The SaPa Terraces north of Hanoi are in an area of real natural beauty. The Terraces on which the Hmong, Dao and Tai people grow rice are all real picture for most of the year. They grow rice over a period of several months on the hillside terraces. The process begins by flooding the terraces that will then shimmer in the sun. The rice is planted and as the shoots begin to come through the water, the terraces will turn green and finally golden when it is harvest time. Visitors to Vietnam are likely to find the SaPa Terraces on a standard Vietnam Itinerary anyway but those who book a vacation in Vietnam to especially enjoy the natural environment and some activity should seriously consider this region north of Hanoi for trekking. Hanoi is a convenient airport of entry anyway with a visa to Vietnam available on arrival. A few hours north and they can enjoy walking in these Northern Highlands.
A good Vietnam tour operator will always try to tailor your time in Vietnam to your particular interests and the time you have available. There is plenty to see in the country but there is also the option of coming back rather than trying to fit too much into one holiday. Perhaps you want to have 3 or 4 days in Sapa? It will be worth it because you will learn more about the ethnic tribes living there and be able to explore. Some trails are well-worn now because Vietnam has become increasingly popular.
If you do some research and use the expertise of your tour operator it is likely that you can go on treks that few have walked before. Clients are welcome to make requests for a personalised itinerary; Vietnam’s tourist industry is famed for its service and the people for their hospitality. You will need to be moderately fit with suitable footwear and equipment to trek in SaPa but otherwise there will be no restrictions.
Ironically shopping will be one of a number highlights. This is because the local tribes will be selling their unique handicrafts which make good souvenirs and presents. Muong Hoa is the main valley, around 11 kilometres long with a river running in the bottom of it. There are many interesting villages to visit; a great deal to do in a day so an early start will be almost certain. It is also one way to be ahead of others in the high season.
If you are using Hanoi as a base, you can arrange a trekking tour starting from collection within Hanoi and returning back to the City. If you are planning to travel elsewhere in Vietnam, your route would almost certainly be back through Hanoi anyway.
There are other parts of Vietnam that are suitable for trekking, notably the Central Highlands but the top choice at present is certainly the Sa Pa Terraces and the region as a whole. If you are looking for fresh air in your lungs, come to Sa Pa.