Northern Vietnam: 4 trekking paths which worth a check-in

(VNF) - Plunging highland valleys, tiers of rice paddies and soaring limestone mountains, Northern Vietnam has them all for a fantastic hiking tour. Besides its dramatic mountain paths, fascinating minority culture makes the experience even better.

(VNF) - Plunging highland valleys, tiers of rice paddies and soaring limestone mountains, Northern Vietnam has them all for a fantastic hiking tour. Besides its dramatic mountain paths, fascinating minority culture makes the experience even better.


    Established as a hill station by the French in 1922, Sapa today is the tourism centre of the northwest. Sapa is oriented to make the most of the spectacular views emerging on clear days; it overlooks a plunging valley, with mountains towering above on all sides. Views of this epic scenery are often subdued by thick mist rolling across the peaks, but even when it’s cloudy, local hill-tribe people fill the town with colour.


    (Photo: Wanderlust Tips VN)

    Trekking is one of the most favorite and interesting activities in Sapa. There are some options for you, including easy trek, medium trek and hard trek. Easy trekking route will help you gain a basic understanding of Sapa and the life of local residents there. The view on your way is also really amazing.

    Some favorite destinations are Muong Hoa Valley, Y Linh Ho Village, Cat Cat Village. Cat Cat village, located about 3 km southwest of Sapa is the most popular short trekking there. About medium trek, you can have chance to explore some famous attractions in Sapa such as Sin Chau Village (home of the Hmong), Silver waterfall – 7km and 12km northwest of Sapa respectively.

    Head to the south, you can choose to go to Lao Chai Village, where the Hmong people live (7km from Sapa) or Ta Van Village (home of Dao people – 10 km from Sapa). Situated about 6km to the north of Sapa, Ta Phin Village is also a good option for you. Further from the town, there are some destinations for multi-day trekking trip such as Ban Ho (Tay ethnic village, 23 km to the south of Sapa), Ban Khoang village (18 km northwest of Sapa).

    If you a really trekking lovers, the hardest trek in Sapa won’t let you down. It is the trek to the top of Fansipan – the Roof of Indochina, the dream of many young Vietnamese. You need to spend three days to complete the hike and should hire a local trustworthy who has the deep understanding of the route. From the top of the mountains, tourists can admire the beauty of the best panorama of Vietnam.

    If you were expecting a quaint alpine town, recalibrate your expectations. Modern tourism development has mushroomed haphazardly. Thanks to rarely enforced building-height restrictions, Sapa’s skyline is continually thrusting upwards.

    But you’re not here to hang out in town. This is northern Vietnam’s premier trekking base, from where hikers launch themselves into a surrounding countryside of cascading rice terraces and tiny hill-tribe villages that seem a world apart. Once you’ve stepped out into the lush fields, you’ll understand the Sapa area’s real charm.

    Bac Ha

    Located about 76 km from the train station, Bac Ha is a remote district of Lao Cai province. Bac Ha market which takes place every Sunday is famous for the originality and authenticity that the traders still preserve. One can reach Bac Ha market by booking a van or tour from Sapa, which is about 3 hours away.

    Sleepy Bac Ha wakes up for the riot of colour and commerce that is its Sunday market, when the lanes fill to choking point and villagers flock in from the hills and valleys.


    (Photo: Wanderlust Tips VN)

    It is not simply a place for buy and sell but also an opportunity for people from different ethnicities to come and meet, for relatives to reunite after a long time missing, for women to demonstrate their beautiful handmade traditional costumes and even for youngsters to find their dates. To reach the market, many ethnic vendors have to walk a long distance passing mountains and hills. Yet the distance has never discouraged them from joining the Sunday colorful market.

    The main square where trading takes place is pided into smaller section, specializing in a particular product such as handicrafts, food, horse, poultry and blacksmith. Each has its own trait and worth joining. The town itself is rather dull for any country surfer but if you want a relaxing place to get away from the tourist crowd in Sapa, or simply fond of taking unique photos, Bac Ha can be your option.

    Despite being surrounded by countryside just as lush and interesting as Sapa, Bac Ha has somehow flown under the radar as a trekking base so far. In town, woodsmoke fills the morning air, the main street is completely bereft of hawkers, and chickens and pigs snuffle for scraps in the back lanes where a small clutch of traditional adobe houses valiantly clings on in the age of concrete.

    Mai Chau

    Isolated Mai Chau and the nearby villages are in a valley around 139km from Hanoi and only 150 metres above sea level. Nestled between two towering cliffs and surrounded by emerald green paddies, it is an enchanting sight as you approach down the windy cliff side road and the villages and surrounding countryside present an idyllic rural scene that could easily charm you into staying longer than intended.


    (Photo: Wanderlust Tips VN)

    In spring Mai Chau is a bright, almost parrot-green and by autumn this green transforms into golden hues as the rice approaches harvest. Taking the time to watch these transitions of colour seems like a perfectly useful way to spend your time while there.


    (Photo: Wanderlust Tips VN)

    The ground and surrounding mountains are made up mainly of limestone karst which is characteristic of the north of Vietnam, and the forests consist of mostly evergreen vegetation with bamboo growing closer to banks of the lake. In the heart of the park is Ba Be Lake which is the largest and highest natural freshwater lake in Vietnam.

    The lake is made up of three smaller lakes and surrounded by limestones karsts some of which open up into magnificent caves. The park also features many caves which have formed over years of erosion some, some of which have only been discovered recently.

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