Our next adventure took us to Sapa – a city located far up north, almost bordering China. It is the primary destination within the province of Lao Cai, once a remnant of the French colonial era and an area rich of natural attractions. It is famous for its trekking opportunities and its magnificent views across lush green lands and rice terraces.
Vietnam is a country consisting of many different ethnic groups, among which a multitude of minorities are home in and around the city of Sapa in the far North. The largest group in this area is the Hmong tribe, also known as the Black Hmong because of their traditional, black outfits.
Arriving in Sapa
After a long bus ride from Hanoi we eventually arrived and checked into our hotel, located directly in the center of town. As part of the tour we had our first day trip to a close by village named Cat-Cat that gave us a first insight of the Hmong culture and traditions. Villagers were selling their local produce, primarily clothes and bags, to the incoming tourists.
Clouds were hanging very low that day along with thick fog that crept its way through the mountains.
As we still had time left we decided to climb up to yet another viewpoint to have a look at how Sapa looks like from an even more elevated position. Along the way you find some nice gardens with lots of interesting plants and flowers. The walk is a bit tiring but a very good warm- up for the upcoming trek the next day. The view was incredible as you could overlook the entire city and surrounding mountains.
Heading back to the hotel we had a look around town. The streets were quite crowded with local and foreign tourists, Hmong women were once again selling their products along the streets. Shops were busy, offering everything the trekking tourists were looking for.
Trekking in Sapa
Having a good nights sleep we then proceeded with the actual trek the following day. Our tour guide picked us up at the hotel where we meet with our trekking group. Around 6 Hmong women accompanied us for the day bringing us to another village across the mountains. The walk started slow as we followed a paved road which was steadily climbing up the mountains ahead of us. At some point we then walked right into the forest followed by a steep uphill climb until we reached the top of that mountain. The views were incredible as the clouds slowly started to fade away in front of us, allowing us to have a good look at the rice terraces and forests.
We eventually reached the village, had some lunch and were taken back to Sapa by a small van. The village was settled among some rice fields and it was a very nice sight as we approached it from the top of the mountain. Rocio also managed to get some souvenirs after long and tiring negotiations with Hmong kids 😉
We eventually ended our fantastic day with a nice Lao Cai beer, enjoying the last rays of sun before they disappeared behind the great mountains. What an amazing trip this turned out to be!Quite a journey to reach but the trekking and sights around this area are truly fantastic. We were lucky enough to have some nice weather as this can obviously have a strong impact on your stay here. Also, there are many options as to whether you want to stay in a hotel or in a Homestay – which we eventually regretted because it will give you an even closer insight the local life.
In summary, it was a very great place to visit and we would have loved to stay even a bit longer to discover some more spots around. It was amazing to experience the real Sapa adventures and it’s highly recommendable and truly a must-see destination when traveling in northern Vietnam!