Sapa Rice Terraces: Part 3

In my final post about the Sapa rice terraces, I wanted to show you a little of the beauty we saw while we were up in the mountains. We visited many small villages while we were there, including Lao Chai, Ta Van, Catcat and Sapa city itself. We went all the way up mountains and saw some spectacular views. Here are some of my favourite photos of the trip!

It was a restful and restorative holiday!

Sapa Town

We didn’t spend a lot of time in Sapa town (we were there to see the terraces, not the tourists), but the little time we spent there was pretty cool. With about 40,000 people living in the town itself (and double that number in outside villages), Sapa was bustling during the holiday week.

This town was mostly unknown to outsiders until the French arrived in the late 1880s. For a while, it hosted a sanitorium for French soldiers, a military garrisson and villas for wealthy French colonists. In the 1940s 50s, a lot of the colonial era buildings were destroyed in conflicts between the Vietnamese and the French, and many of the locals had to flee the area because it was to unsafe to inhabit.

The old colonial era church in Sapa Town

In 1993, Vietnam officially opened the town to international tourism. Thousands of Vietnamese and international tourists flock to this beautiful area every year, and as a result, the population has boomed. Our guide, Ying, told us that the area is hardly recognizable from her childhood. The population has increased because there is more wealth in the area, thanks to tourism.

The Rice Terraces

I took a lot of photos on this trip, and I can’t actually remember where I took them all (sorry!). We saw many different villages and spent a lot of time on the motorbike, just meandering from village to village, appreciating each area’s charm.

Although we generally like being able to explore things on our own, we did pre-book one tour with Mountain Dragon Family, and we were really happy we did! We saw some of the nicest terraces on that trek, enjoyed some incredible local food, and learned about the area. We saw indigo plants, salmon farms, and so many beautiful views.

Our host at the home stay recommended that we travel up one particular mountain to take in the views. We were glad we did! One really nice thing about choosing a home stay is that the locals can tell you where to go to see the best stuff. We stayed at a place called Peace Home, and it was absolutely lovely!

My favourite picture on the mountain. The church, surrounded by rice terraces, with villages below…it was picturesque to say the least!

Sunsets in the rice terraces were especially beautiful. We experienced one with our impromptu Hmong guides after trekking through the bamboo forest. We saw others on the road, while on our way back from seeing the sights.

Seeing the terraces both on foot (with our guide Ying) and on the motorbike gave us really cool vantage points. We also made our way down the paths right into the terraces a few times. Being surrounded by these giant man-made fields is awe inspiring!

Plans for Future Trips

We already know we want to go back to Sapa (and hopefully, it’ll be soon!). On our next trip, we want to do a multi-day trek, staying in homestays as we make our way through the mountains and valleys. We also plan to see Mount Fansipan the next time we’re in Sapa. It’s Vietnam’s highest peak, and although it’s one of the most popular places to see in Sapa, we skipped it. We were enjoying the peace and serenity of the fields too much and we didn’t really want to be surrounded by throngs of tourists. Luckily, this beautiful spot is only a few hours away from us, so we can go back any time we have a long weekend!

We’ll have to come and take pictures when the rice is about to be harvested!

My next couple of posts will be about our Tet trip to Hue, the ancient imperial city! We had a great time there, but there’s so much to write about, and I had to do so much research, that I haven’t gotten to it yet. Now that classes are finishing up, and my post graduate project is complete, I’ll finally have time to tell you all about that trip too! Check back soon!

I’ve got a nice picture or two to share with you all!

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