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Top 15 Lào Cai specialties that you must try and buy as gifts

Lào Cai specialties are quite diverse, carrying the distinct flavors of the highlands. Moreover, many specialties have a long shelf life, making them an ideal choice for gifts. So, if you have the opportunity to travel here, make sure to taste the local cuisine. Let’s explore what specialties Lào Cai has with Kamereo in the following article!

Lào Cai has many delicious and appealing specialties
Lào Cai has many delicious and appealing specialties

Table of Content:

Table of Contents

  1. What specialties does Lào Cai have?
    1. Bac Ha Victory Hot Pot – a famous Lào Cai specialty of the H’Mong people
    2. Stolen Armpit Pig
    3. Sapa Salmon
    4. Buffalo Meat Grilled on the Hearth
    5. Mountain Stream Fish
    6. Bac Ha Sour Pho
    7. Bamboo Tube Rice
    8. Five-Color Sticky Rice
    9. Khau Nhuc
    10. Rolling Pho
  2. What makes good gifts from Lào Cai?
    1. San Lùng Rice Wine
    2. Séng Cù Rice
    3. Tam Hoa Plums
    4. Bắc Hà Corn Wine
    5. Cat’s Claw Apple Wine

What specialties does Lào Cai have?

“What does Lào Cai have?” is a common question for many people when traveling here. Below are the top delicious dishes in Lào Cai that you should not miss.

Bac Ha Victory Hot Pot – a famous Lào Cai specialty of the H’Mong people

Victory Hot Pot is a famous Lào Cai specialty widely popular in provinces in the Northwest region. The dish is prepared from horse meat, organs, and a delicate combination of various local spices. Therefore, the dish creates a unique and unforgettable taste.

Today, people in Lào Cai are also flexible in making Victory Hot Pot by using goat and beef. This brings variety to the traditional dish. In addition, Victory Hot Pot will be easily accepted by many different diners.

Some recommended places for delicious Victory Hot Pot in Lào Cai:

  • A Quynh Sapa: 15 Thach Son, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • A Phu Sapa: 05 Fansipan Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Cau May Restaurant: 92 Ngu Chi Son Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Ngoc Cu Victory Hot Pot: Thủ Dầu Một Street, Duyen Hai Ward, Lào Cai City, Lào Cai
  • Hoa Dong Tien Victory Hot Pot: 29 Cau May Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai

💲Price reference: About 400,000 – 600,000 VND/pot

Victory Hot Pot is a Lào Cai specialty that you should not miss

Stolen Armpit Pig

This is a local breed of pig, often fed with vegetables and leftover food, so the meat is firm and delicious. Therefore, people in Lào Cai often prefer to use this meat to prepare various attractive dishes such as grilled pork, roasted pork, etc., to make the most of the delicious taste of the ingredients.

Some places to buy delicious and tender stolen armpit pig meat:

  • Thac Bac Restaurant: Km12, Thac Bac Tourist Area, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Gerbera Restaurant: 31 Cau May Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Lotus Restaurant: 34 Cau May Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Phuong Ngoan Restaurant: 13C Nguyen Hue Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai

💲Price reference: About 100,000 – 130,000 VND/kg

Stolen armpit pig meat can be processed into various dishes

Sapa Salmon

Sapa is famous for being the largest salmon farming area in the country. In particular, the salmon here not only ensures freshness but also has eye-catching orange-colored meat and is rich in nutrients. Therefore, Sapa salmon has become a Lào Cai specialty that every visitor should try.

In addition, Sapa salmon brings diversity in processing methods, including raw sashimi, hotpot, grilled, sour soup, etc. Local people also creatively make salmon floss, providing a delicious and suitable option for buying as a gift for friends or family.

Some suggested places to buy delicious Sapa salmon:

  • Xuan Vien Sapa Restaurant: 39 Xuan Vien Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Song Nhi Restaurant: Group 2, O Quy Ho Ward, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Thac Bac Restaurant: Km12, Thac Bac Tourist Area, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai

💲Price reference: About 450,000 – 500,000 VND/kg

Fresh and delicious Sapa salmon sashimi

Buffalo Meat Grilled on the Hearth

When it comes to Lào Cai specialties, it’s impossible to overlook buffalo meat grilled on the hearth. This is considered a unique symbol of Northwestern cuisine. Initially, the dish was created by the Black Thai people, with a rich, sweet taste, firm and chewy meat, creating a non-greasy eating experience.

The processing process starts with the Thai people marinating buffalo meat with various spices, then grilling it on the hearth to enjoy the smoky aroma of the hearth-cooked meat. When the dish is complete, Sapa’s grilled buffalo meat will have a characteristic red-brown color and exude the aroma of hearth smoke, creating an attractive culinary experience.

Tourists can buy grilled buffalo meat at:

  • Viet’s Farm: 26 Dong Loi Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Xuan Truong Supermarket: 46 Ngu Chi Son Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai

💲Price reference: About 600,000 – 800,000 VND/kg

Grilled buffalo meat is a popular dish of people in the highlands
Grilled buffalo meat is a popular dish of people in the highlands

Mountain Stream Fish

The characteristic of Lào Cai’s unique stream fish dishes is the firm, delicious, and nutritious meat. However, you can only enjoy this dish at its best during the rainy season. Stream fish can be transformed into many different delicious dishes, especially the grilled preparation that brings a fragrant aroma that will stimulate your taste buds.

Some suggested locations:

  • Vua Ca Hoi Sapa Restaurant: 15A Le Van Tam Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Chapa Restaurant: 40 Cau May Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Sapa Lotus Restaurant: 34 Cau May Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai

💲Price reference: About 200,000 – 500,000 VND/kg

Stream fish has firm meat, is rich in nutrients, and is easy to process into many dishes

Bac Ha Sour Pho

If you have the opportunity to visit Bac Ha, do not miss the sour pho. This is a Lào Cai specialty with broth made from pickled mustard greens. Sour pho is usually a type of chewy noodle, served with fragrant roasted peanuts, tender pork, and a bit of spicy chili sauce to create a delicious and distinctive flavor.

Address: Bac Ha market, Lào Cai

💲Price reference: 40,000 VND/bowl

Bac Ha Sour Pho is a traditional dish not to be missed

Bamboo Tube Rice

Bamboo tube rice is a symbol in the cuisine of the Northwestern highlands. The bamboo tubes are made from glutinous rice, providing elasticity and a fragrant taste. The specialty is grilled on red charcoal, creating a characteristic black outer layer. While roasting, the inner rice part still retains its whiteness and distinctive fragrance.

To fully enjoy the flavor of bamboo tube rice, you can dip it in sesame salt. Moreover, the dish can also be combined with grilled chicken or skewered stolen armpit pig to enjoy a delicious meal.

Places to buy bamboo tube rice not to be missed:

  • Sapa Grilled Food Area: Cau May Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Cat Cat Village: Hoang Lien Commune, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • A Quynh Restaurant: 15 Thach Son Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai

💲Price reference: About 30,000 – 50,000 VND/tube

Characteristic black bamboo tube rice of the Northwestern region
Characteristic black bamboo tube rice of the Northwestern region

Five-Color Sticky Rice

Five-color sticky rice is a traditional dish of the Nung ethnic group. This Lào Cai specialty attracts diners with its eye-catching appearance with many colors. Sticky rice is processed from various leaves, along with wild fruits, not only creating a beautiful color palette but also ensuring safety for diners when enjoying. Especially, you can enjoy five-color sticky rice with grilled meat and sesame salt, which is quite harmonious.

Address: Mường Khương district, Lào Cai

💲Price reference: About 50,000 – 100,000 VND/portion

A plate of five-color sticky rice looks delicious and attractive both visually and taste-wise
A plate of five-color sticky rice looks delicious and attractive both visually and taste-wise

Khau Nhuc

Although khau nhuc is a dish originating from Chinese cuisine, it has undergone flexible variations to suit the characteristics of the local people. This dish has a striking cockroach-like brown appearance, made from pork belly with lean meat and sufficient fat. The meat is marinated, stewed, and then served with white rice, creating a unique and attractive flavor.

Addresses to buy delicious khau nhuc:

  • Lào Cai Khau Nhuc Restaurant: 153 Ngoc Uyen Street, Ta Chai, Bac Ha, Lào Cai
  • Hong Ha Vien Restaurant: 188 Duyen Hai Street, Duyen Hai Ward, Lào Cai City, Lào Cai

💲Price reference: from 160,000 VND

Khau nhuc has an eye-catching cockroach-like color with a delicious aroma

Rolling Pho

Famous under the name “phở khan,” this delicious dish is also known as “cuốn sủi.” It features soft pho noodles, crispy fried dong root, flavorful beef, fresh herbs, crunchy peanuts, pepper, and chili, creating a distinctive taste. This unique dish from Lào Cai offers a wonderful culinary experience, especially when combined with fresh herbs and special dipping sauce.

Recommended locations for tourists:

  • Ông Há Restaurant: 591 Dien Bien Phu Street, Sa Pa Town, Sa Pa, Lào Cai
  • Cuốn Sủi, Mì Vằn Thắn, và Sủi Cảo Restaurant: 068 An Phú, Lào Cai

💲Price reference: Around 35,000 – 50,000 VND/bowl

Rolling Pho, a specialty of Lào Cai that tourists should not miss
Rolling Pho, a specialty of Lào Cai that tourists should not miss

What makes good gifts from Lào Cai?

In addition to enjoying local specialties at the destination, tourists can also purchase various Lào Cai foods and products as gifts.

San Lùng Rice Wine

San Lùng Rice Wine is a famous type of liquor in the Dao community, made from special glutinous rice. The enticing aroma of this liquor is captivating, and it doesn’t cause headaches when consumed.

💲Price reference: Approximately 69,000 VND/bottle

San Lùng Rice Wine crafted from special glutinous rice
San Lùng Rice Wine crafted from special glutinous rice

Séng Cù Rice

Séng Cù Rice is a unique product of Lào Cai, mainly found in the Mường Khương and Bát Xát regions. This renowned rice is favored by gourmet enthusiasts for its sticky texture and delicate fragrance.

💲Price reference: Around 35,000 VND/kg

Séng Cù Rice, a Lào Cai specialty ideal for gifting to loved ones
Séng Cù Rice, a Lào Cai specialty ideal for gifting to loved ones

Tam Hoa Plums

Tam Hoa Plums are a unique fruit exclusive to the Lào Cai region. With a characteristic sweet and sour taste, these plums are beloved by many travelers. Harvested from early May to late June, plan your visit to enjoy these delicious plums during the season.

💲Price reference: Approximately 10,000 – 50,000 VND/kg

Tam Hoa Plums with a distinctive flavor compared to other plum varieties
Tam Hoa Plums with a distinctive flavor compared to other plum varieties

Bắc Hà Corn Wine

A Lào Cai specialty of the H’Mong people that every tourist should taste. This wine is brewed from sturdy golden corn, offering a highly enticing fragrance.

💲Price reference: Around 35,000 – 45,000 VND/liter

Bắc Hà Corn Wine, fermented from golden corn, emanating a distinctive fragrance

Cat’s Claw Apple Wine

Finally, you can’t miss Cat’s Claw Apple Wine, a unique product of the Dao people in Lào Cai. As the name suggests, this wine is processed from wild apples, featuring a characteristic brown color and a rich aroma. Locals particularly enjoy it, especially after breakfast to boost energy.

💲Price reference: 100,000 VND/liter

Cat's Claw Apple Wine, crafted by the Dao people from wild apples
Cat’s Claw Apple Wine, crafted by the Dao people from wild apples

These are the must-try specialties of Lào Cai that you should savor while visiting the province. With its highland characteristics, you’ll have the opportunity to experience a variety of delicious Lào Cai dishes and choose from numerous options for gifts for family and friends. Stay tuned to Kamereo’s Regional Specialties section for diverse culinary insights from our country!

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Nguyễn Đức Thạnh

Nguyễn Đức Thạnh

Thạnh is a creative content expert with many years of experience. Particularly, he regularly shares in-depth content on business, cuisine, technology, and lifestyle through a unique and relatable perspective. Follow Thạnh to embark on a journey of discovering fascinating insights through every word!View Author posts

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