People of all ages love to trek. They love experiencing the beauty of the mountains and experiencing the energizing way it makes them feel. This is why Trekkers from all over the world love the Sapa Valley. Just seeing the spectacular views that the Sapa Valley has to offer combined with the invigorating sense of being alive is why the trekkers come to trek in the Sapa Valley.
What is trekking? Trekking, like hiking, is a type of walking practiced in a mountainous environment with the specific purpose of exploring and experiencing the beautiful views found in nature. Trekkers hike the trails of the mountains of countries like India, Nepal and Vietnam. Trails covering the mountains sides are trafficked by the local population and makeup the trails for trekkers. While technically not a requirement “the trek” in the Sapa Valley will usually include a “home stay”. A home stay is spending time with a local native family for 1-3 nights and includes both eating and sleeping with your host family.
Anyone can trek. There are different levels of difficulty in a typical trek so most everyone can find a trek level to match their abilities. Trekkers will usually higher a local guide to take them on their trek.
Sapa City is a small mountain town in Lao Cai Province famous for its stunningly views of terraced rice fields and incredible trekking. Located 350 km northwest of Hanoi near the Chinese border the Sapa Valley is a favorite with trekkers from all over the world. The area is also home to five different ethnic tribal groups: the Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay and Xa Pho.
Sapa City caters to tourists so you will find an abundance of shops, restaurants and hotels. The nightlife is minimal consisting of only a couple of karaoke bars.
The Sapa Valley area is comprised of small local villages which are sparsely populated with these indigenous tribes. These are the places found along the trekking trails.
Hiring a trekking guide in Sapa
In the city of Sapa a number of local guiding companies can be found for hire for the purpose of guiding tourists on their treks. Selecting the right company for your trek can be tricky as they offer similar services and are generally equal in their abilities and competency.
Hiring a guide for your trek is a necessary practice followed by most all trekkers. Before we left Hanoi my wife and I hired, Sapa Sisters, a trekking company which we found on line and who we believed met the requirements which we had determined necessary. They made our train reservations and arranged to meet us in Sapa City. The Sapa Sisters is owned and operated by six women who belong to the local Hmong ethnic minority—they turned out to be an excellent choice. We loved our young guide Lang Yan, who like all their other guides spoke excellent English. This enabled us to organize the trek itinerary before we even left Sapa City as well as make adjustments as the trek progressed and we grew to know each other and the countryside along the way.
We had decided to take a 3-day trek which worked out well for us. We spent the first night in Lang’s home which was terrific as she turned out to be super cook and the food was amazing. The only problem was that we had way too much fun and drank way to much rice wine.
The next day we continued our trek down the valley and spent the night at another locals home for our second home stay. This day we saw more incredibly beautiful views including rivers, suspension bridges and towering waterfalls. Once again, the food was excellent but this night we were more sparing with the wine.
The third and last day we had another great time trekking further down the valley. When we finished we caught a local taxi back to Sapa City around 3pm. The whole trek with the Sapa Sisters for 3 days and 2 nights including meals and the round-trip transportation to Hanoi for two came to about $400.
That last night we slept very well in a surprisingly nice “Sapa Dragon Hotel” for only $40 and had an excellent dinner in town at a fun little restaurant called “Good Morning Vietnam.”
The highest peak in Vietnam
A major local attraction is the highest mountain in Indochina, Mount Fan Si Pan. Located in Hoag Lich National park only 19 km from Sapa, Mount Fan Si Pan is 3143 meters high. It features an amazing new cable car system recently opened in 2016. This incredible new system transports the passengers to the top of the 3143 meter high peak. The $30 fee is well worth the cost as passengers are afforded an ever changing stunning view throughout the 6525 meter ride. Once on top the beautiful newly constructed platform allows passengers a different unfettered spectacular view from all 360 degrees of both Vietnam and China. You feel as though you’re on top of the world. You do not want to miss this ride.
Are you ready to go trekking in the amazing rice terraces of the Sapa Valley?
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