The sweeping vistas and lush jagged mountains make your approach to Sa Pa one of the most striking scenes in Vietnam. Lying in the shadows of the country’s highest and most venerated mountain, Fan Si Pan, the former hill station of Sapa is dotted with old colonial hotels built by the French, but it is also home to various Montagnard people, including the Red Dzao and Black Hmong. On your hill tribe trek you’ll meet and interact with adults and children dressed in their resplendent tribal costumes, and in moving through their villages and rice paddies, you’ll get to experience how these remarkable people live.
You’ll have the strong sense of stepping into another age while rambling through Bac Ha Market, a weekly meet at the small town of Lao Cai by the Chinese border. The Sunday market is one of the most colourful in Asia, with local Hmong people descending from their villages to trade their goods in traditional garb of myriad pattern and colour. You can buy the garments, handicrafts and other produce, though as a true local market, tourists are of background consequence here, and you’ll will most enjoy just soaking up the chatter and trade in wonderful view of the plains and scattered hillocks below. Needless to say, the market is an immersive cultural experience and a photographer’s paradise.