BAO LAM District (+Pac Miau) — Cao Bang

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Bao Lam District in Cao Bang Province is a typical mountain area with villages and actually just one larger town of Pac Miau.

Information – Bao Lam
How to get to Bao Lam
When to go to Bao Lam
Guesthouses + Hostels
Questions + Answers
Photos from Bao Lam

Bao Lam District and Pac Miau town may be part of the Ha Giang Loop.

    • Bao Lam District (Bảo Lâm) and its capital Pac Miau (Pác Miầu) starts somewhere between Meo Vac (Ha Giang Province) and Bao Lac (Cao Bang Province). Bao Lam District is part of Cao Bang Province, which I find very attractive because it is not yet affected by commercial tourism (except for a few places). It is a district situated between mountains and in the mountains and the town of Pac Miau lies in the valley by the beautiful Gâm River. You can see this river to Bac Me town. It is a very remote district and it takes a lot of time to get here, so it is best to combine a visit to this place as part of a visit to Ha Giang or Cao Bang province.
    • During a visit to Ha Giang province, because a lot of travelers go to Ha Giang as part of the so-called „Ha Giang motorbike loop“. This motorbike loop passes several cities such as Tam Son, Yen Minh, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Bac Me and then back to Ha Giang. And the city of Pac Miau is located by the main road QL34, about 60 km from the city of Meo Vac, and this road goes to the city of Ha Giang through another district – Bac Me. So it’s an extended Ha Giang loop a bit through Cao Bang province. And it certainly doesn’t hurt. The whole area near Bao Lam is practically without tourists, you can really only see sometimes a few motorbike drivers, foreign tourists.
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Pac Miau (Pác Miầu) is the capital of Bảo Lâm District and is located in a valley surrounded by mountains.


Fascinating mountain and nature sceneries from Meo Vac to Pac Miau.

    • If I will describe this route, then it is another beautiful mountain passage, without extreme tourism. From Meo Vac to Pac Miau town in Bao Lam District. It is another area of ethnic minorities, smaller and larger villages and one capital of Bao Lam district – Pac Miau. Moving in the Bao Lam district is not very easy, you must first have a motorbike (a semi-automatic is enough for the passage) and secondly there are not too many secondary quality roads. If the roads are already here, they are more suitable for motocross bikes and are often damaged. On the way in this area you can also come across various ethnic markets, but there are no historical monuments in Bao Lam district.

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    • If you want to stay in Bao Lam district, then it is probably best to stay in Pac Miau town. There are some cheaper guesthouses or homestays, don’t look for luxury resorts here, they are not here. There are various restaurants, cafes and various shops + local market. There is also a larger ethnic very colorful market with clothes and cattle, I personally visited both, unfortunately I permanently deleted all my photos from the ethnic market and I do not remember what day it was. But the largest ethnic markets are always held in northern Vietnam on Sundays.
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Cattle market in Bao Lam district, on the way to Bao Lac city.


Bao Lam District in Cao Bang Province is practically a non-tourist place.

    • In addition, the town of Pac Miau is located about 25 km from the town of Bac Me, which is another very interesting non-touristic place on the return route to Ha Giang. The whole Bao Lam district personally feels to me like „No Man’s Land“, one big city and then just the villages. But the mountain scenery is beautiful and I definitely highly recommend riding a motorcycle via Bao Lam and Bac Me back to Ha Giang town. Sometimes you have to reckon with a bit of bad roads or paths and if you go straight from Pac Miau to Ha Giang (without a stop in Bac Me) then expect a journey that will take several hours. Driving a motorbike is a good option only for the most experienced drivers.

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    • Beyond the town of Bac Me, you will also drive along the Gam River, which completes the beautiful natural scenery. There is also a hydroelectric power plant (Thủy điện Bắc Mê) built on this river, around which you will drive, it is about 10 km from the town of Bac Me. There are also long bridges across the Gam River in various places, through which you can get to the other side and drive to smaller villages inhabited mainly by ethnic minorities. However, there are not too many of those paths, and when they are, they are very steep or even less passable, so you will probably move more in the valley around the Gam river. But if you have a strong motorbike you can explore this area.
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Gam River (sông Gâm) in Bao Lam and Bac Me districts, the river ends after the town of Bac Me if you drive from Pac Miau town.


How to get from Hanoi to Bao Lam – Pac Miau (or Bac Me)?

    • I don’t think it makes a sense to go from Hanoi directly to Bao Lam. It would take you a lot of time. You would have to take a bus to Ha Giang (about 6 hours) and then take a local bus that goes to Cao Bang via Bac Me and Bao Lam. However, these buses have a very limited schedule, it takes a lot of time and waiting in Ha Giang town for a bus to Bao Lam could take a very long time. And you will partly miss the beautiful Dong Van Geopark.
    • That’s why I recommend to combine this visit with the Ha Giang motorbike loop, which starts in Ha Giang town, continues through Tam Son, Yen Minh, Dong Van, Meo Vac and into Pac Miau town. From Pac Miau to Bac Me and back to Ha Giang. On this route, a motorbike or your private transfer is the best option of transport, I don’t recommend taking buses here, you wouldn’t get anything out of it. These are the most beautiful mountain scenery in the north of Vietnam.
    • From Hanoi to Bao Lam – buses, minivans, motorbike (via Ha Giang city) – this option does not make much sense.
    • From Ha Giang to Bao Lam – some local buses run through Bac Me, but it takes too long, there’s no point.
    • From Ha Giang to Pac Miau (via Yen Minh, Dong Van, Meo Vac) – motorbike loop for experienced drivers

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What is the best time to visit Bao Lam District?

    • Bao Lam District and both Ha Giang and Cao Bang provinces are mountainous areas, so I would avoid the monsoon season in the first place. Monsoon season are the summer months. During this period, there is a risk of heavier rains and the roads here can be difficult to drive on and landslides can be frequent on the roads. The best time to visit Bao Lam, Bac Me and even Ha Giang is either autumn or spring.
    • However, it is still a good idea to keep an eye on the weather and if there is any threat of flooding or monsoon, I would rather not visit and wait for a suitable time. The winter months are the dry season, but temperatures can be very low especially in the evening, but during the day they can be quite cool. Pack warmer waterproof clothing too.
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On a motorbike in Bao Lam district, Cao Bang province. A motorbike is a convenient way to get around or drive through the district.


Where to stay in Pac Miau town (Bao Lam)?

    • On the way from Meo Vac to Pac Miau, you’re bound to come across some classic homestays in shacks. However, you have to take into account that such places are in various remote villages, so services can be very limited. I’d rather recommend staying in Pac Miau town, there are cheaper guesthouses, hostels and prices are low. There are no luxury hotel resorts here, it’s a really remote town but in a nice valley and surrounded by mountains. So you should also take into account that the guesthouses are of rather average quality. Sometimes it can also be a problem to speak English with the staff. Most of these guesthouses are along the main road, i.e. in the centre of town, and there are restaurants and shops here.

Some tips for accommodation in Pac Miau:

Hostel Minh Duc
Hostel Vietnam Tuan
Nhà Nghỉ Tiến Anh
Nhà Nghỉ Hồng Hưng

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View from the balcony from the guesthouse in Pac Miau town, Bao Lam District.


Questions + Tips – Bao Lam District and Pac Miau Town:

Where is Bao Lam District + Pac Miau Town?

    • Bao Lam District in Cao Bang Province is located at the eastern border of Ha Giang District, the northernmost site of Vietnam. The district, if you count the city of Pac Miau (Pác Miầu) as the capital of Bao Lam District (Bảo Lâm), is located about 380 km north of Hanoi if you drive via Ha Giang city.

What makes Bao Lam District interesting?

    • What makes Bao Lam an interesting It is a non-tourist agricultural area that lies at the border of Dong Van Geopark and the mountain scenery is quite similar. You can drive through this place on a motorbike on the main road QL34 if you take the so-called Ha Giang motorbike loop, which starts in Ha Giang town, then continues through Tam Son, Yen Minh, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Pac Miau, Bac Me and back to Ha Giang.

How to get around in Bao Lam District?

    • Bao Lam is a remote district, there is no railway and local bus services are limited. So the best option is to travel by motorbike (semi-automatic is sufficient unless you go deep into the mountains), this applies to more experienced motorbike drivers. Some of the surrounding roads are less passable, steep and the roads may be damaged in places.

How to get from Hanoi or Ha Giang to Bao Lam + Pac Miau?

    • It is best to combine a visit to this place with the motorbike circuit that runs through Ha Giang province. It’s probably not worth the effort just to go from Hanoi to the town of Pac Miau in Bao Lam district. You have to take a bus to Ha Giang town first and then take another bus going to Cao Bang via Bac Me and Bao Lam. This would take a lot of time and I rather don’t recommend taking buses here, you will want to stop, take pictures, etc. It’s more suited to a motorbike.
    • From Hanoi to Bao Lam (Pac Miau) – bus, minivan with transfer in Ha Giang town
    • From Ha Giang to Bao Lam (Pac Miau) – local buses, minivans or motorbike

What is the best and recommended time to visit Bao Lam?

    • The same applies to Ha Giang or Cao Bang province. It’s better to avoid the monsoon months (summer months) and go either in autumn or early spring. In the rainy season, landslides on the roads in these areas can be a risk. In winter, expect colder temperatures in the mountains and pack warmer waterproof clothing for your journey.

Where to eat in Pac Miau town?

    • Pac Miau is the largest and capital of Bao Lam district and there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and other shops. Mostly it is Vietnamese cuisine. Outside of this town it’s a bit worse as it’s more like small villages or a few wooden houses everywhere, but even so, you’ll occasionally come across a snack shop on your travels here.

Are there markets in Bao Lam district or Pac Miau town?

    • Yes, it’s the same as elsewhere in northern Vietnam, with an ethnic market held right in the town of Pac Miau on Sundays. In addition, there may be occasional cattle markets outside this town, e.g. just off the road. Sunday’s ethnic market was quite large and very colorful and authentic, definitely visit, I would love to put a photo here but unfortunately I accidentally deleted all the photos from this market.

Where to stay in Pac Miau in Bao Lam District

    • This city is not a top tourist destination and therefore offers mostly standard Vietnamese guesthouses or homestays of average quality. Don’t look for luxury hotels here, there are none. There are a few guesthouses in Pac Miau (Nhà Nghỉ) just off the main road that runs through the town. Prices are low. In the Bao Lam district you can also come across typical wooden homestay, for example on the main road. If you’re passing through Bao Lam district, I recommend staying in Pac Miau town and then continuing back to Ha Giang via Bac Me.

Route map from Hanoi to Bao Lam (Pac Miau town):

(Bao Lam district is located about 380 km from Hanoi and about 85 km east of Ha Giang city)

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Travel route from Hanoi to Bao Lam, better to go as part of the Ha Giang motorbike loop.


Bao Lam, Pac Miau town in Cao Bang province — Photos:

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Road near Nà Đấng village, just outside Pac Miau town – Bao Lam District. Be aware that some of the surrounding roads are very steep.
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Classic villages with rice fields and wooden houses in Bao Lam district.
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Along the Gam River in Bao Lam District, mountain scenery stretches all the way to Ha Giang. The Gam River turns at Bac Me town.
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Roads around the town of Pac Miau in Bao Lam district, some of these roads are less passable.
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The mountain scenery in Bao Lam District is almost similar to what you will see in Dong Van Geopark.
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Some sections of the main road near Pac Miau town and in Bao Lam district are of relatively decent quality.
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There may be livestock markets in Bao Lam district and near Pac Miau town, or even classic Sunday ethnic markets.
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Gam River (Gâm River) flows through Bao Lam district and you won’t see it after Bac Me town (if you come from the direction of Pac Miau).
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Again the other mountain scenery by the Gam River in Bao Lam and Bac Me district, it’s several kilometers long passage.
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There are several long bridges across the Gam River in Bao Lam district, which can be crossed by motorbike.

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