Waking up on a sleeper train is just about the most romantic travel notion I have ever experienced. Footsteps begin to patter through the carriage as first light touches the windows, and the soothing sound of the railway tracks continue in the same rhythm as they had throughout the night. I wonder where we are ? I wonder what’s outside the window ? I wonder what great experiences are in store today?
After a peaceful night on the train and a luscious drive from the station up into the hills the next morning, visiting Sapa in North Vietnam feels like arriving at the last frontier against the mountains in which the Northern hill tribes live today. It’s very much a tourist town but nonetheless, it’s a intriguing mix of culture and modern influence, with a huge influx of Western travelers exploring the popular Can Cau Market as it sprawls it’s way toward the nearby river.
However, when it comes to North Vietnam travel it’s all about the outdoors, trekking and interaction with hill tribes in the region. It doesn’t take long until you begin to feel the full weight of the experience as you trek away from Sapa, and into the remote hill tribe villages of Vietnam Lao Chai & Ta Van. Rice fields and tiny villages string their way along the most incredible landscapes and it’s a very insight into traditional living to watch the Black H’mong, and Dzay people as they go about their daily lives. That being said, while it is a humbling process to see how many of the locals live in this part of the world, it is still nice to go back to the comfort of a hotel after trekking for the day.
Variety is always an important aspect to any great adventure and the next day, the Tam Duong Market provided an incredible fusion of color and character, with hill tribes from every region descending on the Ban Hon Village markets where they sell their craft and produce. There are also many photograph opportunities throughout the day, with the stunning Tram Ton Pass & Silver Waterfall being a hugely memorable sight.
Taking a tour to Sapa from Hanoi and meeting the hill tribes is just about the most authentic experience you can have in North Vietnam travel and you can be sure when you wake the next morning on the return leg of the train from Hanoi from Sapa, you will be left with even more wonder, than when you arrived in this enchanting part of the world.