A Glimpse of Lao Cai
Lao Cai is mountainous border province in the North western part of Vietnam. 296km away from Hanoi by railway and 345km by road. It borders on Ha Giang to the east, on Son La and Lai Chau to the west, on Yen Bai to the south and on Yunnan, China to the North with a 203km long border. Lao Cai was originally called “Lao Nhai” (ancient town). On July 12th 1907 the province of Lao Cai came into being. It used to be an economic – political centre at the upstream area of the Red River
Lao Cai has complex terrain with high altitude strata and high line fault. The two main mountain ranges of Hoang Lien Son and Con Voi (Elephant) go along the northwest-southeast direction creating low and medium areas between the two mountain ranges and an area to the west of the Hoang Lien Son. Sapa is key destination in Lao Cai, listed as one of the 21 key tourist destinations in Vietnam. Located at an altitude of 1.200 – 1.800 meters, Sapa has cool climate all year round. It is home to forest, rocky mountain, waterfalls and vibrant cultural activities of ethnic minority groups such as highland markets, love market, etc. The land also boasts many historical relics, natural caves and agro-ecological zones.
Sapa about 30 kilometers away from Lao Cai city is the heart of Lao Cai tourism. It receives millions of domestic and foreign tourist arrivals each year. Sapa town has cool climate all year around. There are 4 seasons in a day in Sapa: spring in the morning, summer at the noon with thin sunlight and cool climate, autumn in the afternoon with clouds and slight coldness and winter at night with chilliness. The stone church is a must visit place, a symbol of. Sapa. The church is among few architectural works left by the French that are still kept infact here. But in 1895, the stone church is located right at the town centre. It is in the shape of the cross and bear Gothic Roman architectural features. The church has been under renovation and kept in good conditions. It is closely attached to the image of Sapa –the town in fog.
There is a busy market next to the church where all traditional handicrafts made by ethnic minority people are displayed for sale. The small booths, the pieces of brocade lingering the smell of jute and indigo the cute little hats, the colorful bags. They are typical handicrafts of this land that are mad with heart by the local ethnic people. Tourists can buy them as souvenirs or give them to their friends or the loved ones as beautiful gifts. Sapa love market is a fine feature of the traditional culture of H’Mong and Dao ethnic people. The market opens every weekend.
Local girls and guys gather there to express their feelings through songs and sound of “khèn” (a kind of wind instrument) that are performed the night away in a traditional way. It seems the words “love market” come from this nice custom. From such market days, many girls and guys have become husbands and wives. Sapa love market has become an interesting cultural event which is full of attrachtive to tourists. Ham Rong mountain is one of the most interesting destinations in Sapa. Lying night behind the stone church, Ham Rong mountain is likened to the paradise, holding great appeal to visitors. The mountain at an altitude at 2.000 meters booking like dragon head looming in clouds
Climbing up the mountain is an interesting experience to any visitor. It’s the kingdom of flowers and there are flowers all year round here. Ham Rong flower garden is built based on the natural terrain of the Ham Rong mountain. Tourists can feel the harmonious beauty of nature, culture and humans in the mountainous town as each step from the foot to the peak of the mountain is made. It may take visitors one hour to explore the mountain. The highlight is the big orchid garden with hundreds of species of orchids in bloom along the way. It is home to over 200 orchid species. With thousands of baskets of orchids. It is like as a fairy garden.
Here visitors can feel the rapid change of climate in Sapa. Mist from nowhere suddenly come up, enveloping the road and then it easily disappears just after a gust of wind unfolding everything again. Passing by the mountain slopes covered with flowers and gulches visitor will reach the Clound Ground. From this place, tourists can take a panoramic view over Sapa town. The Clound Ground is the best place to contemplate Sapa town because it is located at an attitude of 1.800 meters. There tourists can feel harmony between the earth and the heaven and as if they were stepping over the clouds. Sapa easily win visitors’ heart for its cool climate, stunning landscape and unique culture and Ham Rong Mountain featuring poetic, yet magnificent scenery is know as the fairy at Sapa.
This is why a great deal of tourists come here to enjoy fresh air, coolness and have beautiful photos taken. Cat Cat village in Sapa tourism zone is worth visiting. The village has long been inhabited by H’mong ethnic people. Approximately 100 H’mong families here have preserved their unique culture in practice.. The village is same 2 km away from Sapa centre H’mong ethnic people in Cat Cat village have kept many distinctive customs, habits and traditional crafts alive. The houses here bear ancientness with three compartments roofed with fokienia wood planks and covered by moss. The suspension bridge spanning over the well-know stream of Muong Hoa is the highlight of the village.
From the bridge, visitor can enjoy a panoramic view of a waterfall pouring water down, whitening a corner. Hundreds of years ago, French colonists had a small hydroelectric dam built here which still function well. It is about 14 kilometers from Sapa town centre to Sliver waterfall. The waterfall has long been known as a tourist attraction of Sapa. The waterfall flows down from 100 meter high mountain top. Like Love Waterfall, Sliver Waterfall makes us feel overwhelmed by the greatness of nature when we stand at the foot of the waterfall and look at imposing mountain in the distance. About 10-12 kilometers from Sliver Waterfall is the mountain pass that is considered as
The ancient stone filed that covers up to 8km2 and bears profound humane values is a must visit place. It consists of nearly 200 stone slabs found in the three communes of Hau Thao, Su Pan and Ta Van. It is believed to be associated with appearance of the first inhabitants here. The stone stabs were carved with the images of terrace, road, smiling faces, men and women making love which implies fertility and many other strange images that arouse lots of thoughts in visitors. According to scientists, it’s an ancient map of ancient H’mong people or summarizing battles in the ancient time. In October 1994, the ancient stone field of Sapa was recognized as a national relic by the Ministry of Culture an Information.
I am here on a tour. I can see many strange signs on the stone slabs, probably there were a lot more signs originally. Locate about 12km away from Sapa town is Ta Phin tourism village, the residence of Dao ethnic people. The local practice traditional crafts such as indigo dyeing and brocade embroil. Dao ethnic women are seen embroidering everywhere alone or with others. Dao ethic girls and women are always seen being with small needles and colorful threads. There embroidery products have become goods and been much favored by tourist. Many visitors come to village to buy such items.
Ta Phin village has recently restored the craft of drum making. Drums made by Dao ethnic people are liked a lot by domestic or foreigner visitors. This drum was made by Red Dao people. The craft of drum making was practicing it. It takes me 3 days to make a qualified drum. Drum make involves preparing skin to make drum head making hoop and others parts. I sell the drums to visitors and locals. The drum serve special occasisons like full – moon festival. Ta Phin cave, about 5 meters high and 3 meters wide, belongs to the Nhan Nho range, part Hoang Lien Son range.
If features stalacfifers in amazing shape, though this cave is not as magnificent as other famous caves in the region the colour and shapes of the stalactites reveval a lot about the cave formation. It’s quite convenient and easy to get there so Ta Phin cave has held an appeal to visitors promising to help develop the local tourism and life. This is the second time I’ve been in Vietnam. I first came here for travel purpose. Now I am here to help develop the local life and tourism. Those with love for adventure tourism should not miss the chance to visit two famous destinations: Hoang Lien national park and Fansipan peak
Hoang Lien national park is one the important special-use forests in Vietnam, located at the altitudes between 1000 meters and 3000 meters. The national park lies to the northwest of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range with Fansipan peak, the highest peak in Indochina, at an altitude of 3143 meters above sea level. With thousands of animal and plant species, including rare and precious ones, the national park has been recognized as an ASEAN heritage park. Exploring Hoang Lien national park and conquering Fansipan – roof of Indochina are great experiences for tourists to Sapa. The cable car that takes visistors to the roof of Indochina – Fansipan Peak has been recently put into operation. Thanks to it, visitors can reach the roof of Indochina within 15 minutes. It takes visitors 2 days to trek to the peak. The cable car wins two Guiness World Records.
Let’s come to Sa Pa –Lao Cai to get amazing experiences, contemplate stunning scenery, and know more about the local cultural uniqueness. It’s time to say goodbye. See you again.
Source: VTC10 Netviet