I'm a brand new member, planning to go to VN in Nov/Dec this year and have tons of questions. For now, I'm gathering the info to map up our trip. I'd appreciate any help from anyone.
First question: I've heard a market in Sapa called "Cho Tinh," meaning "dating or love market." Is it true that something like that is still existing while Sapa is flooded with tourists?
More questions will be coming.....
Thanks for a wonderful website. I've read most of the questions and reply from the forum for the last few days. Will construct my trip and "submit" for comments.
#1 VanVan has been a member since 11/9/2007. Posts: 9
Yes, the Love market occurs every Saturday in Sapa. However, to get a genuine feel of Sapa, (my favourite place when I visited Vietnam) it's much better to visit during the week and avoid the weekends when Sapa is flooded by tourists and tour groups. Also, on the weekend, hostel rates are higher.
#2 rakhee2108 has been a member since 8/3/2007. Posts: 55
Relationship market(I prefer this name ) occurs around old Church in Sapa. This is the place where the ethnic people come there to find their partner through their folk song.
But it was changed by tourist. Many curious travelers come there to watch it. So the ethnic people are divided into small groups around Sapa town. Real market doesn't exit in Sapa now. So don't expect too much on this, just save ur time and explore beautiful landscapes and colourful ethic in and around Sapa town.
I recommend U such as: Ham Rong mountain, Ho village, Ta Phin village, silver waterfall....
#3 manooe has been a member since 12/9/2007. Posts: 34
Since 1990, when the market lived up to its name, things have progressively degraded from music played on instruments to cassette recordings to pure exploitation.
Didn't help that tourists showed up touting large, flash equipped cameras, this practically finished the market and the 'love' market moved off site in to other, more private venues.
There is another market, that occurs annually, which has passed and will not occur for several months yet.
Meanwhile, you might enjoy other markets in the area - Bac Ha, etc.
For tour guides, you might be interested in the following:
SA PA GUIDES
Some guides are SO or TUNG (a Black H'Mong) located through Sa Pa Goldsea Hotel, < firstname.lastname@example.org >, 58 Fanxipan Road, Tel: 84-(0)-20-872-180 / 84-(0)-20-871-869. E-m:email@example.com.
Villages worth visiting are Cat Cat, GiangTaChai, TaPhin, YLinhHo, HauThao, SuPan (easily the most beautiful village in Sapa area).
Another excellent guide is "Thanh-Sa Pa" < firstname.lastname@example.org >, guiding for over 6 years and has good English. An enterprising guy, he has a tour that includes night 1 in Tavan, Dzay People, night 2 in Seo Trung Ho, Red Dzao, night 3 Ban Ho, Tay People, night 4,5 in Sa Pa, day 6 is for the Montagnard market.
At the Mountain View Hotel there is a Mrs. Hong there who runs a guide service. Many of them are female and young but are very experienced in showing visitors around. For Mount PhanXiPan climbers she has a man named Chang - he is strong enough to assist the weary climbers. Always ask for the long route to the top - the short one is too steep.
But on ALL accounts avoid guides from the Victoria! (expensive - and the Victoria Hotel itself - aging).
Note: You MUST employ a guide if you climb Mount FanSiPan as ONLY they can obtain the required climbing permit from the police. Do NOT worry if the guide appears young, or female, as they all have excellent guiding skills and are likely stronger than you!
And ALL your money helps the locals rather than enriching some cowboy in Ha Noi.
There is regular Sunday bus to Bac Ha from Sa Pa but you can get there by local bus from Lao Cai. There are over 600 hotel rooms of all types in Bac Ha - just make sure you are not too near a street loudspeaker as the chair of the Lao Cai Peoples Committee believes in only setting the volume at high!
Remember Friday and Saturday rates for hotels, etc are higher than the rest of the week. Book your rail reservation at least two days ahead at 120 La Duane - and avoid Ha Noi agent markups and the chance of a different class of service.
ALSO avoid the Queen Hotel in Sa Pa due to continuing thefts from baggage allegedly by 'senior management', as well as the Mountain Hotel for other reasons.
Do NOT use a Ha Noi tour op, they only offer poorer services than the locals.
IF you are going to HA LONG BAY, book your cruise first, then book your Sa Pa train trip for the night of your return from HLB - the Lao Cai (Sa Pa) trains require 2-3 days advance reservation.
#4 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
Thank you all for your informative reply. I didn't understand exactly what the nature of the "love market." Just because someone said it's a "must" in Sapa and the name sounded interesting to me.
Now that I understand, I won't bother them even if I go there at the right time.
#5 VanVan has been a member since 11/9/2007. Posts: 9
Sa Pa is worth the trip even forgetting the so called 'love' market - it was actually more than a meeting place for singles, also for married people, too.
Trekking / hiking is where Sa Pa excels.
#6 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349