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Tet 2020


Discovering the Beauty of Sapa

On the Hoang Lien Son mountain range is Sapa, Vietnam. It is a picturesque village near the Chinese border in north-east Vietnam. Sapa is one of the most enchanting of the Vietnam popular destinations. It is situated among the greenery of the high Tonkinese Alps. A visit here lets you enjoy the beauty of a village built during the French colonial days. The village was built to avoid the summers in Hanoi. The village has a serene beauty. It is a land of complete peace and delight. The village can provide a fulfilling experience even with limited amenities. Sapa is one of those rare places in Vietnam which have the ability to provide a glimpse of the tribal life as it existed a couple of centuries ago. 

Sapa so-called the Queen of Mountains or the fanciful town in fog is located in a beautiful valley where lofty mountains tower over the town on all sides. This is the destination in northwest Vietnam and a gateway to another world of mysterious minority cultures and luscious landscapes.

The spectacular scenery that surrounds Sapa includes cascading rice terraces that spill down the mountains like a patchwork quilt. The mountains are often shrouded in mist that rolls back and forth along the peaks, offering tantalizing glimpses of what lies in wait on a clear day.

The valleys and villages around Sapa are home to a host of hill-tribe people who wander in to town to buy, sell and trade.

Sapa is a former hill station built in 1922. The old hotels built by the French were allowed to fall into disrepair and Sapa was forgotten by all but a handful of residents. With the advent of tourism, Sapa has experienced a renaissance. Bad roads have been upgraded, many streets have been given names, countless new hotels have popped up, the electricity supply is reliable and the food has improved immeasurably.

Inherent in all of this prosperity is cultural change for the Montagnards, many of whom are now well versed in the ways of the cash economy and are reaping the financial rewards of the tourism influx. The downside is a building boom that has seen one hotel after another raise the roof in a continual quest for better views. Height restrictions are rarely enforced and the Sapa skyline is changing for the worse.

Not only is it cold (like 0°C), but winter brings fog and drizzle. Quite why the French alighted on this spot is difficult to comprehend: it must have been one of those rare clear days when the views are to die for. The chilly climate does have its advantages, however. The area boasts temperate-zone fruit trees bearing peaches and plums, and gardens for raising medicinal herbs.

The dry season in Sapa lasts from around January to June. January and February are the coldest (and foggiest) months. From March to May the weather is often excellent, and the summer is warm despite the rains between June and August. The window from September to mid-December is a rewarding time to be in Sapa, though there is a bit of lingering rain at the start and the temperature dips by December.

Sapa would be of considerably less interest without the H’mong and Dzao people, the largest ethnic groups in the region. The billowing red headdresses of the Red Dzao are visible all over town, a surreal sight amid the accelerating development. The H’mong are more numerous and canny traders. Their villages may look medieval but most will have a mobile phone and an email address to stay in touch. Traditionally, they were the poorest of the poor, but have rapidly learnt the spirit of free enterprise. Most of the Montagnards have had little formal education and are illiterate, yet all the youngsters have a good command of English, French and a handful of other languages.

If possible, try to visit during the week, when Sapa is less crowded and more intimate. Crowds flock to Sapa for the Saturday market, but a smaller market is held every day. There is plenty to see on weekdays, and there are lots of interesting villages within walking distance of the centre.

The divine beauty of Sapa, Vietnam makes it one of most popular of the various Vietnam tourist attractions. Now if you are planning Vietnam holidays, then spring and autumn are the best times of the year to plan a trip to Sapa. Please contact us for more information:

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Item Reviewed: Discovering the Beauty of Sapa Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nga Do
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