For the next part of Munji’s Vietnam adventure we headed to the green mountains of northwestern Vietnam, Sapa. The town overlooks terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley.
After absorbing culture in Hoi An, getting down and dirty in mud caves in Phong Nha and partying until the early hours of the morning in Hanoi, clean fresh air and a good hike was exactly what we needed. Sapa was the place for exactly that.
Getting to Sapa town was easy, we got a bus from Hanoi city centre.
Tip: to make sure you get a good seat on the bus, arrive for the departure early!
Another note, it’s not a very comfortable ride, especially if you’ve got normal / longer than normal sized legs. It can also get very cold with the air con, there’s no toilet on board and the lighting makes you feel like you’re in a night club. So you might want to bear that in mind.
As soon as we got off the bus in Sapa town we were bombarded by local women asking if we wanted a room at their homestay. After telling them several times that we had already booked somewhere and we were waiting for a taxi, they then went on to try and sell us all kinds of souvenirs.
After an awful sleep on the bus and still feeling rather groggy, being pressured to buy things at 6am in the morning was very, very annoying. If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a morning person. I hate being woken up, and when I do I’m in no mood to talk straight away.
But after this encounter, the day did get better.
After hearing that Sapa town was very touristy we decided to stay slightly further out of town. 8.9km outside to be precise, in the province of Lao Cai.
We got to the homestay, which turned out to be slightly less authentic than expected, but none the less very reasonable for what we paid. It was around £13 for a one night stay for the two of us in a private room. The bathroom is shared with other travellers and a family dinner was also included in the price.
Munji doesn’t eat meat, so while she was visiting me I also didn’t eat meat. Being vegetarian was surprisingly quite easy. I thought it would be difficult at the homestay, but they were very accommodating and there was plenty of food to go around.
Sapa is a popular trekking destination for backpackers and holiday-makers. We only had one night to spend here, so arriving at 6am meant we ought make the most of our time. After putting our bags down and checking in we took an hour nap, had a little bite to eat for breakfast, and then reluctantly decided to embark on a 7 hour trek.
At the time it wasn’t our greatest idea, seeing as we were both still half asleep, but looking back it was the best decision we’d made on the whole trip.
Most of the town’s population is made up of hill tribes; the Black Hmong, Tay and Dao. The homestay had arranged a trek for us with a local tour guide who was from the Black Hmong tribe. The guide had great English and was able to tell us a lot of information about Sapa and other nearby villages.
If you’re wanting more of a hiking challenge there’s always the 3,143m tall Fansipan peak. It’s the highest mountain in Indochina and is climbable over several days. Or you could just get a cable car to the top.
Check out more beautiful views of Sapa in the video below.
Apart from hikes and trekking there are other things you can do in Sapa. Even though we were short for time we managed to squeeze in a handicraft workshop with a local tribe family. It was an authentic experience which taught us how the people of the Black Hmong make and design their special clothing for the new year ahead.
And here are some more photos of the stunning Sapa views and cute little kiddies we met on our travels.
Have you been to Sapa? What was your experience like? Leave a comment below.
Thanks for stopping by!
Current location: At school, blogging before my first lesson of the day.