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Laocai, Vietnam Intel

DanTheMan (590 posts) • 0

Hey all,

Anybody got any tips on anything fun to do in Laocai other than eat Pho and stare at the river? Any recommended local restaurants? Hotel or guesthouse recommendations?

Also, does anybody know of a reputable place there that rents motorcycles? Can one legally ride in Vietnam on either an American or Chinese moto license?

Also, where do buses to Sapa leave from, with what frequency and at what cost?

Anyplace else in the general vicinity that's cool to check out besides Sapa?

Thanks for any thoughts.

sbarella (105 posts) • 0

You could check out Bac Ha,especially if you are there on a Friday,the weekly market is meant to be quite interesting. Minibuses and taxis to Sapa leave outside Lao Cai train station.After crossing the border,you can take a bus or taxi there (they'll try to charge you a lot,but it's a very short ride).You can actually walk there (~30 min if I remember correctly).I don't remember the prices I'm sorry!

Haali (1127 posts) • 0

Yeah sbarella is correct about it being not far from the border to the train station/central square. There isn't much to do in Laocai (pronounced Laogai) itself beyond eating pho. I found hiring motobikes in vietnam very easy - no licence or insurance or paperwork required, but that was on an island (Phu Quoc) so maybe that's why it was so relaxed. Maybe you could hire a bike and ride around the surrounding countryside. Careful not to get too lost though!

AlexKMG (2353 posts) • 0

There is a local market in Laocai just after the first bridge. A woman there sells juicy pork skewers for 10,000 dong each. Afternoons. Not crappy Chinese string meat saokao.

You can catch minibuses at the bus station which is a 5min walk opposite the train station. Daytime only. 50k per seat on a minivan that leaves when full. Hour ride up windy road. I got dropped off in the non tourist part of Sapa, so had to walk 20min into touristy part.

Peter99 (1246 posts) • 0

You can rent motorbike at Sapa. Wonderful to ride among mountais there. If you go towards Lao border and that Lai Chau corner area, thats among the last places in Asia where theres some "genuine" minority culture left - whatever that means - but overall its really nice areas.

The cops dont care. Theres no law in Vietnam. The cops are bad guys. Some bad guys some very bad guys. They dont care about driving licence and that stuff, but some may want to threaten just to get some extra money - thats if you did some traffic offense - then you have to bribe them. The bribing is a show, and you shall not loose temper, but play the game and try to get the fine down to around 10-20 USD. They start by confiscating your bike and coming up with a 100 USD fine, but being patient and playing the game you get the fine down to almost zero. To total zero if you have contacts. Keep the contact number to the office that rented the bike at handy and get the Viettel phone number too.

Peter99 (1246 posts) • 0

Ask them the registration card for the motorbike (usually its under the seat), have a few photocopys of your passport handy, keep the shops phone nr handy, tell the shop where about hour heading and rent for several days. Thats about all needed.

bluppfisk (398 posts) • 0

== Anybody got any tips on anything fun to do in Laocai other than eat Pho and stare at the river? Any recommended local restaurants? Hotel or guesthouse recommendations?

I stayed at "The Nest" which is fairly priced and just across from the bus and train station on the main square. Has most going on until late(r) of all the city. 200k VND for a night, clean, nothing special, bit noisy though from the street.

If you have the Nest on your right side, keep walking away with your back to the CN border, on your right side after passing a quite stretch of road, there will be a Bia Hoi place with decent snacks, ask for nem chua and the crispy bread and some spicy sauce to go with your bia hoi, and chat some with the locals. Quite fun.

You can also just try and hang with some of the many foreigners in Lao Cai (travellers), but not everyone seems to have the same need for English-language contact as someone who's stayed in China for a long time.

== Also, does anybody know of a reputable place there that rents motorcycles? Can one legally ride in Vietnam on either an American or Chinese moto license?

Anywhere and everywhere, for about 4-6 USD for the small Honda kind (up to 150 cc). You cannot legally drive in Vietnam unless you have a Vietnamese driving licence. That means that if you cause an accident, you're properly fucked and you can only resort to bribing the cops and trying not to get lynched. I've seen seriously bad things so be really careful.

== Also, where do buses to Sapa leave from, with what frequency and at what cost?

Main square has many buses and it's so touristy you'll be offered many options, including minivans. Don't know the cost because I always rode my bike.

== Anyplace else in the general vicinity that's cool to check out besides Sapa?

Yes, Bac Ha, on the other side of the red river and about just as far up the hill, is a much much much nicer place to visit than Sapa. Less touristy, at least with international tourism. So the hawkers bother the Vietnamese but not you so much. Still, English is generally spoken by restaurant and hotel owners so you'll get by. The market is much cooler. Fuck Sapa really.

Yen Bai (halfway to Hanoi already) is also a pleasant rural city.

Ha Giang is probably my favourite place in all of northern Vietnam. Access to incredible mountains, but already quite far from Lao Cai.

AlexKMG (2353 posts) • 0

Lol, fuck Sapa :) yeah, once was enough for me. found the local food more tasty in laocai. though sapa has that easy to navigate/eat pizza backpacker drag that's uniform throughout se asia. sapa is cooler as promised, but rainier too. didnt think much of yen bai, but will give bac ha and ha giang a look if I'm heading to Viet again.

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