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 6.30am, 7.30am and 1pm daily, take roughly 2 hours and cost 70'000VND. Beware of a common scam - bus conductors will always try to charge you US$10 or at least 100,000VND for the bus ride. Walk into the station, 300m south-west of the train station, down Phan Đình Phùng, where the price is written on the board, there will be no argument. Return buses leave Bac Ha at 5.30am and 12.00am.
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). However, the road is not great at parts and can be very dusty in the dry season. They are in the process of building a tarmac road so the trip will be a good deal more pleasant when this is complete.
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.
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.
- 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)
In general, there's no reason to stay overnight in Bac Ha, unless you arrived on Saturday afternoon and are willing to see the Sunday Market.
- Chau Long hotel, ☎ 020880288, . Big hotel with clean, pleasant rooms. Popular with group tours.
- 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)