Trekking in Sa Pa

by Amar R November. 05, 2017 8985 views

Sa Pa is a small hill town in north west of Vietnam close to China border. Identified by French in late 18th century as a potential hill station,it has become a tourist destination now. Several ethnic minority groups lives in Lao Cai Province and Sa Pa is their only market town. Trekking in Sa Pa valley and an overnight stay will give an insight about their culture and day life.

There are lot of bus operators from Hanoi to Sapa and there is an overnight train as well. It took 5:30 hours to reach Sa Pa from Hanoi via bus and upon on arrival was transferred to Golden Villa hotel who organizes the trek by coordinating with village trek guides. After a quick lunch, receptionist handed over the map and explained the itinerary.

Sa Pa - Trek Map

Sa Pa - Trek Map

Day's itinerary is simple,need to walk around 10 KM via Cat Cat - Linh Ho - Lao Chai and reach Ta Van village for dinner in a homestay. From the hotel,village guide took in charge of the trek and after waiting for others to join,we started as a group and introduced each other on the way .

Hiking towards Lao Chai

Hiking towards Lao Chai

Afternoon was so cloudy that we couldn't see any clear view. From a distance we were able to view a glimpse of next village which we will be crossing in an hour or so. Our guide was a village girl named Quuin and along the way interacted with her to know about the region.

Sa Pa Valley

Sa Pa Valley

This province is a land of ethnic minority groups and agriculture is their main occupation. They don't have access to higher education,health care or other works. Its common to do early marriage and have 5-6 children in homes to assist in agriculture. They need to go for Sa Pa town market for selling their agri products,handicrafts etc.

Lao Cai to Ta Van

Lao Cai to Ta Van

There is only one primary school in this region. Just by interacting with foreigners they have picked up English language and developed trekking-home stay as business by coordinating with hotels in Sa Pa town. We can find that all the trek groups are being led by girls.

Village School

Village School

On the way we can find some native tribal women walking along with tourists. In-fact they help us by holding our hands while crossing any slippery paths or rocks with the only hope that you will buy something from them in end :)

Indigenous people

Indigenous people

Around 5:30 we reached the Ta Van village. It was getting dark and we still need to trek for an hour to reach our home-stay. Sunrise happens early here and villagers leave early for work and return from fields by afternoon.

Ta Van Village

Ta Van Village

The old women who walked along stopped at village entrance and sold their handicrafts.They can't walk all the way along since there will be women in next village who will be walking along with you further :)

Village women selling handicrafts

Village women selling handicrafts

When we entered the village, kids welcomed us with a high five and greeted with smile. All the young girls work as trek guide, old women do agriculture, handicrafts but none remain idle.

Girl taking care of her brother

Girl taking care of her brother

We reached our home stay around 7 and the owner received us with welcome drink. After refresh we had a good traditional Vietnamese dinner. Rice wine was the native specialty in dinner and they call it as holy water :) After dinner we played cards and had fun.

Dinner at home stay

Dinner at home stay

Next day early morning ,went out for a walk with the hope of taking some photographs as i was little upset the day before for not able to view anything clear because of clouds.

Terraced Rice Fields

Terraced Rice Fields

Unlike the first day, early morning blue hour walk turned out to be a good one. Able to shoot some landscapes and witness village chores. After playing with homestay owner's hyper active kid Meu for a while,returned to home stay to wake others.

Innocent Smile - Meu

Innocent Smile - Meu

After breakfast we started walking uphill. Day2' itinerary is that we continue walking via Dzao villages Giang Ti chai - Thanh Kim (H'mong Dazo) .

Trek towards Dzao

Trek towards Dzao

This province acts as a rice bowl for Vietnam. You can have a good view of terraced rice fields in Dzao villages. Terraced farming reduces soil erosion and conserves soil and water.

Plains of Sa Pa

Plains of Sa Pa

You can also opt for biking but it is little risky since the path is narrow and you need to have absolute control in slopes. It will be fascinating to see locals riding bikes in small narrow roads with great control and speed.

Villager riding downhill

Villager riding downhill

Due to early sunrise,villagers head to work very early around 6 AM and return back from fields during lunch since it will be cloudy in afternoon or it might rain. At times it might even snow during late December.

Dzao Fields

Dzao Fields

On the way crossed a small waterfall which is the main water source for the region. Sat here for a while and continued walking.

Dzao Waterfall

Dzao Waterfall

Later our guide took us to her house and introduced her family. As a trek guide she needs to walk daily from here to Sa Pa town to receive tourists. !

Quinn's home

Quinn's home

Villagers rely on buffaloes for milk and agriculture help. They treat them as an asset . You can spot big buffaloes and small pig farms all along the way.

Village Buffaloes

Village Buffaloes

After tea at her home,we thanked the family for their warm welcome and continued uphill towards bamboo forest.

Quinn - Our Guide

Quinn - Our Guide

We have almost reached end of the trek. We just need to cross this bamboo trail to reach the village. The trail was so slippery that i fell twice. You just need to hop between mud and rocks to descend down.

Bamboo trail

Bamboo trail

Finally we reached the Rattan hanging bridge across which we can enter the H'mong Dazo village. You can have a good view of river and plains from this bamboo bridge. They are constructing a dam across this river.

Rattan Bridge

Rattan Bridge

Like yesterday, today also village women gave a helping hand in slippery trails and they do expect you to buy some handicrafts from them else some might won't oblige for photographs.

Dzao woman

Dzao woman

We had our lunch at a small shop in the village. Later a van took us to the hotel in Sa Pa town. There we thanked and bid adieu to our guide . After a quick shower we were ready to leave for Hanoi. Receptionist gave us our bus tickets and came all the way to see us aboard. Their hospitality was overwhelming.

Reminiscing faces

Reminiscing faces

so that's it.. bus reached Hanoi back around 9 Pm. If time permits you can explore the town and visit Sa Pa market on sunday,where ethnic groups from all the villages gather to sell their products. Ideally two day trek is sufficient but if you want to spend more time with native people and go for longer treks you can customize and extend your stay in Sa Pa .

I would highly recommend my operator SVIET Travel for their hospitality and promptness in service.

Your feedback and comments are greatly appreciated.

See you soon with next travel post from Vietnam Trip

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There are 21 comments , add yours!
Oppuku Chappani 8 months ago

#11 Brilliant capture.

8 months ago Edited
Amar R Replied to Oppuku Chappani 6 months, 1 week ago

Thanks

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
Dominika Pluta 1 year, 7 months ago

Beautiful puctures!

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Amar R Replied to Dominika Pluta 1 year, 7 months ago

Thanks Dominika .

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Jean-Michel Laurenti 1 year, 7 months ago

Thanks for the nice moment you just offered me, I enjoyed the images as much as the text!

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Amar R Replied to Jean-Michel Laurenti 1 year, 7 months ago

Thanks a lot Jean:)

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Joe Zink 1 year, 7 months ago

Love #11!
Great atmosphere and lighting

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Amar R Replied to Joe Zink 1 year, 7 months ago

Thanks Joe !

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Dany 1 year, 7 months ago

Belles prises de vues qui nous font voyager à l'autre bout du monde.

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Amar R Replied to Dany 1 year, 7 months ago

Merci Dany :)

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
John Wilson 1 year, 7 months ago
Comment was removed by admin
1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Amar R Replied to John Wilson 1 year, 7 months ago

Thanks John,glad to know that post is helpful. Sa Pa is a must visit if you plan for North Vietnam +1

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Alexis Burkland 1 year, 7 months ago

These are wonderful! I love how you captured the people and landscapes with stunning beauty~

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Amar R Replied to Alexis Burkland 1 year, 7 months ago

That's encouraging ! thanks Alexis :)

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Alexis Burkland Replied to Amar R 1 year, 7 months ago

No problem! keep up the good work~

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Daanish Farhan 1 year, 7 months ago

Those landscapes are so magnificent

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Amar R Replied to Daanish Farhan 1 year, 7 months ago

Thanks Daanish !

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Daanish Farhan Replied to Amar R 1 year, 7 months ago

You're absolutely welcome smile

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Heike 1 year, 7 months ago

All this photos are amazing !! Chapeau !!!

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Amar R Replied to Heike 1 year, 7 months ago

Thanks Heike !

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Goshaa 1 year, 7 months ago

WOW! Great trip! Bravo for pictures and writing. Greetings. Maggie

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
Amar R Replied to Goshaa 1 year, 7 months ago

Thanks :)

1 year, 7 months ago Edited
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