Vietnam remains a largely rural country. Many of its people depend upon farming and live as their fathers and forefathers have done for generations. North of Hanoi, the Northern Highlands, hill tribes retain their traditions and tourists enjoying a Vietnam holiday will see local life at first hand if they decide to include Sapa tour and the immediate vicinity in their Vietnam travel package; a good Vietnam travel agent will be only too happy to include Sapa in the itinerary. The Northern Highlands are very accessible from Hanoi, and if you travel by day, you are certain to enjoy the journey as well.
The Country is one of contrasts and to really appreciate all it has to offer, it is important to get away from the cities and coastal resorts. The Northern Highlands between Hanoi and the Chinese border are a region with lush green vegetation and terraces where villagers grow their rice and vegetables. Life in the villages themselves has changed little for generations and tourists should grasp the chance to look at the villagers and how they live their lives day by day. It will be a sharp contrast to their own routines.
The H’mong is the largest group, making up around 50% of the population of around 30,000 but there are several other groups, some with less than 500 in total. To be fair, tourists have changed life somewhat because there is now a market for some of their traditional handicrafts. Often villagers walk to the market in Sapa Town to sell their goods, and have to walk back at the end of the day. Others may even stay overnight; it is a hard life.
It will be cold in the winter months with limited heating in the typical accommodation so you will need to have some warm clothing. If you are travelling throughout Vietnam, you will need to know what weather you are likely to face because there are contrasts here as well. Vietnam stretches many degrees of latitude, north to south. The north is temperate, the south tropical.
The terraces are beautiful as soon as the villagers sow their rice. The water shimmers and when the shoots emerge, the terraces go through shades of green until the rice is ready for harvest when everything is golden. For all those months, visitors will get great images of the terraces in their minds; photographs as well.
The experience of Sapa offers will live long in the memory. For first time visitors to South East Asia, it is unlikely they will have seen anything like its terraces before. The food that is grown on the terraces forms the bulk of the diet of the ethnic tribes eat all year round. They eat what they grow and make extra money from selling their handicrafts to tourists. The best thing to buy both as presents for family and friends and for souvenirs is the colourful material in its many forms. As you head on to the next stage of your Vietnam tour package you will only have a little extra weight but loads of memories.