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Picturesque green valleys, terraced hill sides and tribes still following their ancient traditions welcome to Sapa. Located 350kms north-west of Hanoi, just shy of the Chinese border is the Lao Cai Province where you will discover Sapa. Its surroundings and impressive landscape are on the lower slopes of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, which also boasts Vietnam's highest mountain Fansipan, with a height of 3142 metres. Sapa is populated by a diverse group of ethnic minorities such as the Hmong, Yao, Tay and Giay groups. Thought to have inhabited the area since the 1800's, these Sapa hill tribes are still around today continuing their way of life and traditions as they have done for centuries. The weather is very seasonal, during the summer it's quite moderate and rainy. During the winter it can be cold, misty and even get the odd snowfall. Recommended times to travel are March through May and mid September to early December to get a warmer and clearer experience. Organising your travel to Sapa in advance through a travel specialist is advised. The best way to get to Sapa is by overnight train, where travellers can sleep the journey away. From Hanoi the journey takes approximately 10 hours and the trains depart daily. There are fourteen trains that provide the return journey between Hanoi and Lao Cai, all providing air-conditioning and comfortable cabins with multiple berth options. You'll wake up refreshed and ready for your Sapa adventure to begin when you arrive into Lao Cai early the next morning. Put your walking shoes on and explore the valleys offering breathless scenery leading you to local villages. The nearest village of Cat Cat is only 3kms from Sapa, another option is Ta Phin village home to Red Dzao approximately 10kms away. Most travellers seek a guide and take a Xe Om (motorbike) to a starting point 8kms from Sapa, then trek a 14km loop around the area visiting villages along the way. There are many hiking and trekking options in the area for all fitness levels, visiting hill tribe villages and waterfalls. For the serious mountaineer why not take on the 19km journey to the pinnacle of Fansipan, Vietnam's highest peak. Another attraction of any Sapa trip is the markets. There are multiple markets held around the area generally on the weekend on either a Saturday or Sunday. A famous market is the Bac Ha Sunday market, which is a trading centre and meeting place for friends and family. You will find the local minorities wearing their traditional garments, the Hmong are identified by their indigo embroidered garb and the Red Dao by their red headdresses with dangling coins and waistcoats that are intricately embroidered and worn by the women. The Love Market is another famed market - traditionally it was a place where the youths of the local hill tribes would come to find a mate.

When you have met the locals, trekked the valleys and marvelled the views of dramatically terraced rice fields, shopped at the markets and have your treasured moments captured, you will head back to Lao Cai station for your overnight train back to Hanoi. A Sapa travel adventure is a definite highlight of any trip to Vietnam.

If you consider traveling independently Sapa and Vietnam maybe you can have a look at http://www.vietnamonline.com.au

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Wilkin_Kroon

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