We arrived in a small country town with the most vivid green mountains and the most interesting view of agriculture. Sapa is a small town in northwestern Vietnam and about an hour from the Chinese border. It’s a place full of charm and somewhat of a French influence. The small town itself has some French architecture, but once outside of the small town full of markets, restaurants and hotels, another world awaits.
Just outside of Sapa town are beautiful mountains, forests, creeks and rivers where many different ethnic minorities live. The most well known minority is the Black Hmong tribe. They’re known for their beautiful Mongolian-like dresses and their traditional colorful headdresses. But, they’re also known for being pleasantly persistent when they are trying to sell you something. As in any other third-world country, they use the cute children to try to sell their precious hand-made items. At other times, some of the women would let us take pictures of them, and then they would follow us throughout our trek and make us buy something from them at the end. But, they were really nice and helped me up and down the mountain when I needed it.
Another beautiful sight of the area around Sapa is the way they grow rice. It looks like steps of green grass from the bottom of the mountains to the top. But, it’s really rice that they grow on the sides of the mountains. They plant the rice in this manner so that the rice holds the water. In this part of Vietnam, they can only harvest rice once a year, while in the Mekong Delta they harvest rice three times a year. It’s just too cold here after the summer and rainy season, our tour guide said.
Our tour guide was really great. His English was amazing and he had a great personality. Hien taught us a lot of the area and was really great to be around for the two-day tour. We booked our tour through our hostel where we stayed in Hanoi, Hanoi Backpackers Hostel. The tour consisted of two days and three nights. For two nights, we slept on the train and for the night in Sapa, we stayed in a family’s house. It also included two breakfasts, two lunches, and one home cooked dinner. The total cost was $110, but it was totally worth it.
Pictures to come and more posts about Hanoi and Ha Long Bay as well!