Visiting Sapa means you can experience many different things, the diverse and unique climate that is presence nowhere else in Vietnam, the untouched wildlife and forests that surround the entire town of Sapa and last but not least, the ethnic and minority groups that have been living in this mountainous area for hundreds of years.
Cat Cat village
The village of Cat Cat is a longstanding village of the H’mong people that still possess their ancestor’s traditions, customs, and practices. It is situated near the gorgeous Cat Cat waterfall at the bottom of the Muong Hoa valley, roughly 3 kilometers away from the town of Sapa. The road that leads to Cat Cat village from the center of the city is a relatively easy and incredibly enjoyable way, suitable for trekking, it is an only 20 to 30 minutes walk which let you hike through beautiful mountains and terraces and you can even spot some water buffalo enjoying their day grazing through the grass.
Upon arriving at the village, visitors are greeted with a peaceful scenery of hamlets and houses scattered around the village. Wandering around the community and you’ll be able to spot women sitting in their house in front of a loom with pieces of brocade, and from this plain and simply brocade, can be dye with unique leaves into many different colors, the women then carefully embroider lovely patterns of plants, flowers or animals on them while the little children play around with each other or with animals and livestock. And the people here are also very skillful when it comes to manipulating gold and silver jewelry. The fun part is that you can do more than just watch, for you can take part in different traditional activities with the friendly villagers and also buy some of their handicrafts, right from the craftsman themselves.
Y Linh Ho village
The tranquil village of Y Linh Ho is 7 kilometers away from the town of Sapa, and can only be accessible by foot. The trek to the village takes you through breathtaking locations of the beautiful nature which lies between the mountains; the trek might be long and tiring, but the fresh air alone is already enough to make it worthwhile. Before arriving at the village, you can still spot a few hamlets here and there on the steep mountain terrain, owned by the H’mong people who cultivate the lands to grow corns and dry rice.
When you arrive at the village, you will first be greeted with the natural scenery of the village on the west side of the Muong Hoa River, an excellent spot for a picnic lunch and maybe, perhaps a swim in the calm waters. But the best thing of the trip to Y Linh Ho is the opportunity to interact with the local minorities, the chance to experience the daily life, the customs, and practices of the H’mong people who have deep roots in the area.
Lao Chai – Ta Van villages
Perhaps the largest community set up by some different minority groups like H’mong, Yao, Giay, etc., located 7 kilometers from the town of Sapa. At least 140 minority residences have nestled down on this hilly terrain with the H’mong being the most numerous, followed by the Giay minority. These people make their living by agriculture, and if you visit the village in April and September, you will arrive in the right time to see a picture of the village covered in a sea of yellow rice paddies, waiting for harvest. Even though being the most well off minority community within the region, with electricity, light bulbs and televisions no more of something within the imagination of having for these people, they still keep true to their old traditions and beliefs, and customs and practices, refusing to forget their original roots.
And to fully experience the life of these people within this community, it is not a bad idea to sleep here for a night, to join them in their evening meals and sleep within their houses and take part in many of their daily activities. Sapa might not have the numerous luxurious accommodations or any major attractions that are built to suck in a huge amount of tourists and visitors, but it do have a unique charm to it, the picturesque landscape, the unforgettable experience of interacting with the local ethnic people and most of all, moments of relaxation that anyone can receive from this mountainous region.