Most visitors to Sapa think about visiting Fansipan Mountain Peak. But there are a lot of other places to be discovered in Hoang Lien National Park. The national park offers an opportunity to explore the most beautiful parts of Lao Cai province and enjoy local traditional and cultural values. Let’s check out why this national park is so special.
- Location: Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range, Sapa & Van Ban districts, Lao Cai province
Opening hours: All day
Entrance fee: VND 5.000/ person
Highlights of Hoang Lien National Park
Established in 2002, Hoang Lien National Park is one of the most important national parks in Vietnam. It is located at an altitude of 1000 to 3000 meters above sea level. With a total area of more than 29000 ha, it consists of a high mountain system of Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range, including Fansipan mount at 3.143 meters high. It is a mainly primitive forest with a system of diverse and rich flora and fauna that becomes the most biodiversity centers in national parks in Vietnam.
Besides, Hoang Lien National Park has also preserved various traditional cultural beauty of the ethnic communities living here such as music and dance activities of Giay, Mong, and Dao ethnic people or housing architecture of the ethnic groups.
Wildlife in Hoang Lien National Park
In terms of flora, Hoang Lien National Park is home to more than 2000 species of plants. There are typical kinds of wood such as plum, azaleas, rhododendron,…, of which 66 species are mentioned in Vietnam Red Book like red pine, bamboo pine, blue cypress,… These species are found in different parts of Lao Cai Province such as red pines are in Sapa commune (Sapa) and bamboo pines are distributed in ban Ho commune (Sapa), or Van Sam species lives in the center area of Hoang Lien National Park.
The flora system is split into various grades and layers. You can find cotton trees and jack trees with relatively large density at the base of the mountain range. They form beautiful landscapes such as Coc San and Coc Leu. Up to the height of 700 meters is tropical belts with interlace creepers and thick primitive forests. In the peak, it’s bare seeds trees layer with 50-meter to 60-meter trees that have existed for hundreds of years.
Apart from rich forest flora, the fauna is also extremely diverse with 66 species of mammals, such as silver langurs, hornbills, black gibbons,… in which there are 16 species mentioned in Vietnam Red Book. About 347 species of birds are found here such as Large-Spot Eagles and red crested pheasants,… Besides, there are up to 61 species of reptiles and 41 species of amphibians.
What to Do and Explore in Hoang Lien Son National Park?
1. Sapa Town
Sapa is a small mountainous town located in the center of Hoang Lien National park and just about 1 km from Sapa town. This quiet Vietnamese town is home to many ethnic minority groups. There are five main ethnic groups here including the Dao, H’Mong, Xa Pho, and Giay. These days, the town welcomes a diverse range of visitors who are attracted by the highland tribes, Sapa forest treks and iconic rice paddies.
2. Muong Hoa Valley
Located in Hau Thao Commune, Muong Hoa is just about 10 km from Sapa Town. Owning a cool fresh climate and breathtaking picturesque landscapes, it becomes one of the most favorite destinations for visitors to Hoang Lien National Park.
Known as the largest farmland in Lao Cai province, it is a culture-rich place which is home to many villages of different ethnic minority groups like Ta Phin, Hau Thao, Lao Chai, Ban Ho, and Su Pa villages. Visiting Muong Hoa Valley, you have a chance to see beautiful terraced fields on the high mountains. They are a great combination of natural beauty and the creativity of the human who work on these rice terraces. Getting here, you can sit back and admire the valley scenes, then your stresses and worries will be blown away.
3. O Quy Ho Pass
Known as one of the 4 most daunting passes in the northwest of Vietnam, O Quy Ho pass is also a must-visit place in the National Park. Viewed from above down, the pass looks supple and winding as the silk. Also known as the Hoang Lien Son mountain pass, it is the bridge of Lai Chau and Lao Cai provinces. Its top is the boundaries of the two regions. To visit the mountain pass, an ideal plan is departing from Sapa town, passing Silver waterfall, then going through Hoang Lien National Park before heading straight to the top of O Quy Ho. At an altitude of more than 2000 meters on the top, you will have a chance to see the floating cloud sea , which makes you feel like being in a fairyland.
Hoang Lien Mountain Range is listed as one of the most exciting destinations by the US-based National Geographic Magazine. It is suggested to follow hiking routes in and around the National park and Muong Hoa Valley before resting at homestays of some Vietnamese ethnic minority groups such as Tat, H’Mong, Red, Dao,…
If you want to give yourself a much more challenging option, you can consider climbing up to Fansipan. However, it is better to book a tour to Fansipan so the local guide can lead you up to the summit of the mountain and let you know how to prepare necessary things before you go.
To explore Hoang Lien National Park and conquer Fansipan – the rooftop of Indochina, you can choose either climbing or using the cable cars. For those who love trekking, there are 3 ways to climb to Fansipan: Cat Cat Route, Sin Chai Route, and Tram Ton route. Among them, Tram Ton Route is the most popular one and also the easiest. Following this route, it will take travellers around 2 days and 1 night to reach the top of the mountain. Whereas, Cat Cat Route takes you 3 days and 2 nights. Especially, Sin Chai Route is considered the most difficult and dangerous way, which takes up to 4 days and 3 nights. So, you should choose the most suitable route for your trekking.
5. Hanging out with Members of Different Ethnic Tribes
The H’Mong is the most predominant ethnic minority groups in Hoang Lien National Park. However, you will meet people from other ethnic tribes such as Dao and Day as well. Starting a conversation with them is easy because most of them are good at English. They have learned different languages from other tourists that they meet daily, or at school. Getting to know them, you can listen to their stories and may be shared a meal and laughter when they invite you to their home. It will be a brand new experience to live with them even just for one day.
6. Shopping for Handicrafts
When trekking in some destinations of Hoang Lien National Park, you can see many hilltribe women trying to sell you something. There are tons of local handicraft items you can buy to bring home like bracelets, headbands, anklets, handbags, shoes, or jewelry. The patterns and colors of the item will represent its origin from different tribes of people. Trying to figure out which is which is also a fun activity for you. And don’t be afraid, you can ask the women and find it out. These items are great souvenirs for your loved ones at home. There are so many colorful items so you will surely not come out with empty hands.
Where to Stay Near Hoang Lien National Park?
There are a number of campsites, hotels and resorts inside and near Hoang Lien National Park. Those who don’t plan to camp inside the park are suggested to have a day trip from the hotels and resorts.
When climbing up to the peak of Hoang Lien National Park, you can find many good spots for campsites. For examples, after 2.5 hour trekking, you can find a stop at 2200 meters, and then another campsite at 2800 meters. For details, we suggest below camping sites:
- Y Linh Ho Village of Black H’Mong minority (the place nearby Muong Hoa river is the best)
- Seo Mi Ty village
- Mt Fansipan’s campsite
However, remember to prepare all necessary things before you go for camping in Vietnam. For examples: tents, warm clothes, mosquitos repellent, food, and drink,…
2. Hotels and Resorts
- ATI – Sapa Rose Valley Resort
Address: Village No 1, Muong Hoa street, Sapa town
- Amazing Sapa Hotel
Address: 7A Dong Loi street, Sapa town
- Sao Phuong Bac Hotel
Address: 5 Ngu Chi Son street, Sapa town
Tips on Visiting Hoang Lien National Park
- If you want to do some scientific research or collected specimens, you must be permitted by the Director of the national park.
- Follow the right routes and stay in the correct locations as you registered
- Do not hunt or frighten animals
- Do not bring plastic bags or bottles into the woods. Please throw all your rubbish into the dustbin to protect the ecological environment.
- Writing on the trees or cliff is forbidden.
You may have millions of chances to visit other cities, but we are sure that you will not find any other amazing national park as Hoang Lien. It is the great chance to enrich your experience in the northwest of Vietnam. So, let’s take a Hoang Lien National Park tour on the nearest day.