Lai Chau City

Lai Chau

Lai Chau is a mountainous province, located to the North-West of Vietnam. Lai Chau shares border with China to the north and north-west, with Lao Cai Province to the east, with Yen Bai to the south-east, with Son La to the south, with Dien Bien to the south, south-west and west.

There are many high mountain ranges in the province dividing the terrain into narrow strips of valleys. The mountain peaks in Lai Chau include Pu Ta Leng (3,049m), Pu Si Lung (3,076m, Pa Ve Su, 28km north-west of Muong Te District), Nui Muoi (Bach Moc Luong Tu, 3,045m).

Lai Chau City
Lai Chau City

Climate
There are 2 seasons in Lai Chau: the rainy season is from May through September and the dry season is from October through April. The annual rainfall is 1200-1500mm per annum mostly during the months of June, July and August. The average temperatures during the rainy months are 25-30 Degrees Celsius. Except for Sin Ho and on high mountain peaks, the temperatures are quite mild during the winter months (December, January and February).

Rice fields at Muong Kim, Than Uyen, Lai Chau
Rice fields at Muong Kim, Than Uyen, Lai Chau

The province is mostly influenced by the dry wind blowing from the west and the humid monsoons blowing from the south-east; there are normally no typhoons or storms in Lai Chau.

Gia Khau Village, Lai Chau
Gia Khau Village (Hmong People) on the outskirt of Lai Chau City

Population
Lai Chau is home to 20 ethnic groups including the Thai (34%), Hmong (22%), Kinh (14%), Dzao (13%), Ha Nhi (4%), Giay (3%), Khmu (2%), La Hu, Lu, Lao, Cong, Mang, Hoa, Si La, Khang, Tay, Muong, Nung, Phu La,...

The Nam Na River in Sin Ho, Lai Chau
The Nam Na River in Sin Ho District

Tourist attractions and what to see in Lai Chau
Lai Chau possesses sublime nature with mountain peaks among the highest ones in Vietnam. You'd need permits from the local authority to climb these mountains though. The province is home to a number of diverse ethnic communities that can be visited on your trip through Lai Chau such as Gia Khau Village (Hmong, near the city), Hon Village (Lu People, Tam Duong District, 15km from the city), Na Luong (Lao People, Tam Duong District), Pu Dao (Hmong, Sin Ho District), Vang Pheo (Thai, Phong Tho District, 30km from the city)...

Scenic landscape at the Muong Than Valley, Than Uyen, Lai Chau
Scenic landscape at the Muong Than Valley, Than Uyen, Lai Chau

Sin Ho Plateau is 1,500m above sea level with cool climate all year round. The township is 60km from Lai Chau City. The weekend market at Sin Ho is interesting and should not be missed.

Mountains at Phong Tho, Lai Chau
Mountains at Phong Tho District

Travel and tours in Lai Chau
Lai Chau is a great place for adventure tours such as trekking, mountain-biking or motorbike tours. But due to inconvenient transport and poor tourist infrastructure, travellers normally do 1-day or 2-day leisurely trips to Tam Duong or Than Uyen from Sapa (in Lao Cai Province) only.

Paradissa Travel organize a number of adventure trips by car, by mountain bike, or by motorbike to the North-West of Vietnam which includes Lai Chau. We also arrange private trekking holidays around Phong Tho and Tam Duong upon request.

Ricefields at Tam Duong, Lai Chau
Ricefields at Tam Duong Town

Accommodations
Lai Chau is not frequently visited by foreign travellers or Vietnamese tourists, the infrastructure for tourism is not up to international standards. There are decent hotels in Lai Chau City and Phong Tho Town though. You can also find clean and simple guest houses in other townships such as Tam Duong, Than Uyen, Tan Uyen, Sin Ho, Muong Te. Homestay at a local ethnic family can be a good choice for those who love an authentic and engaging experience, but the service is not stable due to lack of visitors.

Tea plantations at Tan Uyen Town, Than Uyen District
Tea plantations at Tan Uyen Town, Than Uyen District

Restaurants and bars
Simple restaurants are available in most townships, while good ones are at Lai Chau City only.

Getting there and away

Lai Chau is 450km north-west of Hanoi, 80km from Sapa Town (Lao Cai Province), 200km from Dien Bien Phu City, 210km from Son La City.