September 9, 2016

Bac Ha Trekking

lao cai bac ha

Bac Ha trekking is the best way to see Bac Ha as well as to discover its Sunday market, mountain scenery, and authentic local tribal villages.

Bac Ha is located at about two hour drive from Lao Cai city, Lao Cai province, and less developed for tourism than Sapa. The place is well-known for the big Sunday market, where thousands of locals gathered, the women dressed in their very intricate handmade costumes (it takes three to five months to embroider one by hand), as well as for the Saturday morning smaller market of Can Cau, 18 kilometres (11 mi) north of Bac Ha.

Bac Ha is also famous for its Tam Hoa plums; the flowers of the tree must bloom three times before the fruits are ripe, local hamlets, peach gardens, and terraced paddy fields.

We at Hiking Vietnam provide a wide selection of Bac Ha trekking tours, Bac Ha treks as well as much helpful, practical information about Bac Ha trekking, Bac Ha trekking map, Bac Ha hiking.

Bac Ha map

When to go trekking in Bac Ha?

The best time to go trekking in Bac Ha is the dry season starting from October until April of the following year. During these seven months, the weather is dry and cool with little rain in Bac Ha. In the summer which lasts from May until September, it is quite hot with big rain. Within this time, October and April are the two best months for going trekking in Bac Ha.

If you plan your trip to Bac Ha in the dry season – winter, all the itineraries might be suitable. You can take a short walk, long hike, easy or challenging treks, the local weather in Bac Ha might be suitable for any activity. But if you travel to Bac Ha in summer we recommend only some short day hikes which can be combined with a visit to local hill tribe market.

trekking in bac ha

How to get to Bac Ha?

Bac Ha can be only reached by train or road. There is no flight between Hanoi and Bac Ha. The road trip takes about 6-7 hours. People usually take an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, and from there they catch a bus to Bac Ha. The alternative option is to hire a private car with driver.

Private car with driver.

We at Hiking Vietnam offer private car transfer Hanoi to Bac Ha. The journey takes about 6-7 hours on the new highway Noi Bai – Lao Cai. Renting a private car offers you flexibility and comfortable. Our driver will pick you up at your hotel at any time in the morning.

Public bus.

Sleeper buses run from Hanoi (My Dinh Bus Station) approximately 7:00pm to Bac Ha. These buses are reasonably modern, the beds are small and recline back, typically in three single or two double rows. The bus will make stops for bathroom breaks and snacks, and once in Bac Ha city. If you are a light sleeper the journey could be uncomfortable with many sharp twists and turns, and some claim that the mountain roads are dangerous, although there is no evidence of accidents on the route. The bus stop is near the lake area.

Train and bus.

Bac Ha can be reached by a nine-hour train journey from Hanoi to Lao Cai, followed by a separate transfer to Bac Ha. Vietnam Rail operates some of the carriages in the train, but others are operated by private companies (Fanxipan Express, Friendly, Ratraco, Tulico, Victoria Hotels, and many others). Some of these cars are significantly nicer than the standard cars. We at Hiking Vietnam help you to get tickets on these tourist cars, but any traveler can purchase tickets for the Vietnam Rail cars at the Hanoi train station.

What to explore in Bac Ha?

Bac Ha market (Sunday morning).

bac ha market vietnam

At the break of dawn, the market begins to hum with conversations and laughter. As the sun rises higher, the whole market is adorned with the colorful costumes of Mong women. The market is not just a trading place but also a meeting place where young men and women find their partners. For them, the market is a like a festival, so they wear their most beautiful clothes when they go to the market.

Can Cau market (Saturday morning).

The Can Cau feature local scenes that have been going on every week for generations, where cattle, horses, goats and dogs are bought and sold, as well as many traditional goods like saddles and plowshares, along with elaborate textiles, handbags and other trinkets made by the local tribes people, the Flower Hmong. Their intricately woven daily costume is one of the main drawing points in itself.

H’mong King Palace

H’mong King palace or Hoang A Tuong Castle is located in Na Hoi Tho Hamlet, Bac Ha District, 110km from Sapa. It is a unique construction work, which harmonizes the Oriental and Western architectural styles

The castle was built at the beginning of the 20th century (between 1914 and 1921). Its owner was Hoang Yen Chao of Tay origin. He was the father of Hoang A Tuong, a tribal mandarin under the domination of the French colonialists.

The castle covers an area of 4,000m² in which the main building occupies 420m². In front of its arched doors are earthen banks. Occupying a pivotal position overlooking the Bac Ha valley, the castle serves both as the residence of Hoang Yen Chao, then Hoang A Tuong and as a fortress. Its network of walls, bunkers, and battlements were reinforced by a mortar mixed with sugar molasses. In a distance, the white castle jutting out from the valley looks imposing and majestic.

Bac Ha hill tribe villages.

There are 14 Vietnamese ethnic groups living together in 20 communes in Bac Ha. They are H’mong ethnic, Dao ethnic, Tay ethnic, Nung ethnic, La Chi ethnic, Phu La ethnic. Among these the Flower H’mong has the largest population in Bac Ha. The brocade costumes of H’mong girl are colorful, ingenious patterns and make an impression. Taking a Bac Ha trekking tour will offer you the chance to discover these hill tribe villages.

Where to stay when hiking in Bac Ha?

There is a variety of choice of accommodation in Bac Ha. There are such hotels and guests as Cong Fu hotel, Sao Mai hotel, Hoang Vu hotel, Ngan Nga hotel, Saturday hotel, Tan Nguyet hotel, Bac Ha eco homestay, Anh Dao homestay…

If comfort is your first priority we recommend you stay in Bac Ha, and to take a day hike out of the town. Options include half day walk and one day hike to some tribal villages surrounding Bac Ha. Therefore if you take a multi-day hike, spending the night at homestay will be the only choice. Staying at local house is rather simple and rustic. You need to consider comfort or authenticity when booking a Bac Ha trek.

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Bac Ha hiking tours

Bac Ha offers a wide selection of trekking tours including easy day hikes, moderate overnight treks, and multi-day challenging mountain hiking tours.

If you look for an easy day walk which is combined with the market tour, we highly recommend the half day hike to the H’mong village of Ban Pho. Taking this option, you will have about three hours trekking from Bac Ha town to this village and hike back to your hotel. Support vehicle is not necessary for this half day walk.

If you would like to keep your vacations as much active as possible, we recommend the 5 day trekking tour which begins in Bac Ha town, taking you through different hamlets, local hill tribe villages to Thong Nguyen, Ha Giang where you are picked up by car and brought back to Hanoi. Taking this Bac Ha trekking option, you have the opportunity to trek through the most remote hill tribe villages of Vietnam. You will meet up with different ethnic groups such as the H’mong, the Phu La, the Red Dzao, the Tay and the Nung.

At Hiking Vietnam we arrange another Bac Ha trekking tour which is more challenging than the first option but less challenging than the second option. You will hike through the less traveled villages of Bac Ha including Lung Khau Nhin, Na Cap, Na Vang, Coc Re, Khuan Pung, Ban Me, Quan Than San, Ta Van Chu, Lau Thi Ngai, Nam Mon, Trung Do, Bao Nhai.

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All Bac Ha trekking tours are provided with English-speaking tour guide, car transfers, accommodation, meals, food and trekking equipment (private guided tour). Most of the nights are spent at local homes in villages (homestay) offering a real life experience.

Although we don’t run any group tour in Bac Ha, we will be happy to assist you to plan your self-guided tour in Bac Ha. We will provide helpful information that you may need to plan your trip to Bac Ha. We can also log you in our platform, so that you can have our instant advice.

The best Bac Ha trekking itinerary is customized based on the length of your stay, the date of your travel as well as your personal interests.