It was a while since my last post about wandering Ha Giang province from my 14-day-trip from North to Central Vietnam. I came back to my routine of busy studying and working. However, the memorial trip always occupies a place in my brain’s warehouse and I really want to share it with everyone on my blog. I write about the trip not only to store my memories but also to share with anyone who interests in wandering the mountain area in Northern Vietnam in general, or Sapa in particular.
The area of Sapa was discovered and developed by the French in early 1900. With the cool, fresh atmosphere and beautiful landscapes, many people compare Sapa with Dalat and called it Dalat of North Vietnam. However, a special point that differentiates Sapa and Dalat is the ethnic minorities that live around Sapa. Together the ethnic people bring a very special thing to the land (even I don’t know how to describe it) that I really enjoy when coming there. Maybe it’s the culture or the traditional activities of those people or whatever, the land is special to me in it way.
Around Sapa city center, there are 3 big villages Cat Cat, Ta Phin, and Ta Van. In fact, besides the tourist destinations around the city, those villages have a lot of visitors come when they travel to the area. Indeed, many travelers love to stay at the homestays there to learn more about the locals’ culture and life. Is it sounded interesting to you yet?
But First, Let Have a Quick Talk about the Central Sapa
I and my friends came to Sapa city at around 7 p.m. It was night, and we were hungry so the top thing that I remember was Sapa’s night market with a lot of foods for BBQ.
After my stomach was full of food, I could notice many restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, souvenir shops, etc. on my way back to the hotel. Sapa is not quiet but kind of a vibrant city with a lot of activities and tourists. By the way, there were also some places that I visited, including Sapa’s central market, Cau May Street (Western Town), the Central Lake, and the Stone Church.
There are some places around Sapa city such as the Golden Stream, Love Waterfall, Fansipan Legend, and the Mountain Fansipan if you want to check out.
Now let’s go to the villages!
Ta Van Village
Ta Van is the home of some ethnic minorities, typically the Giay and the Mong people. The village is 8km away from Sapa centre and becoming a hot destination that attracts many visitors.
Ta Van village has a lot of activities for visitors to enjoy, starting with playing as an ethnic minority and wandering around the village for taking pictures to trekking on a trail that lead to the ancient-rocks field. There is a campsite at the ancient-rocks area and also a stream for anyone who want bathing. If you don’t want to stay outside under the cold weather of Sapa, there are also ‘homestays’ in the town with cozy furniture and decoration, and a chef to cook your meals. By the way, those homestays serve breakfast for visitors. You can fulfill your stomach before start discovering the village.
Tips to Travel Ta Van Village
- The checkpoint to Ta Van village start working at 7 a.m. If you go to the village before that time, you can save VND 75,000 for the entrance ticket.
- Homestay at Ta Van village is really cool to stay. Nevertheless, as far as I can remember, they only have crepes and instant noodles for the breakfast. If you wanna stay there, click here for booking.
Ta Phin Village
Ta Phin is the village where I spent the most of my time at Sapa. It’s not a popular place with activities for tourists, but a typical place to discover the culture, and daily life of the ethnic minorities, especially the Red Dao in the area.
Thanks to a friend that we met in Sapa city, we had a chance to discover the life and culture of the Red Dao. Red Dao people locate a lot in Ta Phin with the village centre where they offer many services for visitors to enjoy, and the rest is where we stayed, in their homestay, to have the same feels of the locals and learn more about their culture, and life. Honestly that is where I have the most experience and memorable stories.
It was worth every penny of me to spend time there. I enjoyed good foods and liquor made by the locals, took herb-bathing of the Red Dao, did hiking a lot of hills in the area to visit people who live there, held on hand the most beautiful but top poisoned foliage, luckily attended a local wedding, drank till drunk, learnt more about culture, gained more experience, and especially spent time with my friends for memorable moments.
Tips to Travel Ta Phin Village
- We stay at Mrs. Phau’s homestay, you can contact her at +(84) 167 505 6281 if you wanna stay there. She has a son, A Van, who also open a homestay. You can contact him at +(84) 125 680 6308. Both homestays are good with a warm bed, amazing dinner and breakfast, and 1-time taking herb-bath a day. Furthermore, they can pick you up by motorbike at your hotel in Sapa city center.
- Some of the cultures and traditions of the ethnic minorities are very different to us, so research clearly and be careful when you come there.
- The ceremony of the Red Dao’s traditional wedding lasts very long, you shouldn’t stay there to join the whole celebration. Unless you want to stay there days to film the celebration.
- It’s great to do hiking around the area but be careful with the beautiful leaves or flowers there, it can be poisoned and dangerous.
- Try to pack stuff as little as possible. Check the weather for your clothes. If you want to go out at night, a flashlight is a must needed. And a pair of hiking shoes is better.
- And you should try the grilled sweet potato, it’s really good there!
Cat Cat Village
Cat Cat is a village of the Mong people which is located about 2km away from Sapa center. This is a very popular place for tourists in the area. Unfortunately, the village is now developed mainly to serve the tourist, which makes it less natural and localized.
In order to get into the village, you have to pay for the entrance ticket. For instant, it’s VND 70,000 for adults and VND 30,000 for kids. Inside, you can find a map showing you the trails that you can take to wander around the place. Imagine it’s like a circle trail, so wherever you start, you can easily get back to the beginning point.
Don’t expect you can take the most natural images of highland with ethnic minorities. Most of the locals come there to do business. Evenly, many souvenirs are distributed from a common company. And some foods are made with the recipe and taste of the foreign tourist. As a result, you probably pay higher for the tourist industry at Cat Cat.
However, you can find a lot of beautiful corners to take photos and check-in at the place. Yes, any tourist destination always prepares spots for visitors to photograph. At Cat Cat village center, they have a culture house where the indigenous people perform their traditional dance in the background of locals songs. That’s quite interesting and attractive, indeed. So don’t forget to spend this village a visit. At least, it’s one of the should-come destinations in Sapa.
Tips to Travel to Cat Cat Village
- You should ride a motorbike to the village to both enjoy the pass and nature along the way. It’s just about 2km away.
- Bringing the locals’ costumes will surely make you more beautiful in the picture.
- Don’t forget to enjoy the performance at the cultural house.
- Having at least a bottle of water in your bag. Drinks there may be expensive.
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READ MORE POSTS OF VIETNAM’S DESTINATIONS
Sapa is one of the destinations in my 14 days trip traveling around Vietnam. Here are other posts of places on the trip that I believe you will love reading too: