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Little is known about the names of places in Lao Cai

LAO CAI – Sa Pa means sandy beach, Bac Ha means hundred bunches of clover, Bat Xat means waterfall mouth… all names are associated with local stories.

Lao Cai province is located in the northwest region of Vietnam, nearly 300 km from the Hanoi capital. Previously, Lao Cai had a market street called “Lao Nhai”, meaning old street. Later, another market street was opened, Tan Nhai (New Street today). After a long time, the way to call Lao Nhai was called “Lao Cai”. On July 12, 1907, the province was established, the name of the old town was officially named Lao Cai.

Little is known about the names of places in Lao Cai
Sapa town center seen from above. Photo: Giang Huy

30 km from the center of Lao Cai city and located at an altitude of 1,500 – 1,800 m above sea level, Sa Pa town is considered a “magnet” attracting tourists to the province. Sa Pa is the name derived from the mandarin word “Sa Pa”, which means sandy beach. This name refers to the sandy beach on the right of the bridge at km 32 from Lao Cai to Sa Pa. Before when the town was not established, people used to hold a market on this sandy beach and everyone called it Sa Pa market. After the French came here, due to the unsigned spelling, the name was written as Sa Pa. The town is also known locally as “Hung Ho”, which means red stream, referring to a geyser that extruded turbid red in the past.

Fansipan, the highest mountain in the three Indochina countries, is located in Lai Chau and Lao Cai provinces, about 9 km from Sapa town. Today, with the cable car system and mountain train, from the town visitors can conquer the “Roof of Indochina” in 30 minutes, instead of 2 days walking like before. Today’s name Fansipan is a pronunciation of the local word “Hua Xi Pan”, which means a giant precarious rock.

The spiritual complex near the top of Fansipan is blurred in the clouds. Photo: Giang Huy.

Bac Ha is a highland district, famous for its fairs and white plum blossom gardens. The name of the district is also derived from the local way of calling the Tay and Nung people as Pac Ha, which means a hundred bundles of life. The name is also associated with the legend that there were many bees on the mountain of Parents and children (one of the symbols of Bac Ha). People over there have to burn incense to chase away bees. Later in the French period, translators used to call this land Pakha.

Bat Xat district is located in the northwest of Lao Cai province. This place attracts tourists with Nhiu Co San peak, cloud season in Y Ty, Giay village – Muong Hum… Bat Xat is the name in the Giay language, correctly read as “Pac Srat”. The name can be understood in two ways, meaning one hundred panels or the mouth of the waterfall.

Clouds drift in Choan Then, Y Ty villages in the evening. Photo: Pham Ngoc Thach.

Si Ma Cai is a highland district, about 100 km northeast of Lao Cai city. Coming here, visitors will experience a market steeped in cultural identity, with horses tied in the market alley, immediately followed by the smithy. Along the two sides of the market are rows of food products with sugar cane, banana seeds, then brocade, seeds.

In the past, people used to hold a market every 6 days in Old Street. Later, to facilitate trade in goods, the market was moved to the middle of the mountain, with open terrain, a view of a mountain area. To distinguish, people call this market Xenh Mua Ca in the H’Mong language, which means new horse market, associated with the ancient legend of the land imprinted with divine horse’s footprints. Over time, the name was officially read as Si Ma Cai. Follow vnexpress

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