Sapa is the most popular place to go in the Far Northwest amongst budget travelers and packages tourists alike. By using Sapa as a base you can hike off to more remote ‘traditional’ hill tribe villages and sometimes you will be offered a bed in a village for the night. Sapa was originally built as a hill station in the early part of this century and, in winter, gets bitterly cold. Sprawling near the banks of a river, Can Cau Market is a clearly defined shantytown, packed with crude stalls covered with thatched roofs. The start of a few simple settlements can be seen high above, many of whose residents now make their weekly pilgrimage to the market. We are only 9kms from the Chinese border and some traders make the journey across from China on horseback.
The Sunday market in Bac Ha is where you'll want to stock up on water buffalo, pigs and horses. Once you're all set, you can browse for bottles of local firewater (made from rice, cassava or corn) or handicrafts made by some of the 10 Montagnard groups living near here - Flower Hmong, Dzao, Giay (Nhang), Han (Hoa), Xa Fang, Lachi, Nung, Phula, Thai and Thulao. Bac Ha is a less crowded alternative to Sapa, and arriving midweek makes for a relaxing visit. Around 700m above sea level, the highlands around Bac Ha are somewhat warmer than Sapa.
Night 1 - Tuesday: Hanoi - Lao Cai
Viet Bamboo Travel's car will pick you up from your hotel and transfer to Hanoi train station to catch the night train soft sleeper with AC to Lao Cai station. Overnight on the train.
Day 1 - Wednesday: Sapa - Lao Chai - Ta Van - Sapa (B, L)
Meeting a guide at Lao Cai railway station in the early morning we spend an hour driving up hills to Sapa. After breakfast, we embark on a lovely trek that will take us along buffalo paths and trails and through several hill tribe villages Lao Chai & Ta Van, home to Black H'mong, and Dzay people. This is an absolutely spectacular walk through stunning scenery inhabited by some of the friendliest people you can meet. Once on the valley floor you can really appreciate the wonderful scenery that surrounds you. The walls of the valley are covered with multi-layered rice terraced fields and scattered villages. Return to Sapa by car. Overnight in hotel.
Day 2 - Thursday: Sapa - Tam Duong Market (B, L, D)
After having early breakfast in the morning we go by car at 7: 00 AM and half an hour driving to discover the cultural market of many tribes such as ( Lu, Lao, Black Dzao, Tien Dzao, Red Hmong, Dzay, Black Thai). We visit the Ban Hon Village of Lu & Thai people in the afternoon. This is a good opportunity to take many pictures of Fansipan‘s imposing mountain peak, via Heaven's gate, Tram Ton Pass & Silver Waterfall on the way back to Sapa. Then we go to Lao Cai railway station. The guide sees you off there and takes you on the train. Overnight on the train.
Day 3 - Friday: Hanoi - Arrival
Arrive in Hanoi next day early morning,taxi to hotel on your own. Tour ends.