Picture fold after fold of mountains and valleys, add lush green rice terrace cascading down the hills, nowdraw a sea of mist rolling from the peak of the mountains down to the valley with sparkling stream flowing through. Located in northwest Vietnam’s amidst enchanting mountain ranges, Sapa is home to Vietnam’s ethic minorities, including Hmong, Dzao, and Yao. It is a colourful and charming market town, but it is known to discerning adventurers as Vietnam’s premier trekking base and the oasis of surreal sceneries.
SA PA TOWN
Nested under the shadow of Fansipan Mountain, Vietnam’s highest mountain, Sa Pa town amazingly command spectacular views of plunging valley and mountains towering above on all sides. Sa Pa was virtually non- existed on the map until the French arrived, fell in love with the town’s natural beauty, and fresh and cool climate, and developed the town as a summer resort to escape the summer heat. Sadly, French colonial villas were damaged beyond repair during the resistant war against the French and the town went into a deep sleep, Sapa work up to welcome the first batch of tourists in early 1990s and it quickly developed into a large town to serve the booming tourism.
The town is well maintained in its own charms and the surroundings are harmoniously preserved. From the top of Ham Rong Mountains, a perfect panorama view of the town open wide with colourful local hill – tribe people and lovely architectures and buildings under the shades of pine trees which centered around the Church and market place. But you’re not here to hang out in town because once you’ve stepped out into the lush fields you’ll understand the Sa Pa’s real charm.
Depending on your fitness, Sa Pa offers a wide range of trekking trip from a half day trekking to an overnight or a 3 days tour. A leisure half day tour to Cat Cat village, just 3 km south of Sa Pa, is a very popular activity, but if you really want to experience the ethnic minority group, Ta Phin village trail lies just 10 km from Sa Pa . Tourists usually catch a xe om, local motorbike taxi, to the starting point and trek through a 14 km route which passes through Black Hmong and Red Dzao villages, the 2 largest ethnic groups in Sa Pa. Try their much praised green tea and learn their rich traditions. To get the most out of the experience, hire a local guide, especially for an overnight trip.
For extraordinary views, Tram Ton Pass lies 1900 meters above sea level, making it the highest mountain pass in Vietnam. Often referred to as “Heaven Gate,” Tram Ton pass boasts picturesque landscapes and magnificent views that resemble the gate to Heaven. You’ll be surrounded by almost vertical rice terraces and stunning mountain peaks with regular mists hovering on them. Besides fantastic scenic point, the 100 meter tall Thac Bac Waterfall, or the Silver Waterfall, is also a popular en route attraction. Interestingly, Tram Ton Pass acts as the border between 2 weather fronts; on the Sapa side, it’s often cold and foggy, but drop a few hundred meters onto the Lai Chau side, and it can be sunny and warm.