Lo Lo Chai, the fairy village among rocky mountain at Vietnam’s North Pole
Right at the foot of the Lung Cu flagpole – Ha Giang is a small, peaceful, picturesque village nestled in the deep blue of sharp cat ears rock slopes named Lo Lo Chai. The clean trail with yellow flowers on both sides leads visitors to the stone gate opening an area of tinh truong houses built from brown soil, ying-yang tiled roofs, separated from each other by stone fences; welcoming you are the charming Lo Lo ethnic people in colorful brocade costumes and naive children with round eyes and bright cheeks.
Enjoying a hot cup of coffee at Cuc Bac cafe, watching the sunset at Lung Cu flagpole, as well as getting into the indigenous culture are experiences you should not miss once being here. Since it is easily combined with a Ha Giang trip, Lo Lo Chai tourism will not cost you much, yet still giving a sense of peace and new knowledge about a peaceful village of another Vietnamese ethnic minority.
I. About Lo Lo Chai Village
Lo Lo Chai village is located at the foot of Dragon mountain, Lung Cu commune, Dong Van district, Ha Giang, only about 1km from the Lung Cu flagpole. Unlike Dong Van or Meo Vac, Lo Lo has not yet commercialized or developed much, the village still retains the most simple and genuine features.
This is home to 105 households, of which there are 10 households of the Mong ethnic group, the rest are Lo Lo people who are honest and sincere. Their lives mainly depend on self-sufficiency with farming, they grow vegetables, rice around the house, and corn on rocky mountains. Later on, their life has been improved significantly by transforming their traditional lovely houses into homestays to serve community tourism.
II. The extraordinary indigenous culture of Lo Lo people
Lo Lo Chai Village is the only place that still fully and vividly preserves the material and spiritual life of the Lo Lo people, from ancient house architecture, traditional brocade weaving to traditional festivals such as worshiping the forest god, new rice festival, new house celebration and Tet holiday. On New Year’s Eve, the residents go out to get lucky by taking something from others’ places and bringing it home as a fortune item. On the way, they also don’t need to say hello, and it’s okay if they are caught by the house owners.
While Lo Lo men seem to dress casually with full black outfits, the women are like a living bouquet with their one-of-a-kind costumes. The clothes are made from the technique of stitching triangular pieces of fabric with extremely sophisticated and beautiful motifs – like bird’s eye, bird’s feet, terraced fields, buckwheat flowers. Along with that, their accessories are also precious, namely distinctive cylinder hats full of iridescent beads, and red-blue tassels. It normally takes the women about four years to make such an outfit that costs up to 15 million VND.
The tinh truong house is built of soil and clay, either painted yellow or kept its original color, and surrounded by a stable fence of green stones. Most of the houses are roofed with thatched grass, or yin-yang tiles if the hosts are better-off; still, on the rafter at every house’s verandah hang dried corn – one of their main food.
III. Must-check-in destinations in Lo Lo Chai
When at the fairy tale Lo Lo Chai Village, don’t forget to visit Cuc Bac cafe originated from the house of Mr. Diu Di and Ms. Luc Thi Man. The tiny house features four or five small tables in the corner of the yard with a lovely clay minibar in the front. The shop was built by a Japanese tourist named Yasushi Ogura. In his early days of coming to Lung Cu, he was fascinated by the nature and people here, so he devoted his heart to building a coffee shop right in the village to draw more and more visitors’ attention. The cafe is designed according to the traditional stone house architecture, using a bell to order drinks. Although the drink is just ordinary filter coffee, its taste is particularly attractive, perhaps thanks to the clean air and freshwater of the Northwest mountains.
Another worthy stop is the house of the Keeper of the Bronze Drum. The duo of bronze drums – one male, one female – is considered a treasure of the villagers. The drum is decorated with a variety of typical patterns: parallel lines, dotted circles, stylized human figures, and a 12-pointed star in the center. Locals use the bronze drums in several important festivals. In the past, when life was hard, Lo Lo people had to migrate continuously, and they believed that the drumbeat would lead the deceased’s soul to return to their ancestors.
If you are adventurous and energetic enough, conquering the Lung Cu National Flagpole is a must. The Lung Cu flagpole is about 1,700m above sea level, you will need to climb about 389 stone steps and 140 spiral steps inside the flagpole. On the top stands the Vietnamese flag with an area of 54m2, representing 54 ethnic groups. With the fee of 25,000 VND, you can climb to the top of the tower and look over the Chinese countryside. On your way up, you’ll also see a little display case with an ancient fossil.
IV. Best time to visit Lo Lo Chai
Although the winter is harsh, it is the time when the village becomes the most beautiful and poetic. During this period, the sky seems to be higher, turning a light blue color, the weather is chilly and fresh, making it perfect for tourists to gather around the fire in the indigenous people’s homestays and enjoy a cup of warm corn wine.
V. How to get there
Departing from Hanoi, you will first move to Ha Giang city by car or motorbike. Next, follow Highway 4C back to the Northeast about 160km to reach Dong Van commune, Dong Van district. From here, go down the paved road connecting Dong Van – Lung Cu to arrive at the Lung Cu Flagpole. Lo Lo Chai Cultural Village is right at the foot and only 1km from the flagpole.
At any location in Lo Lo Chai, you can also see the Lung Cu flagpole on the top of Long Son mountain in the distance peeking through the clouds.
VI. Where to stay in Lo Lo Chai
With the advantage of being warm in winter and cool in summer, the tinh truong houses have been designed and remodeled to become lovely and comfortable homestays.The rooms are usually quite large enough for a large group. Staying here, you will experience a close-knit and rustic community culture, just like the Lo Lo people’s characteristics. The friendly host will be happy to invite their guests to enjoy the daily meals featuring fragrant sticky rice, warm corn wine, and smoked meat.
Currently, there are about 37 homestays, helping Lo Lo Chai become a bright spot in the development of local community tourism. The price of a private room is about 500,000 – 650,000 VND per night, while the dorm room price is 150,000 VND.
Homie Sound (0868.480.806)
Lolo Eco Homestay (0386.643.770)