Sometimes when people travel through Vietnam, whether they start South and finish North or vice versa and i think they tend to leave out Sapa. I hadn’t put much though into it myself either until I had seen a few posts about it on the Girls Love Travel facebook group.
Hanoi was originally going to be the last stop in Vietnam before I left for the Philippines however I decided I wanted to do some solo trekking. I jumped onto https://sapasisters.com/ and checked out what prices and tours they had. Sapa Sisters employ the local H’mong women and pay them good rates, essentially providing them with good jobs where they can support their family, it’s such a great business. On their site it says that you need to book 5 days before your chosen date however I booked mine 4 days before via email.
I chose a two day one night hike with my own personal guide Zo for $93USD, a bit pricey but 100% worth it! From Hanoi to Sapa you can either catch a bus or the train. Having not yet taken a sleeper train before I booked a return train ticket with ET Pumpkin Express. I loved the train as the cabins are just like a 4 bed dorm room. The beds have a proper pillow and a Donna as the rooms are air con. Both trips I slept the whole night compared to a sleeper bus where I usually only get a couple hours of sleep.
If you take the train just beware you will stop about 50 minutes from Sapa town but you just get on a shared mini bus into town for small fee. I arrived in Sapa at 7am and the air was fresh which was such a nice change from the humidity of Hanoi! I got some breakfast and then headed to my hostel “Go Sapa Hostel” which was a short walk up a hill. I would definitely staying here if your backpacking. They have a great common area with plenty of tables and even have two computers you can use. Mainly you get an amazing view of the mountains where you can eat your breakfast, I really enjoyed my stay here.
The next morning I headed the Sapa Sisters office ready for my hike. I left my big bag and had my small backpack ready for the overnight hike. After meeting my beautiful Gide Zo we headed off. We left about 9-9:30am and the trek starting off easy and simple just walking. The whole time we had amazing views of the rice fields often walking past workers in the fields or other H’mong women. The hardest parts were when we had to hike up steep hills for longer periods of time but otherwise the track wasn’t too much of a challenge.
We stopped for lunch (included) where I relaxed and ate fried rice and drank a nice cold coke. The sun came out so the next couple of hours after lunch became tougher as we had the sun beating down on us. Before we revived at the home stay we went to Zo’s house for a quick break before the last stretch. We arrived at the home stay around 2:30pm and were the first one’s there!
There ended up being about 17 of us who had booked with Sapa Sisters (mostly small groups) and we all stayed at the home stay together which was just a big room & upstairs with single and double beds. It was nice to socialise with others after a long day hiking. They had nice hot showers and we were provided with dinner and breakfast.
During the night it had rained and stormed a bit (I must have been out like a light) so the next morning we knew it could be slippery. Zo and I headed off just after 9am. She gave me the choice of the easier way or harder route but I decided to go the harder way! It was a bit of a hike uphill straight off which was harsh on my already sore body. However the views as usual were amazing. It started raining shortly after we left but that didn’t stop us. Once we finally reached the top where we would then descend down we knew it would be slippery. It was quite steep going down and my legs felt weak every step I took as I tried to keep myself from falling down. I ended up slipping and falling down several times which was almost unavoidable but we both laughed it off and kept going (I got most of the falls on video). The rain was on and off most of the time but I was still having a good time.
We stopped for lunch again which was the end of the hike and were the first ones to arrive again. After lunch and a sit down Zo called her husband to come pick us up on motorbikes (you can get a van back). She hopped on with her husband and I hopped on the back of another guy. It absolutely poured rain for the whole ride back and my raincoat, shorts and shoes were drenched! We got back to the office and Zo said goodbye and I went and had a shower and got changed.
I had already booked my return train ticket to go back that night but I would have liked to stay another night in Sapa town as I thought it was a nice quiet town. It wasn’t as hot and it was different to every other place so even if you don’t like hiking I’d still recommend coming to see the H’mong women and how they dress. It’s a good place to relax and catch up on any work, blogging, writing ect. I know that I’m definitely going back!
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