Sapa Travel Guide

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Colourful handicrafts of Red Dao People

Colourful handicrafts of Red Dao People

Thu Thảo

Sapa

Area:  678,6 sq. km Population: 38,200 habitants Administrative division: - Townlet: Sapa - Communes: Ban Khoang, Ta Giang Phinh, Trung Chai, Ta Phin, Sa Pa, San Sa Ho, Ban Phung, Lao Chai, Hau Thao, Thanh Kim, Ta Van, Su Pan, Suoi Thau, Ban Ho, Thanh Phu, Nam Sai, Nam Cang.  
   

Located 38km from Lao Cai City, Sapa is a mountainous district of  Lao Cai Province. Sapa District is very well-known with Sapa Townlet, a beautiful and romantic resort.
At the height of 1,600m above sea level, the average temperature of the area is 15-18°C. It is cool in summer and cold in winter.

Visitor to Sapa in summer can feel the climate of four seasons in one day. In the morning and afternoon, it is cool like the weather of spring and autumn. At noon, it is as sunny and cloudless as the weather of summer. And it is cold in the evening. With no advance warning of a thunderstorm short and heavy rains may come at noon on any summer day. Subsequently, a rainbow appears, transforming Sapa into a magic land, which for years has been a constant source of poetic inspiration, lights up the whole region.


The best time to witness the scenic beauty of Sapa is in April and May. Before that period, the weather might be cold and foggy; after that period is the rainy season. In April and May, Sapa is blooming with flowers and green pastures. The clouds that settle in the valley in early morning quickly disappear into thin air.

Sapa has many natural sites such as Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo Forest and Ta Phin Cave.Sapa is also the starting point for many climbers and scientists who want to reach the top of Fansipan Mountain, the highest mountain in Vietnam at 3,143m. Hoang Lien Mountain Range is also called the Alps of the North Sea area since Fansipan Mountain is not only the highest peak in Vietnam, but also in the Indochina Peninsula. The pyramid-shaped mountain is covered with clouds all year round and temperatures often drop below zero, especially at high elevations.

The first thing you notice when approaching the resort town are some detached wooden mansions and villas perched on a hill top or hillside, behind thick pine forests and almost invisible on this foggy morning. Old and new villas with red roofs now appear and now disappear in the green rows of pomu trees, bringing the town the beauty of European towns.

Fresh and cool air in Sapa is an idea climate condition for growing temperate vegetables such as cabbage, chayote, precious medicinal herbs, and fruit trees such as plum, pear…

 

    Sapa is home to various families of flowers of captivating colours, which can be found nowhere else in the country. When Tet, the Lunar New Year Festival, comes, the whole township of Sapa is filled with the pink colour of peach blossom brought from the vast forests of peach just outside the town. Sapa is regarded as the kingdom of orchids. Here, orchid lovers are even amazed by the choice, when trekking in the forest filled with several hundred kinds of orchids of brilliant colours and fantastic shapes, such as Orchid Princess, Orchid of My Fair Lady’s Shoe. Some orchids are named after lovely singing birds such as the canary, salangane’s nest, and more.

Sapa is most beautiful in spring. Apricot, plum and cherry flowers are splendidly beautiful. Markets are crowded and merry, and are especially attractive to visitors. Minority groups come here to exchange and trade goods and products. Market sessions are also a chance for locals to promenade and young men and women in colorful costumes to meet, date or seek sweethearts.

Visitors to Sapa will have opportunities to discover the unique customs of the local residents.


Pha Long Market - Saturday
From 6 am to midday

Very rural market, ethnic groups include, the H’mong, Tou Zi, Pa Zi and Tou Lao. Along the road can be found several Nung and Mong villages, often consisting of traditional houses constructed with baked earth tiled roofs.

Can Cau Market - Saturday
Saturday morning 6 am to midday

In the middle of paddy and corn fields. Visitors are generally H’mong groups from highland villages. The local H’mong are the famous variegated or Flower H’mong due to the intricate and colourful nature of their costumes. Travel is often made by horseback as a way of carrying the heavy loads to and from market.

Muong Hum Market - Sunday
Every Sunday from 6 am to 1 pm

This market is the biggest cardamom market in the region, pre-dating the French and serves as a meeting point for the ethnic groups living in the mountains; including the Giay, Dao, White H’mong and Ha Nhi. Those who live in the upper reaches of the mountains such as the Mong or Red Dao come down to sell specific products such as cardamom and mountain plants. In Muong Hum, it’s worth taking a sip of the local brew - here it’s paddy rice brandy from the Dao village of San Lung. It’s become quite a famous tipple.

Muong Khuong - Sunday
Every Sunday from 6 am to 1 pm

Big market with a variety of ethnic groups, Mong, Dao, Nung and others, including visitors from as far away as China come to sell their products. Pa Zi women can be found selling traditional incense made from bark and resin of scented trees.

Bac Ha Market - Sunday
From 8 am to lunchtime

The biggest ethnic market in Lao Cai province. Here you will be able to find, buffaloes, horses, blacksmiths, saddlers, traditional medicine doctors, clothing and local artifacts. Frequented by H’mong, Dao, Tay, Nung and Phu La. Be sure to arrive by 9am as the market finished around lunchtime.

Binh Lu & Tam Duong Market - Sunday
Every Sunday from 8 am to 1 pm

Binh Lu and Tam Duong market is located on the other side of Sapa, passing the 1900 meter Tram Ton pass, Viet Nam’s highest mountain pass and considered the most beautiful stretch of road in the country. The town is bustling with activity as the local hill tribes gather for their weekly market day, amazing tribal markets in Binh Lu where thousand of Thai Kadai language groups such as Tai Lu, Tai Laos, White Tai, and H’mong - Yao group (black Yao, Yao Lantien..), Giay, Khomu.. comes to buy and sell their own produces.

Coc Ly Market - Tuesday
From 7 am to lunchtime

Off the beaten track. Several groups of Mong, Dao, Tay, Nung and Phu La groups can be found in this secluded mountain market. Return back by boat down the river Chay and marvel at the untouched natural beauty of the region.

Contributors

October 22, 2007 change by johncollin (1 point)

September 19, 2008 change by hanoipeacetour

July 24, 2008 change by activetravelvietnam

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