Escaping the heat of Hanoi: A trip to Sapa

I’m currently bringing my blog back up-to-date. This post is from October last year.


During my first visit to Vietnam, time was limited and I didn’t get the opportunity to go to the Northern Highlands of Vietnam despite almost every backpacker I met raving about their trip.

So, with temperature and humidity still sky-high in Hanoi, we decided to take a long weekend up in Sapa.

We took the overnight train from Hanoi to Lào Cai which takes around 12 hours. We had a very comfortable 4-berth cabin shared with two other travellers. I absolutely love falling asleep to the rocking and clickety-click of a moving train so really enjoyed the journey.

Annie settling into our cabin on the train before leaving Hanoi.
Annie settling into our cabin on the train before leaving Hanoi.

Our first few nights were spent in ‘homestay’ style accommodation in little wooden huts built into the steep slopes of a valley overlooking the rice terraces. We weren’t there for the most beautiful time of the year for the rice fields but it was nonetheless a stunning setting.

Our neighbouring huts and the valley beneath
Our neighbouring huts and the valley beneath
The view out the door of our hut.
The view out the door of our hut.
A little boy walks along the the rice paddy terraces.
A boy walks along the the rice paddy terraces.

We took a half day hike through the surrounding villages, taking in what was around us and chatting to some of the people who belong to the varied ethnic groups in this area of Hanoi. Admittedly, most were persistently trying to sell their wares to us which did become a bit of a bother. Indeed, our guide had very strong views on us not buying from children who should be in school and not become dependent on the charity of visitors.

Some local Hmong ladies who followed us around until we bought something from them...
Some local Hmong ladies who followed us around until we bought something from them…

The final couple of night’s were spent in Sapa town where we moved to slightly less basic accommodation and enjoyed the sights and sounds on offer here, including the market which is famous for its fresh salmon and black chicken.

More chicken, featuring the black variety.
Chicken for sale, featuring the black variety.
Salmon being prepared for sale.
Salmon being prepared for sale.
Chickens ready for sale at the market in Sapa Town.
Chickens ready for sale at the market in Sapa Town.

We finished our stay by renting a motorbike for the last day and took a tour round the mountain roads to take in the sights. Here’s a selection of photographs of the stunning scenery on offer in the region:

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