Helou is known as a district of the Cau Ne ethnic autonomous region located in the south of Yunnan province (China). The distance from Lao Cai province and Ha Khau district is only a bridge so it is not too far away and not difficult to conquer. Just spend one day, you can totally explore and experience new things as well as the culture of the district close to the border of Vietnam. Lao Cai – Ha Khau international gate is one of the important gates of importing and exporting between Vietnam and China.
1. Location and general information
Even not develop as much as Beijing or Shanghai but Hekou is so vibrant and bustle as a border area with many shopping centers.
The area of Hekou is not large (about 1.000 m2) so you just spend about a day exploring everything. Many people, when being in Sapa or Lao Cai province, also take a chance to visit Hekou district to experience Chinese habits and customs of Chinese.
Hekou is one of the destinations in Sapa tour. Many people like choosing to visit this town because of its bustle and through it, visitors can admire the life – style of the Chinese and enjoy their food.
2. How to get there
This sleeper bus/coach: is popular that many tourists choose. Buses or coaches to Sapa usually stop at Giap Bat bus station or My Dinh bus station but you need to call the bus operator in advance to make a reservation.
Train is also a safe and relatively economical vehicle. The train usually departs at 19:00 at Hanoi station and arrives at Lao Cai station the next morning. You will enjoy that time to sleep as well as rest on the train.
Motorbike: If you are staying in Sapa town, you can rent a motorbike to run 35 km for about 1 hour to reach Ha Khau border gate. You follow National Highway 4 and then Coc Le to Hoang Lien street but when moving By motorbike, you should be careful because the road is quite hard and there are many corners. In addition, you can take bus 02 from Sapa stone church to the border gate, it takes you about 1 hour.
3. What to visit and some attention
The typical places in Hekou are Quang Ninh street, Chau Hong Ha monument, Quoc Thai supermarket and Nhan Dan street. Ha Khau will definitely be an extremely interesting destination for your Sapa trip to become more special and memorable.
3.1. Exchange money
Hekou is an area of China so you have to exchange money for “Yuan” – Chinese currency. Many tourists have been in Hanoi before visiting Sapa so you can exchange VND or USD at Ha Trung street – a famous place to exchange any kinds of money around the world.
You can also exchange your money at the border of Lao Cai and Hekou gate but exchanging money here is a bit depreciated.
3.2. Prepare your passport
To go through Hekou, you have to show your identification. If you arrange to be there, you should bring your passport before your journey.
With your passport, you have to go to the queue to exit in Lao Cai, then continue to go to the queue to enter the Ha Khau border gate. Just need to follow the instructions of the Chinese automatic machine very easily and remember to put the goods through the automatic scanner.
3.3. Communication with the locals
Hekou gate is a popular gate for some Vietnamese to buy wholesale goods so you can meet many Vietnamese here.
If you know Chinese, communication is quite easy in Hekou. The “simple Chinese sentences” about how much money and how many counts are also easy to learn. In addition, you can use English to communicate but with the locals’ English is only at a basic level, not too high.
4. “Food tour” in Hekou
For many people, Chinese cuisine is something that cannot be ignored. Many tourists have fallen in love with the dining paradise of Hekou. Just walking around, you can be full of the foods that feature Chinese cuisine. Typically delicious dishes such as grilled food, skewered hot pot dishes, mixed dishes or street snacks, etc. Something you should pay attention to is that Chinese cuisine is very spicy. You should tell the chief reduce spicy if you are the type of person who cannot eat spicy food.
- Grilled squid: This is a delicious food when traveling to Hekou. The squid is dipped in a delicious sauce that stimulates your taste
- Milk tea: this is a very popular drink you must try in Hekou.
- Disco Chicken: That is a kind of fast food we advise you to try once.
- Dumplings/ Char siu: This is typical Chinese food. In Hekou, there are so many kinds and flavors of dumplings.
- Some other foods are fried rice, grilled food, stinky tofu and hotpot … There are many restaurants that buy those foods. Lily’s Travel doesn’t want to suggest any restaurants to give you a chance to explore. Coming to Hekou, it’s not difficult to find a hot pot restaurant because there is a row of stalls selling hot pot dishes as well as miscellaneous baked goods.
Read more: Muong Hoa Valley: Heaven on earth
5. Where to visit in Hekou
The most visited and checked-in place when coming to Hekou is Son Lam Park. It has a very large campus, the highlight of which is a long bridge crossing a clear lake. Especially with the dense decorative lighting system, in the evening, the park transforms itself into a completely different space with shimmering and extremely attractive colors.
Besides that, it also has a lot of beautiful virtual living backgrounds. You can take a taxi to get to the park. You should visit the park at about 6 pm Vietnam time and 7 pm Chinese time. At this time, it is still not bright, so you can take advantage of checking in the whole scene here.
The other activity is shopping. Many people go to Hekou to buy clothes, souvenirs… At markets in Hekou, food and clothes and other things are cheaper than in Lao Cai and Vietnam and some things are just only in Hekou. If you are the “shopping holic”, you will spend all day discovering Hekou and going to flea markets to find unique things as gifts for your family and friends.
According to the experience of tourists who have gone, the total cost for “one day in Hekou” is just under 50 USD if you just try food and not buy so many things.
China is one hour ahead of Vietnam. So when the Vietnamese immigration is open at 07: 00, that means 08:00 in Chinese times). The Chinese immigration is open from 8:00 until 23:00 which means 7.00 until 12:00 in Vietnamese time. You should pay attention time to back Vietnam in time.
The Chinese government frequently blocks access to sites that it sees are potentially against its communications policy so sometimes, you can not access some websites. You also can not call or send messages if you are using the Vietnamese number region but you can use free wifi in Hekou.
Find out more about Sapa tours here.