Sapa Trip - An unforgettable experience!

Trekking in Sapa, Vietnam is near the top of the bucket list for many travellers to Southeast Asia. When my friend and I set off for Vietnam, it was way up the top of ours.

Sapa Trip - An unforgettable experience!
Photo by Vietnam Typical Tours
The tour started at the centre of the Old Town in Hanoi. We were collected by a driver who took us to the train station, ensured we were settled on the train and provided us with plenty of bottled water for the journey.

For anyone that has travelled on the slightly less than desirable overnight sleeper buses in Vietnam with their sticky leather seats and worn out headrests, the overnight train was an absolute treat in comparison!

We were allocated two sizeable beds within a four-bed cabin, complete with fresh sheets, a duvet (hard to find in Vietnam!) and pillow. There was also a small selection of snacks provided within the cabin and more water, which meant we were well fed and hydrated throughout the journey.

Day one of our Sapa trek

Sapa Trip - An unforgettable experience! 1
Photo by fxxu
We slept well and woke up around nine hours later as we were pulling into Lao Cai Station. We were met by a driver and were taken to a hotel in Sapa village where we were provided with a two-course breakfast, fresh coffee and the opportunity to shower. This was the perfect preparation for a long day trekking!

Unfortunately for us, the weather had really closed in by this point and we were surrounded by thick grey clouds… However, this would not deter us!

For anyone with space in their backpack (we know how tight it gets!) we strongly recommend bringing good quality walking shoes on your Sapa trek. However, for unprepared travellers (like us!), the hotel provided us with short rubber wellies, free of charge.

These were perfectly good throughout our two-day trek, despite completing one of the more challenging routes. This is just one example of the little touches Friends Travel Vietnam offered throughout our tour.

Once we were ready to begin the trek we were met by our local tour guide who gave us a bamboo stick to walk with (at this point we underestimated how incredibly thankful we would be for this 10km later…) and off we went to begin the adventure of a lifetime!

We began trekking across the side of a steep valley and despite the poor weather, with each break in the clouds, we were treated to spectacular views of the rice paddy fields and dramatic scenery that Sapa is so well known for.

Our tour guide was from the Red Dao ethnic minority, and she was incredibly knowledgeable about the local area. Despite tackling tough terrain she made us feel extremely safe at all times and we knew we were in good hands!

After trekking through the jungle, we headed into the valley and through the rice fields towards a small village for our lunch stop. We skirted past the more frequently visited tourist restaurants and headed to a local house to enjoy a traditional Vietnamese lunch.

This consisted of a lemongrass chicken stir-fry, a sticky pork dish, fresh vegetables and rice and was a welcome opportunity to rest our legs and of course, take in the spectacular views that surrounded us.

This was a real ‘pinch yourself’ moment for both of us. It was incredible to be in the heart of Sapa, enjoying not only the stunning views but also eating delicious freshly home-cooked food with not a single tourist in sight!

After our lunch break, we headed deeper into the valley cutting right through the bright green rice fields and into a bamboo forest. Our guide never failed to help us and really couldn’t have supported us any more with plenty of photo opportunities and exceptional knowledge of the surroundings.

Sapa Trip - An unforgettable experience! 2
Photo by suky6661

After around 14km we arrived at the home stay, which would be our home for the night. The homestay itself was immaculate and comfortable, yet retained an authentic feel. We showered and changed and were given fresh green tea.

That night we sat on tiny steps and helped our guide to prepare vegetables ready for the evening meal. We watched as our guide’s husband prepared pork to cook over an open fire and we helped to make fresh spring rolls in the family’s kitchen.

Throughout all of this, we were surrounded by the infectious laughter of our guide’s sons and we couldn’t help but join in some of their games!

We sat down to eat with the family that evening and tucked into the food we had prepared together. There was something truly unforgettable about that experience. It is definitely a moment that both of us will treasure and look back on extremely fondly.

After dinner, we sampled some local rice wine with our hosts and then, when we thought it just couldn’t get any better, we were offered a herbal bath, made using freshly cut local herbs.

With achy legs and several rice wines later it was an offer we just couldn’t resist! It was the perfect end to what had been an incredible day and we were soon tucked up in our beds ready to get some well-needed sleep.

Sapa Trip - An unforgettable experience! 3
Photo by fxxu
Day two of our Sapa trekking tour

We slept well and awoke refreshed ready for our second day of trekking.

We began our second-day trekking and our guide took us to see her family’s rice fields and some more local villages. We stopped for lunch at another local’s house and enjoyed a delicious noodle dish (we didn’t find noodles that beat this in the rest of our stay in Vietnam!). The journey took six hours and a hotel was arranged for us for when we arrived back in Hanoi.

An unforgettable experience!

Despite the rumours that Sapa has become overwhelmed with tourists we only bumped into three other tourists during our trek! This was due to the experienced tour guide and the carefully planned routes, which offered us a truly unique experience. The route we completed was tough and certainly not for the faint-hearted but the reward was well worth it.

We will never forget our stay in Sapa and the organisation of the trek was exceptional from start to finish. It was certainly a stark contrast from stories we heard from fellow travellers who were marched across concrete paths with building work and droves of other tourists!

If you are looking for a unique, authentic trekking experience in Sapa, with a team that takes a very personal approach then this is certainly the tour for you!