Lao Cai Overview:
Lao Cai is a province of northeastern in the mountainous region of Vietnam, bordering the province of Yunnan in the China.The province covers an area of 6383.9 square kilometres and as of 2008 it had a population of 602,300 people.
Lào Cai and Sa Pa are two important cities within the province at the border with China; the former is well known as key trading post and the latter is hill station famous for tourism, in northeastern Vietnam. Lao Cai is also the capital of Lào Cai Province and shares border with the city of Hekou, in the Yunnan province of Southwest China. This border town was closed after the 1979 war with China, since reopened in 1993, has become a major tourist centre between Hanoi, Sapa and Kunming (China). Sapa is notable as a hill resort, a market town for timber and sex trade and known as the "queen of mountains"
Lào Cai has many historical sites, natural caves and produces agricultural specialties such as Bắc Hà plums.
In a 1929 survey conducted in the area, the vegetation (flora) and fauna (mammals) recorded by the French biologist Delacour who accompanied Theodore Roosevelt were unique to the region in North Vietnam.
Lao Cai gathered by 25 Ethnic groups that made Lao Cai became a abundant area about the cultures, histories, heritages. The Kinh people occupied a big part. Specially in 1960, by the reclamation campaign, the Kinh people came from Phu Tho, Hai Phong, Thai Binh and Ha Nam province.
Lào Cai is currently one of the two poorest provinces in the country along with Lai Chau, with more than 70% of the population living under the poverty line. Traditional economic activities such as agriculture and forestry remain important, but the province has also been attempting to develop foreign investment in the area. Cross-border trade with China is also a growing source of income, as is tourism centred on trekking up the peak of Fansipan, Vietnam's highest mountain.
Lào Cai is one of the few mountainous provinces with well-developed transport networks consisting of roads, rail and waterways. An airport will be built at Lao Cai in the next five years. The provincial city is connected by road, rail and river transport links with Hanoi on its northwest (340 kilometres (210 mi)) and to Yunnan province in China. Within the province, road links exist to Sapa and Bac Ha. The Haiphong railway to Yunnan is of strategic importance. There are four national highways totaling to a length of 400 km, provincial roads of about 300 km length and 1000 km of village roads.
The Hanoi-Lao Cai railway is 296 kilometres (184 mi), of which 62 kilometres (39 mi) is in the province, and links to Chinese railways at the border. It can carry 1 billion tonnes of freight per year and thousands per day. Plans for a high-speed rail link between Hanoi and Lao Cai has been investigated by the Ministry of Transport and the Asian Development Bank. This is expected to create a high-speed rail corridor from Kunming – Lào Cai – Hanoi – Haiphong.
Red River flowing through the province provides water transport facilities though its transportation capacity is limited.
As the province is mostly mountainous, it experiences a dry cold climate from October to March, while the tropical monsoon is rainy season which lasts from April to September. The annual average temperature is 23 oC (73 oF). The temperature generally ranges between18 oC (64 oF) and 28 oC (82 oF) in the mountainous region, with the lowland areas showing a temperature variation of between 20 oC (68 oF) and 22 oC (72 oF). In Sapa town however, the temperature drops to less than 0 oC (32 oF) with snowing conditions. Fog and frost are a common phenomenon in the province.