As its the second time I've been through Vietnam since starting travelling, this time because it was on route to China and Gemma hadn't been in the country before, we were only hitting the centre and north. One place that had to be on the agenda again was the mountain town of Sapa in the far north of the country!
A beautiful sleepy town, surrounded by amazing rolling mountains covered in trees and paddy rice fields. We arrived just at the start of their once a year harvest so the whole area was green with the leafy off shoots that rise from the pools built like steps all down the mountain sides.
As it was just before the main tourist months of July and August we got a really nice hotel, right in the centre of town for under $10 a night! Over the next few days we hired a scooter to venture quite far out of town, driving around the open roads that are cut into the hill sides. A few of the main natural attractions had to be seen again, a forest walk and a few waterfalls, and a tiny town inaccessible by road called Cat Cat.
Although many of the local communities basically now live off tourists, it's still really nice to see them going about their business. They grow only one rice crop each year and save all the produce for the local villages, they make their own traditional clothes which they wear and carry a crazy amount of stuff in their wicker made backpack/ baskets.
We wanted to do a trek in Sapa if the weather held off so booked an overnight stay in one of the local villages. Last year me and Sonny had a bit of a running joke about tourists looking for a 'real experience' but it actually turned out to be a good few days!
Overall the trek was about 14km the first day and 5km the next day. The scenery was amazing! The path cut through all the hills, villages and low land, the weather was great and the trek on both days was really nice. The locals trying to sell stuff at various points along the route was annoying at times but you can make a joke of it in the end. Our group was a bit weird, from Europe, the US and Canada but hardly the most fun bunch! After dinner though the home stay host gave us two bottles of home made rice wine so that, combined with some cards made for a funny night.
Our stay in Sapa was only short, one night out in some locals bars and some local restaurants and then back to Hanoi to collect our Chinese visa and head down to Hoi An...!