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Thứ Hai, 31 tháng 8, 2015

Cat Cat Village - Reviews and Tips

VTMECO     20:57  2 comments

Cat Cat Village

Cat Cat Village is about 1 km from Sapa town. It’s located at the bottom of the Muong Hoa Valley and near the stunning Cat Cat Waterfall. This is an age-old village of H’Mong ethnic group remaining unique customs and practices that are lots in other villages.

Cat Cat Village Information

Location: To visit village, you walk through Sapa Market down the valley. Once you walk out of the crowd, you’ll be stunned by the nature’s beauty with high mountains of over 3000 m and the green rice terraces dropping nearly 1000 below. The sun shines across and there are H’Mong houses scattered in the valley

Visitors to Cat Cat have an opportunity to admire a lively and colorful picture. That is the image of young women sitting by looms with colorful pieces of brocade decorated with designs of flowers and birds. When these pieces of brocade are finished, they are dyed and embroidered with beautiful designs. A noteworthy is that H’Mong women use plants and leaves to dye these brocade fabrics. And then they roll a round and smooth section of wood covered with wax on fabrics to polish them, making their colors durable.

In addition to the brocade weaving craft, many residents in Cat Cat are good at manipulating gold and silver jewelry. Their products are fairly sophisticated, especially jewelry for women.

Tourists to Cat Cat are most attracted by its unique customs, including the custom of “pulling wife”. A man can ask his friends to lure a girl he likes to his house and keeps her there in three days. During these days, if the girl agrees to become his wife, a wedding will be held. However, the girl can happily go home after three days if she does not like him.

Traditional houses of H’Mong people in Cat Cat have three rooms with three doors and covered with po mu wood roof. In the house there are three columns that stand in round or square stones. The walls are made from sawn timber. The main door is always closed and only opens when people in the house organize important events. Altar, inlaid floor containing food, places for sleeping, kitchen and receiving guests are indispensable parts of the houses.

Visitors to Cat Cat Village can discover countless unique features of H’Mong people.

Some other articles about Sapa Town

– To travel to Sapa by train from Hanoi on Sapa Travel website

– Trek to the village and home stay with H’mong in Sapa

– Minority market and trek in Sapa

– H’mong Sapa and other hotels in Sapa

– Find your own way of travel or book a package tours in Sapa?

Ban Ho Village - Reviews and Tips

VTMECO     20:54  2 comments
Ban Ho Village, Vietnamese Australian Tran Han expressed his excitement when he walked out of the Lavie Stream in the scenic village Ban Ho, more than 26 kilometers away from the famous resort town of Sapa.

Ban Ho Village Information

Han said swimming in the Lavie was one of many unforgettable memories of his trip to northern Vietnam earlier this year, as the water was fresh and clean in the stream which ran from rocks and hills where a few minority groups live.

Young citizens of Lao Cai Province Vietnam and foreign tourists often trek to Ban Ho to indulge in the pristine Lavie Stream, enjoy the sweet sound of running water from the Ca Nhay Waterfalls and other natural attractions of the tranquil village.

The Lavie Stream, together with Muong Hoa Stream, weaves through boulders, hills, mountains and terraced paddy fields of Tay village, which is nestled in the breathtaking Valley Muong Hoa, adding the finishing touch to the picturesque image of Ban Ho Sapa.

Even though Ban Ho is not too far from the center of Sapa Vietnam not many tourists have visited the village because of the tough approach road, which is under construction and slippery in the rainy season.

However, the village is also accessible by driving from Sapa to Su Pan Village and then trekking 10 kilometers to Ban Ho. Topas is one of a number of tour operators who offer this one-day package, with cost determined by the number of participants.

Ban Ho Village, Ban Ho is worth the somewhat difficult journey to get there, as the village rewards visitors with stunning views of unspoiled sites and an opportunity to discover the daily activities of the ethnic people Tay.

On the way to the waterfalls, which were named by locals after seeing fish jumping out of the water in the old days, visitors will pass brooks gently running down bamboo cylinders that locals use to channel the water into their terraced paddy fields, wooden houses perched on the sides of rolling hills and wild flowers.

When they emerge from the water in the dry season the boulders and stones along the Lavie Stream are artworks that resemble different figures, depending on the imagination of viewers. In the rainy season from May till September visitors can see water flowers created by the splashing water running into the boulders.

The trails and roads from Ban Ho also lead to the quiet Red Dao Village of Nam Toong and other ethnic communities, where trekkers can enjoy the best of Northern Vietnam, such as deep valleys, amazing mountains and simple people.

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Thứ Bảy, 22 tháng 8, 2015

[Tip ]Train to Sapa with

VTMECO     09:12  1 comment
Hi everyone !! ,

  • We just went to sapa for some days, and this are our tips for getting the cheapest train.
  • The best way to go to Lao Cai (en then to sapa) is with a sleeper train.
  • There are 5 trains riding at night. You will find a lot of tourist trains like king express, orient express, etc but actually these are just compartiments of the same train, owned by tourist companies.

  • The cheapest carriage is from vietnam railways itself, but the quality is more or less the same (same type of beds, same size, etc) than those of the tourist trains, but the price of the tourist trains are more than the double! (We paid now for 2 people 2-way tickets 41$, I have asked price at a tourist company and the price for 2 people go and return was 300$, with another company 150$)
  • The website of the vietnam railways (, and not : ) is only available in vietnamese, so the easiest way to book tickets is via a contact person in Vietnam who will book the tickets for you.
  • We have been using and the service was really great. We booked and paid online, one day later we got a mail with voucher from vietnam railways itself. 
  • The only addional costs are 40.000 dong processing fee. (2$) At the station in Hanoi, we showed the voucher at the ticket counter and got the psysical tickets (without anything to pay).
Good service, we only can recommend it
Best regards

Thứ Năm, 19 tháng 2, 2015

Feeling about Hmong Voices at Sapa Culture

VTMECO     17:57  No comments

‘Hmong Voices’ is a project that ‘gives voice’ or a space for Hmong elders and craftspeople in Sa Pa District.
They talk about their understandings of local history and their lives, and explain different traditional crafts.
The project is also a way for younger Hmong men and women working as trekking guides at Sapa to learn more about their heritage, by being a core part of the project.

Listen to Hmong Oral Histories

Watch Videos of Hmong Traditional Crafts 2012

The people and funding behind the project

  • The funding for this came from the National Geographic US Legacy Fund (2013-2014), through a grant designed by Prof Sarah Turner, Department of Geography, McGill University, Canada. 
  • She had a wonderful research assistant, former graduate student Sarah Delisle working with the Sapa Hmong trekking guides in Sa Pa. Our thanks to the whole Sapa O’Chau gang, especially the guides, Sapa founder Ms Shu Tan, and administrative and logistics whiz Ms Dung Ha.
  • If you’d like to read some academic articles about Hmong and other ethnic minorities and their livelihoods in the region, borderland trade, and food security issues, please check out the ‘Minorities in the Southeast Asian Massif Research Lab’.

Itinerary about Bac Ha Market in Sapa Tour at Sunday

VTMECO     17:52  No comments

Description/Itinerary about Bac Ha Market in Sapa Tour at Sunday

Journey : Sapa or Lao Cai —> Bac Ha —> Ban Pho —> Sapa or Lao Cai

Bac Ha Market is held every Sunday and is the biggest minority peoples market in Northwest Vietnam. Alive with the bright colours and extravagant costumes of the local people, here you will meet Flower Hmong (Red Hmong), Black Dao, Tay, Nung, La Chi, Phu La and other minority groups who come from far and wide to buy and sell a wide variety of goods and livestock, to exchange news and to renew friendships.
  • In the past the market was a centre for trading horses but now that motorbikes have replaced them it is more common to see buffalo, cows, goats, fish and other livestock being traded. 
  • The market opens at around 7.30am and closes mid-afternoon, so an early start is advisable. A typical itinerary for a day at Bac Ha would include:
  • Drive to Bac Ha (110km / 2.5 hours from Sapa, or 72km / 1.5 hours from Lao Cai).
  • Take time to wander around the market, enjoy the atmosphere and have fun trying out your trading skills with the friendly local people.
  • Have lunch in a local restaurant where a variety of foods are available for your delectation and delight. You can even try the traditional local lunch of Thang Co (horse stew) and strong corn wine!
  • After lunch you will be driven to Ban Pho village where you can take a short walk around the village where Flower Hmong, Tay and Nung minorities live.

Drive back to Lao Cai or Sapa.

Of course we are more than happy to try and arrange an itinerary which is tailored specifically for your needs. For example, you may wish to visit Can Cau Market on Saturday, have a homestay with local people on Saturday night and then attend Bac Ha Market early on the Sunday morning? 

Thứ Hai, 2 tháng 2, 2015

Ms Thao Thi May talk about Sapa homestays

VTMECO     06:46  2 comments

sapa travel homestays
sapa travel homestays 
Sapa O'Chau homestays allow you to experience the local culture of Sapa and support the local community. Sapa O'Chau helped some of the ethnic minority families to convert their home into a homestay. 
  • Thus you will get an authentic experience of living with the ethnic minority families. To provide some creature comforts for our guests, our homestays are fitted with modern western toilets, hot showers and mattresses.
  • In winter, you will experience how the locals huddle around the stove fire to keep warm. 
  • Your hosts may offer you rice wine, if you are of legal age, to help you keep warm. To keep warm in bed at night, you may ask for more blankets. 
  • The locals do not have the luxury of an electric blanket or radiator to warm their house. The village electricity cannot support these high electricity demand items. 
  • When you trek for more than a day with Sapa O'Chau, homestays are included in the package. Learn more about our homestays below

Ms Thao Thi May talk about sapa tour homestay
Ms Thao Thi May

Hang Lao Chai hamlet - Lao Chai Village

Sapa O'Chau's first Homestay Initiative. Set up in 2009, Ms. Thao Thi May's homestay was the first example of a homestay run by the Black Hmong minority people in Vietnam.
  • Widowed at an early age and with three small children, Ms. Thao Thi May has been able to support herself and her family through the income she earns from this homestay.
  •  Ms. May is energetic, very friendly, speaks good English and will make sure your stay with her is memorable and comfortable.
  • Her homestay sleeps up to 10 people.

Thứ Năm, 22 tháng 1, 2015

Lush green rice field trekking in Sapa, Viet Nam

VTMECO     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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