Sapa – a pearl in the mountains

Located 350km from Hanoi in the Northwest Vietnam, the heart of a beautiful valley about thirty kilometers from the Chinese border, Sapa is a former resort of the colonial era dating back from 1922. Surrounded by mountains that the French had nicknamed “Tonkin Alps”, Sapa is dominated by the Vietnam peak: Mount Fanxipan
Sapa is one of the 10 places suggested by the famous American travel magazine Lonely Planet as an ideal destination for travelling, especially for its beneficial effect on earth.

Sapa is a magical city lost in the mist. Located at an average altitude of 1500m – 1800m, the climate in Sapa is almost moderate, with an average temperature of 15-18oC. The rainy season lasts from May to late August. The best time for tourists to travel in Sapa is from September to November and March to May. At this time, the weather is quite stable. It’s dry with sunny days, cool nights. In April and May, Sapa is filled with colors of flowering and green fields.
Walks around Sapa are organized to hamlets with a local guide and we can meet villagers as well as easily ommunicate with them.

By observing the pictures, you can realize the extreme wealth that unveils Sapa with traditional costumes: bags with red pompoms, lovely silver earrings and lovely children coming your way in a bucolic setting.
As in other parts of Asia, outside influences have gradually eroded the rich cultural identity of so many Vietnamese ethnic minority. Few of them still wear traditional costume, with the exception of women from remote villages in the far north. If the introduction of electricity, of modern medical and education represents undeniable progress, this development is unfortunately accompanied by the abandonment of the ancient traditions.
Almost daily, the mountaineers don their most shimmering costumes and make way to Sapa market. On Saturday, the animation reaches its peak. You can observe the peasants from the market and returning to their villages and hamlets located mostly within 3km of the city.
Located on the main square of the village with stairs around, the big market is on Saturday: most of the region’s ethnic groups come to sell their products. Black H’Mong people are recognizable to the majority lovely silver buckles worn by women in their ears (sometimes several superimposed).

There are also the love games for adolescent girls of marriageable age (13-15 years): dressed in their finest clothes that are different from those of married women, they find themselves at nightfall in the corners of the market, not for selling trinkets to tourists, but to meet and get to know the boys safe from prying eyes if possible. This is called Sapa “love market at night”. For this courtship, young boys wear up to three turbans around their heads. This ritual is far from simple folk but quite essential for the social cohesion of these groups. This is a determining fact in the group’s reproductive system to avoid inbreeding.
Vietnamese minorities enjoy full autonomy and although the official national language is Vietnamese, children continue to learn their own language. Police and military are often owned by local ethnic groups, well represented in the national Assembly in Hanoi. To feel the beauty of the landscapes in Sapa, tourists must walk through rice terraces extending over the mountain slopes.
Favorite sites:
Rose Valley: It has an area of about 22ha, situated in a valley created by two mountains Ham Rong and Fanxipan. It is a green tourism with nearly a million roses, peaches, plums, almonds, etc. There is a resort consisting of 11 restored wooden floors located in the midden of French rose gardens. All these houses have a view of the Lao Chai valley with terraced fields creating a magical image. If you arrive in Rose Valley between March and November, you will enjoy the scent of million roses that bloom each morning. In winter, the garden of peaches, plums give you the impression of traveling in Japan on the occasion of the Lunar New Year.

Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall): Located at an altitude of 150m, Thac Bac is thrown into O Qui Ho stream to enter Muong Hoa River. Flowing along Muong Hoa Valley, it reaches Red River and is thrown into East Sea via Hanoi.

Cat Cat Village: A village of H’Mong people famous for beautiful golden streams and esoteric blacksmith. The Cat Cat Hydropower Plant was built in Sapa in 1940. Tourists can taste the specialties of the area around the fire listening to the stories of local residents.

Cong Troi (Heaven Gate): Located on the border of Sapa and Lai Chau district, this place offers great views in Mount Fanxipan and O Qui Ho valley. This is the only way to stroll through Binh Lu. You can see and watch the roof of Indochina; Mount Fanxipan is always covered with clouds.
Muong Hoa Valley: The largest and most beautiful valley of Sapa with prosperous villages and terraced fields that extend along the Muong Hoa River.

Ancient Rocks: Hundreds of sandstone rocks with carved figures and strange signs that we can not yet identify. Alongside this ancient cult, recent excavations have shown that people started living in Sapa centuries ago.
Stone Church: It was built in 1935 by Father Ramond. In 1945, it was bombed by the French. Today, only the tower is still standing. The courtyard in front of the church is the place where people buy, sell, exchange, discuss and relax.

Ham Rong Mountain: An average mountain behind Sapa in shape of dragon mouth. We can reach the top of the mountain in 15 minutes. We discover the garden of old peach trees, the orchids and finally thousands of strange stone towers. From there, one can see the town of Sapa and the immense size of Hoang Lien Son mountain.

Ta Phin Cave: This is the largest and most mysterious cave of Sapa located next to Ta Phin village of the Dao ethnic minority, which have beautiful embroidered clothes. It is lined with green pine forests that cover large slopes.
During your visit to Sapa, you can not exclude yourself from Ta Phin village. This village is 17km east of Sapa city center. Tourists are attracted by beautiful landscapes and cultural traditions preserved by the people or by the embroidery business. Embroidery is an original feature of ethnic groups in Sapa. Embroidery products are very diverse: there are images of plants, flowers and animals. The ability of H’Mong and Dzao women enables the creation of highly refined products that are loved by all Vietnamese and foreign tourists. These are really very meaningful gifts for visitors to Sapa

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