There is 01 Lao Cai city, 01 Sa Pa town and 07 districts: Bat Xat, Bao Yen, Bao Thang, Si Ma Cai, Van Ban, Muong Khuong, Bac Ha with 162 communes, wards and towns (18 wards, 08 towns, 136 communes).
Lao Cai is divided into 3 areas:
- Region I: Being a commune with favorable socio-economic development conditions. Mostly lowland communes, close to the centers of districts, cities, convenient transportation and social services.
- Region II: Being communes with difficult socio-economic development conditions, most of these communes are located in remote areas, transportation is still quite difficult; Basic social services have been relatively well responded.
- Region III: Being communes with exceptionally difficult socio-economic conditions, communes in border areas, far from district and city centers; the terrain is strongly divided, transportation is still very difficult; Limited social services.