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City & Culture

Lai Chau travel guide you need to know

Translated by Bing
Laizhou is located in the northwest, bordering Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Son La, Dien Bien and Yunnan province of China. The administrative center of the province is the city of Lai Chau, about 420 km from Hanoi.


Lai Chau has characteristics of the Northwest climate and culture, so the right time to travel to Lai Chau is 9-10 months when the rice fields ripen yellow, then spring, January 1-3, with all kinds of flowers such as peaches, brilliant blooming bananas and the pouring season of 4-5 months. Summer, from June to 8, when it rains a lot, should avoid traveling to Lai Chau.


From Hanoi to Lai Chau, follow Hanoi - Lao Cai highway (CT05), then enter National Highway 4D from Lao Cai city. Total travel time is about 8 hours.

Lai Chau does not have an airport. Visitors from the southern provinces arrive at the nearest airport, Dien Bien, a distance of 190 km, then travel by road for about 4 hours.

Buses depart from Giap Bat or My Dinh bus station (Hanoi) to Lai Chau, ticket prices range from 250,000 VND to 350,000 VND, depending on the garage and the type of sleeper or seat.


Lai Chau has many hotels in the city center, including large hotels such as Hoang Nnhi Luxury Hotel and Muong Thanh Lai Chau Hotel, priced from VND 800,000 to VND 1.2 million; Minh Son Hotel, Putaleng Hotel, Binh Long Hotel, price from 200,000 VND to 400,000 VND.

In Sin Suoi Ho village, there are many clean and beautiful homestays with good services for tourists such as Sin Suoi Ho Hideaway Homestay Lai Chau, Bui Soi homestay, Chu Vang homestay, Sung A Gun, Chinh Ly homestay. Room rates range from 300,000 VND to about 800,000 VND per night.


O Quy Ho Pass

O Quy Ho Pass (also known as May Pass or Hoang Lien Pass) is one of the four great peaks of Vietnam, 2,350 m high. O Quy Ho has a zigzag road on National Highway 4D, of which two-thirds belong to Tam Duong district, Lai Chau and the remaining one-third are located in Sapa town, Lao Cai province. This is the longest pass in the Northwest mountains, nearly 50 km. In 2015, it was recognized as a National Scenic Spot.

The elevation of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range also makes the climate of the two halves of the pass clearly demarcated in the Heaven's Gate area. In winter, while the Santang side is still warm, Sapa is cold wind, all day foggy covered. In summer, if the Sapa pass is cool, Tam Tang is dry heat.

Sin Suoi Ho Tourist Village

Sin Suoi Ho village. Image: Lekima Hung

Sin Suoi Ho village belongs to Phong Tho district, about 30 km from Lai Chau city. The village is located at an altitude of nearly 1,500 m above sea level, at the foot of Son Bac May mountain. In 2015, Sin Suoi Ho was recognized as a community tourism village, attracting visitors thanks to its airy, clean space and new ways of doing tourism. In the village, there are many signs and garbage collection points, helping the space to always be clean and tidy. The village is mainly Hmong, people here do not drink, smoke, gamble. Enough homestay and services for tourists.

The road to the village is now more convenient than it was 2-3 years ago. Tourists from Hanoi move in the direction of Noi Bai - Lao Cai highway, to Sa Pa, through O Quy Ho pass to reach Lai Chau City.



The terrain is created by mountain ranges running in the direction of northwest - southeast, so Lai Chau has many peaks, attracting tourists who love trekking. Pusilung peak is 3,083 m (the second highest in Vietnam after Fansipan), Pu Ta Leng is 3,049 m high, Bach Moc Luong Tu (3,046 m), Ta Lien Son (2,996 m), Complain Lien San (3,012 m), Pu Ma Lung (2,967 m). The climbing season is usually from about October to May 4 of the year after it is dry, it is possible to hunt clouds and admire many blooming flowers such as azaleas, genus, forest peaches. Visitors when hiking should buy an all-inclusive tour or hire a local porter to avoid getting lost.


Sìn Ho Plateau

About 60 km from the center of Lai Chau city, Sìn Ho plateau is located at an altitude of more than 1,500 m. Sìn Ho is in the middle of rocky mountains, primeval forests, sea of clouds, terraced fields and villages on the side of mountains. Considered as the second Sapa of the Northwest region, the weather of the day here is like 4 seasons of the year. Sìn Ho is suitable for growing medicinal plants such as tamarind, cat apple, astiso, medicinal leaf bath plant, along with many temperate vegetable and fruit varieties such as plum, peach, pear and resort tourism to develop.

Tan Uyen tea plantation

Tan Uyen tea hill is located along National Highway 32, near the center of Tan Uyen town, with an age of more than 40 years, with a scale of nearly 2,000 hectares. Here, visitors will enjoy the fresh scenery and nature. This is also where many people choose to take wedding photos, or souvenir photos in the green space between sunrise or sunset. Tea is also one of the main economic crops of the town with tea products famous throughout the country such as shan tuyet or oolong.

Muong Te Nature Reserve

Muong Te Nature Reserve is located in Muong Te district, which is a mountainous region between 1,000 and 2,820 meters above sea level. The area has a diverse terrain with mountain ranges, valleys, rivers and waterfalls. This place is home to many ethnic minority communities but also home to many rare species of flora and fauna, especially the forest ecosystem. There are 57 species of rare plants recorded in the Red Book of Vietnam and 7 species in the Red Book of the world, most of which are rare medicinal species, 22 species are endemic to the Northwest.

Muong Than field

Muong Than is one of the four largest fields in the Northwest (Muong Thanh - Muong Lo - Muong Tac) in Muong Than commune, Than Uyen district. The field not only creates poetic beauty among majestic mountains and forests, but also produces many famous local products such as stomach corn, Hoang Long sweet potato, sén cu rice, eight rice.

Pu Sam Cable cave complex

About 6 km from Lai Chau city, on TL129 connecting Lai Chau city with Sìn Ho district, Pu Sam Cap cave complex is considered "Northwest First Cave". This complex belongs to the Pu Sam Cable range system with an altitude of about 1,300 m to 1,700 m above sea level. This is a limestone mountain range formed from the tectonic epoch, with a comfortable ridge to the south and steep slopes, dividing to the north. With more than 10 large and small caves, including two large caves, are also two places that are welcoming tourists (Tianmen Cave and Paradise Cave).

Inside the Pu Sam Cap cave complex. Photo: Nguyen Xuan Loc

The road to Pu Sam Cable is twisty and difficult to walk, visitors should choose vehicles that can travel on the road and prepare appropriate costumes.

Golden Pó Hot Spring

Vang Pó Hot Spring is located in Vang Bo village, Phong Tho town, next to National Highway 4D. Vang Pó hot spring is associated with Muong So tourist spot and Ma Lu Thang border gate economic zone. It opened in 2018, covers nearly 50,000 m2, has a system of bungalows and level 4 houses, physiotherapy, indoor and outdoor hot mineral swimming pools, large parking lots. Entrance fee is 30,000 VND.

In addition to Vang Pó, in Lai Chau province, there are also Nam Ún and Phong Phat hot springs (Tan Uyen district).


In addition to many typical dishes of the northern mountainous region such as kitchen guard meat, stitched humiliation, pa blister, thang co, Lai Chau also has many typical delicious dishes.

Lai Chau Purple Bucket

Purple sticky rice is one of the specialties of Lai Chau that visitors should enjoy. Sticky rice is made from large-grained, purple sticky rice dyed from the aperture tree. The plug breaks the whole branch, the leaves are washed, then boiled and soaked with rice. When ripe, fragrant, bright purple, the seeds are soft and flexible.

Purple bucket. Image: PNVN

Ash-buried gobies

Gobies are caught from streams, which are fish with both delicious and chewy meat, then processed clean and then marinated with spices such as chili, pepper, ginger, macadamia, basil leaves, lemongrass for about 15-20 minutes and then wrapped in dong leaves, then buried in hot ash for about 30 minutes, turned over 5-6 times to cook. Fish when cooked has a light aroma, eaten with a rich taste.

Bitter leaf broth

The dish is made from pig secretions and lungs, cooked with seasoned spices, combined with herbs and bitter leaves boiled before thoroughly cooked. This dish will be a bit difficult to eat for those who have never tried it because of the bitter and slightly acrid taste, but when you get used to it, you will feel the sweet, greasy taste. Bitter leaf secretion broth is good for health, has the effect of relieving alcohol, curing digestive diseases.

Making a Point

Lam noi (Lam is grilled, boiled is slow), is the name of the dish made from buffalo meat or beef sliced in thin grain mixed with macadamia, chili, garlic, ginger, forest tomatoes, squash, young squash. After the meat, spices, vegetables are mixed well and absorbed, put into a pre-baked bamboo tube. Next, remove the meat, mash it and grill it one last time. Sweet when enjoyed has a rich, soft, sticky taste that can be rolled up into pieces.



Vegetable mannequin

Vegetable noodles are quite popular dishes of Thai people in Lai Chau. Thai people also call the vegetable "quail", a fern-like plant, large stem, wide foliage, smooth green leaf surface. This plant grows only on the banks of streams, crevices, where there is high humidity. The soft, crunchy sweetness, mixed with sour and sour taste is the typical flavor of vegetable noodles.


The azaleas on the top of Pu Ta Leng bloom abundantly and beautifully in spring, however the duration is only 2-3 weeks.

Lai Chau and some surrounding areas may experience landslides, floodwaters on rising rivers and streams, causing danger in the rainy season.

According to VnE

Image source: Multiple authors
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