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Thứ Năm, 22 tháng 1, 2015

Lush green rice field trekking in Sapa, Viet Nam

ĐẠI VIỆT Media     23:17  1 comment




Jumping onto our night train, we were all set for a hectic upcoming few days.


We were heading north, and planned to do some trekking in Sapa, Vietnam, a small town nestled deep within the rolling green highlands of Vietnam. We’d been compelled to go here aftertrekking in Laos and seeing some incredible sights along the way. The next few days would involve a mixture of elation and frustration, as torrential rainfall threatened to derail our trekking adventure, but not enough time to stop us from enjoying the incredible scenery that a trek in Vietnam offers.

First things first, if you’re short on time in Vietnam and you’re fitting a trek into a tight schedule, then you should book yourself onto the night train from Hanoi to Sapa, either independently or as part of a tour. It will save you two nights accommodation (return) and get you there as efficiently as possible.



This will be the start of a very busy couple of days for you! We decided on a three day trek from Sapa, which would eventually involve two overnight trains, two 7-hour treks, two local homestays (including lots of homemade rice wine!) and a nail-biting cliff edge mini-bus journey. Best get started then…
Trekking In Sapa, Vietnam

Our four day adventure began with an overnight train journey. Most cabins are for four people, and we were greeted with a shiny clean cabin with comfortable bunk beds for the night. Knowing we were going to be woken up around 5am on arrival to Sapa, we quickly settled down for an early night to try and get as much sleep as possible for our first day of trekking.


Into the highlands surrounding Sapa, Vietnam

The next morning, we didn’t look or feel as fresh as this picture! With just enough sleep, we dragged ourselves out of bed and set off to meet our tour guide to begin our Sapa trek! This began with a 1 hour mini-bus journey up the beautiful lush green mountains surrounding Sapa, brimming full with healthy rice paddies and gushing waterfalls. The scenery was incredible and really took our breath away, an exciting glimpse of what we had to look forward to exploring over the next two days!



After freshening up with a much needed shower and hearty breakfast at a local hostel, we started our trek with our local guide Zaza and fellow traveller friend Erik. We struck lucky with our small group which meant we were able to go at our own pace. This was especially good given how tough some of the terrain turned out to be.



The first 2 hours of the day were mainly a steep descent through muddy hills which curved and cut through many farm houses, rice paddies and villages. We welcomed our stops along the way to take in the stunning scenery of the many mountains, valleys and local villages. At our first village we observed a local woman dying clothes for local families. Having never witnessed clothes being dyed using natural flowers and techniques before, it was fascinating to learn the process they use and watch the weaving process using this old device. Despite being humble and shy about her skills, she was keen to highlight their local traditions.



We encountered numerous obstacles on our trek: boulders, fallen trees, muddy ditches, and quite a few (very large) water buffalo! You can imagine who had right of way…



In the afternoon, we passed through more villages and met many local people chopping bamboo to build homes and market stalls, making handicrafts such as incense sticks and sometimes negotiating the sale of a water buffalo to another village family. Water buffalo are very expensive animals due to the many roles they adopt on the farm including towing the rice plough, carrying supplies from one village to another, guarding the other farm yard animals and of course providing high protein meat to sell to markets.



After around 6 hours of trekking, the last hour was really tough (as it always seems to be!). With tired legs and steep terrain, we felt the intense heat of the sun beating down on us and struggled to avoid losing our footing and landing in many deep muddy ditches!



We later found out that many local people have to trek this tough terrain on a daily basis to make their way home from work or school, as there aren’t many paths or direct roads. As many can’t afford a car or motorbike, trekking by foot is the only option. With typically a 2 hour trek to most schools in the area, it’s no wonder that many children don’t go at all and would rather spend the day helping their family on the farm or selling handicrafts to passing tourists. After realising this, I decided not to complain about my tired legs and mud covered trainers! I’m not sure I could make this long journey on a daily basis, but this was normality for the strong and resilient village people we met.



After a long day we were relieved to arrive at our final destination. Our home for the night was set deep in a lush green valley next to a large gushing waterfall. After a warm welcome from our lovely host family and a much needed cup of herbal tea, we helped prepare our feast for dinner (well I rolled some spring rolls!) and relaxed our tired limbs with the help of the favourite local drink of choice – homemade rice wine! Some other friendly locals joined us and delighted in leading the consumption of shot after shot, getting progressively more merry. Thankfully for us though, there were no sore heads the next day due to the purity of the homemade liquor process – ideal for our new farmer friends too with a 4am start!



The next morning we woke to heavy rain and flooding in the valley. On came the waterproofs and we set off on another day of trekking. The heavy rain was incessant throughout the morning, and got progressively worse by the afternoon. It didn’t dampen our spirits, as we really enjoyed the coolness of the rain compared to the intense sun we’d experienced the previous day. After a couple of hours we were soaked through to our skin, and decided to embrace the mud! After trying to avoid every mud ditch the previous day, we found ourselves just getting stuck in and got as muddy as we liked as we knew the rain would wash it quickly away! Keen to get to our final destination towards the end of the day, we decided to take as many short cuts as possible and no longer cared about following paths or roads, sometimes finding ourselves almost knee deep in mud sliding down the side of hills and celebrating when we managed to avoid falling down head first!

Our second homestay was even nicer than our first and thankfully had the luxury of a much needed hot shower – result! So after a long soak to heat us up, we were treated to the best tasting hot garlic chips and homemade prawn crackers, followed by a beautiful meal of chicken and pork stir fry with rice and an ice cold Tiger beer – heaven.



The following morning, after another night of solid rain, almost every item of clothing we had with us was damp – yuk! We just couldn’t face putting on damp clothes again so decided on the only rational course of action left to us, to put on our only dry clothes left. Sadly for us, the only dry clothes we had left were our pyjamas! Imagine the sight, each of us walking with backpacks on through the mud to our mini van for a ride we’ll never forget.
The heavy rain of the previous 36 hours caused flash floods from the top of the mountains, crashing across many of the roads we needed to use to get back to Sapa. Our driver had to navigate us along roads that had become rivers, one of which was running so fast we had to drive as close to the cliff edge as possible to avoid the torrent. It was at this moment I closed my eyes and held my breath, too scared to look at Barry!

Relieved to be safely back in the town of Sapa, we wandered around for an hour or so (still in our pyjamas) before the rain returned and we sought refuge in a coffee shop to dry off, relax and reflect upon our amazing adventure of the last three days, an experience we’ll never forget.

For anyone thinking of visiting Vietnam, we’d highly recommend a trip to Sapa in the North if you’d like to experience rural life, awesome landscapes and savour a taste of the true culture and traditions of the Vietnamese countryside and its amazing people. We trekked with Ethnic Travel, who arranged our trains as well as the trek and homestays and made the whole experience simple for us. Not so sure about trekking? Check out our more relaxing experience of our Halong Bay cruise! Now that was a lot more comfortable…
Looking For Accommodation In Vietnam?

If you’re looking for some accommodation options in Sapa or elsewhere in Vietnam, we recommend you check out Agoda. Whenever we’re making plans for a new destination, we always research the accommodation options first to check what’s available. That’s just our travel style. If you want to get an idea for accommodation in Sapa, or anywhere else in Vietnam, check out the options below!


Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means if you choose to book somewhere though our link, we receive a small commission. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything more! It just contributes to the running of this site, meaning we can continue to blog about our adventures around the world!
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Thứ Năm, 13 tháng 3, 2014

How to get around in SAPA Tour

ĐẠI VIỆT Media     11:02  No comments

Guide to get around IN SAPA
Anywhere in the main village of Sapa can be reached on foot, and the town is small enough that you're not likely to get lost. A basic map will be good enough for most travellers.



The way to CatCat is taxed 40,000 dong,while the way to Ban Ho & Lao Chai villages are taxed 40,000 dong in one ticket. The way to Ta phin village is taxed 20,000 dong as well.


  • Tourists intending to trek to the various villages through the paddy fields should be prepared with good trekking shoes or rubber boots, a walking stick and extra clothing kept in a waterproof bag. 
  • Depending on the season, the rice fields, which are build in terraces, can be very muddy and slippery. If one does not wear shoes which enables a good grip in mud, one is likely to keep slipping and falling or even sliding down the slopes!
  •  As the paths are also taken by water buffalos, excrement can be found everywhere. 
  • Walking sticks can be bought from children from the ethnic minority groups at about 5,000 dong. These enterprising children cut sturdy bamboo and sharpen one end to turn them into sturdy sticks.
For the less adventurous, some of the villages, such as Sin Chai Village, is accessible via jeep, motorcycle and van.


  • Renting motorcycle (MC) in Sapa is real challenge. The operator (18-20 yrs old boy) wants your passport as the gaurantee, or $250 deposit. However, be careful about handing out your passport.

  • Price of renting is around $4 - $7 depend on gear/automatic, engine size, new/old model. One day rental time is from morning until evening of the same day. 
  • You must return MC around 6 pm, though 7pm can be agreed in advance. 
  • Sapa is the mountain town. So the sun comes down pretty fast. When the sun goes below the mountain line, the temperature drops pretty fast, as well as light. So if you take MC, better go as-far-as-possible places, then bike-back-and-stop-for-sightseeing tempo.



Don't rely on your expertise of MC control. Use common sense and drive safe.


Mountain Dirt is not delicious. Doctor is none. Emergency support is none. And if accident occurs while you're in nowhere, no one'll know where you're. Drive slowly. Downhill at 15-20 km/hr is the safest bet. Horning every corner.
DO NOT FORGET TO WEAR THE HELMET AT SAPA ROAD !

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