Cuc Bac Cafe (Vietnam’s Northernmost!)

Northern most cafe

Table of Contents

Cuc Bac Cafe

So, you have travelled to the northernmost province of Vietnam and now you are at the northernmost point of that northernmost province. Why not have a cup of coffee in the northernmost café?

How to get there

So long as you have 3G on your phone you will be able to get Google Maps and follow your phone. If not, there are plenty of cafes to stop at on the way where you can get wifi. The road is well tarmacked and not a difficult drive at all. There are ruts and some traffic so do not go too fast. Do ask if there have been any landslides or blockages as conditions do change quickly.

From Yen Minh

It is probably best to get an early start if you plan to visit the Cuc Bac Cafe from Yen Minh. This is because it is a fair distance (50km) and you might also want to stop at the Hmong King’s Palace (a fan favourite on our 7 Day Ha Giang Loop motorcycle tour) on the way.

You simply follow the QL4C until you get to Sa Phin market and then take the left fork to head North to Ma So. There is a market at Ma So but it is, as usual, a morning affair so you are unlikely to notice this or the building that it is held in.

Here there is another left fork that you need to take northwards near to the SU SU coffee shop, which is probably a good place to stop for a drink and to check directions.

Now it is just a matter of following the road. Once you see the flag tower in the distance, just head for it.

From Dong Van

You head out of Dong Van westwards along the QL4C in only around 2km you will come to the fork with the DT182B. Turn right on to this and head for Ma So and then Ma Le. Again, you simply follow the road and you will find your way there.

Make a Loop

As you can see on the map, it is possible to take a slight detour off the road to Lung Cu. This will get you to the Cuc Bac Café directly and on your return you can take the main road. Or, if you like vice versa.

Northernmost Cafe

About...

Only 1.4Km from Lung Cu flag tower, and less than 1Km from the Vietnam/China border marker 419, lies this little gem of a café tucked away in an ethnic Lo Lo village.

...the village

Lo Lo Chai village has about 100 households and 450 inhabitants. It is a small rural community that was attracted to the area by its fertile soil. It is unknown but it has likely been here longer than the flag tower, which dates back to the 10th century and the Ly Dynasty.

...the project

A Japanese expat, Mr Ogura Yasushy, who has been in Vietnam for more than 20 years fell in love with the area and decided to set up a small café. He invested 200 Million VND in the project and appointed a local Lo Lo women to be the manager. A teacher was brought in to help the manager and her staff learn the basic English needed to communicate effectively with tourists and training on how to prepare the refreshments was also given.

Now the café runs autonomously and smoothly without the need for input. Mr Yasushy’s hope was that the income brought in through tourism would be directed to the local people and help them improve their lives. It certainly seems to be working.

...the cafe

You would be forgiven for being surprised by the filter coffee, free wifi and the level of English and service provided. You are far away from any city or town even, yet this café rivals many in more urban settings.

...the pleasant design

There are 4 – 5 tables in a courtyard with enough seating for around 10 people. The café itself is constructed from clay ways and the courtyard has a dry stone wall around it. The roof is of the yin yang style – curved tiles are used in a one up one down sequence to create an undulating surface.

...the opening times

The café is open from 10am to 6pm and the menu has English and the signage is mostly in English. Most importantly, the wifi password is clear to see, etched into a wooden plaque hanging on the wall.

...the drinks

Naturally, you can have a coffee here but you can also try the Matcha tea and the local corn wine that is sold. The Matcha was introduced by Mr Yasushy and the corn wine has been made here for centuries.

Opening hours of cuc bac cafe

Other Projects

Close by to the café is a homestay that has been set up with assistance from the Luxembourg and Irish Embassies. This, too, is a community based project aimed at increasing the income and thus living standard of the local villagers.

Nearby the Cafe

Lung Cu Flag Tower

This is the obvious place to visit  and is why most people do visit. It is a great place to get spectacular views over the surrounding corn fields, sunflower plantations and villages. [See more here]

Border with China

You can visit border post 419 beyond which is Yunnan province. Many young people come to straddle the border and place one foot in China and one in Vietnam.

Locally-run homestays

There are now more and more homestays opening up. There is and awareness of how these projects can benefit the locals  spreading through the community. You get to experience a bit of traditional culture and they get a few tourist dollars, win-win.

Lung Cu Flag Tower, in Vietnam's Far North
Lung Cu Flag Tower, in Vietnam's Far North

Food

One of the highlights of staying here, or any homestay, in fact, is the meals. Here you can dine on delicious Pork, Black Chicken as fresh garden vegetables. All washed down with Lo Lo Chai Corn Wine, of course.

Lo Lo Chai Rice Wine

Like any other place in Vietnam, Lo Lo Chai village produces the ‘best corn wine’. This, they say, is because they use 36 types of forest leaves and mix them with millet and maize that has been left in the sun for two days to produce natural yeast. This is then cooked thoroughly and left to incubate for 5 days. After that it is bottled ready to be enjoyed. Try some.

bottles of rice wine for sale in meo vac ha giang
bottles of rice wine for sale in meo vac ha giang

Culture

The Cuc Bac Café and the homestay or very close to the Lo Lo Chai Cultural House. Here you can witness the local Lo Lo women perform songs and dances whilst dressed in their colourful traditional dress.

Traditional Drumming

Drums feature prominently in these dances and festival days. This is because the Lo Lo were constantly migrating and believed that without the sound of the drums the deceased would not be able to follow their descendants.

Lo Lo Drummer
Lo Lo Drummer

Why Visit?

Well, you should have plenty of reasons to visit Lung Cu: the Flag Tower, the remote location and the interesting culture amongst others. There should be something of interest for everyone. There is also no doubt that the natural beauty of the area will impress all who visits.

the shop sign for the northern people's cafe in lung cu, ha giang

Quick Connect

BMW 1250 GS

Engine Type

air-liquid cooled, twin cylinder, DOHC, boxer engine

Displacement

1255 cc

Bore X Stroke

102.5 mm x 76 mm

Ignition

FI

Fuel System

fuel injection

Compression Ratio

12.5:1

Starter

electric

Gearbox

6-speed

Front Suspension

BMW Motorrad Telelever; stanchion diameter 37 mm

Rear Suspension

single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever

Front Brakes

dual disc brake, floating brake discs, diameter 305 mm, 4-piston radial calipers

Rear Brakes

single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, double-piston floating caliper

Front Tyres

120/70 R19

Rear Tyres

170/60 R17

Wheelbase

1514 mm

Seat Height

850 mm

Ground Clearance

790 mm

Kerb Weight

249 kg

Fuel Capacity

20 litres

Dimensions

2207 mm (L) x 952.5mm (W) x 1430 mm (H)

Honda XR 150 motorcycle rental

Engine Type

air cooled, OHC, single cylinder

Displacement

149 cc

Bore X Stroke

57.3 mm x 57.8 mm

Ignition

CDI

Fuel System

20 mm piston valve carburettor

Compression Ratio

9.5:1

Starter

electric with kick starter backup

Gearbox

5-speed

Front Suspension

telescopic fork, 180 mm axle travel

Rear Suspension

single shock swing arm, 150 mm axle travel

Front Brakes

dual piston caliper, 240 mm disc

Rear Brakes

mechanical drum

Front Tyres

90/90 19

Rear Tyres

110/90 17

Wheelbase

1362 mm

Seat Height

825 mm

Ground Clearance

243 mm

Kerb Weight

129 kg

Fuel Capacity

12 litres

Dimensions

2091 mm (L) x 811 mm (W) x 1125 mm (H)

Honda CB 500X motorcycle rental

Engine Type

liquid cooled parallel-twin four stroke

Displacement

470 cc

Bore X Stroke

67 mm x 66.8 mm

Ignition

PGMI – FI

Fuel System

fuel injection

Compression Ratio

10.7:1

Starter

electric

Gearbox

6-speed

Front Suspension

41 mm SFF-BP USD Forks

Rear Suspension

Prolink Mono with 5 stage pre load adjuster

Front Brakes

dual 296 mm discs with 4 piston calipers; ABS

Rear Brakes

240 mm disc; ABS

Front Tyres

110/80R19M/C (59H)

Rear Tyres

160/60R17M/C

Wheelbase

1445 mm

Seat Height

830 mm

Ground Clearance

180 mm

Kerb Weight

199 kg

Fuel Capacity

17.7 litres

Dimensions

2,155 mm (L) x 830 mm (W) x 1,410 mm (H)

Honda CRF 300 motorcycle rental

Engine Type

single cylinder, DOHC, liquid cooled

Displacement

286 cc

Bore X Stroke

76 mm x 63 mm

Ignition

Full Transistor Digital

Fuel System

PGM-FI electronic fuel injection

Compression Ratio

10.7:1

Starter

electric

Gearbox

5-speed

Front Suspension

43 mm telescopic upside down

Rear Suspension

Prolink Mono with 5 stage pre load adjuster

Front Brakes

256 mm disc, 2 piston caliper

Rear Brakes

220 mm disc, single piston caliper

Front Tyres

80/100 21

Rear Tyres

120/80 18

Wheelbase

1455 mm

Seat Height

880 mm

Ground Clearance

285 mm

Kerb Weight

142 kg

Fuel Capacity

7.8 litres

Dimensions

2230 mm (L) x 820 mm (W) x 1200 mm (H)

Tourist

One-Way

Expat

Pricing

N/A

N/A

Damage Waiver

$0/day

N/A

N/A

Security Deposit

N/A

N/A

Required Docs

passport

N/A

N/A

Mileage Limit

unlimited

N/A

N/A

Touring

N/A

N/A