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Lao Cai province is located in north west of Vietnam, adjacent to van nam province, China in the north. Its total area is 8,045 km2 and total population is 600,000 with 27 ethnic minority groups. Especially H’mong and Dao ethnic groups which have significant ethnic identities account for the major.

Sapa is a highland district of Lao Cai province, a famous resort of Vietnam with average heigth of 1,500m to 1,600m above sea level. Sapa has a highest mountain (Fanxifang) in Vietnam with its height of 3,143m. The district has plenty of traditions of 6 ethnic groups especially H’mong and Dao ethnic groups which account for 78.2% of district population (37,634 people).

Thanks to distinct character in geology, climate and working tradition of local people, with natural area of 67,864 ha Sapa is the place which has an attractive habitat, different ethnic culture and rare plants and animals species in Vietnam and the world also exist here.

Therefore, in early 1920s French developed Sapa as a resort and since 1990s Lao Cai people’s committee and Vietnamese government has invested and called for foreign investment to build a holiday resort in Sapa. Then more and more Vietnamese and climate, history and culture. In recent years, the number of visitor has come to 20,000.

A long time ago, over 500 block of marble which were sculptured with various shapes were discovered in muong hoa valley which is 8 km far from Sapa town, along Hoa stream through Lao Chai, Hau Thao, Ta Van And Su Pan communes.

Old carving stones were defined as a archaeological relic which reflect various content such as food production, ethnic war, natural landscape, forest, stair field, wild life, cattle, dancing, musical instruments, housewares and human reproduction etc... But old carving stone area has value of documentary and art in Vietnam and Asia. Many Vietnamese scientists came to study it for a long time. In 1925, a French scientist named Vgulubep conducted study tour in Sapa, then more and more foreign scientists from France, UK, Germany, Russia, China, us and Thailand come to study. On 20th July 1994, Vietnamese Ministry of Culture and Information issued the decision no 921/qd-bt recognising “Sapa old carving stone area as national historical and culture heritage” and Vietnamese government submitted the proposal of world heritage to unesco.

Although the old carving stone area is an ancient relic with historical, cultural and art values at national and international level, it does not bring into play its value to serve human interest and it is being damaged over time.

Project location

Country: Vietnam
Region: Lao Cai province
Nearest town: Sapa.

When the project starts?

3 months after receiving budget

What encouraged starting the project?

To conserve the relic with high values of history, culture, nature and art. At present, these old carving stone stand in open air, endure rain, storm and flood and it is in danger of being broken by local people for exploiting construction materials. Due to limited budget, district office of culture and information only has fund to pay for an officer to look after the area.

To continue researching its background and old script on these stones and understand their meaning in order to enrich local ethnical history, culture, nature and art.

To develop tourism especially foreign tourists. In 1999, over 5,000 visitors came to visit there and it is estimated that 10,000 people will visit Sapa in this year.

To preserve nice landscape environment of the area and strengthen cultural, historical exchange among ethnic groups in Vietnam and between Vietnam and foreign countries.

Detail the outstanding characteristics of the project

To save an ancient cultural relic, enrich the values of history, culture, natural environment and art for Sapa district, Lao Cai province and six ethnic groups here such as H’mong (52.7%), Dao (25.53%), Xa Pho (1.25%), Day (1.65%), Tay (5.27%), Kinh (13.6%) and supplement great historical, cultural, natural environmental and art values for Vietnam country and contribute to the world heritage.

To create favourable condition for exchange of history, culture and art, and strengthen friendship and cooperation among ethnic groups in Vietnam and between Vietnamese and foreign friends who come to Sapa for study, visit and holiday.

Asian/International significance of the project

To conserve the old carving area and continue research and enrich the historical, cultural, natural environmental and art values and exchange culture among ethnic groups in Vietnam and between Vietnam and international friends.

What is the long-term aim of your project?

To study and discover the historical, cultural, environmental and art values of this relic to serve local residents and visitor who live and come to visit, study and have holiday.

To strengthen the exchange of history, culture, natural environment and art among 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam and between Vietnam and countries in the world..

To develop Sapa attractive beauty spot for ecological tourism and cultural exchange.

How much money has been spent on the project so far and where did this money come from?

Sapa people’s committee and Lao Cai people’s committee spent VND 14 billion (equal to US$ 10,000) to construct 8km road until 1999 and in 2000 they spent VND800 million to build more 4 km road and hire a guardsman to look after the place.

How much more money is needed to complete the project?

VND 532,000,000 equal to US$ 38,000 (five hundred and thirty two million dong equal to thirty eight thousand dollars).

In which part of the project will we invest if the money is granted?

An Ethnic And International Cultural Exchange Center: VND 80 million will be spent to building up which is component of:

An art team of 35 people (including manager) will be formed to perform traditional show, and as a tourist guide for tourist visitors in 3 languages: Vietnamese, Ethnic Language and English. This team will be trained, buy musical instrument and costumes after being organized

To build a simple open-air stage to regularly organize traditional cultural performance with translation into 3 languages.

To preserving remains of stones, on which ancient people drew and sculptured: VND 355 million will be spent for activities which are component of:

To build a road with 1000 m length and 1.2 m width leading to the old carving stone place.

To build a protection roofs for big stones to avoid rain and storm. They will make cement roofs for important stones and palm with steel frame roofs for other stones.

To build cement fences, steel poles around the important stones.

To plant and protect trees: VND 62 million will be spent for local trees as ivory bamboo ... Along the road and in the historical place.

Other construction fee: VND 35 million will be spent for project design, technical survey and planning design etc.

The description of the project including all objectives

The old carving stones area which has about 500 blocks of stone is located in Muong Hoa valley, runs along mountains of Sapa district, Lao Cai province, near poetic and spring stream. It was discovered and has been taken care by local people for a long time.

Since Vgulubep - the first foreigner to come for study 69 years ago, in 1994 this area only has been recognised as national relic by the government and got funding of  VND 1.5 billion to upgrade the road in order to conserve the great value of the old carving stones area and develop ecological tourism and study tours of archaeological scientists in Asia and the world. We need a fund of VND 532 million to spend for upgrading and protection of the ancient area, planting trees and building a cultural performance team and guides for tourists. This is an initial project. In the long term, the income of tourist resources will be important to develop the historical carving stone area in Sapa district.

Contact/organiser name: Prof. Trinh Ngoc Trinh, Director of HEDO
Contact/organiser address: 49 Dai Co Viet, Ha Noi, Vietnam
Contact/organiser telephone: +84 4 8691223 / 8692502
Contact/organiser fax: +84 4 8692502
Organisation: Highland Education - Health - Science Development Organisation (HEDO) - A Vietnamese humanitarian non-governmental organisation
Country: Vietnam


© Highland Education Development Organisation (HEDO) 2009
4 Trinh Hoai Duc, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: +84 4 37345292 / 37345293, Fax: +84 4 37345293
Email hedo@fpt.vn