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Camping By Vietnam's Highest Freshwater Lake - A Weekend Getaway from Hanoi

Vietnam offers a variety of scenic destinations perfect for camping trips and outdoor adventures. One such lesser-known yet stunning spot is Lake Séo Mý Tỷ in northern Vietnam's Lao Cai province. Nestled in the Sa Pa district just 20km from the town center, this is Vietnam's highest man-made freshwater lake according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. My family and I recently embarked on a weekend camping trip to explore the natural beauty of Séo Mý Tỷ Lake.

We live in Hanoi and decided to escape the bustling city life for some quiet time in nature. As avid campers, we were looking for a new camping destination within a half-day drive from the capital. After some online research, we came across recommendations for Lake Séo Mý Tỷ and were drawn to its pristine waters and cloud-wrapped scenery. It seemed like the perfect low-key getaway for a small family like ours.

We set off early on a Saturday morning, leaving Hanoi around 5 AM to beat traffic on the Ninh Binh-Lao Cai highway. The drive took around 5 hours with a midday rest stop in Phố Lu town for a quick snack. From Phố Lu, we followed signs for Sa Pa town and drove another hour on scenic mountain roads to reach the lake area. Being the end of February, some stretches had foggy conditions with visibility reduced to 3-5 meters. Overall though, the 200km journey was smooth and the road conditions good aside from a few landslide spots undergoing repair work.

Finally arriving at Séo Mý Tỷ Lake in the afternoon, my first impression was one of serenity. With crystal clear waters reflecting majestic mountains, the misty lake scenery took my breath away. What struck me most was seeing the clouds float lazily above the lake's surface - it truly felt like we were camping amongst the clouds! Cherry blossom trees bloomed vibrantly pink along the trail down to the shoreline too, accentuating natural beauty.

We set up camp right on the grassy lakeside, lucky to find a spacious flat spot. With temperatures hovering around 10 degrees Celsius, warmth was a priority. Thankfully our large canopy tent, sleeping bags, mats and portable stove ensured comfort through the chilly nights. Meals consisted of simple pre-cooked fare we re-heated over the gas burner. Cups of hot tea and a campfire kept spirits bright during evenings stargazing together as a family.

The next morning, the kids enjoyed exploring the pebbly shore while I carefully fished for small crabs. We spent the whole day leisurely watching wispy clouds drift below our feet, so surreal and calming. In summer, visitors can also try kayaking and swimming in the lake's fuller waters according to local campers. Late afternoon, we broke camp and headed back to Hanoi, arriving home tired but relaxed after two perfect days surrounded by nature's beauty.


While camping in such cool weather required proper insulation, the homestays near Lake Séo Mý Tỷ offer basic accommodation for around $20-$30 per night as an alternative. Open year-round, the lake area can be easily accessed by car from Sa Pa within an hour's scenic drive. I would highly recommend Séo Mý Tỷ for anyone seeking an off-the-beaten-track camping or hiking destination close to northern Vietnam's highlights. Its serene emerald waters and mystical cloud-play make this a truly memorable place to unwind in nature's embrace. I know my family will certainly be back again to discover more of what this special highland lake has to offer.

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