The grandiose beauty of Sapa’s terraced rice fields

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The terraced rice fields in Sapa is a perfect combination of nature and human’s effort. They have surprised millions of tourists who go on North Vietnam group tours.

When is the best time to visit the terraced fields in Sapa?

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Terraced rice field sapa

Terraced rice fields are considered a symbol of Sapa as well as Northern Vietnam group tours. You can find them in various images showing the beauty of Sapa.

There are two seasons in a year that the terraced fields look most spectacular. The first one is the ripening season, which is from September to November. And the second one is the flooded rice field season, which is from April to May.

Visiting Sapa in those times, you will have a chance to observe two most important phases in the local farmers’ cultivation process. Especially, the ripening season – the second phase – lasts only about 1-2 weeks so you should book your tickets soon.

In case you are busy in those months, December, January, and February can some other ideal choices. Sapa is in winter at that time. But if you are lucky, you can see the snow falling thick in the fields. It is something that infrequently happens in a tropical country like Vietnam.

A long history of terraced fields in Sapa

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Ripening season sapa

Most people, even those who live in Vietnam, know that terraced rice fields are attractive. But hardly do they discover their long history.

The terraced field is a cultivation method of numerous ethnic groups in not only Vietnam but also the world. After hundreds of years being introduced to Vietnam, it has become very common in mountainous areas.

The ground for this method is the terrain of mountainous areas. Because it is full of obstacles, growing crops is very difficult for farmers. Therefore, they overcome it by choosing hillslopes where there are rich soil and grow rice for food.

The terraced rice fields in Sapa have been created and maintained by many generations. The ethnic groups which are the most excellent at terraced field farming are the Hani, Yao, Hmong, Giay, and Tay.

In today’s time, the terraced rice fields are not only a symbol of Northern Vietnam but also the main source of food for many hill tribes. It is an effective method of agriculture on sloped terrain. Moreover, it contributes an enormous part to tourism products in Sapa in particular and in Northern Vietnam in general.

After over a hundred years, the beauty of terraced rice fields in Sapa has been spread beyond Vietnam borders and heading to the world. North Vietnam tours; therefore, become very common and famous.

The magnificence of the terraced fields

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Flooded field season sapa

Sometimes, living in cities makes us forget how beautiful this world is. We are so busy with our lives that we completely don’t have time to rest. And only when we want a life in the slow lane do we start finding places such as Sapa. It is the spot where various people visit to look for some peace in their soul.

The tranquil atmosphere and grandiose landscape of Sapa’s terraced fields cannot be found in many destinations. Perhaps, this is the reason why photographers always choose the ripening as well as flooded rice field seasons to have group tours in North Vietnam.

In the ripening season, the terraced paddy fields turning from green to yellow make an incredible scenery. Each step is layered on another one, keeping on to the horizon. Mother Nature has given Sapa a precious gift that hardly any other places can have.

The flooded rice field season is another attractive point of Sapa. This is the time before farmers start their cultivation process and also the wet season. The rain comes very often and quickly fills up the fields. As a result, they get flooded and the most delightful landscapes of summer start appearing.

When you look from above, the fields are similar to the smooth hair of a pretty girl. But if you look closely, it is just like a giant waterfall with hundreds of steps. You can even hear the sound of water flowing and birds singing if you pay attention. Try sitting somewhere and feel the atmosphere. Your soul will find its peace immediately.

This is probably one of the explanations for the attractiveness of Sapa and also North Vietnam group tours.

The attractive beauty of Den Village in Sapa

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During Sapa tours, tourists are often interested in exploring the traditional villages of the Sapa ethnic people, where visitors can enjoy the nature, learn about the local lifestyle, activities as well as the featured culture and customs of Sapa. One of the most visited Sapa villages by travelers is Den Village.

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Sapa in the fog

Den Village in Ban Ho (Sa Pa district, Lao Cai province) is known to many tourists as one of the attractive tourist attractions in Sapa with the wonderful nature and unique cultural characteristics of the local people here. Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that visiting Den Village is one of the things to do in Sapa.

Ban Ho is located 30 km southwest of Sapa town center. There are 5 ethnic groups namely Mong, Dao, Tay, Giay and Nung (mostly Tay) living together. Although there are no location advantages near the tourist center as other villages in Sapa, Ban Ho attracts tourists with its beautiful natural scenery, the legendary streams and waterfalls as well as many other unique cultural heritages.

Coming to Den Village during, tourists will see the winding roads between the valley and the beautiful terraced fields. The road leading up to Den Village is small, curving and quite difficult to go, however, it cannot stop the ambition of visitors who love Sa Pa and always aspire to explore nature, mountains and forests of the Northwest. Here, visitors not only can admire the natural scenery, poetic poetry, unique architecture of the wood stilt houses of the ethnic people but also have a chance to live in friendly, cozy environment and participate in many communal activities.

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Muong Hoa Stream

Once setting foot in Den Village, visitors will definitely be overwhelmed by the beauty of a lush green rice terraced fields and scattered houses along both sides of the stream. The center of Ban Ho is Den Village, which is the meeting point of the two streams of Muong Hoa and La Ve. Unlike Muong Hoa stream flowing through dozens of different village day by day, La Ve stream flows to Den Village from the deep forest in high mountains. Perhaps because of its origin, this stream also seems clearer and more mysterious than the other.

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Terraced fields in Den Village

Traveling to Den Village in Sapa is a great opportunity for visitors to drop the soul at the picturesque stream as well as listen to the murmur of the stream. In addition to two famous streams Muong Hoa and La Ve, there are still a series of beautiful streams and waterfalls in Ban Ho such as Ca Nhay, Seo Trung Ho, etc. which are attracting the passion, the ambition of exploring the poetic nature of tourists. In particular, Seo Trung Ho Waterfall with the height of over a hundred meters, described as the white silk banded midway down the mountain, has recently become a new must-see destination in any Sapa trekking tours.

Moreover, going to Den Village, travelers are able to discover the special culture of the ethnic people here by getting involved in the lyrics, local songs, ancient dances and traditional rituals. For the people living in Den Village, those ceremonies, the songs and the dances are their precious cultural characteristics, which are really attractive to visitors. Besides, the people here also do some traditional occupations such as growing cotton, mulberry, raising silkworms, making traditional crafts and silk and bring them to the market for tourists especially the foreigners. Interestingly, because of having met a variety of international visitors, the locals can speak English and French. They even know how to use cell phones but they still keep their traditional cultural features.

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Singing and dancing with ethnic people

These days, visitors have been attracted to Den Village by Sapa homestay tours with many special things. Currently, about the 30 best and most beautiful stilt houses in Den Village have been chosen to develop this new type of tourism. Since then, a greater influx of people has visited Den Village during their Sapa tours to stay overnight in this village. Especially, among them, there are a large number of young Vietnamese.

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Stilt house in Den Village

3 necessary notes to conquer the Fansipan Peak in Sapa

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Coming to Sapa, visitors can not only admire the scenery and the idyllic moments of this highland town but also have a chance to participate in the adventurous activities to challenge your ability such as conquering the Fansipan Peak. To overcome this challenge, you have to prepare both physical and mental health. Followings are some Sapa travel experiences that can help you conquer the highest peak in Vietnam.

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Fansipan Peak

Pay attention to weather factors

Favorable weather will partly determine the success of your trip. According to Sapa travel guide, on the days with low temperature, you will likely to encounter rain and fog. Besides, the rain will surely affect your mood and determination. The excitement of the trip will no longer exist when the difficulty increases.

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The way to Fansipan

In addition, rain and wind will make the photos are not as beautiful as ordinary and this is also the favorable weather for mosquitoes and insects to inhabit. Therefore, before deciding to conquer this mountain, make sure that you have watched the weather forecast in the Northwest and Sapa in advance.

Your health is the most important factor

Keep your health good enough to help you complete this difficult challenge. 3 to 5 days prior to the climbing day, you should practice, do light exercise such as walking, yoga or running, limit your smoking habit, and prepare a good mood. If possible, you should invite more friends to climb together. It will create a high team spirit and make you feel more consistent and determined. In addition, during your Sapa day tour, you should bring medicines for some regular diseases such as flu, diarrhea, etc., some cotton sticks, gauze, bandages, medical alcohol, salonpas, and some nutrient-rich snacks like chocolate or ginseng candy.

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Medical stuff

Even though you are in good health, you should not be neglectful because the journey will be much more difficult than you think. After 2 – 3 hours climbing, you will begin to feel pain in the calves or knees as if you are unable to continue. At this time, the most important thing is your psychology: you must believe in yourself that you are definitely able to climb to the top.

Next, take a short break for about 5 minutes to massage your legs (the break should not be too long because you might be lazy afterward). Especially, you should not affect the will of the whole team if you go on a Sapa group tour. If you really cannot continue to go, you have to return to the resting place to wait for your team coming back but remember to leave food and water.

Do not forget food and drink

If you have planned to climb this mountain within 2 to 3 days, you have to bring food because obviously, no one can conquer this huge challenge with a hollow stomach. You should eat cooked dishes and bring the simple yet nutritious food such as vegetables which are grown in the Sapa tourism areas. For breakfast, it would be more convenient for you to eat instant cup noodles which are always available in any supermarket and have a cup of ready-made coffee or ginger tea because it will keep you warm. In addition, bring some fruits with high nutritional content such as oranges, tangerines, mangoes, etc. to eat along the way in your Sapa group tour to regain strength and energy.

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Instant cup noodles

Regarding water, each person should bring about 3 – 4 small bottles. Do not carry too heavy bottle because it will cause difficulty for you while climbing. When drinking, you should drink in sips many times, avoid drinking too much at one time as it can cause full stomach. When you are tired, inhale through the nose to relax your lungs and then exhale through the mouth to keep a better stamina.

During the Sapa tours, conquering Fansipan Peak will certainly be an unforgettable memory in your lifetime. We have already shared 3 most important experiences that you should take into consideration when having an intention to conquer this famous peak.

What To Prepare For Sapa Trekking Tours

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A trekking trip across the fields and mountains in Sapa is one of the highlights of the trip exploring in Vietnam. This post will introduce for visitors what to prepare to have the better Sapa trekking tours.

Sapa is one of the famous destinations of Vietnam. It is a highland district of Lao Cai province, a land of humility with quiet space and hidden wonders of nature. The natural landscape of Sapa is combined with the creativity of the people along with the terrain of the mountains, the green of the forest. It is as the picture which is arranged in a harmonious layout creating a region with the attractive romantic scenery.

The best way to explore the area around this city is going trekking. It will first explain some basic things about trekking in Sapa. Trekkers can see what, how hard it is and whether visitors need a tour guide.

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Sapa is one of the great places for trekking tours in Vietnam

Sapa is famous for its rice fields. Thus trekking in these fields is supposed to be the best tour in Sapa. With trekking tours, trekkers can walk on the road between the rice fields and the wonderful places in the valley. On this journey, travelers will cross many different ethnic minority villages, where you have the feeling that visitors are turned back time.

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The beauty of terraces in Sapa

Trekkers may encounter some buffaloes working hard in the fields. Therefore, this is definitely a great place to take pictures.

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The buffaloes work hard on terraced fields

Before traveling to Sapa, visitors just need to determine about trekking a day or trekking for days. Trekking is a type of experience and exploration of the cultural space of the ethnic minorities living here. Therefore, to have the impressive trekking, visitors should find out about the village, customs, and what not to do when visiting the villages here.

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The trekking tour of international tourists explore Sapa

Visitors should find a guide for their trekking tour. The guides here are mostly local people, so they know everything about Sapa, about every little road, every rice field as well as every forest.

When trekkers are ready for their trekking trip, trekkers must be sure to bring adequately the following things. 

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Preparing necessary everything to have the safe trip

Firstly, trekkers should buy good walking shoes or the boots. The raincoat is also an item which is necessary for trekking tours in Sapa. Visitors cannot know when it rains.

Sticks also help to support your body weight after the tired climbing journey. Trekkers can use a professional climbing stick or just a sure branch.

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The climbing sticks are a great help for visitors

Travelers should prepare some snacks such as tomatoes, candy, cheese and the small water bottles to avoid dry throat as well as relay timely while trekking.

 To avoid getting sick, trekkers should bring the medicines for small wounds, some others such as flu, diarrhea, and fever. The camera with the backup battery will help visitors record the beautiful moments of nature.

Because in the trip walking is mainly, trekkers need to prepare neat and cool clothing which can impregnate the sweat. Visitors should also bring extra some clothes to change. When going trekking in the mountains, bringing the insect repellent is essential.

In addition, trekkers should not carry too many things. It can be said that the backpack is indispensable when backpacking. A lightweight backpack will make the climbing about a few hours more comfortable.

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The strong, light backpack with the moderate size is a very necessary item

When trekking in Sapa, visitors must carry their belongings and walk to distant villages. Here we suggest you some useful tips. Firstly, if your trip does not start in Hanoi but in Sapa, you had better go to Sapa by yourself. The other tip is local people who often invite you to buy things when you travel to Sapa. This can be uncomfortable for you. You just politely refuse if they try to sell. Besides, trekkers do not ask their guides about this because they may come from the same village or are directly related to one another. This may cause some troubles for trekkers.

Visitors should choose the suitable period to go trekking in Sapa. Usually from March to May is the best time for Sapa trekking tours. The weather is so beautiful, so trekkers can climb mountains and visit native villages.

Hope that some small tips above will help trekkers have the truly wonderful Sapa trekking tours

Discovering Ta Phin, Sapa

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If you want to travel to SaPa to enjoy the fresh and clean air or beautiful nature with mountains and green forests, the Ta Van or Ta Phin is really worth referring. Besides, there are lots of other fun activities to join in. Today, Sapa group tour will introduce you some interesting destinations in Ta Phin so that you can experience new and peaceful spots in SaPa.

Located in the northwest of the country, SaPa is well-known for many wonderful landscapes and hospitable people. The town is hidden in the floating clouds attracting tons of visitors with magnificent mountainous views and unique experiences when exploring the lives of ethnic minorities. Coming here, you cannot miss some things to do in Ta Phin, Sapa.

Visit the strawberry garden, artichoke garden

For many people, strawberries and artichokes have long been a symbol, attached to Da Lat. But in fact, you do not need to travel to Dalat, you are also able to discover the beautiful strawberry and artichoke fields by taking Sapa tours. Due to the humid and cool air all year round, except for Da Lat, SaPa is ideal for growing these plants as well.

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A box full of fresh strawberries picked

All strawberry and artichoke gardens in Sa Pa are concentrated in Ta Phin. Stepping in the village, it is not difficult to find the hectare gardens with red ripe strawberries next to the green leaf. Most of the strawberries here are grown according to VietGap standards. To meet the needs of SaPa tourists, most of the gardens are used for tourism as well as selling pickles in the garden. One kilogram of strawberries picked at the garden in SaPa has an average price of 150,000dong.

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A Strawberry

The green artichoke fields here are also worth exploring, especially from May to Jul – the season of artichokes. If you visit artichoke gardens at this time, you will be surely overwhelmed by these endless green fields.

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Green artichoke gardens

Ta Phin’s artichoke gardens are produced under the GACP-WHO procedure and are the first medicinal plants in the north to be recognized as GACP. So, coming here, besides visiting, you can also buy products made from artichoke-like high-quality tea as gifts for relatives and beloved ones.

Try herbal bath – a traditional herb remedy of Dao people

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A Dao woman is picking herbs

Traveling to SaPa, you should not ignore herbal bathing introduced by Dao people. Ta Phin is considered as an ideal place since this is the home to 90 percent of the Red Dao people. The leaves are collected by the households themselves then boiled to serve tourists.

The cost for a herbal bath here is quite cheap. With only 100,000dong, visitors can enjoy relaxing moment sitting in a bathtub made of wood. Moreover, you also have a chance to admire the view of mountains and pin forests through the glass window.

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Enjoy and relax in the bathtub with herbs of Dao people

After the bath, most of you will feel completely relaxing. However, if bathing so long in this medication, you may be drunk and sleepy. Thus be careful, do not to soak for too long.

Drop by Ta Phin Monastery

On the way from Ta Phin to SaPa town – Lao Cai Province, you should definitely take time to visit the relic sites in Ta Phin.

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Ta Phin Monastery

Over the last half-century, this place was abandoned. And this just makes this place be more attractive. The beautifully strong French-style architecture, the old door frames, arched door, and moss stones make this place a cinematic view for those who want to have some beautiful pictures for posting on social networks.

Besides, when taking a trip to Sapa, beyond admiring the beautiful scenery of clouds, mountains, forests, and terraces, travelers have the great chance to enjoy tasty dishes which are represented by Sapa cuisine.

In the cold air, it is nothing better than sitting around the table and enjoying baked food, which is extremely delicious and varied such as pork skewers, three roasted pigs, quail, rolled beef crooked or roasted rabbit mushrooms casserole and so on. “Meo” vegetables are special ones in this land, the strange bitter flavor that you cannot forget at the first trying.

Travel to the westernmost area of Vietnam

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A Pa Chai is considered as the westernmost point on the mainland of Vietnam, which borders the two countries of China and Laos. A Pa Chai is located in Sin Thau commune, Muong Nhe district. Located at an altitude of 1864m above sea level, the main living place of Ha Nhi ethnic group and some other ethnic minorities.

I/ The ideal time to travel to A Pa Chai

The best time to go to A Pa Chai is during the dry season, especially in Vietnam all-inclusive packages from November to April. At this time, the road is not a landslide or slippery, convenient for moving. In this time, there is also the second month of lunar calendar, the local festival is held in the attractive edition of the Ha Nhi.

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Conquer the road A Pa Chai

II/ How to travel to A Pa Chai

  • Motorbike – the most convenient transportation when Travel to Vietnam

The best way to discover and conquer A Pa Chai is by motorbike. From Ha Noi, take Highway 6, go through Hoa Binh, Cao Phong, Moc Chau, Yen Chau, Lai Chau, Thuan Chau, Tuan Giao, via Highway 279 to Dien Bien Phu. From here, continue to move to Muong Cha, Muong Nhe to A Pa Chai.

  • Buses

You can catch the car at some Coach stations of My Dinh and Giap Bat. The coach lasts about 13 – 14 hours. Traveling by this form of transportation has another advantage is that you can send a motorbike attached to you. Reference price: 350k / person.

  • Planes

If you do not have enough health and want to save time, go by air, you will save time traveling compared to other means. Currently, Vietnam Airlines has a flight from Hanoi to Dien Bien, by plane, time will be shortened to only 1 hour.

III/Application for a permit when coming to A Pa Chai

In the past, Tourists coming to A Pa Chai was required to obtain permission from the Border Guard Command of Dien Bien province. Currently, once you are in Vietnam all-inclusive package, you only need to prepare your identity papers such as ID card or passport, driver’s license … If you are traveling with a group, you should carefully ask for a referral from the company. It is best to check these regulations carefully before reaching the Westernmost of Vietnam.

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Moutain in A Pa Chai

IV: Things should be prepared before conquering A Pa Chai

In addition to medicine, raincoat, telephone, camera and so on, you should prepare protective gear and personal first aid box.

You should choose long-sleeved, neat climbing clothes and good boots. Please follow the guidance of Border Guards to ensure safety for yourself and your group.

Vietnam travel packages  give you other notes

Prepare lunch if you do not register at the border station.

Maintain sanitation at your place of residence as well as on the roads where you pass, especially the border station or the Sin Bridge.

Time to get to the milestone takes about 4h and downtime is 3h. Therefore, to facilitate travel, rest, you should start the journey in the morning.

V/Conquering A Pa Chai

From Border Guards Station 317, in order to reach the border crossing, in addition to the necessary equipment and utensils, you need to obtain permission from the border guards of Dien Bien province. It will take about 2 hours to process your request. The starting time of the Border Guard Command in Dien Bien is 8 am. It is interesting to conquer A Pa Chai that instead of having to hire a local guide, the soldiers of the border guard station 317 will be your guide.

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A Pa Chai terraces

From station 317 to milestone 0 it is only about 5km high, but you have to peddle to over 15 km with about 4 -5 hours crossing the jungle, crossing the new stream to get to the place. This is not only a journey of health but also of the will, the persistence of the conqueror. The road is full of gravel, crossing the hills of tall grass overhead and sharp.

If you do not have the willpower and determination to succeed, you can easily be defeated by the coldness of the Northwestern mountains and the tiredness of being so soft after hours of continuous climbing on the road. To regain strength in the wilderness, it’s good to have a few mouthfuls of water along the stream and enjoy the beauty of the jungle.

Throughout the journey, there will be no shortage of stories of the border guard so that suddenly the border crossing is in front of the face. The joy of bursting and all the fatigue will disappear when facing the front is a milestone 0 on top of the majestic La San mountain.

In the middle is a 2m high triangle milestone, with three faces facing each of the three countries, each carved with its national name in the national language and national emblem of each country. Here you will witness the greeting ceremony and check the zero milestones of the soldiers of the border guard, A Pa Chai.

A Sapa Valley Tour

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Muong Hoa Valley was highly recommended by a fellow traveler of mine as one of the spectacular scenes he had ever seen during his stay in Vietnam, so there I went!

I had thought of all-inclusive Sapa tours but quickly discard that option since booking a regular tour and being compelled to follow a schedule are not my thing. He introduced me to a local woman who lived in the valley; she was happy to show me around and kind enough to offer me a bed for the night with her family. So basically, I had my own tour guide who knows the valley like the back of her hand, the most exotic homestay and the cheapest Sapa tour that anyone could find.

Getting to the valley

At 6 in the morning, Ban, my newly-made friend, and the amateur tour guide was waiting for me on the way to the valley. When I contacted her a few days before, she said we should start our journey early to avoid the crowds of tourists and pack light since she had everything I might need at her home.

Do the sight-seeing

Ban was wearing the traditional dress of her tribe with strange embroidered patterns and shiny silver pieces of jewelry. She wound a black scarf lined with several yarn pom-poms around her head and worn a broad smile on the face. She has an overall impression of a super friendly person that you can rely on. After greeting and asking me about my trip, she led me on a craggy dirty trail to start my journey.

Muong Hoa Valley

Muong Hoa terraced fields (Source: Internet)

We made a steep climb up a hillside to have a commanding view of the area. Up there, I had a 360-degree panorama of green-capped mountains fading far into the distance. Above me was an unending, brochure-blue sky that appears to teem with wildlife. Birds of all sizes fluttered overhead at all times of the day.

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A panoramic view of the valley (Source: Internet)

As I looked down before my gaze were lush green terraced fields falling away in steep slopes to the valley below. Tiny bungalows strung out along a winding trail running through the valley, framed in verdant patch of rice, vegetables, and bushes of wildflowers. Ban pointed at a house with a loofah trellis on a side and said that was her home and we would spend the night there. I was thrilled to see it as I had been tired of concrete western-style hotels during my stay in Vietnam. My friend told me that Ban speaks decent English and is quite a chatter-box but as she realized that I was taking in the view and sketching to preserve something on my Sapa valley tour, she kept quiet in order not to interrupt my thoughts and checked on me from time to time, which I appreciated a lot.

Muong Hoa Stream

A tree-lined stream (Source: Internet)

As we continued to the valley, a tree-lined stream came into sight; substantial volumes of water were gushing over the rocks. Ban said that was where we would head next, the other side of the stream to enter the village. There was a bridge but I preferred skipping it as the water seemed just knee-deep and I wanted to save my legs. Ban and I wade across the stream to the other side and follow a dirt trail that runs through the fields. Ban said that she would show me how her people make fabric as she assumed that I would love it, and she was right. I found the process in which people wave and embroider cloth fascinating. Ban even let me try myself under her supervision. After a few minutes of awkwardness, I finally learned the very basic skills of making a piece of cloth. 

Muong Hoa at night

Ban introduced me to her family and showed me the guest room where I would sleep that night. She even called a friend of her in the town to book a hotel room for me as it would be much cheaper that way. As dusk was drawing near, I joined Ban making dinner. She said that the everyday eating of the family was usually modest but when guests arrived, a feast must be thrown! All the dishes were made from locally-acquired ingredients; they were hot and fresh and absolutely delicious. As streetlights were non-existent, stars became brighter outside the window and the crickets chirped monotonously. I slowly fell asleep in the cool air and evening breeze of the valley.

Thanks to Ban and her family’s hospitality, my Sapa valley tour was absolutely wonderful and full of joy. The rest of my stay in the town was spent on hiking the Fansipan which I would share in another post.

Follow hellosapavietnam to get more interesting information about Sapa and Sapa tours!

 

Sapa travel tips

Well known as a little French town in the mountainous Northwest Vietnam, Sapa has been attracting enormous flocks of visitors coming to see the stunning beauty of that area. So, how to reach that land? Where and where to go in Sapa? Have you ever asked these questions?

Following are some tips that would help you have best experiences in this beautiful land.

1. How to go?

Located about 380 kilometers from Hanoi, Sapa is not easily reached by plane. The two most popular ways to go to Sapa are by road and by rail. Travelers prefer to take a night train from Hanoi to Sapa because it is not only comfortable, safe but also cost-saving.

Sleeper cabin on night train to Sapa

Sleeper cabin on night train to Sapa (Source: Internet)

There are three-night trains from Hanoi to Sapa each day, which would take about 8 hours and 20 minutes to reach Lao Cai station. Then visitors would need to take a transport bus or minibus to Sapa Town, which is approximately 34 kilometers far from Lao Cai city. You can choose to book a soft seat or a sleeper cabin. Regarding cabins, there provide clients with air conditioner, a place to put your luggage, and a soft bed. There is also clean and comfortable washing room for a morning wash-up. All you need to do is to have a sleep, and when you wake up, you have reached Lao Cai already.

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Bus to Sapa (Source: Internet)

In addition to night train from Hanoi to Sapa, taking a bus is another choice. However, it is not as comfortable as going by train. You can choose to pick up a night bus from Gia Lam station in Hanoi or hire a private car to go there, but it is quite expensive.

2. When to visit?

Sapa in Autumn

Sapa in Autumn (Source: Internet)

The best times to visit Sapa are in spring and autumn. Located in high altitudes, the weather in Sapa is very seasonal. Summer is hot and wet while it is cold and freeze in winter. Hence, from March to May and from September to October are considered best times to travel. The weather in these seasons is very pleasant and offers a clear view of the whole spectacular scenery of Sapa. You are enabled to travel around to see the sheer beauty of the dense jungle, majestic waterfalls, and colorful terraced rice fields. Travelers can also go up to Fansipan peak – the summit of Indochina to get a broad view of the surrounding mountainous area.

3. Where to go?

After taking a night train to Hanoi, you will reach the beautiful land of Sapa, where displays a cluster of Eastern and Western cultures. There are several attractions in Sapa for visitors to explore.

Tribal Villages

Tribal villages in Sapa

Ethnic people in Sapa (Source: Internet)

A must-visit stop in every Sapa trip is the tribal village of ethnic people. Sapa is where some minority groups of Vietnam live, namely H’mong, Tay, and Dao. You can go to some villages like Cat Cat, Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai, etc. to explore the daily life of people there. You can also experience the culture and cuisine of these groups.

Fansipan Peak

Fansipan Peak

Fansipan Peak – Summit of Indochina (Source: Internet)

Of course, it would be a big regret if you leave Sapa without visiting Fansipan Mountain. It is the highest peak of Indochina, providing visitors with a jaw-dropping view from more than 3,000 meters height. Nowadays there has been a car cable to make it easier for travelers to get there. Many tourism plots have also been built on the mountain, which assures to offer best services.

Sapa Town

Leaving mountainous villages with colorful terraced rice fields, you will come to Sapa Town – where there is a mixture between traditional and modern lifestyles. There are still several French-style villas in the town, which were built when Northern Vietnam was a colony of France. Moreover, in the town center stays the Old Cathedral of Sapa – which remarks the integration of Western religion and culture.

Sapa Town

Western-style villas in Sapa (Source: Internet)

Though being influenced by Western lifestyle, Sapa town still retains its traditional value. Visitors may find exciting to go to the traditional market of local people, where they can buy home colorful traditional souvenirs.

Bac Ha Market in Sapa

Traditional market in Sapa (Source: Internet)

With all these charming beauties, Sapa is absolutely one of the best destinations in Vietnam. The guides above will partly help you to have a smoother Sapa travel.

How to travel from Hanoi to Sapa?

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After having a trip around Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam to see the natural and cultural values of a beautiful city with a thousand years of history, tourists tend to make their way to Sapa – an irresistible attraction in the Northwest of Vietnam.

Check out the guide from hellosapavietnam below to see the distance between the two destinations and how to reach that poetic land.

Sapa is located in Lao Cai Province, which is more than 350 kilometers far from the city center of Hanoi. The distance from the nearest airport (Dien Bien Phu Airport, Dien Bien Province) to Sapa is nearly 300 kilometers; in other words, traveling by plane is not a good choice. Hence, both Vietnamese and foreigners choose to use train or bus to get there instead.

Sapa terraced rice fields

Sapa terraced rice fields on harvest (Source: Internet)

How long from Hanoi to Sapa by train?

The train is the most popular and recommended ways of transportation to go from Hanoi to Sapa. Though Sapa does not has its own railway station, it is only about 40 kilometers from this town to the nearest station in Lao Cai City. From there, it is very easy to take a bus, taxi or even a jeep to reach Sapa. There are both daytime and nighttime train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, which would take you about 8 hours and 20 minutes. Among them, a night train is considered more comfortable and time-saving.

Night train from Hanoi to Sapa

Night train from Hanoi to Sapa (Source: Internet)

Regarding daytime train, there are SP1, SP2, SP3, SP4, SP7 and SP8 trains from Gia Lam Railway Station, Hanoi. SP1, SP2, SP3 and SP4 run every day, with many options to choose: Air-conditioned soft sleepers, air-conditioned hard sleepers, hard sleepers, air-conditioned soft seats, soft seats, and hard seats. Also, these trains have very few stops all the way long. SP7 and SP8 are the same with those, but the two trains also offer privately-run sleeping-cars for those wanting to get better services, namely Livitrans Express and King Express.

Sapa bus

Sleeper cabins on Privately-run Victoria Express Train (Source: Internet)

About nighttime trains – the more recommended ones, there are 4 trains in total: SP1, SP2, SP3, and SP4. In addition to the standard seats like other trains, these trains comprise a series of privately-run sleeping cabins including Fansipan Express, Ratraco Express, Orient Express, Royal Express, TSC Express, Tulico Express, SaPaly Express Train, Green Express, Hara Express and Victoria Express Train. These private cabins offer clean and comfortable rooms for a long journey with thick mattresses, lights and storage shelves. Though there are places to put your luggage you should keep your valuables by your side, especially when your cabin mates are strangers. Among the above sleeping-cars, Fansipan Express, SaPaly Express Train, and Victoria Express Train are recommended the most.

Seats/Beds can be booked through travel agencies in advance or right in Hanoi, but in case they do fill up, it is suggested that travelers should book in advance. You can go to the station to buy but do not feel surprised when there is no ticket available. Especially, with privately-run cabins, many tourists and travel agents have bought it in advance, which means there will be only a few of seats left to buy.

How long from Hanoi to Sapa by bus?

Sapa bus

Hung Thanh Bus from Hanoi to Sapa (Source: Internet)

In case you cannot book your train ticket or want to have a cheaper option, taking a bus is an alternative though it is less safe and comfortable than going by train. The most common type of bus has three rows of bunk beds running from the front to the back of the bus and a wide bed at the back. Beds on buses are much smaller than on trains and are not flat. Additionally, the storage is very limited: all bags are put in the under-bus storage. Travelling by bus may also lead to the lack of sleep.

Sapa sleeper car

Sapa Sleeper Car (Source: Internet)

There are some private-owned sleeper buses coming from Hanoi to Lao Cai in both daytime and nighttime. It takes more than 6 hours to reach Lao Cai, and one more hour from Lao Cai to Sapa Town. Buses depart from My Dinh Bus Station and Gia Lam Bus Station and a one-way ticket may cost about VND 300,000. You can book tickets online of some bus operators like Hung Thanh, Inter Bus Lines, EcoSaPa, SaPaExpress, TheSinhTourist, etc.

No matter how you go, once you reach Lao Cai City, all you need to do is to take a transport bus or taxi to Sapa Town. After about 1 hour driving, the beautiful Sapa with spectacular landscapes of hills and colorful terraced rice fields is right in front of your eyes!

Three exotic places to visit in Vietnam

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Let’s, for a minute, forget about all those overused and over-commercialized tourist spaces. If you’re into “real” adventures, I mean the off-the-beaten-track kind of adventures; then you have come to the right place.

Below are the 3 lesser known yet spectacular travel destinations that offer both natural and cultural values. Decide for yourself if you want them to be your next destinations the next time you pay a visit to Vietnam.

 

1. Mu Cang Chai

Mu Cang Chai

Mu Cang Chai (Source: Internet)

What do you love about Sapa? Trekking? Hiking? Homestaying? Cultural traveling? Lush paddy terraced fields? Ethnic-minority markets and dishes? The picturesque Mu Cang Chai has it all to offer, sans the touristy frills.

Situated 300km to the north of Hanoi, at 1000m above the sea level, Mu Cang Chai has one of the most beautiful sites of terraced farmland in Vietnam. The rice terraces spanning over 2,500ha were recognized as national heritage sites in 2007 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. People often call them “The ladders to Heaven”.

Trekking is the best way to explore Mu Cang Chai and admire the pretty villages of Thai tribes and Black Hmong nestling in deep valleys. You have the option of staying overnight in guest houses or hotels, or you can homestay in the villages with the locals.

Mu Cang Chai is magnificent all year round, with endless terraced paddy fields blending harmoniously with the winding mountains and luxuriant forests. But the best time for a Mu Cang Chai excursion is around late September and early October when the ripe season begins and the weather is moderate.

2. Ninh Binh

Van Long Natural Reserve

Van Long Natural Reserve (Source: Internet)

Located 100km to the south of Hanoi, the Ninh Binh boasts of majestic and fascinating natural sceneries. The first imperial capital of Vietnam is such a hidden gem that deserves more attention from international tourists and travelers. It’s no exaggeration to say Ninh Binh is a microcosm of Vietnam.  

Ninh Binh is positively and absolutely one of best places to visit in Vietnam with serene landscapes and the typical rural villages of the Northern region with lush green paddy fields, poetic rivers, and striking landscape outcrops. All the 12 major attractions are on the outskirts: Trang An, Tam Coc, Van Long, and Cuc Phuong. Pretty much anytime is a good time to visit Ninh Binh, maybe you want to watch out for showers and thunderstorms in the typhoon season which occurs from June to August.

Ninh Binh, dubbed as the terrestrial Halong Bay, is the best destination for nature and cultural explorers. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Tam Coc – Bich Dong: The first thing one should ever do in Ninh Binh is to hop on a small rowing boat for a 2-hour journey through Tam Coc (Three Grottoes). The trip will take you through rice paddy fields that are 4constantly changing colors, nestled in the valleys with imposing limestone mountains. You’ll undergo three caves and get to visit Bich Dong Temple.
  • Cultural destinations: Ninh Binh was the once cultural and political center of Vietnam back in 968, hence, the abundance of ancient vestiges. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is home to thousands of vestiges of temples, palaces, tombs, etc. Bai Dinh Pagoda is a complex of both new and ancient pagodas. There is also Phat Diem church which is considered to be the most beautiful church in Vietnam, designed in Vietnamese architecture and built in 24 years with stone and wood.
  • Cuc Phuong National Park: The well-preserved rainforest is a perfect destination for observing the amazingly wide range of animals, hiking, and biking. There are many local tour guides on offer if you’re in need of one.
  • Ninh Binh’s specialty: Com Chay (fried rice) and goat meat are the two most famous and tasty specialties in Ninh Binh.

3. Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc

Coral reef watching (Source: Internet)

Covering a natural area of 593km, the largest island in Vietnam is another less well-trodden destination. Phu Quoc comprises the main island and 21 smaller islets. The “Pearl of the southern sea area” is located in the Gulf of Thailand 45km west of Ha Tien and 15km south of the coast of Cambodia. Even though Phu Quoc is closer to Cambodia than the mainland of Vietnam, it’s only accessible from Vietnam.

Phu Quoc is one of the best places in Vietnam with outstanding beaches, a UNESCO-listed national park that covers over half of it, numerous historical sites and Buddhist shrines, and the best seafood in the country.

Leave all the high-end resorts, luxury dining venues, and top-notch amenities behind; the national park in the northeast with dense rainforests is a must-visit for the best wildlife experience. You can try out many recreational activities here such as bird-watching, hiking, and camping.

Surrounded by bright white sand beaches and turquoise seas, Phu Quoc is sure a paradise for beach babies. There is a collection of activities to keep you occupied and entertained throughout your stay: swimming, diving, snorkeling, coral reef watching, and boat trips. Phu Quoc is also a great place to “feel like a local” and experience life as one: visit the vibrant markets, plant peppers, live in a traditional fishing village, make fish sauce, go fishing with the locals, etc.

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