I am so happy I decided to stay for two homestays in the Sapa region! I was able to trek further into the hills and learn more about the local culture. Our second homestay was in a small town where the locals are less accustomed to seeing tourists so it felt even more authentic!
I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to fully describe the Sapa region with anyone. I promise to try my very hardest, but the best way to understand is to simply visit and experience the local homestays, the fresh dinner cooked over the fire, and walking through village after village through the rice terraces. And of course being haggled to buy from each old lady or small child you come across along the way … the upside? I ended up with three pretty bracelets and endless conversation with my new friends.
I have just returned to Hanoi from a three day / four night trip to Sapa with Ethnic Travels (recommended!) Four days ago we headed off to Sapa via the overnight train – an eight hour ride heading North to Sapa. From here we were collected by a local lady of the Black Hmong tribe and lead through the rice terraces and over the roads to our first home stay. Here we were treated to local dishes of spring rolls, cabbage, rice, meats, and veggies.
The best way to understand the Sapa region is to head away from Sapa town and live and walk amongst the locals. It was fascinating to see how these tribes live in the modern day world. One example being the girls are married by 15/16 and having their first baby by the age of 17/18 after only knowing their husbands for mere days. Throughout my walk with my local guide, Chile, I hammered her with questions trying to learn as much as possible about these tribes and villages.