Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country with 54 distinct groups; the largest group is the Kinh (or Viet), which accounts for around 86% of the population, with the other 53 groups referred to as the minority groups. Lao Cai province counts more than 20 minorities, with the largest being Hmong, followed by Tay and Dao. In Sapa you will come across mostly Black Hmong and Red Dao, while Bac Ha is in the ... Read more about Trekking background: Minorities in Lao Cai .
When travelling to Sapa you’ll be faced with an array of treks to choose from and one decision you’ll need to make is whether to do a trek that includes a homestay. While a homestay can be a great experience, it’s not for everyone. Here’s some guidance on what to ... Read more about Is a Sapa homestay for you? .
Sapa is not short of tour operators, but Hmong run social enterprise Sapa O’Chau is certainly worth considering: it arranges reliable, socially responsible trekking tours, and runs a community cafe, both of which support its free schooling for disadvantaged ethnic minority ... Read more about Sapa O'Chau .
At the top of a steep flight of steps, tucked away alongside the Trade Union Hotel in Sapa, is Ham Rong Resort. Not, alas a hotel resort, but a swathe of landscaped land swooping around Ham Rong Mountain. Easily accessible, it’s a relaxing escape from Sapa town – well, if you ignore the hundreds of steps, that ... Read more about Ham Rong Resort .
Trekking is one of the main activities to do around Sapa. But which one is the right one for you to do? We checked out two different day treks to narrow down your ... Read more about A tale of two day treks in Sapa .
Many weekend visitors to Sapa opt to visit Bac Ha marke, which is easily accessible on an organised day trip from Sapa. But if you want to avoid the tourist hordes, Muong Hom market is a more interesting option… if you can get ... Read more about A trip to Muong Hom market, Lao Cai .
Although you can catch a glimpse of the scenery from a comfortable chair in Sapa town, it's only when you explore further afield that you really get to experience and appreciate all that this region has to offer. A trek through the surrounding rice fields, forest and ethnic minority villages can create memories that last a lifetime, not to mention an overworked camera. Treks can be organised ... Read more about Trekking .
Treks are usually overnight, or even over three days, with accommodation in tents or bamboo huts located at just over 2,200 metres. Although the peak is below the lie of winter snows, it will get cold. Most groups require at least two passengers and charge $70+ per person for a two-day trek. One-day treks are available if you have the fitness for ... Read more about Climbing Fansipan .
Daily rental prices as of July 2013 were US$4 for a semi-automatic and US$6 for an automatic. If you're after a manual, head to Hung's on Muong Hoa, where you can rent a Win-style imported bike for US$7. As for routes, from Sapa one option is to head down Muong Hoa Street towards Ta Van, Cau May or Ban Ho village – all clearly signposted from the main road. The road hugs the side of the ... Read more about Motorbiking .
There's no real consensus on what to call the falls; some call them the Cat Cat Falls (Cat Cat is just the Vietnamese transliteration of the word cascade) while others call them the Sapa Falls. To get here, just head down Fansipan Street and keep going. Shortly after Sapa Eden Hotel you'll reach the ticket booth where you'll be asked for 40,000 VND. The road creeps along the edge of the ... Read more about Cat Cat Village & Falls .
These aren't town and city markets with meat and veggies for sale — these are genuine country markets, with livestock trading and myriad handcrafted homewares and souvenir stalls. Minorities living high in the hills walk hours on end to get here just to pick up a new plough-head or a wooden saddle. They are also social centres for clans living in disparate circumstances and the scenes on ... Read more about Markets .
The museum is housed in an attractive stilt house with a static exhibit upstairs which runs uninspiringly through the history of the Sapa region before moving on to some slightly more engaging exhibits about the culture of the ethnic minorities. It's like the Ethnology Museum or Women's Museum in Hanoi, but far smaller and dustier. On our last visit, downstairs was home to a sponsored exhibit ... Read more about Sapa Museum .
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.