The territory of Vietnam has two very special border junctions. The Indochina junction in Bo Y commune (Ngoc Hoi, Kon Tum) and the Vietnam – Laos – China border junction in A Pa Chai, Sin Thau commune (Muong Nhe, Dien Bien) is the westernmost point on the mainland of Vietnam.
1. Where is A Pa Chai?
A Pa Chai is located on the top of Khoang La San mountain in Sin Thau commune, Muong Nhe district. This is a border commune of Dien Bien province, about 55 km northwest of the district center, about 260 km northwest of Dien Bien city and about 680 km northwest of Hanoi capital.
2. How is A Pa Chai unique?
This place is known as “a rooster crowing that all three countries can hear”. Located at an altitude of 1864 m above sea level, this place has 7 ethnic groups living together, mainly the Ha Nhi ethnic group and a number of other ethnic minorities.
A Pa Chai in Ha Nhi language means large, flat land. Previously, traveling to A Pa Chai and conquering the Western Pole was quite difficult and strenuous because the roads were not yet complete and the permit procedures were difficult, so not many people came here.
However, since A Pa Chai station was completed, border patrol routes here have gradually been completed, A Pa Chai is now known as a tourist destination with quite simple procedures.
Milestone No. 0 in A Pa Chai is the border junction of the three countries Vietnam – Laos – China, agreed by the three countries on June 27, 2005, made of granite, placed in the middle of a hexagon. The outside is a square block with an area of 5x5m, a 2-meter high column with 3 sides facing 3 directions, each side has the country’s name engraved in its own national language and the national emblem of each country. By 2007, border guard station 317 was established, in charge of the border area including milestone 0 here.
Previously, A Pa Chai was an area with difficult terrain due to unfavorable roads. Later, when the road connecting Muong Nhe and A Pa Chai was upgraded, the border patrol route was completed, making conquering milestone 0 much more convenient.
3. When is the best time to travel A Pa Chai?
The most suitable time as well as the most popular choice for tourists to come to this area will be in the dry season to come to this Dien Bien area, because the dry season does not rain much, there will be no landslides or broken roads. slippery. In addition, at this time there are also many trees and flowers here that are extremely green. During the rainy season, coming to A Pa Chai area is often more difficult and even dangerous, sometimes affecting landscape traffic as well as the scenery of the dry season.
Every season when you come to A Pa Chai land, you have the opportunity to see different images of different seasons. Coming here at the beginning of the year from January to February, visitors will see images of trees with extremely beautiful green colors, an extremely beautiful fresh green color.
When you come to A Pa Chai from November to December, you will see images of wild sunflowers blooming with bright yellow flowers covering every road to this land. This is also the time when the festival takes place. Ga Tho Tho Festival, also known as the traditional festival of the Ha Nhi ethnic people.
In addition, September is also an extremely beautiful time for tourists to come to A Pa Chai. Coming here, you will enjoy an extremely fresh atmosphere of nature along with being able to relax. See the image of the brilliant golden field that is extremely eye-catching for you
So it can be said that any season can come to A Pa Chai, depending on how you arrange your time as well as your schedule to plan your trip to become more quality during the trip.
4. How to get to A Pa Chai?
To get to A Pa Chai, you first need to move to Dien Bien Phu City, then move on to Muong Nhe, Sin Thau, Border Guard Station 317. Dien Bien Phu City is about 500 km from Hanoi, so Travel time to Dien Bien is quite long. There are currently only two ways to get to Dien Bien: by road or by air.
4.1. Travel from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu
The sleeper bus to Dien Bien runs daily at My Dinh Bus Station, with a running time of about 12-13 hours. Traveling by sleeper bus has another advantage: you can send a motorbike along. If you don’t like going by car, you can also schedule a direct motorbike ride from Hanoi to Dien Bien, with a distance of about 500 km, it will take you a whole day to travel straight.
Currently, Vietnam Airlines is the only airline operating the Hanoi – Dien Bien route. The aircraft used for this route is ATR 72 with a frequency of 2 flights a day. The flight time to Dien Bien is only about 1 hour so it will be much more economical than traveling by car.
4.2. Travel from Saigon to Dien Bien Phu
From Saigon, you need to take a flight to Hanoi and then choose your travel plan. If you plan to fly to Dien Bien, you can choose a flight from Saigon about 2 hours before the flight and rest at the airport before flying to Dien Bien. If you choose to travel by car, you can choose to fly in the afternoon and then take the bus to Dien Bien in the evening.
Dien Bien Phu city is about 500 km from Hanoi capital. To go from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu, you can choose many ways to get here depending on your economic conditions and route.
4.3. From Dien Bien Phu to Muong Nhe
From Dien Bien Phu city, follow Highway 12 about 280 km according to the schedule Muong Cha – Si Sa Phin – Cha Cang – Muong Nhe – Sin Thau to reach the center of Sin Thau commune, the starting point for the journey to conquer the Pole. Western Fatherland A Pa Chai. The asphalt road for cars has been built all the way to the center of the commune, but motorbikes can go all the way to the foot of Khoang La San mountain peak along the gravel road, saving about 2 hours of walking compared to when the road was not completed.
5. Procedures for applying for permission when arriving at A Pa Chai
5.1. A Pa Chai Climbing Licensing Unit
Previously, the procedure to apply for permission to climb A Pa Chai was quite complicated, it was necessary to go through the Dien Bien Border Guard Command to ask for permission and then from there, issue a referral to station 317 to grant permission to climb the landmark. 0.
However, since the number of people coming to A Pa Chai to travel has been increasing, procedures have also been streamlined to better suit the needs of tourists. The only thing you need to do is bring your identification documents and go straight to station 317 to register. After registering, the station will send soldiers to take you there. Please note that the regulations for entering the border area remain unchanged, please refer to below.
5.2. Some regulations in border areas
Some of the regulations on residence, travel and activities in the border area, you read to know to avoid the situation of not bringing all the documents and not being allowed to stay, but you think the Border Guards make things difficult for them.
- Land border areas include communes, wards, and towns whose administrative boundaries partly coincide with the national border on land.
- When entering the border area, Vietnamese citizens must have ID cards or documents issued by the police of the commune, ward or town where they reside.
- Foreigners working at central agencies to enter border areas must have a permit issued by the Ministry of Public Security. If a foreigner temporarily residing in the locality enters the border area, they must have a permit issued by the provincial police where they temporarily reside.
- Vietnamese and foreign people and vehicles that are eligible to enter border areas and border belts and stay overnight must go to the local police station, ward, town or local police station to register for management. Temporary residence management according to the provisions of law on household registration and management.
- While in the border area, all activities of people and vehicles must be guided, inspected, and controlled by the Border Guard, police, and local authorities.
6. Place to stay overnight when exploring A Pa Chai
6.1. Staying in Muong Nhe
On the first day, you will usually arrive at Muong Nhe in the evening. If you want to rest early or want to have many options to eat and sleep comfortably, you can choose to stay here. Muong Nhe has many motels with quite cheap room prices and more amenities than those in the station.
- Huy Hai Guesthouse. Address: Road to Muong Nhe bus station, Muong Nhe, Dien Bien.
- Phuong Dung Guesthouse. Address: Muong Nhe Town, Muong Nhe, Dien Bien.
- Tung Nhan Guesthouse. Address: Group 1, Muong Nhe Town, Muong Nhe, Dien Bien.
- Thuan Mai Guesthouse. Address: Group 1, Muong Nhe Town, Muong Nhe, Dien Bien.
- Huong Que Guesthouse. Address: Muong Nhe Town, Muong Nhe, Dien Bien (Next to Muong Nhe bus station).
6.2. Staying in Sin Thau
In Sin Thau commune, there are also well-invested motels with hot and cold water and comfortable places to rest. If you have plenty of time, you can run straight here to rest. Compared to sleeping in the station, sleeping outside will be better.
- Hiep Tung Guesthouse. Address: Ta Mieu Village, Sin Thau Commune, Muong Nhe, Dien Bien.
6.3. Rest at station 317
This is the safest option for you to choose. Currently, in station 317, there is a separate stilt house built for tourists to stay.
6.4. Place to stay overnight when climbing A Pa Chai
If you sleep outside Muong Nhe, you can freely eat and drink as you want. If you decide to sleep in the camp so you can climb early the next day. You should proactively eat and drink on the way in to feel comfortable.
7. What to eat when exploring A Pa Chai?
Coming to the Northwest region of Vietnam, you should try some of the delicious and attractive dishes in this area. There are many delicious and attractive dishes for you on your trip home. Basically, coming to the A Pa Chai area, you can try some highland dishes here such as
Pa Pich Top grilled fish: This is one of the delicious and attractive dishes for tourists coming to this land. Your travel journey here will give you many attractive experiences, the fish are caught. From the ponds, lakes and streams, the fish meat is extremely sweet and firm, along with being marinated with strong flavors of the Northwest region with extremely attractive flavors.
In addition, coming to the A Pa Chai area, visitors can choose a number of dishes such as smoked buffalo meat, wild bamboo shoots, black chicken or along with some other attractive dishes for you on your travel itinerary. when coming here.
8. Journey to conquer milestone 0 – The westernmost point of A Pa Chai
8.1. From station 317 to the foot of Khoang La San mountain
Before the road was completed, reaching the A Pa Chai landmark required walking and climbing for about 4-5 hours. This involved overcoming grassy hills nearly as high as a person’s head, which were always sharp enough to cut the skin.
However, in the past few years, after the border patrol route gradually formed, you have been able to travel by motorbike very close to the climbing point 0. From station 317, you will ride a motorbike about 9km. To get to the starting point of the walk, from here if you are in good health it only takes about 1 hour to reach the landmark, the time to go down is even faster at only about 45 minutes.
8.2. From the foot of the mountain to milestone 0
Currently, it is possible to ride a motorbike up to the foot of milestone number 0, about 200-300m away. However, the road from the station to here is still in the completion stage, so the road is very bad, still strewn with rocks and soil during the construction process.
From the stop on the border patrol route, it is only about 3km to the Westernmost point. This route is mainly uphill, through primeval forests. So it is quite wet, muddy and full of insects, especially in the rainy season.
From the starting point of climbing to milestone 0 will be about 3km, the altitude will change when climbing from 1000m to 1800m. About the first 1.8km of the road has a moderate slope and steady increase. This section should be walked at a moderate speed to maintain strength. After this first 1.8km, it will be a fairly strenuous section with a distance of only about 600m but an elevation change of up to 400m (from 1300m to 1700m). Getting through this section is easy, there will be a flat road in the forest before climbing the last 300m to reach the landmark.
9. Other experiential activities when traveling to A Pa Chai
9.1. A Pa Chai market
A Pa Chai Market, also known as Border Junction Market, is located on the land adjacent to Muong Nhe district (Dien Bien – Vietnam) and Giang Thanh district (Yunnan – China), near milestone 3 between the border Vietnam-China border. Meetings are held on the 3rd, 13th and 23rd of every month. If your journey to conquer the Western Pole falls on one of these days, after coming down from the landmark on the way back to station 317, you can take the opportunity to visit the market.
9.2. Visit Vietnam – China border markers No. 2 and 3
These are two land border markers between Vietnam and China, located right at the A Pa Chai opening area. So it is very convenient for you to visit. And take souvenir photos (Milestone 1 is located in the A Pa Chai area). danger becomes a bit difficult to reach).
10. Some important notes when traveling to A Pa Chai
Some general experiences for the A Pa Chai trip, you should read through to gain more experience for yourself.
10.1 Preparing your belongings when climbing A Pa Chai
- You should bring a pair of military shoes (or shoes for mountain climbing) to avoid using inappropriate types such as leather shoes and doll shoes (for girls). For men, if you can wear honeycomb sandals, just use them
- Wear long clothes, a hat, a mask, and a bandana around your neck. Now that the new road has been built, you no longer have to go through the grass hills. But wearing long clothes and a bandana around your neck is still very useful when going through the forest. You can also wear plastic gloves to make climbing easier and not scratch your hands.
- Bring a thin raincoat to put on in case of rain and when walking through the forest to avoid getting cold from the rain and humid air.
- When you come to Muong Nhe, remember to buy water. Buying it at the District Center is always easier than going into the commune to buy it. Climbing to milestone 0 is quite tiring and dehydrating, so on average, each member has 1 bottle of 1.5 liters. If possible, prepare a little Glucose sugar in advance and mix it with water to drink together. Glucose sugar helps prevent muscle fatigue when climbing.
- Prepare some snacks to eat along the way. If you intend to have lunch on the trail, prepare dry foods to eat. Avoid bringing carbonated drinks and beer to reduce the amount of luggage you carry.
9.2 Regarding paperwork and procedures when climbing A Pa Chai
- Bring full ID card, passport or equivalent documents with photo. Such as driver’s license, student card…
- If any member of the group can ask for a letter of introduction, bring it along. It will be more convenient when traveling (newspaper papers are fine)
- You do not need to ask for a referral anymore, just bring your identification. And go straight to A Pa Chai station to register.
- Contact Station 317 before the departure date to ask them to prepare food
9.3 Do not throw trash on the road
Trash is a significant issue in A Pa Chai and Vietnamese tourism overall. After each trip, a substantial amount of trash accumulates due to the high number of visitors. Typically, the trash is gathered in one place and burned since there are no other disposal options. Therefore, you should pay attention to put the trash in the right place, do not throw trash on the road, keep the trash that cannot be burned. Also take it home or it is best to gather all the trash from the vehicles and bring it back. to the center, where there are better waste disposal options.
Some other notes that you should refer to:
- You should rent a car and check the car carefully when moving, good brakes, good tires, then you can go out with peace of mind and safety.
- Choose a hat to keep your head warm, prepare gloves, wool hats… raincoats
- Always prepare a spare bottle of gasoline for use in case of need. Because the roads are almost deserted, there are gas stations at long distances. But you should also note that roadside houses and grocery stores will also have gasoline.
- In addition to relying on travel maps, you should also ask people about directions to ensure there are no deviations.
- Observing roadside signs helps you better understand the terrain.
Above is an article about the tourist destination A Pa Chai, the westernmost location of Vietnam. Surely this article has also shared with you a lot of useful information about this region.
If you are planning your tour Vietnam to A Pa Chai, please immediately contact Origin Travel team – a professional tour operator. Our experienced, enthusiastic, and deeply knowledgeable team of consultants, tour operators, and local guides will lead you on a journey to discover A Pa Chai – Dien Bien, ensuring you have unique experiences and retain unforgettable memories.