Backpacking travel in Lai Chau: Full Guide

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Photo : Kid

Vietnam Backpack Travel Guide – On the tourist map Lai Chau probably is not a concern to many people by weak infrastructure, the tourist destination has not been much investment. However, in recent years, along with the construction of the new province, Lai Chau initially promote and develop forms of tourism in the local community.

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1. Introducing Lai Chau

Muong Te, Lai Chau

Lai Chau is located in the northwestern province of Vietnam, 450km from Hanoi. North and Northwest China’s Yunnan province, west of Dien Bien province, east and southeast of the Lao Cai and Yen Bai, Son La province south. Lai Chau topography created by the mountain ranges stretching northwest – southeast, has many high peaks like Ta Pu Leng peak 3,096 meters high. High and steep hills, alternating deep and narrow valleys, mountains east of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range to the west is the Code River, between two mountain ranges on the lower portion of the mountain regions of relatively large flow Black River area with limestone plateau 400 km long road from Phong Tho (Lai Chau) to Quan Son, Quan Hoa (Thanh Hoa). There are plateaus, rivers, streams, rivers have many rapids, great traffic flow should have huge hydropower potential. There 265.095 km border with China, is an important location of the province of geography and national security. Lai Chau province has an area of ​​9,068 km2, Lai Chau has 08 districts are: Lai Chau, Muong Te, Tan Uyen, Sin Ho Nam swing, Tam Duong, Phong Tho, Than Uyen.

Lai Chau Province was established by June 28, 1909 the Governor General of Indochina. At the time, Lai Chau including Lai district, Quynh Chau district, Dien Bien district separated from Son La province, provincial center is Lai Chau town (now is Muong Lay, Dien Bien). January 16, 1915 in Lai Chau province was replaced by four army soldiers Lai Chau under military rule. Later moved to the provincial town of Dien Bien Phu, (now the city of Dien Bien Phu Dien Bien province). From January 1, 2004, Lai Chau province is pided into two provinces of Lai Chau province (new) and Dien Bien. Moved to the provincial capital town of Tam Duong (previously called Phong Tho town) and Lai Chau town called (new). Lai Chau town was renamed the old town of Muong Lay (Dien Bien province).

2. Best time to travel /visit Lai Chau ?

Rice terraces of Phong Tho, Lai Chau

Appropriate time to travel Lai Chau similar period of time appropriate to go northwest.

  • Travelling in September and October to combine travel to Mu Cang Chai, visit Muong Than field in Than Uyen, Lai Chau.
  • O Quy Ho is a mountain pass between Lai Chau and Sapa, if you want to combine travel Lai Chau and Sapa please read the post Backpack Travel Tips in Sapa.
  • You should not go into the rainy season, especially when there is a storm. Northwest of the rainy season is from June to August. Damaged roads now very difficult to go, and the river water rises

3. How to travel from Hanoi to Lai Chau / Bus to and from Lai Chau

Lai Chau afternoon (Photo – Luy Nguyen)

Lai Chau is nearly 500 km away from Hanoi. Currently in Lai Chau has about 10 businesses operating passenger transport, the bus usually start away at My Dinh bus station or Giap Bat bus station.

Buses from Lai Chau center to other districts

Lai Chau to Than Uyen district

Schedule : 6h30; 10h00; 12h30;13h15; 14h30

Lai Chau to Muong Te district

Schedule : 5h30; 6h15; 7h00

Lai Chau to Sin Ho district

Schedule : 6h00; 13h30

Lai Chau to Pa Ha

Schedule : 6h30; 13h00

Lai Chau to Dao San (Phong Tho district)

Schedule : 5h15

Lai Chau – Muong So

Schedule : 12h

In Lai Chau has no place to rent motorcycles so if you do not carry motorcycles from Hanoi and still want go to Lai Chau by motorcycle, you can rent a motorbike in Sapa. In this case you will not take the bus directly to Lai Chau, but  take the bus to Sapa then rent motorcycles here and go to Lai Chau.

Rent Motorbike in Sapa | Buses to and from Lai Chau

4. Hotels and Motels in Lai Chau

Although located quite close to some famous tourist spots such as Mu Cang Chai, Sapa Lai Chau but now only relatively few tourists choose to stay overnight despite staying on tourist itineraries go through the point in Lai Chau, this happens probably because of the ability to meet the accommodation places on quality not good plus the accommodation facilities in Lai Chau is not high. As of early 2014, the province has more than 100 accommodation facilities in all districts, therefore when choosing your travel entirely Lai Chau can be assured of accommodation here

Hotels, Hostels and Motels in Lai Chau

5. Destination in Lai Chau

Located in the northwest of Vietnam, besides the Lao Cai, Dien Bien, Son La, Yen Bai, with more than 20 ethnic groups, Lai Chau has many hidden beauty for tourism development. For many people, Lai Chau seems to be a poor northern province, but those who are really passionate about travel can not ignore the great places that we would mention the following.

  • O Quy Ho pass is one of both the highest, longest and especially the most dangerous and majestic passing roads in the Northwest Mountains of Vietnam. Located on the Highway 4D, the O Quy Ho Pass connects two Northern provinces of Lao Cai and Lai Chau, and especially its top as the boundary of these. Thanks to the length of approximately 50 km with two thirds of that belongs to the territory of Tam Duong district (Lai Chau province) and one third that is in the side of Sapa district (Lao Cai province), the famous pass is worth being called “King of passes in the Northwest Vietnam”.
  • Quần thể hang động Pu Sam Cáp
  • Sìn Hồ, Sapa thứ 2 của trời Tây Bắc
  • Mốc 17, nơi con sông Đà chảy vào đất Việt
  • Đá thiêng của người Hà Nhì
  • Nhà máy thủy điện Lai Châu
  • Di tích Bia Lê Lợi
  • Các bản du lịch cộng đồng Nà Luồng, Hon, Vàng Pheo
  • Pú Đao, điểm đến cho các bạn ưa thích offroad
  • Thác Tác Tình
  • Suối nước nóng Vàng Po
  • Cửa khẩu Ma Lù Thàng
  • Động Tiên Sơn
  • Di tích dinh thự vua thái Đèo Văn Long
  • Cánh đồng Mường Than, vựa lúa lớn thứ 3 của Tây Bắc
  • Pu Ta Leng, nóc nhà thứ 2 tại Đông Dương

Destination in Lai Chau / Sightseeings in Lai Chau

6. Delicious food and cuisine in Lai Chau

Lai Châu thiết đãi lữ khách những món đậm chất núi, quyện hương rừng, vướng vất không khí của miền cao. Những đặc sản này làm cho người đến rồi đi nhưng mãi lưu giữ cảm giác về một nền ẩm thực độc đáo.

Trong số những món ăn Cùng Phượt sắp kể dưới đây, các bạn có thể nhận thấy sự quen thuộc, tương đồng trong văn hóa ẩm thực của các tỉnh Tây Bắc khi mà những món ăn nổi tiếng ở Lai Châu cũng dễ dàng tìm thấy ở các vùng khác. Tuy nhiên, bạn hãy cứ đến và thưởng thức đi nhé bởi cùng một món ăn nhưng dựa trên cách chế biến khéo léo và bàn tay tài hoa của người dân từng vùng mà món ăn sẽ mang những hương vị riêng, khác nhau hoàn toàn. Một số món ăn ngon của Lai Châu có thể kể đến như :

  • Lợn cắp nách
  • Cá bống vùi gio
  • Xôi tím
  • Thịt lợn hun khói
  • Măng nộm hoa ban
  • Nộm rau dớn
  • Các món ăn làm từ rêu đá
  • Canh tiết nấu lá đắng
  • Rượu ngô sùng phài
  • Món cá nướng gập của người Thái

Delicious food and cuisine in Lai Chau

7. Special festival in Lai Chau

The traditional festival of Lai Chau is primarily : Nang Han festival, Kin Pang Then festival, Han Khuong festival, Hoa Ban festival of Thai’s people, New rice festival of La Hu’s people, New year festival of Mong’s people, Fishing festival, Swordplay festival of Dao’s people…

Festival in Lai Chau

8.Travel schedule in Lai Chau

We suggest a few Lai Chau travel schedule so that you can combine with other attractive tourist destination. You should use them to reference and can also changes schedule appropriate with your trip.

Sapa – Lai Chau – Sin Ho – Phong Tho (3 day 4 night)

Night 1 : Hanoi – Sapa

– Travel to Sapa from Hanoi by bus or train.

– You can carry your motorbike from Hanoi or you can rent motorbike in Sapa

Day 1 : Sapa – Lai Chau city – Phong Tho (120km)

– Go to Lai Chau from Sapa by motorcycle along the National Road 4D. On the way, you also can visit Bac Waterfall, O Quy Ho mountain pass.

– When arrive Lai Chau, you can visit some tourist community town or Pu Sam Cap caves.

– Visit Tac Tinh waterfall in Tam Duong town

– When to Phong Tho town, you move onto National Road 12 to get to Ma Lu Thang border crossing

– Visiting the Vietnam China Border Markers number 64 to 66

– Sleeping in Phong Tho town.

– Tối quay về ngủ tại Thị trấn Phong Thổ

Day 2 : Phong Tho – Sin Ho

– Go to Sin Ho from Phong Tho along the National Road 12

– Visiting the Vietnam China Border Markers number 51 to 54 (if enough time)

– Soaking body in traditional medicated leaves of Dao’s people in Sin Ho

Day 3 : Sin Ho – Lai Chau – Sapa – Hanoi

– Come back to Lai Chau from Sin Ho

– Continue at O Quy Ho mountain pass and back to Sapa

– Back to Hanoi by bus or train

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