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Hanoi Travel Guide

Discovered by the French in the early decades of the 20th century, Sapa is a typical and lovely hill station in the northwest of Vietnam, home to the Dao, H’mong, Tay and Giay ethnic minority groups.

Its naturally gifted beauty lies in shadows of mountain tops, casts of dense forest to great terraces and deep-green valleys. It is a perfect place from which to trek and explore the stunning mountainous scenes, with Fansipan, known as the ‘Roof of Indochina’ not far away. That’s why Sapa is now firmly on the tourist map for European and North American trekking fans.

Views of this epic scenery are often overwhelmed by thick mist rolling across the peaks, but even if it’s foggy, the old French town is still charming, especially when local hill-tribe people illumine the town with colors and also well equipped trekkers carrying lightweight walking sticks and wearing technical all-weather gear creates common scenery around town.

French styled villas fell into disrepair during wars with the French, Americans and Chinese, but subsequently the rise of tourism, Sapa has experienced a renaissance. Adding more charm to the old town, the unique customs of the local residents bring tourists spectacular views of local life in highlands. Local markets create a typical cultural element, which are always crowded and joyful. The people here are very friendly though many of them are not well educated, yet all the young people are quite good at spoken English, French and a handful of other languages.

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