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Route: Sapa - Pha Long - Lao Cai
Located in the northwest, Pha Long market sees minority groups from distant villages coming to sell or exchange animals, agriculture products and especially textile products.
Pha Long is famous for Gau Tao festival in spring. “Gau Tao” means climbing mountains, and it starts from 3th to 6th in lunar calendar. People, who live in vicinities such as Bac Ha, Mu Cang Chai, and Chinese border, also come to Pha Long market. There are a lot of ceremonies and traditional game in this festival. It opens every Saturday morning and is swamped with Mong, Tay, Dung, Pa Di and Tu Di groups who are up bright and early to jump on a motorbike or horse to make their way to Pha Long.
Departure point: Sapa Hotel
Drop-off point: Lao Cai Station
Schedule details: 7:00 –17:00
Located only 3 km from the Chinese border, 72km north-northeast of Lao Cai City, Pha Long is one of the remotest communes of Lao Cai province. There have been a few visitors to come to the region so far because of the strict security control in the border region as consequence of the conflict between the two countries in from 1979 to 1989. Security permission is needed to arrange before arrival. However it is sure that Pha Long Market is among the most interesting tribal market in the northern mountainous region owning to the breathtaking landscapes of the surrounding diversity of the local tribal peoples.
Depart from Sapa early in the morning at about 07.30 am for an hour road transfer downhill to Lao Cai city. Continue the road trip 55 km along national road 4C to Muong Khuong Town let, through the lush farm land of Lao Cai, featured with terraced rice fields on the lower valleys and evergreen tea farms on the higher hilly land. Then turn left to follow provincial road 153 for 17 km along the border line to Pha Long Market which takes place every Saturday. Arrive at the market place at about 09.30 am, right at the crowded hours. Spend about 2 hours joining local tribal peoples such as Flowery Hmong, Blue Hmong, Black Zao, Tay, Nung, Pa Zi and Tu Zi…who where their best traditional costumes which are colorful to the market. Shopping, of course but more important than that is socializing.
Leaving the market place for paying visit to a village of the Pa Zi and Tu Zi which is beautifully set on mountainsides near the road before arriving to Muong Khuong town let where lunch is served in a local restaurant.
Afternoon road trips takes about 2 hours along the provincial road which sneaks up and down mountains and valleys along the Chay River to Coc Ly Bridge, enjoy several stops along the way for beautiful landscapes of Lung Khau Nhin and Cao Son Communes. Boarding a local boat and cruising along the Chay River for 1.5 hours to Trung Do village which is home to the Tay peoples, hiding itself on eastern bank amongst high mountains. Taking an hour walk around the village before taking the boat ride again briefly to Bao Nhai, ends up the boat trip here. Having a coffee break before transfer 46 km back to Lao Cai City.
Tour summary: Total road transfer 225 km, about 6 hours/ Market visiting 1.5 hour/ Walk about 1 hours/ Boat trip nearly 2 hours