Trek Muong Hoa Valley
Just like everything else on this list, this is an absolute must when in Sapa. You can only truly appreciate the beauty of Muong Hoa Valley if you take your time to trek it and spend a night or two at a local village homestay. You can book trekking tours online (try Sapa O’Chau) or through travel agencies you come across in Hanoi or in Sapa. Sometimes women from the regional ethnic minority tribes may even approach you while in town (the bus station is a popular place for this) and offer a trek and homestay. Don’t be afraid to say yes. Often these are more authentic than the ones done through tour agencies. Taking muddy trails through terraced fields, drinking water out of streams, sleeping on the floor in traditional long tail houses, and spending time hanging out with local families and drinking happy water (rice wine) in Aquafina bottles – are typical things that will happen on these tours. The memories made up in the North are unrivaled.
Hang out with members of the different ethnic tribes
The H’Mong are the predominant minority tribe in Sapa, but you will come across Yao and Zay people as well. Striking up a conversation is easy, as most of them are well-versed in English, having learned from other tourists they have bumped into, or at school. Get to know them and their stories and you will probably be invited to their home to share a meal and laughter. It’s a humbling experience to live with them, even if it’s just for a day, and you will leave Sapa with a new found appreciation for life.
Eat to your heart’s content!
Leave your cravings for burgers and pizza behind and indulge yourself on some of the delicious regional cuisine. Thang co, a favorite dish among the H’Mong tribe is hotpot made of horse meat, internal organs and bones. Salmon hotpot, black chicken, and bamboo sticky rice are also worth trying. You can find these dishes and many more in restaurants like The Hill Station Signature Restaurant. For thang co, visit A Quynh, a popular venue among locals.
Drop by the Sapa Love Market
This is a unique experience in Sapa, and only happens on Saturdays. The Sapa Love Market is where young ethnic tribes people would come to meet one another, fall in love, and get married. Because villages in Sapa are sparsely populated, those living in far-away villages would make the journey days ahead so they can arrive in time to find someone. You will see boys and girls hanging out, laughing, drinking, eating, doing traditional dances and playing traditional games together. It’s a different world to what we are used to. At the end of the day they part ways but promise to meet again, probably in a week, when the market comes to life again.
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