Best Way to See Sapa
Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Before going to Vietnam we had read up on different ways to visit Sapa. We knew it was a must-see stop on our trip and we wanted to make sure we did it in the best way possible. There are SO many different ways to see Sapa, and so many different guides we wondered how we will know which is the best for us.
It was a pretty easy choice to decide between group tours and private. Daniel and I love to ask questions and we knew that going just the two of us would allow us to soak in the experience the best. I stumbled upon Sapa Sisters. A tour guide company in Sapa of just women tour guides!
Our tour guide, Pen, took us early in the morning to start our hike. We walked hours up, down and around beautiful and large rice fields. We visited in late September which is right when they start harvesting their crop! Pen told us so many different stories about their culture and way of life. Here are a couple fun things:
Most only speak their tribal language and just enough Vietnamese to get by..
They have no government payments like for housing or health insurance.
They grow and harvest enough rice to sustain themselves for eating it three times a day.
As for meat, each family owns near 100 chickens that continuously reproduce as they consume them. For pigs they have to purchase new ones each time which can reach around 250 dollars per pig depending.
Still common among the Hmong people are kidnappings of girls for marriage. A man can kidnap a girl he is interested in and marry her. If after 3 nights and 4 days she still doesn't agree they will get divorced. Surprisingly a lot of the girls will stay married even if they don't want to. Because a married life will be the most successful.
The youngest son will forever live in the house of and with the parents. When he is married the wife will come to live with them. The other sons acquire new land and build new homes for themselves for their families.
After hiking all day, Pen invited us to come to their home to sleep. We were so down, it was an easy yes! The way back to her home was a 3 kilometer hike straight up hill. And when I say straight uphill.... it was borderline rock-climbing. We saw other Sapa villagers doing the hike up and down, barefoot, with babies on their backs and not breaking a sweat. I on the other hand was panting for breath already from minute five of the hike.
When we got to her home it was ~beautiful~! She has the last home on the hill that over looks all of Sapa and it's beauty. She offered us to take a shower and pointed us in the direction of the 'shower hut'. This shower hut was straight up what you would expect! A small wooden hut with a bucket of water with a little cup inside. You undress, through your clothes and towel over the side of the hut and bathe yourself with the cup in the bucket. After I was done and Daniel went in for his turn, I walked around to see what were in the other huts. On my little self tour I found chickens, pigs, and some cool weight system that crushes rice (hand made machine!!). I went back to the house to see she had placed our clothes from the day hike on a rod over a fire that was currently cooking pig. (Side note: our clothes ended up permanently stuck with roasting pig smell!). That night we made a large dinner with rice and egg rolls that Pen showed us how to make. We got drunk with her husband and grandpa on rice wine and went to bed early for another day of hiking.
The next day we spent hiking around more, eating more rice, dying clothes with indigo and then finally taking a ride on the back of a motorcycle to the city center.
Our two day trip with Pen in Sapa was really unforgettable. The trip felt like it was much longer than just two days and we probably won't ever forget it! I highly recommend anyone looking for a tour guide in Sapa to go with Sapa Sisters and to also go privately rather than a group. Pen answered millions of questions and curiosities we had as well as told us endless stories about herself, her family and Sapa.