Sapa and the Far Northern

Sapa, nestling in a beautiful valley on the border with China, is north west Vietnams most colourful destination. Vivid green rice terraces are sculpted into the mountain sides while in the fields Hmong and Dao women work dressed in colourful traditional clothes.

Sapa, nestling in a beautiful valley on the border with China, is north west Vietnams most colorful destination. Vivid green rice terraces are sculpted into the mountain sides while in the fields Hmong and Dao women work dressed in colourful traditional clothes. At the end of the week the Hmong, Dao and other ethnic minorities trek into town from the surrounding countryside to trade goods at the weekend markets in Sapa, Bac Ha and other small towns. Here they sell silver jewellery, traditional embroidered fabrics and authentic articles of hill tribe clothing at the markets.

Sapa and its environs has some of the best trekking in Vietnam and there are many ethnic minority villages that can be reached in day treks from Sapa or for a real hill tribe experience it is possible to stay overnight in local villages along the way. The scenery is spectacular, especially in spring and autumn when the skies are clear and blue, and the people are welcoming. Dominating the Sapa skyline is the peak of Vietnam s highest mountain, Mount Fan Si Pan, rising to 3,143m above sea level.

To the south west of Sapa, close to the border with Laos, is Dien Bien Phu, where the battle that ended French colonial rule in Vietnam took place in 1954. The area around Dien Bien Phu is also home to many ethnic minorities. Another interesting area with some good trekking, great scenery and authentic minority villages is Mai Chau, just 135km west from Hanoi. Most of the inhabitants of the villages and hamlets that make up Mai Chau belong to the White Thai minority and one of the highlight (highlightID, title, image, temp, description, date, countryID, areasID, content) of Mai Chau is staying overnight in a wooden stilt house with a local family.

Cao Bang, to the north east of Hanoi, is surrounded by some breathtaking mountain scenery and the nearby Ban Doc Waterfall is Vietnam s largest. Not far from Cao Bang is another area of outstanding natural beauty, Ba Be Lakes, located within the national park of the same name. Lakes, waterfalls, rivers, caves, lush tropical rainforest and ethnic minority villages are all to be found in Ba Be National Park.

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