The Northwest Vietnam region possesses great tourism potential with magnificent nature, unique culture and resilient history. This region was offered a majestic and exclusive beauty, pleasant climate, landscape and ecosystem, therefore, Northwest Vietnam has special tourist attractions. This following article will give you a travel guide about Northwest Vietnam.
In the first part of this travel guide about northwest of Vietnam, we will help you to have a brief overview about the northwest. In the second section of this document, readers will be provided a list of tourist attractions that tourists should come and visit in their trip.
Northwest Vietnam is the western mountainous region of northern Vietnam, sharing the border with Laos and China, which is one of the three natural geographical subareas. Initially, this land was sea, only some peaks in Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range and Song Ma Range were floating on the sea surface.
Up to 150 million years ago, the cycle of creating Indochina Mountain made the two geosynclines slowly approach to each other, causing the sediment in the geological zone to turn into huge anticlines and forming the limestone plateau today. In the process of mountain formation, there was also the penetration of magma. As a result, the Northwest Mountains were elevated to a range of up to 1000 meters. It is because of the process of forming geological regions that make Northwest become more discoverable.
Northwest comprises 6 provinces, which are: Hoa Binh, Son La, Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Yen Bai. The significant geographical features of the Northwest are rugged and high mountainous, multi-layered terrain on a complex geological basis, and profound climate variations. The slope occupies a large part of northwestern area, easing from the Northwest to the Southeast. Northwest Vietnam has two large rivers, which are Da River and Thao River. In addition, upstream of the Ma River is also in the Northwest.
Northwest climate is quite complex, prolonged dry season combined with hot and dry wind, which have made it difficult for crops and livestock. During the months from December to January, there is hoarfrost and frost. At the beginning of the dry season, there are often whirlwinds, hails and flash floods that cause extraordinary damages to land, production and life.
Best time to visit
The rainy season in Northwest is from June to August, December is the coldest winter, so the best time to get to Northwest is from September to November and from March to May. If you want to take beautiful photos, then you should visit northwest in August and September. Additionally, spring in the Northwestern regions will start in January and finish in March – when peach and plum blossom is blooming. Furthermore, if you want to experience a cold winter and snow, you should come here between October and December.
The Northwest Vietnam has not only complex terrain, but also possesses diverse ethnic composition. There are over 20 ethnic groups in the Northwest, among whom, the majority are Thai people, accounting for 32% of the population. In general, although the market economy is widespread in the delta and some mountainous areas, Northwest maintains the traditional modes of production.
In our travel guide about northwest of Vietnam, we will give you a list of popular attractions that tourists should come when coming to visit. The best way to book tours to these attractions is contacting a travel agent for detailed advice, and it will be better for you to schedule a trip suiting your time and budget.
1) Mu Cang Chai
The first destination in our travel guide about Northwest of Vietnam is Mu Cang Chai. Mu Cang Chai is a small mountain town in the west of Yen Bai Province, about 300 km from Hanoi. There is no need to go into the villages, right on the highway, visitors can also immerse in the golden color of the sun and the yellow color of the rice fields.
Every year, around September, thousands of people come here to admire marvelous terraced fields, for this reason, Mu Cang Chai has been recognized as one of the most unique landscapes in Vietnam and ranked as one of national beauty spots. The must-see places in your trip to Mu Cang Chai are: Khau Pha Pass, Tu Le Valley, Lim Mong Village, La Pan Tan…
Khau Pha Pass is the longest pass on Highway 32, with a length of over 30 km. The view from the Khau Pha Pass is most beautiful in rice growing season, from September to October, when the rice on the foot of terraced fields turns into yellow. This is also a time when many adventure tourists want to conquer the pass.
On Highway 32 heading to Mu Cang Chai District, Tu Le Valley is adjacent to Khau Pha Pass, directly under Van Chan District of Yen Bai Province. If you come here in September, you will be immersed in the aroma of rice. Furthermore, Tu Le also owns a hot spring. In recent years, with the development of economy, Tu Le tourism has changed dramatically. Specifically, roads are well invested, and the way to the hot spring has been renovated. This is home of more than 1,000 households, mainly Thai people. Visitors coming to Tu Le will enjoy dishes made from sticky rice such as green rice, porridge, sticky rice rolls, bamboo-tube rice, and try a cup of rice wine.
From Hanoi, when you follow Highway 32 to come to Tu Le, after passing Tu Le about 5 km, you will see the path to Lim Mong. Standing on this side of the Khau Pha Pass, you will see a line straight up to the sky. Far away, there is a small village called Lim Mong. Lim Mong (which is inhabited by Hmong people) has one of the most beautiful rice fields in Mu Cang Chai. In addition, travelers can visit La Pan Tan with terraces – architectural works which are full of creativity or you can explore Ba Nha Bridge, Che Cu Nha, Pu Nhu waterfall and Mo waterfall, …
2) Dien Bien
The next destination that this travel guide about Northwest of Vietnam will introduce is Dien Bien. Situated about 500 km from Hanoi, Dien Bien is a mountainous province in the Northwest region with relatively complicated terrain. This complex terrain has brought to Dien Bien tourism strange attractions. Additionally, Dien Bien is known as the place witnessing glorious victory of Vietnam’s military.
Dien Bien’s climate is cool all year round, which is suitable for exploring places, so you can come here in any seasons of the year. But in order to ensure safety, visitors should avoid heavy rainy days, when the road is quite slippery, which is difficult to move.
Besides the historical sites, Dien Bien is also impressed by the majestic sceneries. The most popular and common destinations that you cannot ignore when traveling to Dien Bien are: Dien Bien Phu Victory Historical Site illustrating famous battles of country during the resistance war against colonial invasion; Ban Phu which is a cultural place of artistic and spiritual life; Pha Din Pass having rugged terrain but spectacular scenery; Pa Khoang Lake which is green all year round; beautiful Muong Thanh paddy field, Pa Thom cave and Xa Nhe cave containing many archaeological values or you can admire the exotic scenery with swift currents and cliffs at Hang Tom Bridge… Additionally, Dien Bien’s specialties such as buffalo meat, dried beef, fragrant rice or Dien Bien’s wine are also great items that many tourists seek to buy as gifts for their relatives and friends after the trip.
3) Lai Chau
Lai Chau is a province in the northwest of Vietnam with more than 20 ethnic groups. Lai Chau is a land of hidden beauty to develop tourism. In our travel guide about Northwest of Vietnam, we will introduce to visitors the must-see places in Lai Chau.
If you want to visit Lai Chau, you should come here between September and October every year, because this is the time that Lai Chau has a temperate climate, which is suitable for your trip. Coming to Lai Chau, you are coming to a lush green forests and mountains that are full of mystery. Obviously, your experience of Lai Chau tourism will be the conquest of the clouds, streams, waterfalls and wild caves carrying a mysterious look.
The most well-known attractive destinations in Lai Chau that you should not miss are: O Quy Ho pass associated with a myth of the failed love story of a couple; Tac Tinh waterfall located in Binh Lu Commune, Tam Duong District, Lai Chau Province, which is one of the most appealing landscapes, attracting many visitors to explore the beauty of nature or Pu Sam Cap cave populations with impressive charms; Tien Son cave having 36 fanciful grottoes and a rich land with flat terrain at Na Luong village; … If you have more time, you can discover Ma Lu Thang, Vietnam Border Gate, Pu Dao Village, Vang Pheo Village, Hon Village, Sin Ho, …
4) Y Ty
The fourth destination in our travel guide about Northwest of Vietnam is Y Ty. This is one of the most alluring destinations of domestic and foreign tourists, especially young people wanting to explore and conquer the difficult and adventure routes.
Depending on your schedule, you can stop at these places to visit and explore in Y Ty trip, such as Lung Po stream crossing the Red River, A Lu field, Den Thang field, Den Sang black cardamom forest, … especially the high Nhi Cu San mountain range – where you can float between clouds. In addition, you can also visit villages of Y Ty to experience and fall in line with the life of ethnic people, or participate in highland fairs for shopping and dining specialties of Y Ty.
5) Mai Chau Valley
It will be a shortcoming if in our travel guide about Northwest of Vietnam, we do not provide basic information about Mai Chau Valley. Located in the westernmost of Hoa Binh province, Mai Chau valley has long been an extremely attractive destination for visitors because of its poetic beauty as well as featured customs and practices of local people. Mai Chau is a valley in the northwestern part of Hoa Binh province, with each season having its own characteristics and it can be said that the four seasons in Mai Chau are beautiful.
Some attractions that you should go to in Mai Chau (Hoa Binh) are: Thung Khe Pass – one of the most beautiful places to see; from here, you will have opportunities to admire all the natural scenery in full view; Ban Lac for those who love peace and serenity; or Pom Coong village – a village bearing characteristics of the Thai people, with natural scenery promising to bring visitors wonderful experience and a natural cave in limestone karsts, undergoing the erosion process, forming beautiful stalactites – Mo Luong cave.
6) Moc Chau
It can be said Moc Chau is the concentration of tourism resources of Son La and the northwest mountain region. Climate is a unique tourism resource of Moc Chau. Coming to Moc Chau, tourists will have experiences to feed cows, try milking, or drink fresh milk, and sleeping in a tent between the vast grasslands.
In the below section of this travel guide about Northwest of Vietnam, we will give you a list of beautiful places to visit in Moc Chau. In your trip to Moc Chau, you should spend time to discover Thung Cuong Village – one of the most beautiful spots for admiring white cauliflower and taking photos in Moc Chau; Ba Phach Village – a rugged but greenish plateau; or you might explore Moc Chau hill tea and visit Pine Forest in Ang Village – you will have opportunities to admire an elegant watercolor painting and enjoy specialties of the Thai people. Also, according to the travel guide about Northwest of Vietnam, if you have time, then you should go to the summit of mount Pha Luong to see the whole Moc Chau plateau, Five Cave in On Village or other caves in Moc Chau to see majestic stalactites, and finally, you should not forget to visit marvelous Dai Yem waterfall.
Sapa, with cool climate year-round, is an attractive destination for those who love mountains and forests and want to experience the wild nature of Northwest. In the final part of this travel guide about Northwest of Vietnam, we will help you to have an overview of Sapa tourism as well as famous attractions in Sapa.
Being a highland town in Sapa district, Lao Cai province (in the Northwest of Vietnam), Sapa is located at an altitude of about 1500 – 1650 meters above sea level, on the slope of Lo Suay Tong. Due to its favorable geographical location, Sapa has a cool climate. Specifically, in one day, Sapa has four seasons and in each season, Sapa is graceful in its own way, giving people different feelings.
In your Sapa trip, you should visit Ancient Sapa Town church located in the center of the town, bearing typical architectural features of the Gothic; Ham Rong Mountain – an ideal place to enjoy a panoramic view of Sapa, Muong Hoa valley, Ta Phin and Fansipan peak; or Cat Cat village attracting tourists by the wild and poetic beauty. Additionally, tourists should visit Lao Chai – Ta Van Village to discover majestic and tranquil nature and enjoy the simple meals with local people in Sapa. Furthermore, visitors can discover Sapa Ancient Rock Field – an evidence for the emergence of prehistoric people or Love Waterfall and Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall). Besides, you should not forget to conquer Mount Fansipan and O Quy Ho Pass.