info Lao Cai Province | Laocai | Lào Cai


Staff member
Jun 28, 2020
Province/CityCapitalArea (km²)PopulationDensity (/km²)% UrbanHDIRegion
Lao Cai provinceLào Cai6,383.9614,59596.321.0665Northeastern

LaoCai Province Location.png

Lao Cai is a border highland province in the Northwest of Vietnam. It is 296 km by train and 265 km by road away from Hanoi; it borders Ha Giang province in the East, Son La and Lai Chau provinces in the West; Yen Bai province in the South, and Yunnan province (China) in the North with 203 km-borderline. Humans came to Lao Cai more than 10,000 years ago.
Back to Hung King Era founding the country, Lao Cai belonged to Tan Hung province, which was one of the 15 provinces of Van Lang State, and was a major political and economic center in the upstream of the Red River. In the reign of Dinh, Ly, Tran, Le, there were many changes in name of places ... Under the reign of Nguyen, Lao Cai mainly belonged to Thuy Vu district, Van Ban district, and a part of Chieu Tan and a small part of Luc Yen in Quy Hoa district. Up to this time, the name of Lao Cai had not been formed.
There was a market in the old Lao Cai town, gradually followed by the open of a market street afterwards. Therefore, the first market street in the local dialect was called Lao Nhai (meant Old Street). Later, another market was opened namely Tan Nhai (it’s Pho Moi now). According to the late Professor Dao Duy Anh, Lao Nhai words were transformed into Lao Cai and was called for quite a long time. When making maps, the French wrote Lao Cai into Lao Kay. Lao Kay was used by the French in documents and seals, but in daily conversations, people still called Lao Cai. After the liberation of Lao Cai (in November, 1950), it has been called Lao Cai until now. After having invaded Lao Cai (in March, 1886) and completed the military pacification, the French colonized and ruled Lao Cai district under the military regime. On 7 January 1899, the IV Army were formed including Yen Bai and Lao Cai Sub-units. Lao Cai was the capital of IV Army. In order to easily control and exploit this land, the French colonized the administrative region and changed the regime. On 12 July 1907, the Indochinese government issued a decree abolishing the Army IV in Lao Cai, changing from the military regime to the civilian rule, establishing Lao Cai province. The name of Lao Cai province has been determined on the map of Vietnam since then.
Experiencing the ups and downs of the history, Lao Cai's geography has many changes. About the administrative places, it has been through several times of being separated and merged, as follows:
- Establishment of Lao Cai civilian province (on 12 July 1907), the land of Thuy Vy district on the right bank of the Red River was merged into Chieu Tan, still was named as Thuy Vy. Since then Chieu Tan no longer existed. The part of Thuy Vy district on the left bank of the Red River was separated to form Bao Thang district. Lao Cai province then was comprised of two districts of Thuy Vy, Bao Thang and Muong Khuong, Phong Tho, Bat Xat, Bac Ha (Pa Kha) and Lao Cai town, including 855 villages, 6,812 households, 39,099 people, with 11 main ethnic groups such as Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay ... of which H'mong occupied 26.56%, Dao 22.41%, Tay, Giay 20.77%, Kinh 4.52%, Nung 7.33%, Thai 9.25%, U Ni 2.48% , Chinese 4.44%, and other ethnic groups.
- After Lao Cai had been liberated for the first time, Lao Cai was divided into 8 districts: Bac Ha, Muong Khuong, Ban Lau, Bao Thang, Sa Pa, Bat Xat, Phong Tho and Lao Cai town.
- On 7 May 1955, Thai Meo Autonomous Region was established, Phong Tho district of Lao Cai province was moved to Thai Meo Autonomous Region. It later belonged to Lai Chau province.
- On 27 March 1975, at the second session of the 5th National Assembly, three provinces of Lao Cai, Yen Bai and Nghia Lo were merged into Hoang Lien Son province.
- On 17 April 1979, the Government Council issued a decision to merge Lao Cai and Cam Duong into Lao Cai town of Hoang Lien Son province.
- On 12 August 1991, the ninth session of the 8th National Assembly issued the Resolution to divide Hoang Lien Son province into Yen Bai and Lao Cai provinces.
- On 1 October 1991, Lao Cai was reestablished, based on the land of Lao Cai (the old land) and the extra land of three districts including Bao Yen, Van Ban (the formerYen Bai ), Than Uyen (the former Nghia Lo), that finally consisted of 8 districts and two towns.
- On 9 June 1992, the Council of Ministers decided to divide Lao Cai town into Lao Cai town and Cam Duong town.
- On 30 December 2000, Bac Ha district was divided into Si Ma Cai and Bac Ha districts.
- On 31 January, 2002, the Prime Minister issued a Decree to merge Lao Cai town and Cam Duong town into Lao Cai provincial capital.
- On 1 January 2004, Than Uyen district was separated from Lao Cai province to belong to Lai Chau province (new).
- On 30 November 2004, the Prime Minister issued thhe Decree No.195/2004/NĐ-CP on the establishment of Lao Cai city of Lao Cai province.
Currently, Lao Cai province consists of Lao Cai city and 8 districts: Bao Thang, Bao Yen, Bac Ha, Si Ma Cai, Muong Khuong, Sa Pa, Bat Xat and Van Ban with a natural area of 6,383.88 km2, population of 674,530 people (2016), and an average population density of 106 people per km2.

- Climate

As the province is mostly mountainous, it experiences a dry cold climate from October to March, while the tropical monsoon is rainy season which lasts from April to September. The annual average temperature is 23 °C (73 °F). The temperature generally ranges between18 °C (64 °F) and 28 °C (82 °F) in the mountainous region, with the lowland areas showing a temperature variation of between 20 °C (68 °F) and 22 °C (72 °F). In Sa Pa town however, the temperature drops to less than 0 °C (32 °F) with snowing conditions. Fog and frost are a common phenomenon in the province.

- Water resources
Lào Cai is a mountainous region. In the northwest of the province is Phan Xi Păng (also called Fansipan; elevation 3,143 metres (10,312 ft), snow covered during winter season), Vietnam's highest mountain. It is located in the Hoàng Liên Sơn and the Hoàng Liên National Park. The Sa Pa Mountains form the western part of the province. While the province is drained by over 100 rivers, the main river that bisects the province is the Red River, (Vietnamese: Sông Hồng), the most significant river of northern Vietnam, which flows out of China towards the capital Hanoi. It flows through the province over a length of 130 kilometres (81 mi). Other rivers of significance are the Chay and Nam Ti Rivers. Much of the province is heavily forested.

Ground water resources have been estimated reserves as 4,448 million cubic metres out of which good quality water is estimated as 30 million cubic metres. In addition, there are four mineral water sources.

- Mineral resources
The province has rich mineral resources, 30 types have been identified with good reserves. The major valuable mineral reserves are: Copper (53 million tons), molybdenum (15 million tons), apatite and iron (2.5 billion tons). There are 150 mines in the province exploiting various minerals.

- Flora and fauna
Forests account for 2,789.07 kilometres (1,733.05 mi), accounting for 43.87% of the province's area, of which 2,292.97 kilometres (1,424.79 mi) is natural while the remainder is plantation forestry. The forests feature 442 species, including various types of birds, insects and frogs. The province has a rich forest reserve known for its many species of rare timber plants; some of the well known species are: po mu (fukiena), lat hoa (chukrasia tabularis), and cho chi, apart from many species of medicinal herbs.

In the Fansipan mountain ranges, vegetation varies with altitude, with elevation above 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) retaining the forests. In the elevation range of 2,500–2,800 metres (8,200–9,200 ft), which is the mist area, "elfin forest" is the dominant forest vegetation of "gnarled trees (Tsuga yunanaris)" of less than 8 metres (26 ft) height covered with moss. Above 2,800 metres (9,200 ft) elevation, the mountain range has undersized vegetation with many bamboos and rhododendrons.

The Hoang Lien National Park has only 12 square kilometres (4.6 sq mi) of forest left as a result of anthropogenic pressure over centuries. Grass, bushes and small trees are seen on the land which are devoid of forests, and large areas are used for cultivation; ginger plantation, as a cash crop is wide spread.

According to a 1929 survey conducted in the area, the fauna (mammals) recorded by the French biologist Delacour who accompanied Theodore Roosevelt were: the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebuiosa), leopard (Panthera pardus), tiger (panthera tigris), binturong (Arctictus binturong) and black gibbon (Hylobates concolor), the stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides), and Asiatic black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus). In Sa Pa forests, 150 species of birds were recorded such as the red-vented barbet ( Megalaima lagrandieri), collared finchbill (Spizixo semitoroues), white-throated laughingthrush (Garrulax albogularis) and the chestnut bulbul (Hypsipetes castanotus); all species are considered exclusive to North Vietnam.

- Visitor attractions

As Lào Cai province is mountainous and still developing, its natural environment is relatively environmentally unspoilt. This means that its potential as an ecotourism destination among Vietnamese and foreigners is still intact. It has now become popular and a novel experience among both Chinese and Vietnamese as a tourist destination, particularly a "sexualized and sensualised" border town of Lào Cai. Special border travel packages for tourists, arranged between China and Vietnam under the present political set up in Vietnam, has relaxed regulations permitting tourists to visit selected locations under conducted tours to places in Northern Vietnam and particularly to the provincial headquarter of Lào Cai; Lào Cai is the last stop before crossing into China on way to Kunming across the border, which lies at the end of the train line to China. Since then the Chinese tourists visiting Lào Cai on a one-day trip or two days trip including the hill station town of Sa Pa in the province (a popular five trip is also organized covering Lào Cai, Hanoi, Hạ Long and Hai Phong) recorded a quantum jump, from 4200 in 1995 to 176,310 in 2002. Lào Cai is popular among Chinese travellers (males, in particular) who are said to be "obsessed with Zhao Xiaojie ("looking for misses") for its sex market. A male tourist from China made a mention: "There is a common saying in China: Vietnam sacrifices one generation of young women for the well-being of the next three generations." A popular motorbiking route among tourists that covers the mountainous region of the province known as the "Tonkinese Alps", is to start from the White Thai villages, Sơn La, historic site of Dien Bien Phu and terminating at Sa Pa.

Sa Pa is one of 21 national tourism areas in Vietnam. Sa Pa is at an altitude of 1,200–1,800 metres (3,900–5,900 ft), has a mild climate throughout the year, lush, forested and mountainous scenery, waterfalls and is a hub of cultural activities of various ethnic minorities in the region, such as the Hmong and Dao people used to gather during the weekly market to "attend an ephemeral "Love Market" where young men and women chose partners to marry. It is 38 km away from the border town of Lào Cai. Visit to Sapa town is said to be more popular among visitors from Western countries in view of its attraction of ethnic tribals. In fact, the French had established a Travel Bureau, as early as 1917, and the town was popular among the "French colonist" all through their rule as a hill resort. However, Sa Pa has gone through several rounds of destruction between 1947 and 1953, and again in 1979 due to war with French and Chinese. It has been partly restored and has gradually become a tourist hub since the region was opened to tourism in 1993. A good time to visit Sa Pa would be when rice fields in different green shades are being harvested in the fall season (September to November). The colours of the rice fields indicate the time for harvesting various plots. The women of the ethnic minority tribes who harvest the crops on the fields further accentuate the different green shades of the fields with their eye catching red and indigo coloured dresses.

Lào Cai has many historic sites, natural caves and produces agricultural specialties such as Bắc Hà plums.


Staff member
Jun 28, 2020

Co Temple – A cultural historic monument

Situated in Tan An Hamlet 2, Tan An Commune, Van Ban District, Co Temple is place to worship Princess of the Forest, the folk used to call her as the Mother of the Forest. In the broad masses of the people, she is called The Queen of the Mountain Farm and in she is supposed as the god to give boundless property to human living in the forest and border gate; which is also called the symbol of eternal life.

The Queen of the Forest is the reincarnation of the God of Mother who looked after the mountains and forests, the main habitat of many minorities. Every year, the main festival of the Temple is held on January 17th. The rites were conducted solemnly and fully. People and pilgrims come here to praying for a year of happiness, and peaceful and prosperous country.

Co Temple is a convergence of North-West religious beliefs; which is the houses of positive traditional education, and is consider as an inevitable achievement of cultural patriotism, and the " drink water, remember origin” tradition of our peoples. Moreover, Co Temple also have a meaning of deep sense of spiritual and ethnic pride, which enhances the solidarity of peoples in the region, and positively contributes to strengthening the national unity of Vietnam ethnic families.

Co Temple is a cultural heritage which has a great meaning to our nation which reminds us of a glorious past of the development of the Nation’s border area.

Doi Co Temple – Cam Lo Pagoda

Doi Co Temple and Cam Lo Pagoda were located in Chieng On halmet, Cam Duong ward, which now belongs to Binh Minh ward, Lao Cai City. There is a blue and clear stream leaning against a large mound ahead.
Doi Co Temple has remained hundreds of years from now, experienced the ups and downs of history and the changes of war, the temple has still remained and built increasingly spacious. Doi Co Temple worships two kind-hearted young girls who always bless everyone living in a prosperous and peaceful life.
Doi Co Temple has some major festivals such as Thuong Nguyen Festival Festivals which is held on the tenth of January (lunar calendar) every year. The Festival in the beginning of summer is held on the tenth of April (lunar calendar). The Festival in the ending of summer is held on the tenth of July (lunar calendar). The main festival of Doi Co Temple is held on the thirteenth of September (lunar calendar).
Cam Lo Pagoda is adjacent to Doi Co Temple, which was built nearly 200 years ago. The biggest festival of Cam Lo Pagoda is held on the twelfth of April with a large-scale which has the sense of commemorating the birth of Buddha.


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