Meet the H’mong
Sapa is one of those places that is on the bucket list of every SE Asia backpacker. Long gone are the days when this remote region, on the Chinese border, was untouched by tourism. Today, the Vietnamese hill station is invaded by hordes of tourists, arriving on night trains from Hanoi.
The town is orientated to make the most of the spectacular views emerging on clear days. The town overlooks a plunging valley of cascading rice terraces, with mountains towering above on all sides. Views of this epic scenery are often subdued by thick mist rolling across the peaks, but even if it’s cloudy, Sapa is still a fascinating destination, especially when local hill-tribe people fill the town with colour. – Lonely Planet
Sapa is Vietnam’s coldest region, with frequent rain showers throughout the day. Come prepared if you are planning long trekking days in the Muong Hoa valley. I went on a guided 13km tour booked through my hotel. We visited three hill-tribe villages in 5 hours and had lunch in a local homestay. Unfortunately, this whole experience was a bit spoilt by a group of local women, which decided to follow us the whole day to sell their handicrafts. The H’mong people are very pushy sellers, and won’t stop harrassing you, unless you completely ignore their presence. Nevertheless, I’d really recommend a trekking excursion, as the views are just unbelievable.
Another worthwhile day trip would be the ride up to the Tram Ton pass. The streets leading up to the pass are well maintained so don’t be afraid to rent a motorbike for the day and explore by yourself. On the way op to Vietnam’s most pituresque mountain pass you’ll have the chance to stop at numerous viewpoints and take some great shots.
On your way up to the pass you’ll drive by the Silver Falls, an impressive 100m high waterfall. Make sure to stop and walk up the few stairs to get the best views. It’s supposed to be nicer during rainy season.
After a spectacular 45 minute ride, you’ll finally reach the top of Tram Ton pass at an elevation of 1900m. The views from here are incredible. The sunny valleys of Lai Chau are in steep contrast with Sapa’s foggy climate and will leave you stunned.
Stay: Green Valley Hotel
Eat: The Hill Station Signature