29 In Culture/ Guides + How-Tos/ Hiking + The Outdoors/ Travel/ Vietnam

Beautiful Sapa, Vietnam

Taking the trek through Sapa Vietnam’s rice terraces was something that I wavered on doing. I was afraid that it was going to be just like our rice terrace trek in Bali, just a little bit longer.  To be honest, in a lot of ways it was very similar, but in a lot of ways it was also very different. This was without a doubt a highlight of my experience in Vietnam and something I would do again. (We booked through Friends Travel Vietnam and we were very pleased with our experience.)

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We arrived in Sapa about an hour before sunrise on our overnight bus, but they let us sleep until just after sunrise. Stacey, our three new friends and I started walking using a very modest map to the hotel where we were to meet up with our guides.

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Stacey and I took the middle-range Sapa trek it was a little over 11 miles and we didn’t have fancy accommodation. However, it was still an amazing experience. Our guide picked us up a little after 7 am and we headed out to do our walk through three small towns near Sapa Town, nestled in the mountains of Northern Vietnam.

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The view of Sapa Town as we started down into the farmland.

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This little girl is one of the cutest girls I have ever seen. She along with her mother, another little girl and her mother walked alongside us. The girls would take our hands and made us little gifts out of grass & flowers. Of course, they were doing this hoping we would buy something at the end of the day when we got to their village.

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Our guide, Aimee, was 18 years old, and looked like a child. The only thing that made her look remotely close to 18 is that she was seven months pregnant. As I talked with her, I asked her about her life. She had been married the year before, but according to her, she was married late, girls in her village are typically married around 14-15.  Her husband is 20, but he isn’t working right now because he is currently attending high school. I asked her if she went to high school and she said that she was the oldest child and had to say home to help care for her younger siblings. When I asked her if she wanted to go eventually, she said that she was “too old”. She started guiding at the age of 16 and learned english over the last few years simply by interacting with tourists. However, she can’t read or write English. She’s such an amazing girl.

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The mountains were beautiful – always my favorite topography

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Seriously, how beautiful is this little girl? She had this adorable little spirit about her. Despite how serious she looking in this photo, she was running along beside us, one of her boots had a hole in the toe and she would pick flowers along the way. She was so sweet. 

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These odd little animals were all over the farms. They’re like a cow / hippo hybrid.

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What a view?

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This little boy was playing beside this little stream of water. Turns out, this ia Aimme’s youngest brother.

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Stacey and I at a little break in our trek. Small girls asked us over and over if we wanted to buy little bracelets. We just enjoyed the view and drank some water.

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One of the small villages down in the valley.

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The little plugs of rice, they were planted as Aimee told us, “One by one, by one, by one.”

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This woman was planting the rice plants. She had them tied over this log and would pull them off as she planted them one at a time. I loved her beautiful smile and she was so sweet to show & tell us more about what she was doing. 

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When we arrived at the village, Aimee showed us where the textiles of this region were made and the rice was ground.

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We arrived at our homestay and felt right at home. There were four beds on the lower floor. Just enough for Stacey & me plus our new friends that we met and we were talking to along the way Annie & her father (who we have dubbed Papa) from Quebec, Canada. Papa was so sweet and bought Stacey & me some beers while we chatted about home, our lives and traveling. They’re truly two of my favorite people I met while traveling.

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This sign made me giggle. I thought it was a joke at first and decided to give it a shot anyway, and in the middle of nowhere we had wifi.

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Papa took this photo and that’s Annie across from me. The other two joined us later. The people who owned and lived in our homestay gave us snacks and then loads and olds of food. We were stuffed and exhausted when they brought out our next treat…

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… rice whiskey! We all took one shot, but we couldn’t stand to take another. They left us a water bottle full and based on some of the people we passed on the trail the next day, it was better off that we stuck with just one shot.

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The next day we had breakfast and Aimee came to pick us up to start on the rest of our trek.

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A look at the irrigation system flowing into the rice terraces. 

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My little bag of flowers made by one of the girls who was walking with us. Same thing as the day before – two little girls and their mother walking with us.

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Up next was the Bamboo Forest which is full of butterflies. FULL of them, which most people would love, but I have a stupid fear of butterflies.

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The bamboo forest

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Annie was being followed by these two girls. The one in the back often took my hand to “help me down the terraces” but I was so nervous she would fall I feel like I was holding her up more than anything.

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Stacey took this of the little girl taking my hand. The mom was typically carrying an umbrella over Stacey to keep her from getting a sunburn. 

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We stopped at the top of a waterfall near the very end of our trek. It didn’t look all that impressive from the top, but it was a great place to relax.

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Papa got sick and had to go back and stay at the hotel after dinner, but Annie, Stacey and I still had a really great time.

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Aimee is the one on the right. The other three “helped us along”.

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This was our last little view before we stopped for lunch. It was a truly great experience and one I won’t ever forget.

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I spent the afternoon feeling a bit sick to the stomach, so I set up camp in a cute little cafe, sipping some sprite for the afternoon until I felt better. This mountain view made even a sick day better.

We went back to the hotel where we all met up to begin with for our last dinner before catching our night bus back to Hanoi. We, of course, had to meet up with Annie and Papa (who was feeling much better). I’ve been trying to stay in touch with them and I hope to see them again soon.

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To keep up with my travels in real-time and read more posts and travel articles I find interesting ‘like’ the For the Love of Wanderlust page on Facebook. Simply click HERE.

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Vince
    October 11, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Great photos!

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 26, 2015 at 10:55 pm

      Thanks, Vince! Sapa was just one of those places that every time I turned around I wanted to take a photo.

  • Reply
    Jaimee
    October 17, 2015 at 11:18 am

    This sounds so fun. The photos are gorgeous. Will definitely keep this in mind❤

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 27, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      Thank you so much. I highly recommend Sapa. When I go back to Vietnam I would love to do it again. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Reply
    Jessisawanderer
    October 17, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Lovely photos! Sounds like a great adventure. I didn’t have time to do the overnight stay when I was there but looks like it’s definitely worth it 🙂

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 28, 2015 at 10:07 am

      It was totally worth it. If you go back I highly recommend staying the night. When I go back, I’d like to do a multiple night trek / stay if that’s possible. I love it so much! I’m glad that you still got to see the beauty of it, though. Don’t you just love those mountains?

  • Reply
    Charito
    October 17, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Nice place, nice photos , nice people..rice terraces look likes in Baguio in the Philippines… The trekks look like in Bhutan..

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 28, 2015 at 10:08 am

      I haven’t been to Bhutan, but the terraces are similar to Baguio, although I didn’t trek in those, I just saw them from a distance. I loved this experience and hopefully I can trek in Bhutan and experience that. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  • Reply
    Anamika Ojha
    October 17, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Amazing shots captured and glad you had a wonderful trip. 🙂

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 28, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Thank you so much, Anamika!

  • Reply
    The Tiny Book
    October 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Wow!! I will be reading this series with full interest. I’m planning Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for next year, and feel your blog will become a must.
    Great pictures and inspiring post 🙂

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 28, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Thank you! I hope you find some helpful tips in here, and let me know if you need any help or suggestions. I love talking travel. <3 Sapa was one of the highlights of my entire trip, you should definitely go! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  • Reply
    Xam Zonio
    October 17, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Married at 14-15?????!!!!! That is unbelievable! Woah. Too young! Haha. I’m so shocked.

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 28, 2015 at 10:12 am

      I know! It’s so crazy! And saying she’s “too old” to go back to high school at 17! SO crazy! Makes me feel very grateful that I have had all the opportunities that I’ve had.

  • Reply
    Rhoni
    October 17, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    The walk looks great. I take it the bulk of your gear was at a hotel and the walk was for two nights out?

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 28, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Exactly – we actually left our big backs with Friends Travel Vietnam in Hanoi. They provided water in the morning, so we just had to carry our clothes & essentials for the couple of days we trekked. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Reply
    amyrbutler
    October 17, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    What a cool story and beautiful photos! I’ll be in Vietnam in December and will hopefully make it to Sapa — you’ve definitely made it sound like a great place to visit!

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 28, 2015 at 10:19 am

      Amy, it was my favorite stop as a whole in Vietnam. We did a bit of a whirlwind tour, though. I will go back to Sapa when I go back to Vietnam, I enjoyed it that much.

  • Reply
    Marisel Montaño
    October 17, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Beautiful photos! Love the litros girl!! ❤️

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 28, 2015 at 10:19 am

      Thank you! She was such a doll, huh? <3

  • Reply
    Nikki
    October 18, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Stunning photos, this makes me nostalgic for Vietnam even though I never made it to Sapa because the weather was so bad at the time. Gives me an excuse to go back! 🙂

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 28, 2015 at 10:20 am

      I imagine it’s an absolute wreck in the rainy season! I hope you get to go back! 🙂

  • Reply
    Soumya Nambiar
    October 19, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Awesome pictures

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      October 28, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Tanya
    December 30, 2015 at 2:27 am

    Hi, great blog. Just wondering what time of year you went to Sapa?

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      January 21, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Thank you, Tanya! Sorry for the late response! I was in Sapa at the very end of May.

  • Reply
    Renee
    March 28, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Just gorgeous, in the list now!

    • Reply
      PaigeBrown
      April 3, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      It really is beautiful and I think it would be perfect for traveling with kids for them to see this lifestyle and walk with the Vietnamese children who hike alongside tourists! Thanks for reading! Cheers!

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