the most interesting areas of Vietnam must surely be the north-west, a
region of rugged, mountainous terrain and rice terraces, populated by
the colorful Montagnards, the name bestowed upon the ethnic hill tribes
by the French. The town of Sapa is a popular destination for tourists.
Many visitors arrive at the weekend to coincide with Sapa's main market.
The local women and children flock into town to sell their produce and
wares. Tourists snap up the cheap hand-embroidered clothing and
textiles. They discover only at a later date that the indigo dye favored
by the Black H'mong people is not set, their bodies exhibiting a deep
shade of blue. Far more fun, however, is to leave the town and visit the
people in their villages, trekking through the rice terraces with the
opportunity to spend a night at a home-stay.
From Sa Pa, the road leads through Muong Hoa valley that features the
famous ancient rock field and Mount Fansipan in the distance. A trip
usually lasts 3-4 days, every day walking about 5 hours, it's harder day
after day, sometime one has to crawl up the steps, climbing through the
hills and mountains.
At lunch time and evening, you can stop in the wooden floor of the Tay,
Red Dao, Xa Pho ... in the village of Ho, Thanh Phu, Sin Chai, massage
your feet as if they are not yours. In trips, guests can visit the class
in the forest, and swim in the springs...
Evening time is ideal for camping in the mountains, burn a fire and
play, listen to music of ethnic groups. When tired they go to sleeping
bag to keep warm, convenient and keeps insects away.
The home-stay is definitely not for the traveler who cannot live without
their modern conveniences but it offers an excellent opportunity for
those who want to experience a more gentle way of life.
The government is very strict about tourists wandering off on their own
so you need to register with a local travel operator who will obtain the
necessary permits and assign a guide to take you from one village to
Homestays in the villages are basic so don't expect amenities like hot
water and heaters. All you will get is a thin mattress to sleep on and a
mosquito net to ward off mossies. On cold nights, your only comfort will
be a thick blanket. The toilet is usually an old hut a few metres away
where a bucket awaits you. Sometimes it's easier doing your business out
in the open.
Meals are usually prepared by your guide, and you better pray that he or
she is a good cook. Dinner can take an awfully long time as the
villagers use coal or wood to start the fire. Water and electricity is
available in most of the villages and you can usually find a shop
Can Cau market
Cat Cat village
Ham Rong mountain
Hmong King palace
Ta Phin village
Ta Van and Lao Chai villages
Coc Ly market
Tram Ton pass