situated around 9 Km away from Sapa. This mountain attracts hiking and trekking enthusiasts. Reaching the top takes 3-5 days via a trek of intermediate difficulty. These treks are organized by tour companies with overnight stays near the peak and at various spots during the climb.

4. Muong Hoa Valley

Muong Hoa Valley
Muong Hoa Valley is the largest farmland in Sapa and Lao Cai, offering breathtaking scenery. Located at the intersection of two large mountains, the valley is popular for trekking along the Muong Hoa (Read More)river. Explore the rolling emerald hills, stunning views, and traditional village life here. It is also famous for its motorbike ride.

5. Notre Dame Cathedral, Lao Cai

Notre Dame Cathedral, Lao Cai
Built in the 20th century by French colonizers, the Catholic Church of Sapa is known for its unique architecture and cross-shaped bell tower in the west. It is also known as the Stone Church of Sapa o (Read More)r the Church of the Holy Lady of the Rosary or Notre Dame Cathedral. The windows are embellished with 32 colorful stained glasses depicting Jesus�۪s life. The church is closed throughout the week and only opens every Sunday for Mass. You can admire its architecture from the outside.

6. Bao Ha Temple

Bao Ha Temple
Bao Ha temple sees a lot of Spiritual tourism in the form of locals.

7. O Quy Ho Pass

O Quy Ho Pass
O Quy Ho pass is located 2000 meters above sea level and is vietnam's longest pass

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More on Lao Cai Travel

Bird market in Muong khuong Village

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.

Shopping in Lao Cai

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.

Nightlife in Lao Cai

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.

History of Lao Cai

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.

Language of Lao Cai

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 Customs

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.

Religion of Lao Cai

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.

Nung and Tu Si houses

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.

Best Time to Visit Lao Cai

How to Reach Lao Cai

How to Reach Overview

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 airport is Noi Ban Airport in hanoi.

How to reach Lao Cai by flight

Lao Cai does not have its own airport. The closest domestic and international airport is the Noi Ban International Airport in Hanoi, located 237 kilometers from the city. From Hanoi, you can reachg lao Cai either by train, bus or car.

How to reach Lao Cai by bus

Lao Cai has excellent bus connectivity. Buses run to Lao Cai from Sapa (80,000 VND), Hanoi (270,000 VND), Lai Chau (80,000 VND), Son La (190,000 VND), Thai Nguyen (220,000 VND). Buses from Sapa stop at the train station as they are all privately operated. The other buses stop at the bus station. You can also take a bus to Hekou in China from where Lao Cai is a short walk across the border.

How to reach Lao Cai by waterways

Waterways cannot be used to travel to Lao Cai from outside.

Local transport in Lao Cai

Lao Cai is fairly small and you can get around either by foot or by Xe Om. Xe Oms are often found in high concentartion near the bus and train stations, border gate and the bridge.

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Lao Cai Photos

Lao Cai, Vietnam

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FAQs on Lao Cai

What is not so good about Lao cai?

Not very developed, Lot of tourists

What are the places near Lao cai?

The top places near to Lao cai are Sapa which is 31 km from Lao cai, Hanoi which is located 227 km from Lao cai, Halong bay which is located 351 km from Lao cai, Sa dec which is located 21 km from Lao cai, Bac ha which is located 25 km from Lao cai

What are the things to do in Lao cai?

The top things to do in Lao cai are Hoang Lien National Park, Lao Cai, Silver Waterfall, Fansipan, Muong Hoa Valley, Notre Dame Cathedral, Lao Cai, Bao Ha Temple. You can see all the places to visit in Lao cai here

What is the best way 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 airport is Noi Ban Airport in hanoi.
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What is the local food in Lao cai?

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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What is the best time to visit Lao cai?

During the months of September to October, summer slowly starts fading away resulting in a drastic reduction of torrential rain. This time is the off season for domestic travellers and this gives you the opportunity to enjoy a natural holiday and soak in the local culture. September is also the harvest season in Lao Cai and this adds a lot of colour and local festivities and fun.
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What is famous about Lao cai?

Scenic Views, Relaxing mountain air, Cultural diversity

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