Bac Ha is a town in north-western Vietnam, near the border with China. The main reason to visit this town is its colorful Sunday Market.
Buses leave from Lao Cai at various times during the day, and take roughly 2 hours and cost 60,000VND. Walk towards the river down a dual carriageway opposite the Railway Station. Many coaches will also drop you outside the Railway Station. Walk into the local bus station, 300m south-west of the train station, down Phan Đình Phùng, The fare is displayed. There should be a line of local buses, both small Hyundi 20 seaters and Ford Trasit type minibuses waiting in line. The fare is displayed. There is a common scam: - bus operators by the station may try to charge you US$10 or at least 150,000VND for a bus ride. Do not confuse this with a local bus conductor quoting you the fare for the group. Sometimes if there are say three of you the fare quoted (180,000) is the fare for the group not the individual. The local bus crews are normally honest and fair.
Return buses leave Bac Ha at various times during the day. Last bus back to Lao Cai is at 3pm or 4pm.
Sunday tours from Sapa which take in the market and often another stop or two on the way, leave at 7am from Sapa and return at 4-5pm. These cost between US$10-12. It's possible to get dropped off at Lao Cai on the way back to catch a night train back to Hanoi.
It's possible to ride a motorbike from Lao Cai (63km), or even Sapa (110km). The road is now in good condition (Nov. '14).
Bac Ha is small so most things within the town are within walking distance.
- Sunday Market. Bac Ha's market is frequented by roughly 10 of the local hill tribes so offers a large range of local produce and some tourist gifts.
- Lung Phin Market is roughly 12km from Bac Ha and takes place every Sunday.
- Can Cau Market is roughly 20km north of Bac Ha and takes place every Saturday.
- Coc Ly market is roughly 35km from Bac Ha and takes place every Tuesday.
There are two waterfalls located around Bac Ha. Ask the locals for directions (eg. Restaurant 36). One is called Thai Giang Pho, although most locals that I asked did not now this name. One waterfall is 10 km in direction of Ban Pho next to the street. Be sure to bring swimsuits...
- Spa (Spa), (Next the the lake). There is a spa and massage place, with some fitness equipments next to the lake, close to the market side. Count 100.000 VND for a steam sauna and 100.000 for a herbal bath. Great to relax after trekking. Staff doesn't speak english but can get you in touch with an english speaker by phone. 200.000VND. edit
- trekking (trekking), (everywhere). Hire a guide to do a two three days trekking around Bac Ha, spend the night in a homestay in the mountain and visit Can cau market (buffalos, birds, fruits and everything). You can find a guide in most hotels and restaurants. Other trekking circuits are available. 70USD. edit
Local handicrafts including hand-made jewelery, scarves, wood carvings and more.
There are a number of restaurants in the main square in the centre of town.
- Papa Russe, (only brick building on the market). Friendly host (originally from the Ukrain) offering Pho (rice noodles) and fried rices dishes, with meat, tofu, bamboo, vegetables, ..., for socialist prices - 20'000 for everything. Sure enough, you still pay more than the locals, but the place offers quite good value for money and friendly atmosphere. Come late, say 19:30, to get the best of Papa's own dinner. from 20'000. edit
- Spring Fair Restaurant, (at the crossroad before big Sao Mai Hotel). Best spring rolls in town, and other local dishes for reasonable prices, always freshly made. from 20'000. (22.53787,104.29079) edit
- Hoang Yen restaurant (Hoàng Yến restaurant), 009 20-9 street (West of the market), ☎ +84912005952. 6:30 - 23:00. Hoang Yen restaurant served european and asian foods you could have very delicious fried spring rolls and great pumpkin soup. $5.00. (22.536411,104.290872) edit
- Hong Hai just a 40 meters before Sao Mai Hotel. NO English menu really local food (just pick up randomly from the menu) really local price (buffalo stir fried with veg. 100.000 and many others viet bites between 7 to 20.000 dongs), jug of beer 30.000 dong...and if you still scary of strange food, mi xao (fried noodles) for 25.000 dong. Cheapest coffe in town.Friendly and welcoming owners!No English or French spoken.
- Hoang Yen Restaurant (Right on center west of Market), 009/20-9 street, Bac Ha, Lao Cai, ☎ +84914637360, . 6.30am-23.00pm. VND40.000-VND120.000. (22.536372,104.290928) edit
- Ngan Nga Hotel, 133 Ngoc Uyen, ☎ 0203880251, . Clean and comfortable rooms. Very close to the market. Located about 50m south of Hoang Yen restaurant. Bac Ha Tours agency is also located in the lobby. Note that there's another hotel with the same name further down the street. From around $10-$25. Walk-in prices usually cheaper than internet prices.. edit
- Sao Mai hotel, ☎ 020880288, . Big hotel with clean, pleasant rooms. Popular with group tours. edit
- Toan Thang Hotel, (just opposite of Sao Mai Hotel), ☎ 020880444. Basic budget rooms in old wooden building, and a bit more comfy (heating) ones in a more modern stone building. Friendly owner with rudimentary English. Ok choice for longer stay - negotiate price in advance. D from 150'000. (22.53864,104.29010) edit
Buses leave to Lao Cai at 15:00 and 16:00 day, take roughly 2 or 2.5 hours and cost 60,000VND. Can pick you at your hotel or restaurant, just tell the staff to contact the bus driver.