Not only a Vietnam guidebook but also the daily life of a Saigonese who enjoys travelling as a backpacker

Friday, November 23, 2012

SAPA - BAC HA - LAO CAI

Content includes:

* SAPA
A/  Overview, General Information and Map
      Some pictures of Sapa town with its lake and villas
 
B/ Sights and Activities:
    1/ Sapa stone church
    2/ Lao Chai and Ta Van terraced rice fields
        Ancient carving stone field
    3/ Ta Chai hamlet, Ta Phin commune with Red Dao herbal bath
    4/ Silver waterfall -  Salmon farm - Rose garden - Tram Ton pass with sea of white clouds 
    5/ Mong ethnic minority people's dance and music
    6/ Fansipan mount

     
      
C/ Where to stay
D/ Food and drink
E/ Shopping
F/ Getting there: Hanoi - Lao Cai - Sapa - Bac Ha by train and bus
                             Lao Cai city - Ha Giang city 
 
G/ Motorbike for rent

H/ Sapa from newspaper



* BAC HA – Hill tribe market of White plateau
A/ Overview and General Information of Bac Ha town

B/ Bac Ha market

C/ Hoang A Tuong palace

D/ Ta Chai village

E/ Chiu Cai village

F/ Na Ho village and tea

G/ Ban Pho village

H/ Where to stay

I/ Food and beverage

J/ Getting there 

 

* LAO CAI

* LAO CAI CITY - YUNNAN, CHINA

* OTHER PICTURES





* SAPA
A/  Overview, general information and map

Overview
Located at an avearge altitude of 1,600m above sea level  with great mountains towering above it on all sides, the small  town of Sapa has been well-known for more than 90 years  as one of the most favourite destinations in the Norhtwest of Vietnam.

Climate is a valued tourism asset of Sapa. In summer when the temperature soars up to 37oC in Hanoi capital city, its just about 18oC in Sapa. And We not only want to say about  a city of spring like Dalat in the South of Vietnam. Sapa has a special winter, at least its true in a tropical S-shaped country like Vietnam, with the temperature sometimes drops down to 0oC.  It’s the time people from everywhere in the country rushing to Sapa to see snow. 

Thanks to the ideal climate for most of the time of the year, Sapa is a world of green pine forests and colourful flower gardens. Its also the place where eating lovers coming for many kinds of fresh vegetable. Especially, the icy water resources of Sapa are perfect for raising salmon... 

Like Mu Cang Chai district of Yen Bai province and Hoang Su Phi district of Ha Giang province, Sapa is home to many beautiful terraced rice fields. Coming to Sapa in September, you will float yourself on the vast golden carpets or feel that you are climbing the natural ladders connecting with blue sky. 

If Northwest mountainous area is the roof of Vietnam, Sapa is the roof of the Northwest. Most visitors to Sapa enjoy driving motorbike along the ziagzag roads hanging on stunning mountain ranges and passing by the sea of white clouds in Tram Ton, the highest pass of Vietnam. Moreover, no trekkers/ mountain climbers/ nature lovers want to miss Fansipan, 3143m, the highestpeak of Indochina. 

The image of Sapa will not be perfect without presence of its owner – the ethnic minority groups. Their colourful traditional dress is an endless artful source for photographers. And for me, I love their music and dance, especially when they are performed right in the middle of Sapa mountain and forest... 

All the best? Well, Sapa also has its downside!
In recent years, tourism wave has brought Sapa the image of a wealthy town with numerous new hotes, restaurants and bars popping up everywhere.  But  while there is no height restriction of building, the skyline of Sapa has been becoming worse with a continual competition for the position of the roof of the town.  And that’s still not the worst yet! 
 In and around Sapa, wherever you go, you will encounter a lot of local ethinic people urging you buying their handicrafts, trinkets, clothing...  Many children use English/French and other languages to ask you to give them some money. I had a very sad experience when some Mong ethnic boys  “ordered” me to go away because I stood at a good sightseeing spot to see terraced rice fileds and I didn’t buy something for them! 

And what once was a Sapa unique love market now is just a commercial tourism product. 

Sapa really sees a big culture changing in a tendency that makes the people love it feel dissapointed



General information
Location: The small town of Sapa is 35km from Lao Cai city on the national highway 4D linking Lao Cai province and Lai Chau province




History: The town was establish as a French hill station in 1920s. In the year of 1918, the first villas were built on the location of present Victoria Sapa Resort. Between 1924 – 1940, the town had more than 100 beautiful villas. During this period, every summer, Sapa saw thousands of European visitors, mostly worked and lived in Hanoi city. In March, 1952, The French almost destroyed city by bomb. What we see today is developed from 1990s.
(Information of Sapa portal. Translated by myself)





Population: 52,899 people in more than 7 ethnic minority groups. The Mong group accounts for 51.65%, Dao 23.04%, Tay 4.74%... (Data of the year 2009)


Map
Most hotels and guesthouses have free Sapa map which shows you the ways to go to ethnic minority villages, sightseeing spots...

Cilck on the below picture and magnify it to see it clearer


                                                             Pic: vietnamguidebook



Some pictures of Sapa town with its lake and villas










                                                          Pics: vietnamguidebook


 

B/ Sights and Activities
1/ Sapa stone church
Overview: This cross-shaped stone church was designed and built in 1920s by French. Its one of the symbols of Sapa town.
90% of followers are Mong ethnic people.

Location: in the center os Sapa town, near Sapa market


Time of mass: 19:00PM (weekdays); 09:00 & 18:30PM (Sunday)

Website: www.sapachurch.org (in Vietnamese language only)





                                                          Pics: vietnamguidebook





2/ Lao Chai and Ta Van terraced rice fields of Sapa
Entrance fee: 40,000VND/pax

Location:  Lao Chai, Ta Van communes are about 8km from Sapa town (Another 5km will take you to Ancient carving stone field)

Together with Mu Cang Chai district of Yen Bai province, Huang Su Phi district of Ha Giang province, the terraced rice fields of H'Mong and Dzay minority groups in Muong Hoa valley, Lao Chai and Ta Van of Sapa become the golden carpet in every September.

The US-based Travel & Leisure magazine has just recognised Sapa terraced rice fileds as one of the world’s seven most beautiful and magnificent terraced fields. It described the terraced fields of Sapa as “ladders to the sky.”

(I myself prefer the terraced rice fields of Mu Cang Chai and Huang Su Phi.)













Pics: vietnamguidebook


Ancient carving stone field
The field is located in Muong Hoa valley, about 5km from Lao Chai & Ta Van communes, with the length of about 4km and the width of 2km. In 1925, V.Goloubew - a French reseacher discovered several stones with differently engraved figures. For nearly a century, many domestic and foreign researchers have been actively researching to find out the secret of this ancient carving stones.

According to first investigations, there are 200 stones with engraved figures in the carving stone field and they divided into 6 forms, including parallel lines, square, rectangular, circle with different styles, house on stilts, human shape and writing system vestiges...

(Source: Exhibition of Sapa ancient carving stone area)


Pic: Vietnamguidebook





3/ Ta Chai hamlet, Ta Phin commune with Red Dao ethnic herbal bath
 
Mountain’s spa
Located  about 13km from the center of Sapa town, Ta Chai hamlet, Ta Phin commune is home to Red Dao ethnic minority people. Due to their isolated mountainous living area, traditional medicine plays a very important role in protecting the health. Especially, they have an effective method to treat cold, flu and other diseases. It’s the hot herbal bath which now becomes a famous tourist product called “spa on mountain”.

Among the herbal bath services in Ta Chai, for me, the one offered by Ly Lao Lo company is the best. Called company, but in fact its just a small house with only one manager, Ly Lao Lo, and one receptionist cum servant.

According to Ly, there are many kinds of natural herb and plant used for making bath water. After cooking for some hours, the water has a beautiful brown colour  and an attractive aroma.

In Ly company, there are just some bathing rooms. The rooms are simple with just wooden bathtubs, a clock for you to mange the bathing time with maximum 20 minutes/bath. Bathing too long will make you “drunk”.

I had no flu. It was a little bit cold in Ta Chai in the morning of November. I enjoyed the hot herbal bath in Ly company and felt relaxed to fullest, washed away the stress of city’s life.

You can spend time chatting with many friednly Red Dao women who hang around Ly company. (Well, at first, you maybe feel a little bit disturbed as they try to sell you some souvenirs)

Hamlet entrance fee: 20,000VND/pax

Bathing fee: 80,000VND/bath

Tip: Its good to bring your own towel 

Note: Ta Chai hamlet, Ta Phin commune is often called shortly Ta Phin  

Getting there:  From the center of Sapa town, follow the highway 4D towards Lao Cai city. About 1km out of the town, there is one gas station. Another 4km drive you will see a signpost showing Ta Phin village. Turn left and continue on a 8km dirt rocky road, you will arrive in Ta Phin village.

Along the way, there are some green vegetables garden and the low terraced rice fields. 
 

 Ta Phin signpost


Beautiful flowers on the way 






Vegetable gardens

Friendly ethnic minority children


Ruin of a church

Ta Phin is picturesque with rice fields and mountain

Houses in the village with children playing around


Inside a house

Red Dao women with red headscarves and black dress




The receptionist cum servant in Ly Lao Lo company


Herbs and boiling


Would like to overnight in Ta Phin? Come to the friendly homestay of Chao Ta May.
Chao Ta May homestay
Tel: 01664 620 433
Overview: 70,000VND for a basic clean  sleeping place. Ta May also offer herbal bath service. She speak English and is very freindly.


 

Chao Ta May name in Chinese

                                                          Pics: Vietnamguidebook




4/ Chayote garden - Rose garden -  Salmon farm - Silver waterfall  - Tram Ton pass with sea of white clouds 

Travel distance: about 14 km from Sapa town to Tram Ton

Driving motorbike from Sapa town to Tram Ton, the highest pass of Vietnam, was my great experience. 

Sapa is not only famous for terraced rice fields but also the chayote gardens which vastly cover the mountains and make them a very impressive green carpet. Not only the fruits of chayote but also its leaves are used for cooking and give delicious taste. I visited a farm when the friendly farmer picking fruits. Just wished to be a Sapa farmer!

Developing after Dalat, the city of flower in the South of Vietnam, planting flowers in some areas of Sapa has just started. Along the way to Tram Ton pass, I saw some rose gardens.

Continued the journey, I came to a salmon farm.  
Salmon farming was piloted in Sapa since 2005 after the local authorities sent experts to Finland to research their aquaculture and buy salmon eggs to raise at Silver Waterfall Cold Water Fish Center at the foot of Fansipan Mountain. Currently, along the way from Silver Waterfall of Sapa to Lai Chau province, there are a lot of salmon farms. 

Then the bike moved forward and in distance the silver waterfall looked like the long hair of a beautiful lady. Walked up to see the waterfall and enjoyed a nice surrounding mountainous view.

 And the final destination was Tram Ton pass where I floated on the sea of white clouds. Far far in distance the zigzag roads looked like the white pieces of silk hanging on the great mountain ranges.



Chayote gardens





Rose gardens


Sapa salmon


Silver waterfall


Zigzag roads


Tram Ton pass





                                                           Pics: vietnamguidebook




5/ Mong ethnic minority people's dance and music 
Com Viet restaurant usually organise Mong ethnic minority group's dance and music show for tour group on Saturday/Sunday.
Address: 25 - 27 Xuan Vien street 
Tel: 0203 873 178 - 0944 944 388

 
                                                            

 
                                                          Video: vietnamguidebook

 





                                                               Pics: vietnamguidebook



6/ Fansipan mount
Went to Sapa two times in September and November. Havent been on the roof of Indochina yet.

Planning to be here in spring as I would like to enjoy the beauty of 3143m high Fansipan mount when wild flowers blooming. (Fansipan is home to some 2,024 floral varieties and 327 faunal species)

Let’s enjoy the imposing and fascinating beauty of  Fansipan through photos by www.vacne.org.vn and Vncreatures 

 


                                                               Pics: www.vacne.org.vn









Pics:  Vncreatures




C/ Where to stay in Sapa
If you would like to stay in the center of the town, come to the hotels and guesthouses near post office, park, church, market and bus station.

Those who prefer a quiet place with beautiful view, come to the lake area which is about 10-minute walk from the post office.

Pay 200,000VND up (10USD), you will have a nice clean room with hot shower, cable Tivi.

With 350,000VND (17USD), your hotel is a big building and the room is large and nice with hot shower, LCD Tivi, lift, wifi...

Spend 500,000VND up (25USD), you will stay in a 3-star hotel with beautiful room and buffet breakfast.

Sapa has some 4-star hotels such as Victoria Sapa hotel, Muong Thanh hotel. Pay 75USD up to enjoy the services of these hotels  

The research was done in the middle of September 2012. 
Please note that the room rate will be increased during weekend and holiday 

Center of Sapa town
 
        Pic: vietnamguidebook 


Sapa lake


                                                              Pic: vietnamguidebook



Sapa post office, park and church area: Xuan Vien and Thach Son streets 
1/ (My stay) Huong Quynh hotel
    Address: 05 Xuan Vien street, Sapa town (2-minute walk to Sapa church)
    Tel/Fax: 0203 871 458
   
    Room rate: 200,000VND up (10USD)
    Overview: A small hotel with nice clean room, big bathroom with hot shower, Tivi. Friendly
    Bonus: free tea and hot water. Motorbike for rent (5USD for gear motorbike)
    
    Pictures:




                                                             Pics: vietnamguidebook


2/ Hoa Dao hotel
    Address: 31 Xuan Vien street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 872 606 - 0984 255 255
    Fax: 0203 872 136
    Email: info@vietdiscovery.com
    Website:www.sapalaocai.com
    Room rate: 200,000VND up (10USD)

    Overview: Basic room with hot shower, Tivi
  
    Pictures:



                                                             Pics: vietnamguidebook




3/ Phuong Thao guesthouse
    Address: 13 Xuan Vien street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0945 234 988 - 0984 744 049
   
    Room rate: 200,000VND up (10USD)

    Overview: Basic clean room with hot shower, Tivi. Offer foot massage (7USD/hour)

 
    Pictures:



                                                          Pics: vietnamguidebook




4/ Nha nghi duong  Sapa hotel
    Address: 03 Xuan Vien street, Sapa town
    Tel/Fax: 0203 871 483 - 0203 872 889
  
    Room rate: 300,000VND up (15USD)
    Overview: Large hotel, great location, big room with hot shower, Tivi
  
    Minus: Staffs are quite "cold"
    Pictures:





Pics: vietnamguidebook


5/ Buu Dien hotel (Post office hotel)
    Address: 06 Thach Son street, Sapa town
    Tel/Fax: 0203 871 244 - 0913 190 968
   
    Room rate: 250,000VND up (12USD)

    Overview: The rooms are large but basic with hot shower. Friendly

 
    Pictures:





                                                              Pics: vietnamguidebook


6/ Linh Trang hotel
    Address: Sapa town (near Post office)
    Tel: 0203 871 370 - 0913 029 955 - 0982 939 476
    Fax: 0203 871 151
   
    Room rate: 200,000VND up (10USD)

    Overview: Large hotel, nice room with hot shower, Tivi
  
    Pictures:





Pics: vietnamguidebook



7/ Sao Khue guesthouse
    Address: 09 Thach Son street, Sapa town
    Tel/Fax: 0203 873 868 - 0904 008 345
   
    Room rate: 250,000VND up (12USD)

    Overview: Large building, basic clean room with hot shower, fan, Tivi, friendly
   
    Pictures:



 

                                                           Pics: vietnamguidebook


8/ Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa 
Address: Xuan Vien street, Sapa town
Tel: 0203 871 522
Fax: 0203 871 539
Website: http://www.victoriahotels.asia/eng/hotels-in-vietnam/sapa-resort-spa

Room rate: 155USD up  

Overview: Opened in March 1998, Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa, once was the only luxury hotel in Northwest Vietnam, is now still the number one in Sapa

Bonus: Hot swimming pool 




Bus station area (near lake area): Thu Dau Mot street
1/ ( My pick) Hai Anh hotel
    Address:  08 - 12 Thu Dau Mot street, Sapa town 
    Tel: 0203 873 979 - 0203 871 376 - 0979 288 868
    Fax: 0203 873 978
    Email: haianhsapa@gmail.com
  
    Room rate: 350,000VND up (17USD)
    Overview: A 2-star large hotel, nice and big room with hot shower, LCD Tivi, Wifi, lift, friendly
   
    Pictures:





                                                              Pics: vietnamguidebook


2/ Binh Minh 2 hotel
    Address: 01 Thu Dau Mot street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 871 144 - 0912 270 345 - 0983 497 345
    Email: hungbinhminh2@ymail.com
   
    Room rate: 250,000VND up (12USD)

    Overview: A large hotel with big and nice room, hot shower, Tivi. Bathroom is getting old
  
    Pictures:



                                                             Pics: vietnamguidebook



Lake area: Ngu Chi Son street
1/(My pick) Viet Thanh hotel
    Address: Ngu Chi Son street, Sapa town
    Tel/Fax: 0203 872 226 - 0944 183 872 - 0934 571 881
   
    Room rate: 250,000VND up (12USD)
    Overview: Small hotel, clean and nice room with hot shower, Tivi, fan. Quiet
   
    Pictures:





                                                             Pics: vietnamguidebook


2/ Sapa hotel
    Address: 01 Ngu Chi Son street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 872 360
    Fax: 0203 872 364
    Email: salesapahotel@gmail.com
    Website: www.sapahotel.asia
    Room rate: 500,000VND up (25USD with buffet breakfast)

    Overview: A 3-star hotel with big nice room, hot shower and bathtub, Tivi, fridge. Restaurant has beautiful lake view
 
    Pictures:





                                                           Pics: vietnamguidebook



3/ North Star hotel
    Address: Ngu Chi Son street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 866 789
    Fax: 0203 771 888
    Email: info@northstarhotel.com.vn
    Website:www.northstarhotel.com.vn
    Room rate: 75USD up (with buffet breakfast) (Promotion period: 47USD)
    Overview: One of the best 3-star hotels of the town with great location, beautiful room, lift...
  
    Pictures:




                                                           Pics: vietnamguidebook



4/ (My pick) Muong Thanh hotel
    Address: 44 Ngu Chi Son street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 88 77 55 - 0203 88 77 66
    Fax: 0203 686 789
    Email: ksmuongthanhsapa@gmail.com
    Website:www.muongthanhsapa.com
    Room rate: 45USD up (with buffet breakfast)
    Overview: 4-star hotel with nice design, beautiful room, LCD Tivi, minibar, lift

    Bonus: Free in-room tea and coffee
   
    Pictures:






                                                             Pics: vietnamguidebook



5/ Vuon Treo Sapa hotel
    Address: Dien Bien Phu street, Sapa town 
    Tel: 0203 888 333 - 0914 816 487
    Fax: 0203 888 555
    Website: www.vuontreosapa.com.vn
    Room rate: 250,000VND (12USD)
    Overview: A new comer with nice and cozy rooms, hot shower, Tivi, friendly
 
    Pictures:



                                                           Pics: vietnamguidebook



Market area: Cau May, Dong Loi and Muong Hoa streets
1/ Hoang Long hotel
    Address: 23 Dong Loi street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 872 089 - 0912 960 827
    Email: hotelhoanglong@gmail.com

    Room rate: 300,000VND up (15USD)

    Overview: Basic large room, hot shower, Tivi, fan and a nice restaurant
 
    Pictures:



                                                             Pics: vietnamguidebook


2/ Chau Long hotel
    Address: 24 Dong Loi street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 871 245
    Fax: 0203 871 844
    Email: sales@chaulonghotel.com.vn
    Website: www.chaulonghotel.com.vn
    Room rate: 30USD up(Old building) & 65 USD (New building with buffet breakfast)

    Overview: Chau Long has two buildings. Both have nice and big rooms, Tivi, fridge, hot shower with bathtub.
 
    Bonus: Hot swimming pool 
 
    Pictures:







3/ Sapa Royal View hotel
    Address: 34 Cau May street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 872 989 - 0203 872 990
    Fax: 0203 872 992
    Email: info@royalviewsapa.vn
    Website: www.royalviewsapa.vn
    Room rate: 60USD up (with buffet breakfast)

    Overview: A 3-star hotel, large room with heater, hot shower and bathtub, Tivi, minibar, coffee and tea making facilities...
 
    Pictures:



                                                       Pics: vietnamguidebook



4/ Pinocchio hotel
    Address: 15 Muong Hoa street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 871 876
    Email: info@pinocchiohotel.com
    Website: www.pinocchiohotel.com
    Room rate: 300,000VND up (15USD)
    Overview: This hotel is getting old. Basic large rooms with hot shower, bathutub, Tivi. Free Internet access
   
    Pictures:




Pics: vietnamguidebook


5/ Friendly Sapa hotel
    Address: 11 Muong Hoa street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 873 689 - 0914 600 659
    Fax: 0203 873 699
    Email: sapatien@yahoo.com.vn
   
    Room rate: 300,000VND up (15USD)

    Overview: This  hotel has basic large and clean room with hot shower, bathtub, Tivi, fridge. Friendly
 
    Bonus: Cozy bar
  
    Pictures:



 
                                                         Pics: vietnamguidebook



5/ (My pick) Sunny Mountain Hotel
    Address: 10 Muong Hoa street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 787 999
    Fax: 0203 787 979
    Email: info@sunnymountainhotel.com
    Website: www.sunnymountainhotel.com

    Room rate: 77USD up (Promotion period: 40USD for Superior room)
    Overview: This 3-star hotel is a new comer of the town with artful elegant design, beautiful and large room, nice bathroom. Lift. Friendly
 
    Bonus: Free access to sauna and hot swimming pool. Daily fresh fruit, tea/coffee and water in-room. Wifi. Complimentary shoe shine service...
   
    Pictures:






Pics: vietnamguidebook


D/ Food and Drink
1/ Com Viet restaurant
    Address: 25 - 27 Xuan Vien street 
    Tel: 0203 873 178 - 0944 944 388

    Overview: Love most dishes of this restaurant with reasonable price. About 30,000 - 50,000VND/dish. 
Top on the list (also the specialities of Sapa) are: 
                             1/ Black chicken, tofu and vegetable soup (Lau ga den)
                             2/ Fried chayote leaves with garlic (Dot xu xu xao toi)
                             3/ Fried "lon cap nach" pig - black pig raised in natural mountainous enviroment (Thit lon cap nach xao)
                             4/ Steamed Cai Meo vegetable (Cai Meo luoc)

    Bonus: Usually organise Mong ethnic minority group's dance and music show for tour group on Saturday/Sunday.

    Note: They almost speak no English. (See "Ask me" to have my mobile phone number. I will help you to order)


Black chicken, tofu and vegetable soup (250,000 - 300,000VND for 2 people)


 Pics: vietnamguidebook


Fried chayote leaves with garlic (Dot xu xu xao toi: 30,000VND/dish)

Fried "lon cap nach" pig - black pig raised in natural mountainous enviroment (Thit lon cap nach xao) (120,000VND for 2 people)

Steamed Cai Meo vegetable (Cai Meo luoc) (30,000VND/dish)


2/ Northstar hotel
    Address: Ngu Chi Son street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 866 789
    Fax: 0203 771 888
    Email: info@northstarhotel.com.vn
    Website:www.northstarhotel.com.vn
    Overview: This 3-star hotel offers breakfast at 70,000VND with chicken/beef noodle soup (or bread with omelet) + coffee (or fruit juice) + Shan tea



3/ Night market near Sapa church offers BBQ and hot pot


4/ Sapa salmon sashimi
In Sapa, there are many restaurants that are dedicated to serve locally farmed salmon. Salmon is made into a wide variety of dishes, such as salmon hotpot, salmon sashimi with mustard and wild vegetable, grilled salmon, fried salmon rolled in flour, salmon salads and steamed salmon with wild bamboo.

Of these the salmon sashimi prepared with mustard is recommended most for tourists. The dish delights by the sweetness of salmon, aroma of fresh wild vegetables and a hot bite of mustard.

The second dish that must be mentioned is the salmon hot pot made in a similar way to the sour soup of the South. The soup has pineapple, tomato and salmon. Then it will be served with Sapa-grown wild vegetables and watercress or pumpkin buds.


5/ The Hill Station restaurant
    Address: 07 Muong Hoa street, Sapa town
    Tel: 0203 887 111 - 0982 267 518
    Fax: 0203 887 112 
    Website: thehillstation.com

    Overview: Like the design of this restaurant. Havent used it service yet.





                                                             Pics: vietnamguidebook


6/ The Hmong Sisters Music & Bar
    Address: Muong Hoa street, Sapa town
    Facebook: hmong sisters bar
    Open: 4:00PM till late
    Happy hours: 4:00 - 7:00PM
    Free pool table

    Overview: Nice design, drink start at 20,000VND 








E/ Shopping
Around night market and Cau May street, there are a lot of shopping stalls. Be careful when buying silver jewelry as most of them are not in "good quality.

Take a look at Sapa market on Cau May street.




                                                          Pics: vietnamguidebook



F/ Getting there
* By Train (Hanoi - Lao Cai) and bus (Lao Cai - Sapa)

Hanoi - Lao Cai
Most tourists take night sleeping train departing from Tran Quy Cap train station of Hanoi  and arriving in Lao Cai train station of Lao Cai city in early morning.

Departure: 9:00PM - 9:30PM - 10:10PM
Arrive:  4:00 - 5:00AM
Price: 194,000VND (Air-conditioned soft seating) and 485,000VND (Air-conditioned soft sleeping)

A motorbike drive from Hanoi's Old Quarter to Tran Quy Cap train station costs about 35,000VND

Lao Cai - Sapa
In early morning, there are many local buses in front of the Lao Cai train station taking tourists to Sapa town 
Travel distance: 38km
Travel time: about 1 hour
Price: 50,000VND

 
Lao Cai train station
 


* By bus (Hanoi - Lao Cai - Sapa)
 Depart from My Dinh bus station of Hanoi in the evening and arrive in Sapa bus station in morning

Famous bus operator is Hai Van
Tel in Ha Noi: 04 38 71 71 71 
Depart from My Dinh of Hanoi at 8:30PM and arrive in Sapa bus station at about 7:00AM
 
Tel in Sapa: 0915 67 2020 
Depart from Sapa at 6:00PM and arrive in Hanoi at about 5:00AM 

Price: 300,000VND (A/C sleeping bus) 


Sao Viet sleeping bus
Tel in Ha Noi: 04 3668 6358
Depart from My Dinh of Hanoi at 8:30PM and arrive in its office opposite Sapa bus station at about 7:00AM
 
Tel in Sapa: 0203 638 638 
Depart from Sapa at 6:00PM and arrive in Hanoi at about 5:00AM 

Price: 300,000VND (A/C sleeping bus) 


Sapa bus station 
Pic: vietnamguidebook


Hai Van sleeping bus
                                                             Pic: vietnamguidebook


Sao Viet sleeping bus
                                                                Pic: vietnamguidebook


* Sapa - Lao Cai - Bac Ha
Sapa - Lao Cai
There are many local buses waiting around the Sapa church in morning about 7:00AM leaving for Lao Cai city

Travel time: about 1hour

Price: 50,000VND

Lao Cai - Bac Ha
There are some buses leaving Lao Cai bus station for Bac Ha town at 9:00AM. The bus often drives around Lao Cai city to receive more guests and goods, sometimes it takes about 45 minutes to move out of the city. Bus arrives in Bac Ha market, Bac Ha town about 11:30AM

Travel distance: 66km

Departure: 9:00AM (From Lao Cai bus station); 1:00PM (From Bac Ha town, in front of Bac Ha market)

Price: 50,000VND

Tel for booking: 01699 345 787

Note: Lao Cai bus station is just about 500m from train station


Lao Cai bus station

Lao Cai - Bac Ha bus

                                                        Pics: vietnamguidebook



* Lao Cai city - Ha Giang city
There is one local bus running Lao Cai city - Ha Giang city (gate to Dong Van karst plateau global geopark)

Departue from Lao Cai bus station and Ha Giang bus station at same time: 6:30AM 

Arrive in Ha Giang/Lao Cai: about 12:00noon

Price: 120,000VND (Seating bus)

Tel: 0983 765 811



G/ Motorbike for rent
     Most hotels/guesthouses in Sapa have motorbikes for rent at 70,000VND - 100,000VND/day



H/ Sapa from newspaper
In photos: Snowfall in tropical Vietnam (15th December 2013)
















Heavy snowfall caused a traffic jam that extended nearly 5 km on the top of O Quy Ho mountain pass in Sa Pa town in the northern province of Lao Cai on Sunday morning.
Many roads and trees have been blanketed by 5 to 10cm thick snow.
Local people said the snow started falling at 9:30am on December 15 in the Xe mountain area at an altitude of 2,200m.
Nguyen Phuc Thanh, a forest official in charge of managing the Nui Xe mountain area, said that as of 9:30 am today the temperature in O Quy Ho fell to about 2 degree Celsius while the temperature in the Nui Xe Mt area was under 0 degree Celsius.
He added that the temperatures continued to fall as of 11:30am.


Sapa resort covered with frost

(VOV) - O Quy Ho Hill in the northern mountain town of Sapa has been entirely coated in a thick layer of frost after a strong cold spell hit the region. 

The cold spell caused local temperatures to drop to below 1 degree Celsius on December 30 2012.

Dense fog and drizzle made travel very difficult, especially in the resort town of Sapa.

Despite the freezing cold, many tourists prefer travelling and watching the intriguing natural phenomenon.

The cold spell is forecast to last a few days.








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* BAC HA – Hill tribe market of White plateau 
Content includes:
A/ Overview and General infomation

B/ Bac Ha market

C/ The Palace of Mong ethnic group's king 

D/ Ta Chai village

E/ Nung village

F/ Ban Pho village

G/ Where to stay in Bac Ha

H/ Food and Drink

I/ Getting there



A/ Overview and General infomation

Overview
White, red, green, black, blue... Bac Ha is a world of colours!

In spring, visit the plum gardens, you will float on the white carpet made of flowers. In the past, when plum trees were everywhere, Bac Ha was well-known as a “White plateau”. 

Around the year, every Sunday is a fascinating day of Bac Ha. From early morning to noon, the 14 ethnic minority groups with their own traditional dress, gathered at Bac Ha with plenty of goods and make it one of the most colourful markets of Vietnam Northwest. It’s the main attraction drawing both local and foreign tourists. 

Is that all? Should you just take 1-day Bac Ha market tour offered by tour operators/agencies in Sapa or Hanoi? Well, I love the peaceful, quiet Bac Ha town where I visited some sorrounding villages with very friendly ethnic minority people, especially children. 

And let give yourself time to slowly walk into the past at palace of Hoang ATuong – the Mong ethnic group’s king. 

If you are a solo traveller who love driving motorbike on the mountianous areas, so don’t miss the way from Bac Ha to Ha Giang city – the gateway to Dong Van karst plateau global geopark...



General infomation of  Bac Ha town
Location: Bac Ha town of Bac ha dictrist is 66km from Lao Cai city. To the East, it shares border with Sin Man district of Ha Giang province. Many solo travellers drive motorbikes  from Bac Ha to Ha Giang city, then Dong Van karst plateau global geopark. 

Weather: Located at an altitude of 900 - 1200m above sea level, Bac Ha town has a temperate climate for most of the time of the year with an avearage temperature of 25 – 28oC. In winter, its quite cold in early morning and evening, so make sure to bring woollies. 

The town: Home to 14 ethnic minority groups, this small town is quiet and goes to sleep quite early. With a radius of 15km from the town center, there are many villages of Mong, Tay, Nung ethnic people
                  You should have some VND cash when visit the town. 

Main sightseeing spots and historical sites: Bac Ha Sunday market, Hoang A Tuong palace, plum garden, Ban Pho village of Mong people... 

Speciality: Ban Pho corn wine, Tam Hoa plum, mountain chicken, “Lon cap nach” – Black pig raised in natural enviroment with small/medium size...



B/ Bac Ha market
It opens every Sunday on a vast area and is compartmentalized with many sections such as: fruit, vegetables, clothes, shoes, animal (buffalo, pig, chicken, dog..), food and drink...
 
The 14 ethnic minority groups' people come to the market not only for buying, selling but also for meeting, talking, drinking, eating... It should be called a colourful and happy fair

Time: every Sunday from early morning till noon. 


The ocean of colours woven by headscarf, clothing and smiles












Whole family comes to the market. Kids are on the back of the mothers.
Sometimes the mother/father enjoys noodle soup while their kids enjoy ice cream
I even saw a very young mother, guessed about 15 years old, enjoyed iced cream when feeding her baby!




Buying knives


Incense sticks


Most ethnic minority people love spicy


Time to cut hair


Selling corn wine


And pork meat


Enjoy noodle soup in the market with a drink. Sometimes the man/husband gets drunk and the woman/wife are pleased to wait until he becomes sober. Some are taken home on the back of the horse! Once a week, its OK...




Young and old. Cold and ice cream. 5 years ago I visited the market in early morning, it was so cold and the local people enjoyed ice cream

Purple stick rice. Love it.

"Men men" - steamed corn powder

Time for shopping







The fascinating buffalo section of the market was held on an open muddy field


                                                          Pics: vietnamguidebook




C/ Hoang A Tuong palace
Location: about 1km from Bac Ha market

The palace was built in 1914 and completed in 1921 by Hoang Yen Chao, a Tay ethnic minority man,  and the father of Hoang A Tuong.

During his reign from 1905 to 1953, with the protection of France, Hoang yen Chao owned much of the fertile land in this present-day Bac Ha area, and had the full right to exploit the surrounding forests and native products.He established a tax regime that required all local people to pay tax on products that they grew or made. He also had a monopoly on the sale of salt, drug, food and other consumer goods considered essential necessities in the region. Based on the economic strength, in 1914 he decided to build this palace to represent his wealth and power.

In order to prepare for the construction of this palace, Hoang Yen Chao had to plan very carefully. Firstly he consulted with Chinese Fengshui experts to find the best location. The site was selected according to Fengshui theory of location. It was built on a large hill, facing the Southeast, protected on both sides by mountains. The front of the palace has a spring and faces the mountain named "Mother is holding her baby".

Architecture was built with the combined style of Asia - Europe by two architects, one French and one Chinese.

Stepping up to the palace are a few stairs from the two sides, then to the waiting room, then opening into a wide courtyard which was often used to organise ceremony and dance. Opposite is the main 420m2 house with two floors.  The central room of the main house was used for meeting and ruling.  

To the left and right of the main house are two lower houses which were used for living of Hoang Yen Chao's 3 wives, Hoang A Tuong's two wives and Hoang Yen Chao's adviser...

There were also wareroom and simple houses for soldiers and servants.

The total area is 10,000 square meter.

(Source: Hoang A Tuong palace)







The Chinese writings: one the left is "Glorious family" and on the right is "eternal spring"

Hoang Yen Chao, father of Hoang A Tuong
 Pics: vietnamguidebook




D/ Ta Chai village
This village of Tay ethnic minority people is just about 3km from center of the town and about over 1km from Hoang A Tuong palace.

The Tay people here dress like the Viet (King) people. Their houses are simple but full of orange colour - the colour of corn.
 
They are friendly, especially the children are very lovely. For sure you will have a big welcome

At the front of the village, on the left hand is a hill where some colourful Mong ethnic minority people cultivate rice. In harvest season which fall into September, climb up to top of the hill and you will have great nice photos





 


 Pics: vietnamguidebook











Pics: vietnamguidebook



E/ Chiu Cai village
Some 5km from Bac Ha town is Chiu Cai village of Fula ethnic minority people.
Most of them are famers cultivating rice, corn, plum fruit...
Their houses are simple and mostly made of earth
In January or February, the plum flowers blooming making it a white carpet drawing a great number of visitors. The season of plum fruit is in April or May. The fruit give sweet and a little bit sour taste.


Fu La's men clothing


Rice fields and plum gardens

Beautiful surrounding mountains


Fu La' house



Plum gardens. In January, its a white world


Rice harvest season



Plum gardens and flowers



                                                            Pics: vietnamguidebook


F/ Na Ho village and Bac Ha tea
Some 4km from Bac Ha town is Na Ho village of Tay people. Beautiful surroundings with mountains, houses and green colour of pine trees and tea.

The village


Na Ho bridge


Tay people's houses full of corn


Climb up to the hill, there are some green tea trees

                                                             Pics: vietnamguidebook



G/ Ban Pho village
This village of Mong ethnic minority people is about 2km from Bac Ha town. It has the low terraced rice fields surrounding by green mountains.

Ban Pho is famous in Bac Ha thanks to its corn wine that is sold in Bac Ha market.

                                                         Pics: vietnamguidebook





H/ Where to stay in Bac Ha
There are many standard hotels and guesthouses near Bac Ha market.

Pay 200,000VND (10USD), you will have a private nice room with hot shower, fan, Tivi. 

With 250,000VND up, your hotel has hot and cold air-condition

The research was done in the middle of September 2012. 
Please note that the room rate will be increased during weekend and holiday


1/ (My stay) Ngan Nga Bac Ha hotel
    Address: 115 - 117 Ngoc Uyen street, Bac Ha town (some steps to Bac Ha market)
    Tel: 0203 880 286 - 0973 550 222 - 0913 346 875
    Fax: 0203 780 268
   
    Room rate: 200,000VND up (10USD)


    Overview: A small hotel with great location, nice, clean and big room with hot shower, Tivi, fan. Friendly

    Bonus: Restaurant with delicious food at reasonable price. Should order in advance. Free hot green tea
  
    Pictures:


 

                                                           Pics: Vietnamguidebook


2/ (My pick) Ngan Nga hotel
    Address: 133 Ngoc Uyen street, Bac Ha town
    Tel: 0203 880 251 - 0982 048 322
    Fax: 0203 880 642
    Email: info@nganngabacha.com
    Website: www.nganngabacha.com

    Room rate: 250,000VND (12USD)

    Overview: Big hotel with large, clean and nice room, hot shower, LCD Tivi. Free internet access
  
    Pictures:




 
                                                              Pics: vietnamguidebook



3/ Sunday hotel
    Address: 01 Vu Cong Mat street, Bac Ha town (some hundred meters from Ngan Nga hotel)
    Tel: 0904 646 955 - 0903 481 747
    Fax: 0203 880 350
    Website: www.sundayhotel.vn

    Room rate: 280,000VND up (14USD)

    Overview: This large hotel has basic clean and nice rooms with hot shower, hot & cold air-condition. Free Internet access
  
    Pictures:





Pics: vietnamguidebook


4/ Hoang Vu hotel
    Address: Nga 5, Bac Ha town
    Tel: 0203 880 264 - 0915 491 106
    Email: hoangvutours@hotmail.com
   
    Room rate: 200,000VND (10USD)

    Overview: This small hotel is getting old. Rooms are large but basic with hot shower, Tivi
  
    Pictures:




                                                             Pics: vietnamguidebook



5/(My pick) Congfu hotel
    Address: 152 Ngoc Uyen street, Bac Ha town
    Tel: 0203 880 254 - 0979 803 642
    Fax: 0203 880 893
    Email: info@congfuhotel.com
    Website: www.congfuhotel.com
    Room rate: 250,000VND up (12USD)


    Overview: This hotel have basic nice rooms with hot & cold air-condition, Tivi, hot shower & bathtub, free Internet access. Some steps to ATM and Agriculture bank
  
    Pictures:





                                                        Pics: vietnamguidebook


6/ Sao Mai hotel
    Address: Bac Ha town (about 4km to Ban Pho village)
    Tel: 0203 880 288 - 0912 060 862
    Fax: 0203 780 352
    Email: saomaibh@gmail.com
    Website: www.saomaibachahotel.com

    Room rate: 20USD up (with breakfast)

    Overview: Bac Ha largest 2-star hotel, nice and big room with hot & cold air-condition, hot shower with bathtub, free wifi...
  
    Pictures:




                                                          Pics: vietnamguidebook


I/ Food and Drink



                                                            Pics: vietnamguidebook


                                                              Pic: vietnamguidebook


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* LAO CAI CITY - LAO CAI PROVINCE

Lao Cai city of Lao Cai province is about 345km from Hanoi capital city.

Lao Cai province shares borders with: Ha Giang province in the East, Lai Chau province in the West, Yen Bai province in the South, Yunnan province of China in the North. The Vietnam – China Hekhou international border gate is just about 5km from Lao Cai city center.
Most tourists come to Lao Cai city by night train from Hanoi. If you leave Hanoi at 10:00PM, you will arrive in Lao Cai city in early morning, about 5:00AM. Then they will take the local bus in front of the train station to Sapa town or Bac Ha town.

There's not really much to see in the city. If you need to overnight here, see the hotel/guesthouse list near train station and new bus station on Phan Dinh Phung street of the city. Room rate start at 8USD with private room, air-condition, hot shower, Tivi, wifi...


List of hotel/guesthouse
1/ (My pick) Hoa Hoa guesthouse
    Address: 33 Phan Dinh Phung street 
    Tel: 0914 696 796 - 0979 239 238
   
    Room rate: 170,000VND (8USD)

    Overview: Basic clean room with air-condition, hot shower, cable Tivi, wifi
  
    Pictures:






                                                            Pics: vietnamguidebook


2/ Huyen Thien hotel  
    Address: 64B Phan Dinh Phung street 
    Tel: 0203 836 075 - 0912 794 508
    Email: huyenthienlaocai@gmail.com
  
    Room rate: 15USD

    Overview: Basic large room, air-condition, hot shower, Tivi, a small restaurant, English speaking staff
  
    Pictures: 


                                                         Pics: vietnamguidebook


3/ 520 hotel
    Address: Phan Dinh Phung street 
    Tel: 0203 836 563 - 0915 188 340
    Email: nkmv1016@yahoo.com
  
    Room rate: 170,000VND (8USD)

    Overview: Basic large room with air-condition, hot shower, Tivi
  

    Pictures: 



                                                            Pics: vietnamguidebook




Quick lunch/dinner
Small local eatery: Cao Tin
Address: 29 Phan Dinh Phung street
Tel: 0164 741 3356
Overview: Lunch/dinner. Offer beef noodle soup. My meal: Vietnamese steamed rice with fried fish, fried egg, fried vegetable, soup with just only 35,000VND (almost 2USD)


                                                         Pics: vietnamguidebook

Those look for a small restaurant serving Western dishes, come to the Huyen Thien hotel (64B Phan Dinh Phung street)




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* LAO CAI CITY - YUNNAN, CHINA
 In May 2011, I went to Yunnan, China by this way. It was a great journey and I spent almost 1 month in Yunnan: Yuan Yang terraced rice fields, Kunming city, Dali ancient city, Lijiang ancient town, Shangrila ancient town and Lugu lake - the kingdom of Women. 

Another 1 month in Guilin and Yangshuo of Guangxi province, Guangzhou city, Chaozhou city, Shanghai city, Hangzhou city, Suzhou city, Huangshan and Hongcun village, Beijing city. 

If you need travel info for these destinations, just feel free to drop me a line: tung.thanh.ly@gmail.com



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* OTHER PICTURES