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Sapa in Northwest Vietnam is home to Traditional & Colorful Hilltribes in a Cool Mountain Setting

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The beauty and natural grace of Northern Vietnam certainly grasps the attention of even the most discerning traveler. The landscape here will just catch your breath away, quite literally. One destination that continues to astonish visitors is Sapa in Northwestern Vietnam. Located some 1600 meters above sea level, it is one of the region’s major towns and where many ethnic minorities such as the Hmong, Dao and Tay live. There’s your double dose of nature and culture – all in one lovely town.

Temperatures are what you’d expect. Summers are pretty mild when compared to tropical Southeast Asia, but can still be hot, with temperatures topping 30 degrees Celcius on occasion and winters can be freezing at some spots, with snowfall included. A rare occurrence in the region indeed!

The dominating features of Sapa are the mountains and hills. This not only makes for a scenic environment, but also for a much cooler atmosphere when compared with the rest of the country. The land is also used to its max, and you have to thank the hilltribes for that. We all know of their traditional lifestyles. This includes their farming techniques.

Speaking of hilltribes, you can not miss going to the market. More than just buying wares and goods, the place is a convergence of cultures, sights, sounds and colors. The rainbow-colored smocks of the Hmong, the bright red headdress of the Dao and the blue clothes of the Tay and many other tribes all converge to the town’s markets every day, providing a great photo opportunity and a chance to experience a truly colorful and lively market place.

A walk to the ethnic town of Cat Cat is highly recommended. You’ll get to see the farmers and hilltribes in action during your journey, as well as the farm and wild animals that call the area home. Cat Cat is also a unique town in that the practice of wife pulling is common place. What is this? A single man asks his friends if they know of a single woman and if they can lure her to his house for three days. During that time, if the woman is interested, a wedding wil be arranged. However, she is free to leave whenever she likes if she’s not interested. Only here in Cat Cat.

Vietnam’s northern mountain ranges are breathtakingly beautiful, rich in cultural diversity and great fun to explore. Bask in it with our Sapa Essential. For more on varied Vietnam, check out our tours here.

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