Overview of Sapa Villages
Did you know that Sapa is a place where local ethnic minorities gather even more than the ordinary Vietnamese people? It is home to a great diversity of ethnic groups, comprising four main groups: the H’Mong, the Dao, the Tay, and the Giay.
They do not live in the central area but in hamlets scattered throughout the valleys of the Sapa district. The town of Sapa is where ethnic minorities come together, exchange or sell their agricultural products such as rice, corn, fruits, as well as handicraft items and souvenirs to travelers.
There is an interesting fact about the ethnic minorities in Sapa, especially the H’mong tribe: they often speak English better than Vietnamese students!
1. Ta Phin Village
Gently nestled among the marvelous fields and terraced mountains, the village of Ta Phin has captivated the hearts of adventurous souls and nomads with its authentic beauty. One of its hallmarks of beauty is the Ta Phin Cave. With its stalactites, it creates a surreal image.
Present yourself at the gate, and your hosts will welcome you with warm smiles and a complete tea set! The Dao Do tribe is unique: they always wear a red hat that reminds me of Santa Claus! I like to call these people the Vietnamese Santas because they will also offer you an extraordinary gift – an authentic local experience!
Before you arrive at the Dao Do people’s house, you will be amazed by a yard full of plants, leaves, and herbs, humorously referred to as “natural collagen.” The Dao Do locals walk through the forests every day to find, dry, and place dozens of herbs in spas. As soon as you enter this seductive water, all your stress and pain will disappear immediately, and your skin will glow more than ever! If you really like these natural herbs, you can ask the host if you can join them and venture into the woods to collect the ingredients.
At night, when the weather cools down, it’s the perfect time to get closer. Sitting by the fire, sipping alcohol, and nibbling on sweet sticky rice, the stories between travelers and hosts will lose track of time.
Location: Ta Phin Village
Entrance: 20,000 VND
2. Ta Van Village
Ta Van Village is located in the valley between the massive Hoang Lien Son range and Ham Rong Mountain. Unlike the bustling town of Sapa, Ta Van Village soothes you with its calm and peaceful atmosphere. Its terraced fields are considered the most beautiful in Lao Cai province. Ta Van itself is lovely, but the landscape on the road leading there is a true blessing! Stop anywhere, at any time, because traveling is not a destination but an exploration!
Life would be boring without challenges, right? So, I challenge you to walk across a rattan bridge named Cau May! It may seem easy at first, but it takes courage. What’s scary is that each plank you walk on is about 20 centimeters apart. Although it seems intimidating, many couples like to take pictures here. It can be said that this bridge is a masterpiece showing the ingenuity and creativity of the H’Mong ethnic group from this mountain village. In cold weather, you can witness the thick mist that covers the bridge. Don’t forget to stop even if the weather seems disappointing at first!
Another point of interest near this village is a variety of ancient rocks carved with unknown symbols. To date, the ancient carvings have been classified among the national monuments and a unique heritage of the Vietnamese people. Moreover, small wooden houses, groves of bamboo, and a beautiful stream make this area a picturesque tableau. Here, most homestays provide wooden chairs, tables, and teapots, so you can easily sip a cup of hot tea or simply close your eyes, rest, and merge with the greenery.
If you intend to come here from September to April, congratulations, you’ve made one of the best decisions of your life! In autumn, when the paddy field is ready to be harvested, you see nothing but a massive yellow expanse! In addition to the spectacular landscapes, you also have the chance to explore the cultural features of ethnic minorities. To do this, you’d better sleep here for a night, eat and live with the locals. And when you sip a cup of corn alcohol with your new family, the next day, you’ll be too hungover to want to return!
Location: Ta Van Village
Entrance: 70,000 VND
3. Ban Ho Village
Ban Ho, located 30 kilometers southwest of Sapa, is an enchanting village where the H’Mong, Dao, Tay, and Giay tribes converge. Nestled against the poetic Muong Hoa Valley, it is a haven conducive to relaxation. Moreover, the locals are truly incredible. No fake smiles, no lies; they always speak their minds and treat you as a member of their family.
From the moment you set foot on this land, you will likely encounter large groups of women weaving in front of their houses. Weaving is not only for sale but is also a way they preserve their customs. At night, people often gather around a fire, singing traditional songs and dancing to the rhythm. As a guest, you should join in because it’s the best way to connect with the local community! But if you’re afraid of dancing, don’t worry, sip a cup of corn alcohol, and you’ll have enough courage to live out the night!
Location: Ban Ho Village
Entrance: 15,000 VND
4. Y Ty Village
Y Ty village, located more than 70 km from Sapa, is a true paradise for travelers looking to escape the hectic city life. The village sits at an altitude of 2,000 meters, allowing you to surround yourself with clouds! It’s not an exaggeration to say that coming to Y Ty is like entering an entirely new world – the world of peace.
If the number of clouds impresses you, stay tuned, because you will be even more fascinated by the local population, the Ha Nhi Den tribe. The local girls will immediately captivate your attention; they enchant in a unique way, and you might find yourself lost in trying to understand their beauty. Unlike urban women who beautify themselves with expensive jewelry and makeup, the women of Y Ty prefer realistic decorations, such as thick black wigs. You might wonder why “wigs?”. I was wondering the same thing until a woman revealed on a television channel that wigs keep the head warm and can be used as a pillow.
Stroll through this village and try not to smile! Contrary to the surreal beauty that surrounds this village, you might notice some really amusing things. For instance, there are “mushroom houses” – houses with roofs made of layers of cogon grass! The unique mushroom-shaped houses perched on the mountainside, along with the rich cultural identity of the Ha Nhi Den inhabitants, attract all kinds of travelers.
The best time to visit Y Ty is from September to April. This is when the sky is clear and clean, which is very suitable for people who want to chase the clouds. Moreover, during this time, the trail is less slippery and safer for you.
Location: Y Ty Village
5. Ban Pho Village
What does it feel like to stay in an absolutely pristine village? Come to Ban Pho and find the answer for yourself! As it is located more than 100 kilometers from Sapa town, it still retains the beauty of untouched nature. You will have the chance to admire plum blossoms, numerous hiking trails, and the authentic lifestyle of the H’Mong people. This village is such a gift from Mother Nature that you will love it at first sight!
In addition to agricultural work, an important source of income for rural households comes from the legendary corn liquor. When it’s cold, there’s nothing more wonderful than sitting near new friends, inviting them to savor a cup of corn liquor, and listening to their adventure stories.
And what if you are an adventure junkie and are not satisfied with the gentle experience above? Let me tell you a secret: before arriving at the village, you are challenged by countless hairpin turns, bumpy trails, and unpredictable slopes! But don’t be afraid to come here because this place is worth every second of your precious time.
Location: Ban Pho Village
6. Sin Chai Village
Not too far from Sapa (about five kilometers), this village is known for being magically untouched and less touristy than other villages in Sapa town. It’s rare to find street vendors selling brocade or embroidery souvenirs here, only ethnic people living their daily lives in joy and peace.
They are very friendly and even willing to guide visitors through their terraced rice fields and around the village. Sometimes, a few water buffaloes appear and keep you company on your hike in this incredible area! Ban Pho and Sin Chai are truly two of the few precious gems that still retain their charm in this set of villages in the north of Vietnam.
Like the other villages mentioned above, Sin Chai is surrounded by spectacular natural scenery offering breathtaking mountain views capable of melting anyone’s heart. The terraced rice fields are impeccable and offer amazing Instagram-worthy photographs. Pretty wooden houses of the local population are scattered throughout this stunning scene, with architecture that facilitates farming and caring for the land.
The village of Sin Chai also has a unique characteristic. Visit it in March, April, September, or October, and you can experience one of the most unique experiences on a trip to this region of Vietnam.
In March and April, due to favorable weather conditions, the farmers in Sin Chai begin to plant their crops. You will admire wonderful terraced rice fields perfectly layered and completely soaked in water. With a bit of sunshine, they will burst even more beautifully into shimmering and sparkling fields. These crops will be ready to be harvested in September and October and will turn into magnificent golden fields across the mountain range. Take all the time you need to immerse yourself in the scenes and fully enjoy this village.
Note: Cat Cat is another ethnic village nearby that is worth a quick visit. It’s actually on the way to Sin Chai, so it’s very easy to find. However, Cat Cat village is more of a popular tourist attraction, so you will see a lot of shops and vendors here.
Location: Sin Chai Village
Entrance fee: 40,000 VND