Trần Hoàng Nam
Have you ever wanted to visit Sa Pa or Mù Cang Chải 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 Sì Thâu Chải Village, Hồ Thầu Commune, Cam Đường Town in the northern province of Lai Châu.
A spectacular view from the village. — Photo dulichtaybac.vn
Village in the clouds
Sì Thâu Chải Village is located 6km from the centre of Tam Đường 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 Đường 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 Ô Quý Hồ Pass, one of the four most spectacular passes in the north, according to experienced travellers.
Sì Thâu Chải 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 Châu Tourism Association Chairman Trần Văn 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 Đường District received over 40,000 visitors, 11,000 of whom visited Sì Thâu Chải. More than 700 visitors spent nights in local homestays.
Long said Sì Thâu Chải is an important highlight for the community in Lai Châu 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,” Thống Nhất, 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 Hòa, another tourist from Hà Nội, 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.”
Hòa 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.
Tourists are advised not to miss traditional food like baked fish, grilled pork and grilled pork wrapped in fig leaves.
Tác Tình Waterfall is a must-see destination, which is famed for a legend of love. “Tác Tình” in the Dao language means water falls from a great height.
The road from Tam Đường Town to Sì Thầu Chải 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 VNĐ70,000 (US$3) and VNĐ100,000 ($4.3) per pax per night.
Food can be ordered at the site for VNĐ500,000 ($21.6)-VNĐ700,000 ($30) per meal for six people.
Tẩn A Diêu, 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
Locals joins hands to protect environment to offer sustainable community tourism. — Photo dulichvn.org.vn