LAI CHAU → Travel Guide + Tips + Map

Lai Chau – Vietnam (Travel guide). Around the town of Lai Chau in northern Vietnam.

ℹ️ Information about Lai Chau
🚍 How to get to Lai Chau
☀️ Weather in Lai Chau
🏡 Accommodation in Lai Chau
🔍 Interesting sites in Lai Chau
📍 Map of interesting places

Lai Chau: Non-tourist and Remote Province.

    • Lai Chau province (Lai Châu) has long been the poorest and least industrialized area in northern Vietnam. Lai Chau city is 450 km from the Hanoi and 70 km from Sapa. However, even here times are changing, and industry and the economy is growing gradually. Industrial production has almost tripled between 2000-2007, and agriculture and forestry grew by 50%. Road infrastructure in Lai Chau is still lagging behind. But even that is slowly changing and plenty of roads are repaired or new ones built. The leading products are liquor, bricks, cement and electricity.

You will see a big statue of Ho Chi Minh in the center of Lai Chau town.

    • Lai Chau is a good stopover if you are driving from Sapa to Dien Bien Phu or Muong Lay. You can rent a motorcycle and make a trip around the surroundings, there is the beautiful scenery of hills, mountains and villages. The roads here are in good condition and there’s not so dense traffic as in other places. However, you may have a problem with renting a bike, try asking at the Karaoke on Tran Phu Street in Lai Chau town.
Statue and monument of Ho Chi Minh – Lai Chau town.

Lai Chau town – the biggest and major town of Lai Chau Province.

    • Lai Chau town is the capital of Lai Chau province, located in the northwest region of Vietnam. It is a small, charming town surrounded by beautiful mountains, rice paddies, and winding rivers. The town is situated at an altitude of over 1,000 meters, providing a cool and refreshing climate, even during the hot summer months.
    • Lai Chau town is home to a mix of ethnic minority groups, including Hmong, Dao, and Thai, which gives the town a unique cultural vibe. Visitors to Lai Chau town can explore the local markets, taste the delicious local cuisine, and learn about the traditional customs and practices of the local people.
Lai Chau town from above, it is a view from the south.

A good idea – rent a motorbike in Lai Chau town to explore the area.

    • Especially in Lung Then and Can Ho there is a wonderful road through the valley, between the hills and large rice fields. Another good idea is to visit Nam Long area, where there is a large concentration of ethnic minorities. A lot of people from Thai, Hmong, and Dao ethnic groups live here. There is also a big Sunday market in Dao San (50 km from the town of Lai Chau), where you can meet Hmong and Dao ethnic groups.

Accommodation in Lai Chau

Surrounding the town of Lai Chau.

Mang and La Hu – these two ethnic minorities only live in Lai Chau.

    • You can also make a motorcycle trip to the Tien Son cave, which is located about an hour’s drive from Lai Chau town. If you want a longer trip on a motorcycle, you can go up to 80 km to the Sin Ho town. You will be going between the magnificent hills and panoramas, well worthwhile seeing. There is a market in Sin Ho on sunday, a lot of women from ethnic minorities come to Sin Ho (Flowers, Blue, Black Hmong, Lu Dao) so you can buy a lot of interesting handicrafts and food.
Surrounding the town of Lai Chau and Hoang Lien national park

There are many beautiful caves in Lai Chau province worth a visit.

    • On the way from Lai Chau town to Sin Ho through the Nam Long district you can also visit a beautiful complex of 10 caves – Pu Sam Cap, it is 1,700 m above sea level. It is recommended to visit the first low-lying cave due to its easy accessibility. In the district of Sin Ho you can also see the old Deo Van Long historical palace. Deo Van Long was the French leader of the autonomous Tai Federation of northwestern Tonkin, French Indochina.

Book a Tour / Tickets in Vietnam

A short walk from the town of Sin Ho (photo: V.Obuškevič)

Lai Chau Hydropower Plant at the border with Dien Bien Phu Province.

    • Lai Chau Hydropower Plant is a large hydroelectric dam located on the Da River, Lai Chau Province. The dam is one of the largest hydroelectric projects in Southeast Asia, with a capacity of 1,200 MW. The construction of the Lai Chau Hydropower Plant began in 2011 and was completed in 2016. The dam is 128 meters high and 1,050 meters long, and is designed to generate electricity using the water flow from the Da River.
    • The Lai Chau Hydropower Plant plays an important role in Vietnam’s energy supply, providing a significant portion of the country’s electricity needs. The dam also helps to control flooding in the region, which is a common problem during the rainy season. Visitors to Lai Chau province can take a tour of the Lai Chau Hydropower Plant to learn about its history, construction, and operation. The tour includes a visit to the power station and a viewing of the dam from a nearby viewpoint.
Lai Chau Hydropower Plant is close to Dien Bien Phu Province.

Hoang Lien National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Vietnam.

    • Hoang Lien National Park is a large wooded and mountainous area, situated between the towns of Sapa and Muong Lay. It is the perfect place for ecotourism and trekking, exploring ethnic villages and local residents. In some villages it is also possible to use homestay accommodation. In this park area there are mainly villages of the ethnic groups Hmong, Dao and Tay. Hoang Lien park is very rich in flora and fauna, there are several species of protected animals of Vietnam.
Lai Chau - Vietnam
Lai Chau – Vietnam

🚍 How to travel from Sapa to Lai Chau town:

    • Lai Chau town is located about 70 km from Sapa. From the town of Sapa you can use local buses to Lai Chau, these buses go through the Tram Ton Pass (a scenic ride). Ask for the bus information at the hotel or at the information center in Sapa town.
    • It is not a problem to come into Lai Chau on a motorbike from Sapa.
    • You can arrive on direct buses from the towns of Dien Bien, Son La, Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai) to Lai Chau town.
    • There is no train connection in Lai Chau province.
    • Read this article > How to get from Hanoi to Sapa. Train and bus tickets to Lao Cai (Sapa) you can book and buy online (e-ticket) on Baolau or

🚍 How to travel from Hanoi to Lai Chau town:

    • From Hanoi to Lai Chau you can take a sleeper bus from the My Dinh or Giap Bat bus stations. For the exact time you have to ask at the bus station, because it can change.
    • Travel by bus can take about 7-12 hours, depends on the company and on the bus route, stops…
    • Some buses also stop in Mu Cang Chai or Sapa, this place can be a very good stopover on the way.
    • Now you can book your bus e-tickets to Lai Chau online.
    • from Hanoi to Lai Chau you can travel by night sleeper bus
    • travel by sleeper bus from Hanoi to Lai Chau takes about 8,5 hours
    • bus tickets from Hanoi to Lai Chau cost about $17-20/pp
    • Book and buy bus e-tickets from Hanoi to Lai Chau online on Baolau ➜
Bus of The Anh company from Hanoi to Lai Chau (photo: Baolau)

☀️ Weather in Lai Chau + The Best Time to Visit:

    • The climate in Lai Chau is characterized by two distinct seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.
    • You can check weather forecast online Current weather in Lai Chau.
    • Normally, Lai Chau’s dry season lasts from October to March. The weather is often cool and dry throughout this season, with temperatures between 15°C and 25°C. The weather is warm and the skies are clear, making this the greatest time of year to visit Lai Chau and the best time to take in the natural beauty of the region. The Hoang Lien Son mountain range, the Sin Ho plateau, and the Da River all offer hiking opportunities for tourists.
    • The rainy season in Lai Chau typically lasts from April to September, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in July and August. During this time, the weather is warm and humid, with temperatures ranging from around 25°C to 30°C. The heavy rainfall can make it difficult to explore the province’s mountainous terrain, as roads and trails may become slippery and difficult to navigate. However, the rainy season can also be a beautiful time to visit, as the lush greenery and vibrant flowers are in full bloom.
    • In summary, the best time to visit Lai Chau is during the dry season, from October to March, when the weather is cool and dry, and the skies are clear. However, visitors who don’t mind a little rain may also enjoy the beauty of Lai Chau during the rainy season, from April to September, when the landscape is lush and green.

🏡 Accommodation in Lai Chau:

Lai Chau town and province offer a range of accommodation options for visitors, from budget guesthouses to mid-range hotels. In various small villages you can use local homestay by ethnic minority people. There are mainly local small hotels or guesthouses in Lai Chau town. Here are some of the most popular choices:

    • Homestays: For a truly authentic experience, visitors can opt to stay with local families in traditional stilt houses in ethnic minority villages. This is a great way to learn about the local culture and way of life. Many homestays offer basic facilities, including shared bathrooms and simple meals.
    • Guesthouses: Lai Chau town has several guesthouses that cater to budget travelers. These guesthouses typically offer private rooms with basic amenities, including air conditioning, hot water, and Wi-Fi. Some popular guesthouses in Lai Chau town include Phuong Nam Guesthouse and Huong Sen Guesthouse.
    • Hotels: Lai Chau province has several mid-range hotels that offer comfortable rooms and modern amenities, including air conditioning, hot water, and Wi-Fi. Some popular hotels in the province include Muong Thanh Lai Chau Hotel, Lan Anh Hotel, and Minh Thanh Hotel.
    • The offer of accommodation at the booking portal Agoda is very limited. Perhaps only a few hotels in Lai Chau town (not in the province). Some other accommodation options are shown on the map below, you can book them online.

Some recommended hotels in Lai Chau:
Muong Thanh Hotel
Thuy Thien Hotel
Hoang Nham Luxury Hotel
Doan Ket 1 Hotel
Minh Son Hotel

🔍 Places of Interest in Lai Chau (+Activities):

    • Can Ho and Nam Long District: Explore the Can Ho and Nam Long districts, which are known for their stunning landscapes, serene countryside, and opportunities to connect with the local communities. These districts offer a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life, allowing you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and traditional culture of the region.
    • Monument of Ho Chi Minh: The Monument of Ho Chi Minh is a significant tribute to the revered leader of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. This monument stands as a symbol of his profound influence on the country’s history, especially in the struggle for independence and the pursuit of a unified Vietnam.
    • Pu Sam Cap Cave: Pu Sam Cap Cave is a geological wonder waiting to be explored. This captivating cave is known for its unique rock formations and chambers that beckon adventure seekers to delve into its mysterious depths, making it a thrilling destination for spelunking enthusiasts.
    • Dao San – Sunday Ethnic Market: Dao San is renowned for its vibrant Sunday ethnic market. It serves as a cultural melting pot where diverse ethnic communities come together to trade, exhibit their crafts, and share their distinctive traditions. A visit to this market is a colorful and enriching experience that provides insight into the region’s cultural diversity.
    • Trip on a Motorcycle to the Town of Sin Ho: Embark on an exhilarating motorcycle journey to the picturesque town of Sin Ho. The winding roads and breathtaking scenery make this trip an unforgettable adventure that allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and local culture of the area.
    • Deo Van Long Historical Palace: The Deo Van Long Historical Palace is a testament to the region’s rich history and architectural heritage. Explore its grandeur and gain insights into the historical significance it holds in Lai Chau.
    • Tien Son Cave and Waterfall in Tam Duong District: Discover the captivating Tien Son Cave and Waterfall in the Tam Duong district. This natural wonder offers a refreshing escape into the heart of nature, where you can explore underground caves and bask in the beauty of cascading waterfalls.
    • Hoang Lien National Park: Hoang Lien National Park is a pristine wilderness known for its diverse ecosystems, offering adventurous treks, scenic trails, and panoramic views of Mount Fansipan, the tallest peak in Indochina. The park is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and trekking aficionados.
    • Festivals in Lai Chau Province: Lai Chau province is a vibrant cultural hub where various festivals and events celebrate the rich cultural tapestry of the region. These festivals often feature traditional music, dance performances, and local culinary delights, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to partake in the local traditions and celebrations.
    • Tram Ton Pass (O Quy Ho): The Tram Ton Pass, also known as O Quy Ho, is a breathtaking mountain pass that offers unparalleled views of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Be sure to visit the Cầu kính Rồng Mây viewpoint for some of the most stunning panoramas in the area.
    • Riding a Motorcycle Around – Beautiful Sceneries: Exploring the region on a motorcycle is a thrilling way to witness the natural beauty of Lai Chau. The winding roads, lush landscapes, and serene surroundings make it a memorable adventure that allows you to connect with the scenic wonders of the region.
    • Lai Chau Hydropower Plant: The Lai Chau Hydropower Plant is an essential component of the region’s infrastructure, contributing significantly to energy production and the sustainability of the area. It’s an impressive feat of engineering worth noting.
    • Pu Si Lung (the 2nd Highest Mountain in Vietnam, 3076 m): Pu Si Lung is the second-highest mountain in Vietnam, reaching an elevation of 3,076 meters. It is a challenging and inaccessible mountain that requires a guide and a permit due to its remote location and the complex terrain. For experienced trekkers and mountaineers, conquering this peak is a rewarding adventure filled with stunning vistas and a sense of accomplishment.
    • Pu Tha Leng (the 3rd Highest Mountain in Vietnam, 3049 m): Pu Tha Leng, the third-highest mountain in Vietnam, stands tall at 3,049 meters. Like Pu Si Lung, it is an inaccessible mountain, and ascending it should only be attempted with the guidance of a seasoned trekking guide and the necessary permits. The journey to the summit is an extraordinary and challenging experience that provides a unique perspective of the region’s awe-inspiring landscapes.

📍 Lai Chau – tourist map:

Frequently Asked Questions + Tips about Lai Chau:

1. How to book bus tickets from Hanoi to Lai Chau?

    • It is possible to book bus tickets from Hanoi to Lai Chau online on Baolau.
    • You can also search another popular travel routes, e.g. Hanoi to Sapa, Sapa to Ha Giang…

2. Is there a flight from Hanoi to Lai Chau?

    • No, there is no flight to Lai Chau because Lai Chau has no airport, it is not possible to travel by plane.

3. How to move in Lai Chau province?

    • The best way is to travel on your own, e.g. you can rent a motorbike. IDP is necessary if you want to rent a motorcycle in Vietnam. You can book your motorcycle in Hanoi online with Bikesbooking. It is good to know, roads in this mountain province are dangerous, you have to drive carefully and slowly.

4. What is the travel time from Hanoi to Lai Chau?

    • Travel by tourist bus from Hanoi to Lai Chau town takes about 9 hours.

5. How much does it cost to get by bus from Hanoi to Lai Chau?

    • Travel by tourist bus or minivan from Hanoi to Lai Chau costs about $17-20/pp.

6. How far is Lai Chau town from Hanoi?

    • Travel distance from Hanoi to Lai Chau town is about 400 km by tourist bus.

7. What is there to do in Lai Chau province?

    • Lai Chau province is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse ethnic cultures. Some popular activities for tourists include trekking through the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, visiting the Sin Ho plateau, exploring ethnic minority villages, and taking a boat ride on the Da River.

8. What is the best time to visit Lai Chau province?

    • The best time to visit Lai Chau is during the dry season, from October to March, when the weather is cool and dry, and the skies are clear. However, visitors who don’t mind a little rain may also enjoy the beauty of Lai Chau during the rainy season, from April to September, when the landscape is lush and green.

9. What language do people speak in Lai Chau province?

    • The main language spoken in Lai Chau province is Vietnamese, but many ethnic minority groups also speak their own languages, such as Hmong, Dao, and Thai.

10. What are some popular ethnic minority groups in Lai Chau province?

    • Lai Chau province is home to several ethnic minority groups, including Hmong, Dao, Thai, and Giay. Each group has its own unique culture and traditions.

11. What is the food like in Lai Chau province?

    • The food in Lai Chau province is known for its simple yet delicious flavors. Popular dishes include pho (noodle soup), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), and com lam (bamboo-cooked rice). Visitors can also try local specialties such as thang co (horse meat soup) and smoked buffalo meat.

12. What is the weather like in Lai Chau province?

    • Lai Chau province has a tropical monsoon climate, with two distinct seasons: the dry season (October to March) and the rainy season (April to September). The average temperature ranges from 15°C to 30°C depending on the season.

13. What are some popular attractions in Lai Chau town?

    • Some popular attractions in Lai Chau town include the Tam Duong market, the Lai Chau Hydropower Plant, and the Muong Than cultural park. Visitors can also explore the town’s local restaurants, cafes, and shops.

14. What to watch out for in Lai Chau?

    • Visitors to Lai Chau province should take precautions against theft and pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas. It is also important to stay hydrated and protected from the sun, as the weather can be hot and dry. When trekking or exploring rural areas, it is recommended to hire a local guide for safety and to learn more about the local culture.

15. How to travel solo in Vietnam?

    • Discover the wonders of solo travel in Vietnam as you explore ancient temples, cruise through scenic landscapes or karst sceneries, hike various national parks and ethnic villages and connect with the warm-hearted locals, creating a personalized journey of cultural immersion and breathtaking experiences.

16. What are the most interesting things or facts about Vietnam?

    • Vietnam, a country with a captivating allure, is celebrated for its breathtaking landscapes, including the mesmerizing limestone karsts of Halong Bay, the terraced rice fields of Sapa, and the bustling waterways of the Mekong Delta. Its rich history unfolds through ancient temples in Hanoi, the imperial city of Hue, and the Cu Chi Tunnels, providing a glimpse into Vietnam’s resilience during wartime. The country’s vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality further enhance the allure of this Southeast Asian gem. Read this: 15 Interesting Things of Vietnam.

17. What to expect from Vietnam Culture?

    • Expect a vibrant cultural tapestry in Vietnam, characterized by traditional values, a strong sense of community, and a deep-rooted respect for family. You’ll encounter a fusion of French, Chinese, and indigenous influences in art, architecture, and cuisine. Traditional water puppetry, folk music, and dance performances showcase the country’s artistic flair. The importance of rituals and festivals in daily life adds a colorful dimension, while the warmth and friendliness of the Vietnamese people make for a welcoming and enriching cultural experience.


Interesting Facts about Lai Chau: Description
1. Ethereal Mountain Landscapes:

Lai Chau, nestled in the ethereal highlands of northern Vietnam, boasts an enchanting tapestry of mountain landscapes. Towering peaks, lush valleys, and winding rivers define the region’s topography. The scenic beauty of Lai Chau unfolds as a captivating mosaic, inviting travelers to explore its pristine natural wonders. Whether trekking along mountain trails or gazing at panoramic vistas, the ethereal landscapes of Lai Chau create an immersive experience that transcends the ordinary and reveals the mystique of the northern highlands.

2. Diverse Ethnic Cultures:

Lai Chau is a cultural kaleidoscope, home to a rich tapestry of ethnic communities, including the H’mong, Thai, and Dao. Each community contributes to the region’s cultural vibrancy, preserving age-old traditions, colorful festivals, and distinctive craftsmanship. Exploring Lai Chau offers a unique opportunity to engage with these diverse cultures, from participating in traditional ceremonies to witnessing intricate textile weaving. The warmth of hospitality and the authenticity of cultural exchanges make Lai Chau a captivating destination for those seeking to delve into the heart of Vietnam’s ethnic diversity.

3. Pu Sam Cap Cave:

Pu Sam Cap Cave, a hidden gem within Lai Chau’s rugged landscapes, beckons adventurers with its subterranean wonders. The cave’s name translates to „Three Pools Cap,“ derived from the three cascading pools found within its depths. Exploring Pu Sam Cap Cave is a journey into a surreal realm of stalactite formations, underground rivers, and cavernous chambers. The mystical ambiance of the cave, illuminated by natural light filtering through openings, adds an element of enchantment to Lai Chau’s diverse attractions.

4. Lai Chau Hydroelectric Plant:

The Lai Chau Hydroelectric Plant stands as a testament to both engineering prowess and environmental impact. Nestled amidst the mountains, the dam harnesses the power of the Da River, generating electricity for the region. The scale of the hydroelectric plant is awe-inspiring, and guided tours offer visitors insights into the complex process of electricity generation. While a symbol of modernity, the plant’s existence prompts contemplation on the delicate balance between progress and environmental preservation in Lai Chau.

5. Lai Chau Stone Plateau:

The Lai Chau Stone Plateau is a geological marvel, marked by expansive limestone landscapes and unique karst formations. These natural sculptures, shaped by centuries of erosion, create a surreal environment reminiscent of a stone forest. The plateau’s distinctive terrain, adorned with caves and limestone pillars, offers a captivating backdrop for exploration. Venturing into the Lai Chau Stone Plateau reveals the geological story written in the rocks, providing a glimpse into the forces that have shaped this remarkable region over time.

6. Sin Ho Plateau:

The Sin Ho Plateau, perched at an elevation of over 1,500 meters, captures the essence of Lai Chau’s highland charm. The plateau is a haven of cool climate, expansive tea plantations, and terraced fields that cascade down the slopes. Sin Ho is not only a visual delight but also a cultural hub, with local markets showcasing the vibrant tapestry of ethnic traditions. The journey to Sin Ho unveils the allure of Lai Chau’s highland landscapes, offering a retreat into nature’s tranquility and cultural authenticity.

7. Lai Chau Suspension Bridge:

The Lai Chau Suspension Bridge spans the Da River, connecting the town of Lai Chau with Tam Duong District. This architectural marvel, with its sweeping curves and towering pylons, offers not only a vital transportation link but also a visual spectacle against the mountainous backdrop. Crossing the suspension bridge provides a panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes, creating a memorable journey for travelers exploring the diverse terrain of Lai Chau.

8. Ho Thau Commune:

Ho Thau Commune, nestled within the heart of Lai Chau, exemplifies the harmonious coexistence between nature and traditional agriculture. The commune is renowned for its terraced rice fields, meticulously carved into the mountainsides. The vibrant green of the rice paddies against the rugged backdrop of the Hoang Lien Son range creates a visual masterpiece. Exploring Ho Thau offers a glimpse into the agricultural practices that have sustained communities in Lai Chau for generations, showcasing the resilience of life in the highlands.

9. Lai Chau Tea Plantations:

Lai Chau’s tea plantations, sprawling across the undulating hills, contribute to the region’s reputation as a haven for tea enthusiasts. The cool climate and fertile soil create optimal conditions for tea cultivation, resulting in high-quality tea leaves. Visitors to the tea plantations of Lai Chau can witness the meticulous process of tea harvesting, processing, and brewing. The aroma of freshly brewed tea, set against the backdrop of the highland landscapes, adds a sensory dimension to the exploration of Lai Chau’s agricultural heritage.

10. Sapa Muong Vi Ancient Rock Field:

The Sapa Muong Vi Ancient Rock Field, located in Lai Chau, unveils a prehistoric gallery etched into the stones by ancient inhabitants. The enigmatic rock carvings depict scenes of daily life, rituals, and symbols, providing a fascinating window into the region’s ancient history. Exploring this archaeological site offers a journey through time, connecting visitors with the cultural legacy of Lai Chau’s early inhabitants. The ancient rock field is a testament to the enduring spirit of human creativity and expression in the highlands of northern Vietnam.

BOOK your STAY in Lai Chau

➡️ Where to go from Lai Chau:

You can continue to Sapa, Dien Bien Phu, Bac Ha, Son La, Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai).

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