Have you ever wanted to visit Sa Pa or Mu Cang Chai but were worried they'd be too crowded?
Then we have the perfect place for you to enjoy fresh air and nature in a quiet destination. Let’s visit Si Thau Chai Village, Ho Thau Commune, Cam Duong Town in the northern province of Lai Chau.
|A spectacular view from the village. — Photo dulichtaybac.vn|
Village in the clouds
Si Thau Chai Village is located 6km from the centre of Tam Duong Town, and is home to 60 families belonging to the Dao ethnic minority group.
The village is perched on Pu Ta Leng Mountain, 1,500m above sea level, and is surrounded by mountains. Standing in the village, there's a stunning aerial view of Tam Duong Town down in the valley.
|A zigzag road leads to the village on Pu Ta Leng Mountain. — Photo dulichtaybac.vn|
The village is about 50km to the northwest of Sa Pa. To get there, you must cross the O Quy Ho Pass, one of the four most spectacular passes in the north, according to experienced travellers.
Si Thau Chai Village started finding its way onto travellers' maps in 2017, and has proved to be a luring destination.
Hundreds of groups visit the village every year, including paragliders, backpackers and bikers.
|A group of travellers walk through the village in misty weather. — Photo laichautourism.vn|
The first impression is tranquility and a clean and beautiful environment adorned with old roses, orchids and various kinds of fruit trees like peach, plum and pear planted along the roadsides, in gardens and on the mountain slopes.
The road leading to the village has been built from stone and is lined by stone walls.
Lai Chau Tourism Association Chairman Tran Van Long said the Dao people had changed their minds about opening up to tourism. They have contributed money and labour to build local roads and keep the environment clean.
“Some tourism enterprises have worked with locals to improve their houses and facilities to receive guests,” he said.
Stone walls border roads in the village. — Photo dulichtaybac.vn
Last year, Tam Duong District received over 40,000 visitors, 11,000 of whom visited Si Thau Chai. More than 700 visitors spent nights in local homestays.
Long said Si Thau Chai is an important highlight for the community in Lai Chau Province.
He said many families do not offer homestay services but still serve lunch and dinner, and offer camp sites in their gardens and yards.
“Locals are working together and have good awareness of protecting the environment to offer sustainable tourism services,” Long said.
District authorities have co-operated with paragliding clubs to host events during local festivals, through which they advertise the local scenery and traditional culture to attract tourists”, Long added.
“Each season has its own special attractions,” Thong Nhat, a frequent visitor who travels by bike, told Việt Nam News. “Every season, the surrounding forests seem to wear a flowery coat. There are plum and peach flowers in spring, and roses in summer.
"On cloudy days, it's as if you're walking through the clouds.”
Minh Hoa, another tourist from Hanoi, said she was impressed by the simple wooden houses.
“They are so simply built but inspire me a lot when we're looking for homestays during our vacation here,” she said. “I like the rays of sunlight beaming through the gaps between the wooden slats of the houses early in the morning, when I’m awakened with the smell of smoke from the kitchen and the twittering of birds outside.”
Hoa said she felt at one with nature living in the homestay, far from the hectic city life.
Various facilities have been built for tourists like high cottages for sightseeing, stone outdoor benches and areas for open fires and camping.
At night, locals entertain tourists with traditional fire dancing over burning coals and singing.
|Locals join hands to protect environment to offer sustainable community tourism. — Photo dulichvn.org.vn|
Tourists are advised not to miss traditional food like baked fish, grilled pork and grilled pork wrapped in fig leaves.
Tac Tinh Waterfall is a must-see destination, which is famed for a legend of love. “Tac Tinh” in the Dao language means water falls from a great height.
The road from Tam Duong Town to Si Thau Chai Village is fairly easy to pass, and visitors can take either a bike or car.
A bike trip will offer a chance to feast your eyes on spectacular scenery.
Locals offer homestay services for between VND70,000 (US$3) and VND100,000 ($4.3) per pax per night.
Food can be ordered at the site for VND500,000 ($21.6)-VND700,000 ($30) per meal for six people.
Tan A Dieu, who offers a homestay service, said he receives 2-3 groups of visitors each week.
“More visitors flock here at the weekends,” he said. “My family’s income has improved a lot from previous years”. VNS
Tran Hoang Nam
The northern province of Lai Chau, situated 450km northwest of Hanoi, is not as popular a destination as Sa Pa in Lao Cai Province or Moc Chau in Son La Province. Yet it has a primitive and mysterious beauty that is well worth exploring.
Traditional architectural style houses, stone-paved roads, and unique culture of ethnic groups are popularly seen by visitors at villages in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau.