“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember and remember more than I have seen ~Benjamin Disraeli”
Sapa, a hidden gem at the north-west of Hanoi, Vietnam is famous for its amazing rice terrace, friendly people and beautiful treks. If you want to trek at Sapa rice terrace, the best way to get there is to take the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. Sapa is about 38 km from Lao Cai railway station and can be easily reached from there by bus, jeep or taxi in about 50 minutes. There are both daytime and overnight sleeper trains between Hanoi and Lao Cai, but we took a night train from Hanoi and reached Lao Cai station in the morning of the following day.
From the train station, we made a trip to Sapa by a mini bus. While on the bus, a female travel agent approached and persuaded us for 2 days one-night trekking program in Sapa. We agreed as it is worth for the small fee.
The day set with drizzle. Light rain falling in very fine drops. The journey moved on. Our local female guides are ready at the hotel lobby. We were here after the harvest season but Sapa never lost its charm. We walked through the morning mist crossing the market, villages, river and paddy fields. What a beautiful place to be.
Once established as a hill station by the French in 1922, Sapa is very popular with trekkers; it overlooks the terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley. We trekked through a steep and muddy trek. It’s advisable to be here from March to May or from September to November when the weather is relatively stable with sunny days, cool nights and beautiful treks with the green and yellowish rice fields between September and October.
Along the trek, you can’t avoid local traders selling their woven bracelet, blanket, pants and many handmade crafts. Other than joining the guided trek, this is another way for you to support the locals.
Amazingly, H’mong, Tay and Dao hill tribes that we met along the trek are very photogenic. This is a good place for travel photographer indeed. Some of the kids in traditional costume are very fluent in English, which made our conversation more interesting.
When the sun almost set, we stopped at a wooden homestay located in the middle of the rice field. We stayed here for a night. While resting, the homeowner was preparing delicious meals for dinner. In less than an hour, the food was ready and all the guests were happy enjoying the moment, food and chats before getting into beds.
The next day, we continued the walk in the early morning. As usual, we walked up and down through the rice field, crossing small rivers, smiles at the locals and recording our adventures with our cameras. We ended the day at Sapa shopping at the local market before descending to Lao Cai train station and heading south to Hanoi on the same night for another adventure.
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