Lao Cai Guide

Lao Cai is located to the northwest of Vietnam, the provincial capital is Lao Cai City, 350km northwest of Hanoi. Lao Cai has several tourist attractions which are popular to both the Vietnamese tourists as well as the foreign visitors.

 Below you can find a list of the most popular travel destinations in Lao Cai Province. The details of some extremely popular attractions are found in a separate guide.

The O Quy Ho Pass in Sapa Vietnam
The O Quy Ho Pass in Sapa Vietnam

1/ Sapa
The hill station has been extremely popular for both sublime natural landscape and colorful ethnic cultures for ages. The mountain town located 1,500m above sea level inhabited by 7 ethnic groups. People go trekking, visiting ethnic villages, mountain climbing, getting away from summer heat in the lowlands, observing snow in the winter… Sapa is a great place to visit all year round!

Please find the details of Sapa travel guide in our detailed guide to Sapa.

2/ Mount Fansipan (3,143m)
The highest mountain in Vietnam (3,143m) is located in Sapa. To get to the summit you can join in trekking tours which take from 3-4 days from Sapa.

A Black Hmong lady amid wild mountains at Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

3/ Bac Ha
Bac Ha was first known to mostly foreign tourists in the early 1990s for the amazing ethnic market on Sunday Morning. Gradually Bac Ha turned into a travel destination with several adventure tours.

The town is a part of the Bac Ha Plateau of which the average altitude is 1,000m above sea level and which is cool all the year. Bac Ha is inhabited by a plethora of ethnic groups and their villages can be reached on trekking tours. While Sapa is getting too popular and busy, many young families in Hanoi would choose Bac Ha for their weekends. People would go on trekking tours or just have a relaxing time taking easy trails around the town.

4/ Si Ma Cai – Can Cau Ethnic Market
The Can Cau Market originally was a water buffalo market, the biggest market of this type in Vietnam! Nowadays Can Cau is a market for all kinds of good. You’ll see several colorful ethnic ladies in their best clothes going to the market on Saturday morning.

5/ The Coc Ly Market and the Chay River
The Coc Ly Market is in Coc Ly Commune of Bac Ha District. The ethnic market is on Tuesday morning only. While it is not that popular as the other markets in the region, Coc Ly Market has its authentic charm. And the market is right on a side of the Chay River. You can take a boat ride for 2 hours on the Chay River to the nearby ethnic villages.

6/ Y Ty
Y Ty, which is right on the Chinese border, shares many similarities with Sapa: located on high altitude of 2,000m with cool climate, inhabited by many ethnic groups, breathtaking rice terraces, sublime high mountains of nearly 3,000m above sea level,.. Visiting Y Ty, you can visit ethnic villages, go climbing the high mountains or take lovely photographs of ethnic people and the captivating landscape.

Y Ty is 90km northwest of either Lao Cai City or Sapa.

7/ Lao Than Mountains (2,860m)
The Lao Than Mountain is located in Y Ty and you can day trek to the summit from this township if you are fit enough. It would be better if you have time and take a 2-day tour to the summit from Y Ty. The local team will bring along camping gears for the night.

8/ Ky Quan San Mountain (Bach Moc Luong Tu, 3046m)
The mountain is in Bat Xat District. Trekking to the summit takes 3 days and 2 nights from the mountain base. The tour from Hanoi takes at least 5 days, 4 nights by train and 4 days, 3 nights by private car.

Trekking to the summit of the Ky Quan San Mountain is a hard adventure which requires hard physical and mental endurance. There are several points on the trek that you’d have to cling to tree roots to climb vertical cliffs. The reward is worth it though: sensational natural landscape!

How to get to Lao Cai
You can travel to Lao Cai by road or by rail. By road it takes 5 days and by train it takes 9 hours. Many people still take the overnight train nowadays as it provide a great experience of train travel in Vietnam!

How to get around Lao Cai
The city of Lao Cai is small and you can walk to most places within 1 hour. From Lao Cai to other attractions in the province, you’ll need to hire private cars and motorbikes. Local bus service between Lao Cai City and Sapa is good while it is not the case from Lao Cai to other attractions in the province.

AdventureGreen, local adventure tour operator and adventure travel agency, in Hanoi offering adventure tours and trekking tours to Lao Cai Province.