Sapa Overview, Lao Cai

Monday, March 04, 2013

With stunning natural landscape as well as cool weather, Sapa is widely known as the second Dalat in Vietnam. The town is perched on the eastern slopes of Hoang Lien Son mountain range (which is also known as the Tonkinese Alps). Under the French colonial period, many hotels, villas and tennis courts had been constructed there and the region was once transformed into a summer retreat.



Today, Sapa is an ideal place for tourists for its beautiful scenery and the diversification in culture. Sapa is now a destination where tourists can take part in various activities and tours from sightseeing, trekking, mountain climbing, cycling, etc.

Visiting Sapa in any season has its own special features. In spring, visitors will have opportunity to observe the romantic landscape with blooming colorful flowers. In summer, the flowers pass by and will be replaced by ripen fruits. In this period of time, the waterfalls in Sapa are at its best beauty. In autumn, the yellow terrace fields, which have become a hot theme for photographers, will surely attract you. The best time to observe such marvelous rice paddies is in September. In winter, Sapa’s weather turns colder then usual and sometimes, there will be snow in some places. These are the four seasons with different characteristics in landscape that Sapa offers tourists. However, with regards to the temperature only, you can experience all the four seasons in one day in Sapa.

Tourists traveling to Sapa not only for its natural beauty, but also for its cultural beauty since Sapa is home of a large number of ethnic minority groups. Several ethnic groups to be found is Sapa (Lao Cai) include: the H’mong, Dao, White Thai, GIay, Tay, Muong, Xa Pho, etc. The most prominent among these are the Red Dao and the H’mong. The Red Dao can easily be identified by the coin-dangling red headdresses and intricately embroidered waistcoats worn by the women, and the Hmong can be distinguished by their somewhat less elaborately embroidered royal blue attire. A popular scene that you may often see when staying in Sapa town are the women with brocatelle products on their hands asking you to buy some, or the small children keep following you along your trekking route into the villages. You don’t have to worry much about them since they would probably do no harm to you.

Sapa is not only well-known for the landscape, for the diversified culture, but also is famed for its “Love Market” - where the ethnic boys and girls often gather to find his/her love. However, Love Market today is not as meaningful as that in the pas. Tourists still feel curious about this market since it somehow reflects the traditional real Love Market. The Red Dao hill tribe youths of both sexes congregate in a weekly courting rite, singing tribal versions of Loretta Lynn love songs to woo the opposite sex. The songs are highly personalized and boast of the composer's physical attributes, domestic abilities and strong work ethic. It’s interesting to observe what local people do in this Love Market, so give it a chance despite the transformation in current conditions.

Villages of different ethnic minority groups in Sapa have also become popular attractions, especially for foreigners. They are curious about and eager to explore the special features of each village which is home to specific ethnic groups. Several well-known villages in Sapa are the Cat Cat, Ta Phin, Sin Chai, Lao Chai, Ta Van, etc, which are located in the valleys of Muong Hoa, O Quy Ho, Lao Chai, Ta Phin…

Sapa has been becoming a great tourism destination. In coming years, it is expected that more tourists will visit Sapa. However, the development of tourism must go along with the sustainable development of the environment. That’s the aim of Sapa as well as of other tourist attractions in Vietnam.

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