Lai Chau city is the provincial capital of Lai Chau province in the northwest Vietnam. The city covers an area of 70 square kilometres. The city is not an ideal place for outdoor activities. But its surroundings offer beautiful off the beaten track jungle treks, hiking, trekking homestay tours, road cycling, mountain climbs, biking holidays, ethnic market visit, motorbike, motorcycle tours from Hanoi.

Lai Chau city contains 5 wards and 2 communes including Quyet Thang, Doan Ket, Tan Phong, Dong Phong, Quyet Tien, Nam Loong, and San Thang.

Lai Chau was the seat of lords of the White Thai who were dominant over other Thai peoples of the area, though there was rivalry between the White Thai rulers of Muang Lay and Muang So. During the 1870s Muang Lay was the base of lord Deo Van Tri of the White Thai who sought to unite and become chief of the 12 Muong making up the Sip Song Chau Tai. This he partially achieved, with the help first of Chinese Black Flags, then later the French. His authority, and the autonomy of the area was recognised by the French in 1890.

Getting to Lai Chau city

Taking a flight from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu city is a good way to get to Lai Chau city. From Dien Bien Phu you can either rent a car or take a Dien Bien local bus to get to Lai Chau town. There are direct buses from Hanoi to Lai Chau city. The other way is to take Hanoi Sapa bus, following the newly-open Hanoi Lao Cai Express Highway. From Sapa town, hire a car, motor-taxi or take a local bus to be brought to your place in Lai Chau city. The road from Sapa to Lai Chau is one of the most beautiful drives in Vietnam but it is very lumpy.

Traveling by road from Hanoi to Lai Chau city is a great way to discover the north west Vietnam. The stretch of road goes uphill and downhill alternately with many sharp bends. Booking a guided tour is highly recommended. Trave permit is required to visit Vietnam-China frontier region. An English-speaking guide is helpful in a such off the beaten path place.

When to go

Lai Chau city has the typical tropical climate with two seasons: dry and rainy season. The rainy season lasts from May to September with much rain, high temperature and humidity. If you travel to Lai Chau city in June, July, August of lunar calendar, be prepared that you trip might be interrupt due to hard rain. It is because 80% the rainfall of the year is allocated within these months. The average temperature in rainy season ranges from 25 – 35oC. Dry and cold season begins from November to March of the following year. This season features with cold weather and low humidity in Lai Chau city. The temperature falls low during these months with the lowest temperature of 4-5oC and thick mist, dry and cold wind, and frost. Between April and October is the transition period from rainy season to dry season in Lai Chau city Vietnam. During these months, there is great difference between temperature between day and at night. Maybe, temperature in the afternoon reaches 38oC and falls down to 18-20oC.

What to do


Hiking is the best way to discover the city of Lai Chau and its surrounding hill tribe villages. Trekking travel offers you the chance to explore Lai Chau tropical forest, luxuriant mountains, remote hill tribe villages. Whether it is a single day hike or multi day treks we have something to suit everybody. Maybe you just want to trek through the primitive forest, remote hill tribe villages or maybe you really want to get away from the crowds we can customize an itinerary for you.


Cycling is also a great way to discover one of best Vietnam’s hidden places. The non-touristy city of Lai Chau city has sealed, paved cycle routes, single dirt tracks, mountain bike trails, back roads cycling offering fantastic bike rides for enthusiastic road cyclists, mountain bikers. We have a range of road cycling trip and mountain bike tours around Lai Chau city, Lai Chau province and the north west region of Vietnam, providing options for both those who want some mountain challenges and those who prefer long flat rides.

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