Tucked in the eastern end of the Himalayas, in Lao Cai province, lies the culturally diverse town of Sapa, one of Vietnam’s hidden gems. The region is home to five ethnic groups — the H’mong, Yao, Tay, Zay, and Xa Pho — whose members live in hamlets and small villages, in the surrounding area. The native groups growing corn and rice on sloping terraces in the mountains. Despite modern technological advances, these ethnic minorities have preserved their customs and culture, continuing on with their daily habits.
Originally, the French built up Sapa as a summer resort with colonial villas for guests to rest and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Today, it is a tourist’s paradise, where visitors can bask in the sun and nap the day away, but also trek into the hills and learn about the ethnic groups.
There are five adventures visitors must consider when visiting Sapa. Each one of them promises to be educational and unforgettable.
Visit the Ethnic Villages
|Ethnic Villages in Vietnam|
One of the most interesting things to do in Sapa is to take a tour out to the surrounding villages and visit the ethnic minority groups. Some villages are accessible by motorized vehicle; others are reachable only on foot. It is fascinating to communicate with the locals and learn about the way they live. Their unique cultures have been maintained after all these years. Don’t forget to note how various tribes farm the mountainous terrain with such steep slopes.
Hang Out at a Local Market
That’s right. It is quite an experience to not just shop at a local market, but to spend the time hanging out and socializing with the natives. Dressed in tribal costumes, locals gather to sell their products, ranging from rice and vegetables to livestock and handicraft. Once products are sold, the fun begins. The men congregate to drink corn wine and tell stories, while the women and children eat noodle soup and make new friends from other tribes.
Join a Trekking Tour
One of the best ways to see in the views of the Sapa region is to join up with a trekking tour. Although there are day-tours for people to visit the ethnic villages, a trekking tour is longer than a day, and visitors actually stay the night with the natives. Adventure-seekers can enjoy the beautiful landscapes as they trek from village to village, learning about their diverse cultures. This is an adventure not to be missed.
Rent a Scooter
For those who would rather go on their own adventures, renting scooters and riding into the hills is a great way to take in the views and marvel at the wonders of nature. It is always fun to stop at local eateries and check out the shopping scene. Be cautious, however, as some roads are not paved and can turn a calm scooter ride into an exhilarating adventure.
Relax at the Spa
After participating in the physical adventures, it is always nice to have the option of being pampered with massages, manicures, pedicures, and facials. At the Victoria Sapa Resort and Spa, the only luxury hotel in the area, guests can relax the day away while enjoying the serene surroundings. In addition to the basics, the spa also offers reflexology and body wraps.
A trip to Sapa, Vietnam is sure to be an adventure of a lifetime. Situated roughly 350 km from Hanoi, along the Chinese border, Sapa is an item that should be considered on every adventurer’s bucket list of must-visit places.