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Guide about Lao Cai
Guide about Lao Cai
Geography

Located in North-West Vietnam, Lao Cai is surrounded by Yunna (China) o­n the north, Lai Chau Province o­n the west, Ha Giang Province o­n the east and Yen Bai, Son La provinces o­n the south.
Lao Cai’s terrain is divided into main kinds following: valley, low and high mountainous. 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.
Lao Cai has typical mountainous climate. The dry season lasts from October to March, it is cold. And the rain season is from April to September. Annual average temperature is 23ºC. Specially, sometime, there is snow in Sapa.
 

Tourism

Lao Cai preserves lots of special cultural and historical sites. Outstanding vestiges is 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)…
Lao Cai is very proud of Sapa, a unique natural tourist site. Many new married couples like spending their honeymoon in Sapa because of good weather and romantic sightseeing. Visitors to Sapa in summer can feel the climate of four seasons in o­ne day. They enjoy discovering other interesting places including Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo forest, Ta Phin Cave and Sapa ancient rock field. Taken place every Saturday night, Sapa Market is an attractive place for visitors who are keen o­n exploring traditional cultures.
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. In Cat Cat Village many H’Mong residents are good at manipulating gold and silver jewelry.
It is festinate to travel from Lai Chau to Lao Cai following National Highway No. 4D because of scenery along roadsides and impressive sight of Hoang Lien Son Range. This way attracts to people liking the adventure and discover o­n bicycle, too.
 

Ethnic groups

Lao Cai has a colorful culture of 27 ethnic groups. 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.
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….

Transportation
Located 300km from Hanoi, Lao Cai can be reached by car or train. There is National Highway No.70, 279, 4D linking Lao Cai to Yen Bai, Lai Chau and Ha Giang, China in turn. There are two trains depart from Hanoi daily to Lao Cai.
 

Sapa is the most popular place to go in the Far Northwest amongst budget travelers and packages tourists alike. By using Sapa as a base you can hike off to more remote ‘traditional’ hill tribe villages and sometimes you will be offered a bed in a village for the night. Sapa was originally built as a hill station in the early part of this century and, in winter, gets bitterly cold. If you are going to be visiting Sapa in winter do not forget the winter  woollies.

Sapa is preparing itself for the continuing tourist boom considerably well. Behind Sapa, towards Phong Tho is a high pass forming part of the Hoang Lien Mountains that were known to the French as the Tonkinese Alps. This range includes Fansipan, the highest mountain in Vietnam at 3,143m, which view at dawn could be spectacular.

There is a weekend market in Sapa during which the town fills up with hilltribe people selling their wares. If you want to see these tribes as they "traditionally" live (as opposed to flogging jackets to tourists), either go for a hike or head over to Dien Bien Phu from Sapa. This stretch has the most traditional people you will see in the whole of Vietnam. It seems that most tourist groups pile into Sapa during the weekend for the market. However, travelers have reported that during the week is a much better time to catch a glimpse of the real Sapa avoiding from a big hassle of tourists.

You can hike in the surrounding area and visit a number of fairly traditional predominantly Mong hilltribe villages. Further afield is the colourful Red Zao, Dzay, Tay and Xa Pho people. A home stay in the Tay village would be unforgettable experience.

 
 
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