Unfortunately we chose a terrible time of year to visit Vietnam, Vietnamese New Year or TET. After 4 days in Hanoi we wanted to move on but discovered that literally everything shuts down for fucking ages over this period. No buses, hardly any tours, and if you want your clothes washed you can forget it. Finding ourselves potentially stuck in the giant cluster of traffic and beeping horns that is Hanoi for another few days, we only had one other option – go for a trek in Sapa. That’s not to say I didn’t want to go and stay in a homestay, I just didn’t plan on it because I’m not too fond of trekking and I’m also a whiney little bitch.
We booked through our hostel – Vietnam Backpacker Hostels and the tour cost us 109.50 USD. This included the bus to Sapa, a night in a hotel, and all food while we were on our trek.
Experience in Sapa
We left our luggage in the hostel and set off at 6am and were driven to Sapa on a sleeper bus, much to our delight, and slept the whole way there. When we got to Sapa we were directed to our hotel, which was absolute luxury to us. We ate some dinner, watched TV, and stole all of the toiletries out of the bathroom #backpackerlife.
The next day our guide knocked on our door at 8am and were driven to where we would start our walk, and we set off through the rolling hills and rice paddies, with little houses and settlements dotted around. The surroundings really were beautiful. I’ll let the photos do the talking:
What do you do in Sapa when you need some of that good luck? Hang a bunch of corn around your house, of course!
We stopped off on the way to get lunch at a local’s house, where there were 2 adorable children who loved getting their photos taken. Our lunch was some kind of noodle soup that 100% had beef stock in it, but the absence of actual meat was good enough for me.
Eventually, after what seemed like a lifetime of walking down extremely steep hills (I have the knees of an old lady), we arrived at our guide’s home and were greeted by his wife and more adorable children. We rested for a bit before going to his cousin’s house for dinner. What we were greeted with was not a pretty sight for a vegetarian and a vegan – chicken claws, chicken heads, unidentifiable chicken parts. We’d been made some vegetables and rice though which was actually very good, even if we did have to look at this the whole time we were eating it:
We were also given a shitload of rice wine – which is nothing like wine by the way, more like paint stripper. By this point my glands were all swollen and I was feeling a little woozy. The next day we didn’t trek, mainly because it was the actual day of TET and also I couldn’t keep a single thing down, not even water. Gigi went off to celebrate TET at our guide’s cousin’s house with 20 shots of rice wine and I stayed behind alternating between drinking water and vomming water back up.
I would definitely recommend a visit to Sapa, if you’re super into trekking you can do a few days there. Or you could be lazy like us and see it all in a day. I would probably just get the bus there and once you get off there’ll be loads of locals there inviting you to stay at theirs. This means they see more of the money than if you booked through a tour company.