Trekking through Sapá’s H’mong Valley

The day after returning from our Hạ Long Bay cruise we were already on the move again. We went north to the mountain town of Sa Pá. Initially, we planned to take the train, but as the government opened a brand new highway just three weeks before, taking a bus is now equally safe, and cheaper too. Only the last hour of our journey consisted of driving on mountain passes, but nothing too bad.

Sa Pá is located 1,500 meters above sea level, therefore we arrived in a cold (just a few degrees above freezing) and misty town. I still wonder why so many locals hang out clothes to dry, seems like a bad idea to me.

The most popular tourist attraction in Sa Pá is the H’mong Valley: a mountain valley covered in rice fields and inhabited by the Black H’mong tribes. Trekking through the valley is by far the best way to make the most of your visit. We went on a one-day trek through the villages of Lao Chải, Tả Van, and Giang Tả Tchay.

According to our tour guide, we picked a good day. The sun was out and temperature was allright, but as soon as we started to trek we were surrounded by mist and cold. At least it didn’t rain and the views got better as we moved on. The first two hours we walked on a decent path, enjoying the views of the rice fields and local villages passing by. After lunch, the track got a lot harder. Suddenly, our feet were deep into the rice fields and muddy tracks. Even though it wasn’t raining, we had to keep moving as our feet were sticking to the mud, and it was very slippery. The difficulty of the track rewarded us with great views of the valley, rice fields, water streams, and Rattan bridge.

After trying not to fall or slide down for two hours, our trek came to an end in the Giang Tả Tchay village. After attempting to clean our shoes (we failed), we hiked back up to the main road for the ride back to Sa Pá. We found the trek very enjoyable despite the difficulty of it: the views of the rice fields and valley more than made up for it!

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We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.

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