Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe

Sa Pa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

Changi Airport T1

This adventure is: #on the weekend, #scenic

Sa Pa: Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc...

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“Hi, it's u­­­s, Georg­i­n­a, Bri­tt­a, and ­Lee­ Lin­g­”

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Highlights

Northern Vietnam boasts a plethora of geographical landscapes for its visitors, from the peak of Mount Fansipan nicknamed the roof of Indochina, to the wet rice fields of Sapa, to the Love Waterfall and the famous sights of the UNESCO World Heritage site Tam Coc, which we will visit via a boat ride. The trip will whisk us away from the hustle and bustle of city life to the tranquility and simplicity of life in the countryside.

Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe starting at Sa Pa, Lao Cai, VietnamVietnamese women in traditional costume from Max Pixel licensed by CC0 via Max Pixel.

In this trip we will experience:
  • Ride a cable car up Mount Fansipan 
  • Admire a amazing panoramic view of the Hoàng Liên Son mountains called Heaven's Gate 
  • Lunch and visit to Sapa town and market
  • Trek the Sapa mountains and stay in the homestay of Sapa mountain
  • See the famous waterfall (Fall of Love) in Sapa
  • Admire the fantastic Bích Động pagodas
  • Take the Boat ride through the caves in UNESCO world heritage site Tam Coc
Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe starting at Sa Pa, Lao Cai, VietnamView of Mount Fansipan

Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe starting at Sa Pa, Lao Cai, VietnamTerraced rice paddies fields in Sapa, photo by Phong Nguyen licensed under CC BY 2.0

Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe starting at Sa Pa, Lao Cai, VietnamYoung Hmong Tribe women seen during the hike by TJTAK licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr.

On the first day, we’ll ride the cable car up along Mount Fansipan, which is situated among the Hoàng Liên Son mountains. The cable car ride also offers a bird’s-eye view of the wet rice paddies below tended by the locals. Mount Fansipan is tall enough that its peak just barely protrudes from the clouds of the Vietnamese sky. The chilly 8 degree Celsius atmosphere bites at your skin and the weather constantly threatens to rain, making windbreakers a necessity. As a reward for conquering its peak, visitors can absorb the wonderful skyline with the clouds resembling large quantities of cotton candy. We’ll feel like we're literally on cloud nine.

On day 2, the Sapa village stay offers a unique experience for those of us who are inherently city dwellers. The Sapa landscape is entirely made of wet rice paddies, tended to by the locals, mostly from the Hmong ethnic group. The mountainous shape of the fields contour the entire area. Walking in the fields themselves feels like stepping into a puddle over and over again, allowing the muddy water to become well acquainted with your calves and your feet. The local children seem to still retain plenty of their childlike wonder and are given complete freedom to roam the muddy fields.

Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe starting at Sa Pa, Lao Cai, VietnamWaterfall of Love, Sapa, Vietnam by Loi Nguyen Duc licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe starting at Sa Pa, Lao Cai, VietnamView of Heaven's Gate, photo by Viethavvh

After breakfast, we’ll make our way to the San Sa Ho commune in Sapa district, where the Heaven's Gate and Love Waterfall is a popular attraction. We'll explore on foot via a dirt road. The 100m tall waterfall starts from the peak of Mount Fansipan and generates a constant noisy gush of water into the Golden Stream. From the top, the waterfall itself is flanked by moss that has thrived on the wet rocks for ages. The waterfall is surrounded by trees, creating a very serene atmosphere to the place.

Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe starting at Sa Pa, Lao Cai, VietnamLocals working in the rice paddies by Max Pixel licensed under CC0 via Max Pixel.

Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe starting at Sa Pa, Lao Cai, VietnamSapa Town by Yun Huang Yong licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Next up, we’ll now embark on arguably the most breathtaking sight of this tour, the Bích Động pagodas of Tam Coc. This UNESCO World Heritage site looks like it came straight out of a default Windows Desktop wallpaper. The landscape boasts a wide spectrum of greens, and its surrounded by mountains shrouded by foliage, with pagodas nestled at their peaks. The mountains overlook the still river waters responsible for ferrying boat rides. After a spectacular and calming boat ride which has seduced us with the beauty of the site, we will be dreading the end of our tour.

The next morning we will have an early breakfast before heading to the airport in Hanoi and a trip back to Singapore. 

Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe starting at Sa Pa, Lao Cai, VietnamTam Coc Rice Valley by Tuấn Mai licensed by CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

Vietnam - Let's see the Sapa mountains and Tam Coc with the local Hmong tribe starting at Sa Pa, Lao Cai, VietnamRice farmers on the boat in Tam Coc, photo by Rod Waddington icensed by CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

Fitness Level:
1)    Beginners, you need not be a marathon runner just fit enough to walk uphill and downhill at a normal pace that can last 5 to 6 hours every day.

Note
We are planning to catch the harvest of rice fields of Tam Coc which is early May to June.  However, we may not always see the golden rice fields as the rice will harvest depending on the weather. 

Itinerary

Itinerary


Day 1
1100 hrs: Meet at Changi Airport and leave for Sapa
1525 hrs: Reach Hanoi, eat lunch on the way
2100 hrs: Arrive at Sapa, overnight Sapa town

Day 2
0800 hrs: Breakfast in hotel
0900 hrs: Checkout and leave for Mt Fansipan
1030 hrs: Arrive Mt Fansipan
1330 hrs: Leave for Sapa town
1400 hrs: Lunch and visit Sapa town, market, church, or Ham Rong mountain nearby the church
1800 hrs: Dinner
1900 hrs: Pack for 1.5-day trekking, overnight Sapa town

Day 3, trekking time about 6 hours and trekking distance between 12km to 16km
0700 hrs: Breakfast in hotel
0830 hrs: Leave for trekking
1200 hrs: Lunch
1630 hrs: Reach homestay, overnight at Sapa village homestay
1800 hrs: Dinner at Sapa village homestay

Day 4, trekking time about 7km
0700 hrs: Breakfast in Sapa village homestay
0930 hrs: Leave for Sapa town from Sapa village
1230 hrs: Arrive Sapa town and lunch
1330 hrs: Leave for Love Waterfall and Heaven's Gate
1830 hrs: Reach Sapa town, overnight Sapa town

Day 5
0500 hrs: Breakfast, Drive to Tam Coc
1300 hrs: Arrive in Tam Coc
1300 hrs: boat ride through Caves 
1630 hrs: Visit Bích Động pagodas
2030 hrs: Check into hotel

Day 6
0700 hrs: Breakfast in hotel
0730 hrs: Leave for Hanoi Airport,
0830 hrs: Arrive Hanoi Airport
1040 hrs: Leave for Singapore
1425 hrs: Reach Singapore



Mountain Hill in Sapa by Max Pixel licensed under CC0 via Max Pixel.