Sapa is now definitely one of my favorite destinations in Vietnam. Located in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range in northwest Vietnam and home to Fansipan – Indochina’s rooftop, Sapa is famous for its picturesque landscape and its colorful hill tribes of ethnic minorities. This tourist magnet is appealing all year around, with exotic sights of frost and snow during winter, blooming cherry, apricot, plum and peach flowers in spring, cool weather for a summer getaway. But it is most beautiful during harvesting season in autumn, when rolling hills of terraced paddy fields turn into endless golden yellow carpets.

It is easy getting a night train from Hanoi to Sapa, not so easy to sleep on it though. It feels like being rocked in the arms of your mother as a baby, with a lullaby made of rumbling wheels, blaring whistle, and screeching breaks. Once emerging from the train at Lao Cai station, everyone looks like zombies. But the early morning cool air, the 1h drive along winding roads, and first glimpses of Sapa’s stunning scenery will soon wake up your senses.

On the way to Sapa - A landslide blocked the road for 1h

The road from Lao Cai train station to Sapa was blocked for a few hours because of a landslide. A truck and a small van were stuck in the mud and got pulled out by other vehicles.

On the way from Lao Cai train station to Sapa

All tourists just got out and took photos of the surroundings. This is my first glimpse of Sapa’s terraced paddy fields.

On the way from Lao Cai to Sapa

Up-close

Sapa - Treking to Matra Black H'mong village

We arrived at Sapa at 8.30am, got a quick breakfast, and then started our trek to Matra village.

Sapa - Treking to Matra Black H'mong village

The scenery on the way is beautiful

Sapa - Treking to Matra Black H'mong village

Stone wall, ripe rice, and wild flowers

Sapa - Matra Black H'mong village

Matra village. The locals are of Black H’mong ethnic, not sure if that has anything to do with the color of their house roof.

Sapa - Matra Black H'mong village

A wonderful view. Just imagine it in spring, with blooming apricot flowers, how magnificent ^_^

Sapa - Matra Black H'mong village

Two shy boys sitting outside their house

Sapa - Matra Black H'mong village

Because of the rain, the trail was quite muddy and slippy

Sapa - Matra Black H'mong village

We walk among the paddy fields

Sapa - Matra Black H'mong village

Tourists may find these smiling ladies actually quite annoying. They just tag along, trying to sell their crafts. We got lucky, our tour guide managed to convince them that we were born and bred here, and we were coming back to visit some relatives. Foreign tourists, no chance, they’ll stick with you like leeches.

Sapa - a Black H'mong family in Matra village

Inside a Black H’mong household. It’ss such a tiny house, but the family head told us that all 13 of them stay here.

Sapa

Sapa

We met Carol, an 60+ years old English lady who traveled by herself for a month in SEA. And somehow later that day, we ended up in the same homestay.

Sapa

Kids walking to school

Sapa

On the way from Matra to Ta Phin village

Sapa

On the way from Matra to Ta Phin village

Sapa

Kids playing outside

Sapa

I don’t know the name of this flower in English, but they are quite beautiful.

Sapa - cloth dyed with indigo

Handmade cloth dyed in indigo

Sapa - A Black H'mong girl

A black H’mong girl holding a cat

Sapa - A Black H'mong girl

A black H’mong girl sitting by the road

Sapa - house roof cover with green moss

A rooftop cover in beautiful green moss

Sapa - on the way to Ta Phin village

On the way to Ta Phin village

Sapa - on the way to Ta Phin village

On the way to Ta Phin village

Sapa - Pumpkin growing on house roof

People here grow pumpkin on their roof

Sapa - on the way to Ta Phin village

Golden yellow paddy fields

Sapa - on the way to Ta Phin village

Towards the end of our trek, the weather got worse and the rain got heavier

Sapa - on the way to Ta Phin village

The trail

Sapa - Wild plant

A wild plant

Sapa - on the way to Ta Phin village

As the rain got heavier, the landscape was wrapped in a thick blanket of mist.

Sapa - the balcony of our homestay

The balcony of our homestay

Our Red Dao host, Sapa

Our host – a very hospitable Red Dao family

Grilled salmon, Sapa

It rained like hell at night, and the dams of some salmon farms got burst. The next morning, every household in Ta Phin village caught some salmons. Our host got 3, and he treated us to a sumptuous lunch of grilled and steamed salmon. We joked that it was ‘Salmon day’ for Ta Phin.

Topas Ecolodge, Sapa

The second night, we stayed at Topas Ecolodge.

Sapa - view from Topas Ecolodge

This is the view from our balcony. Heavenly ^_^

Sapa - view from Topas Ecolodge

View from the dining hall of Topas 🙂

Topas Ecolodge, Sapa

Each bungalow is surrounded by wild flowers and has a wide open view of the terraced paddy fields below

Topas Ecolodge, Sapa

The walkway in Topas

Sapa

Wild flowers

Sapa

Early morning dew

Sapa - near Topas Ecolodge

We took a walk around Topas in the morning

Sapa - near Topas Ecolodge

Sapa - near Topas Ecolodge

Sapa - near Topas Ecolodge

Sapa - near Topas Ecolodge

Sapa - near Topas Ecolodge

Sapa - near Topas Ecolodge

Sapa - near Topas Ecolodge

Topas Ecolodge, Sapa

The breathtaking view of Topas Ecolodge

Topas Ecolodge, Sapa

Night moths and butterflies

Sapa - the Red Dao ladies gathering in front of Topas Ecolodge

Red Dao ladies gather in front of Topas, waiting for tourists

Red Dao ladies - Sapa

Three Red Dao ladies

Sapa - on the way from Topas Ecolodge to town

On the way from Topas to Sapa town center

Sapa - Ta Van village

Ta Van village

Sapa - Ta Van village

Sapa - Ta Van village

Sapa - Ta Van village

Sapa - Ta Van village

Sapa - on the way from Topas Ecolodge to town