Day 1: Hanoi - Sapa
An early morning drive towards Sapa. The roads are bumpy at times, but changing scenic landscapes from the delta area to the Tonkinese Alps make it an interesting journey. At an elevation of 1, 500 meters, Sapa was once a hill resort of French administrators when the summer heat became uncomfortable. The remoteness and the simple lifestyle of ethnic minority people are a highlight of Sapa although conditions are basic. After checking into hotel in Sapa we can soak up the fresh air and spend time walking around the village. The ethnic people are frequently seen in this hill town and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicraft.
Day 2: Sapa market - Easy Trek to Lao Chai - Ta Van Village (B)
The range of Phan Xi Pang boasts Vietnam’s highest mountain and lends an alpine feel to the area surrounding this hill station. Today we have enough time to visit the bustling Sapa Market where the Red Dao, Black Hmong, Tay and Xa Pho ethnic minorities converge from the nearby mountainsides and valleys to trade their goods and buy provisions. We then get well off the beaten track as we embark on a walk to explore this beautiful mountain region. Along the way we traverse several rustic villages and see many mountain villagers doing their daily works such as logging, herding buffalo and tilling the field. The blend of the mountain backdrop and colourful population makes facinating views.
Day 3: Sapa - Bac Ha (B)
Upon leaving Sapa we set off on our scenic drive through the border town of Lao Cai to the colourful Sunday Market at Bac Ha. This market also attracts a wide variety of ethnic minority groups including the Variegated Hmong, Dao, Phu La, La Chi and Tay. They still retain their old age cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. The experience of this congregation is colorful and unique. After the market we enjoy a walk around the area, visiting the Hmong King’s former residence and Ban Pho where the villagers make the potent local maize alcohol.
Day 4: Bac Ha - Hanoi
The return journey begins as we depart Bac Ha Town and pass through the green and rugged mountain scenery to Hanoi. These back roads are a great way to explore the real Vietnam. We see very few other travelers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. The drive is quite long, but we can make many stops at our pleasure, to stretch our legs and take some wonderful photographs.