The frontier area in the northern part of Vietnam, including provinces of Lao Cai, Ha Giang, Yen Bai..with the remote villages of ethnic minority people. This remote area is perfect choices for adventurous travelers and photographers.
SAPA (in Lao Cai Province)
Situated on the magnificent Tonkinese Alps, Sapa is a superb mosaic painting of colorful ethnic culture and awe-inspiring nature. The old French colonial town now welcomes an influx of travellers thanks to its exclusive beauty.
Lying above the clouds, Sapa is known as “the town of mist”. It offers perfect conditions for a real retreat. The climate is pleasant and the scenery are incredible with vast terraced farms descending gracefully into the valley, rivers shrouded in streams of fog and waterfalls sparkling in the sunshine. Sapa also boasts an amazingly diverse ethnic culture with vibrant Montagnard markets. This is a place you will always long to return to, again and again.
*What to do in Sapa?: Shrouded in mist, Sapa was originally a hill-station built by the French in 1922 for summer retreats from Hanoi. Here,people can relax and enjoy the breathtaking views. The best way to get around Sapa is to walk and almost everywhere it's steep. Besides, Sapa is also a good base for trekking, climbing, cycling and motorbike trips to explore the mountainous region as well as Montagnard villages. Visits to markets are also a highlight of most trips.
*Sapa tours offer: Trekking tours, home stay with minority peoples. Sapa markets tour such as: Bac Ha and Can Cau weekend markets, Coc Ly Market, Muong Hum Market, Muong Khuong Market, Lung Khau Nhin Market, Pha Long Market.
*When to go?: The best time to visit Sapa is March and May or mid-September to early December when the weather is pleasant. Before or after these periods, it is different experiences. The winter is cold and brings fog and drizzles while the summer is warm and has frequent showers. The rainy season starts in May through September.
BAC HA (in Lao Cai Province)
Bac Ha is the small town of the region of the Flower H'mong, one of the 54 minorities of Vietnam and of the 6 groups of H'mong people. It is famous for its Sunday morning market, where thousands of locals gathered, the women dressed in their very intricate hand-made costumes (it takes 3 to 5 months to embroider one by hand), as well as for the Saturday morning smaller market of Can Cau, 18 km north of Bac Ha. The town is enjoying an economic boom thanks to tourism, centered around the markets and, more and more, excellent trekking in the mountains north of the town.
Bac Ha is the location holding the famous contest on adventure sport "Raid Gauloises" in 2002. Bac Ha is famous for its Tam Hoa plum which must bloom three times before they are ripe.
THAC BA (in Yen Bai Province)
Thac Ba Lake is one of the largest and most beautiful artificial lakes of Vietnam. The lake was created as part of the hydroelectric plant project in Yen Bai in 1971. It boasts clear water surrounded by mountains and lush tropical forests.
There are 30 different ethnic groups living in surrounding regions of Thac Ba Lake. Among them, Tay, Nung, Thai, Muong, Cao Lan and Kho Mu ethnic people still proudly keep their primitive traditions and customs. This is great place for adventurous tours as homestay experiences and visiting hill-tribes.
THAN UYEN - NGHIA LO - MU CANG CHAI (in Yen Bai Province)
Belongs to both Lai Chau and Yen Bai provinces. The remote districts of Than Uyen and Mu Cang Chai are home to a variety of ethnic minorities including La Ha, Nung, Thai, Ma and H’mong. This a bit challenging route is perfect for adventure seekers.Incredible sceneries along the way make great rewards for the effort.
Than Uyen, Nghia Lo, Tu Le and Mu Cang Chai are all famous attractions in Yen Bai, drawing many travellers every planting or ripening season. Awesome terraced rice fields! The local ethnic market also makes a key appeal.
The route from Nghia Lo to Than Uyen passing Tu Le and Mu Cang Chai offers some most beautiful landscapes of terraced rice fields in North Vietnam with Fanxipan mountain range in the back. From the highest point in Mu Cang Chai you will enjoy impressive views of the terraces and lush hill slopes,especially during rice growing season, locally referred as "teenage rice".
DONG VAN - MEO VAC (in Ha Giang Province):
The road to the northernmost province of Ha Giang presents many breath-taking bends but is still well worth traveling for the marvelous landscape it offers to nature lovers and adventurers. The 60-kilometer section from Dong Van to Meo Vac and Lung Phin winds up and down to the magnificent Ma Pi Leng Pass through mountains and valleys of rocks and villages of ethnic minority groups. Many adventurers select Ma Pi Leng as the most beautiful pass in Vietnam. The road runs on the sides of black limestone mountains, which are typical features of Dong Van Plateau. Wall-like rocks of all shapes also beautify the pass, which is in the middle of Dong Van Town and Lung Phin. The Nho Que River adds the finishing touch to nature’s perfect and picturesque painting. To fully appreciate the pass some adventurers chose to stroll or jog rather than see it from inside a car, exploring the scenery as they go and stopping for pictures at view points.
Please note that it is not easy to find a safe corner on the pass to park a car, and there is much to see and admire on the road besides Ma Pi Leng. Meo Vac at the end of the 20-kilometer pass has an original Sunday market. Groups of Mong, Dao and other ethnic peoples in their colorful costumes walk from every corner of the mountains down to the market to buy and sell life’s necessities as well as oxen, pigs, horses, chicken and other cattle and fowl that ethnic people raise at their homes and on the fields. Visitors will get excited over noisy bargains at the trading area for animals and the tinkling sounds of spoons, pots and bowls when food sellers prepare dishes for patrons and guests to eat at the market. The road from Meo Vac to Lung Phin through the imposing rocky mountains is an equally exciting journey.
Ha Giang province is home to a great number of ethnic groups: Mong, Lolo, Tay, etc. They have unique customs and traditions, particularly the Khau Vai ethnic love market. Many other ethnic markets are held at weekends,drawing people near and far for trade. Perfectly, they are all untouched.