Well-known as the best spot for trekking in Vietnam, Sapa will be nothing on you mind if you just hang around the town without a hike to villages of ethnic minorities. Leave the modern town behind, carry along a rucksack and head to secret parts you’ve never known, you will see a real Sapa.
Here are some top trekking trails in this attraction recommended by ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA.
1. Lao Chai (Black Hmong) – Ta Van (Giay) – Giang Ta Chai (Red Dao)
As the largest rice terrace area in Sapa, this trail offers trekkers not only stunning vistas, but also a chance to find out about incredible rice planting techniques on terraces of the local ethnics. Especially May to October is the great time to witness firsthand how they cultivate and harvest.
Heading toward southeast from Sapa’s center, this most favorite trekking route takes trekkers from Lao Chai, the village of Black Hmong race to Ta Van, the village of Giay minority possibly accompanying a visit to a stone Catholic Church built by former Viet people, then passing through a bamboo forest to reach Giang Ta Chai, the village of Red Dao tribe hidden under shadows of old trees and next to a superb waterfall. Besides spectacular rice terraces, Sapa ancient rock field – trace of prehistoric humans with mysterious petroglyphs including 200 diverse-sized stone blocks carved original designs – is also a great reason to trek to Ta Van.
With this route, it’s possible to experience homestay, discover life, culture and cuisine of different minor communities.
2. Ban Ho (Tay) – Thanh Phu (Tay) – Thanh Kim (Dao)
This trail leads trekkers to villages of Tay minority (Ban Ho & Thanh Phu) and Dao tribe (Thanh Kim), which are remote villages south-eastward from the center. Thanks to this, these areas are less-touristy and the sights are also more truthful and original with rustic soil paths, suspension bridges, narrow canyons, small waterfalls and steep or gentle sloping terraced fields. This trail is truly demanding with meandering mountainous roads.
First impression as setting foot in Ban Ho valley is excessively immense space of green rice terraces as far as eyes can see, surrounded by stretching hills and quaint roofs dotted along the stream. Thanks for picturesque scenery, it’s rated as a “paradise valley” . Mighty beauty of whirlpools and waterfalls tinted legendary hues and tortuous paths harmonizes with a quiet, graceful look of streams of Muong Hoa and La Ve. Ethnic people here still uphold some traditional crafts like planting cotton and mulberry, nourishing silkworm and brocade weaving.
Trekking through glamorous rice terraces in Ban Ho and Thanh Phu, trekkers then move downhill along a narrow valley to the Ngoi Bo river to reach Thanh Kim commune, the place famous for its grain wine. After overcoming this challenging walk, let rest in Topas Ecolodge, where has best panoramic views in Sapa.
Remember to be overnight at traditional stilted-houses of Tay people – a friendly, nice minority – for a memorable experience.
>> See more: Sapa trek & Topas Ecolodge
3. Sin Chai (Black Hmong) – Cat Cat (Hmong) – Y Linh Ho (Black Hmong)
If you want to search out life of Hmong communities, who’s outstanding with shining silver necklaces and wrists of indigo-clad, let get this trails as it all takes trekkers to Hmong’s villages westward from Sapa town – Sin Chai, Cat Cat and Y Linh Ho.
From Sin Chai, a village located right at the foot of Hoang Lien mountain range, the trip commences by a walk on a small paths with superb view, then a descent to Cat Cat village for a lunch nearby a waterfall, continuing hiking along a narrow river and finally finishing in Y Linh Ho village.
As one of several none-touristy villages in Sapa, Sin Chai still keeps its originally wild look. This “valley of Hmong centenarians” leaves a curiosity to travelers about the secrets of longevity, particularly women, perhaps because of pure air and fresh vegetables without chemicals of the area.
By contrast, Cat Cat is quite touristy, but it’s a longstanding village of Hmong tribe, with traditional crafts live weaving, planting flowers and creating jewelryare still maintained, and traditional customs as well as habits are reserved almost intact.
The last destination on this trail is Y Linh Ho. Consisting of small hamlets dispersing on very harsh topography, it’s maybe a place to understand hard life. Black Hmong residents here erected primitive houses by soil and bamboo, and cultivate rice and corn on steep, high mountians.
Toward the northernmost Sapa, this trail provides several stops for magnificent landscapes of Fansipan, pristine, none-touristy Sin Chai valley and especially amazing flower and vegetable farms before reaching Ban Khoang, a village of Red Dao ethnic group who live in a unique way of life and well maintain traditional values. As being still wild and unspoiled, Ban Khoang is striking thanks to most authentic, natural sights of majestic hills and scenic terraced fields.
The furthest area from Sapa town – Ta Giang Phinh valley – is an ancient land of Hmong people, now inhabited by Dao and Hmong ethnics in several small villages scattered along a peaceful stream. “Giang” means “heaven”, implying that the Heaven granted this land for Hmong people, no place else in Sapa is better. With four seasons of white mist and cutting cold wind, it’s like a privately illusory, mysterious region. Hmong tribe has a habit of building houses on towering mountains, far away from each other; but in Ta Giang Phinh, they focus on valley, along two sides of the pure stream, and create spacious terrace fields scattered on the foot of Ngu Chi Son (Five Fingers) – the most beautiful mount in the northwest.
>> See the tour for this trail here
See Sapa trekking map below: