Sa Pa in Vietnam, a different world and a genuine travelers experience.

We’ve visited the Xi Family in Hau Thao Village, an ethnic minority, living in the North-West mountains of Vietnam, just a stone-throw away from China.

The village counts 1000 inhabitants. Since 2009 the villagers have access to electricity, including TV and a kind of water heating system.

Find 99 Vietnam Travel Photos here.

Sa Pa Lanscape

Cooking on open fire, drinking so-called happy water, and 4 year old kids handling a 15cm knife, barefoot.

Follow our foot steps to an incredible travel experience. These are our articles from Vietnam:

We start this journey in Hanoi, taking the night train to Lao Cai, taking the next bus, and arriving in Sa Pa. We will show you how much you have to pay, how to avoid travel scams in Vietnam and area, and what to expect.

Here is our Picture Gallery from Sa Pa. As always, these photos remain under the creative common license.

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Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different world

How to get to Sa Pa from Hanoi

There are three ways to get to Sa Pa from Hanoi.

1. The motorbike:

The bike ride would take you around 5 days as it goes up hill and many hundreds of kilometers.

The travel blog EggBananaTravels sums up his experience from Hanoi to Sa Pa by motorbike here. We decided to take the overnight train to save some time.

2. The Train:

There is an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai.

There is no train station in Sa Pa, so you’ve to take the train to Lao Cai and take another bus to Sa Pa. You can buy the tickets online, but there is a big

BUT: It costs you twice the price than actually buying it at the official ticket shelter.

There it only costs around 385k dong.

Overnight Train from Hanoi to Sa Pa

We took a 4 bed cabin and the beds are comfy enough for people up to 1.80m.

It is warm and there is one small water included. Our train left from Hanoi at 22:00 and we arrived in Sa Pa at around 6:30. It was fairly easy to sleep although the train was quite shaky.

Either way, a great experience and highly recommended. Getting out of the bus station in Lao Cai, you will meet many bus drivers fighting for your attention.

We got a bus for 40k Dong to Sa Pa town.

The bus was really busy, and the bus even stopped for locals on the way up to Sa Pa.

3. Bus

You can also take the bus from Hanoi to Sa Pa.

Here you can find an overview.

Sa Pa Village

  • how to find a local homestay
  • how to get around

Arriving in Sa Pa is another part of the experience. Many villagers women approach you directly at the bus.

Open the bus door and you will look into many friendly faces, trying to get your attention.

I wish I had my camera ready for that moment.

We met Xi. As we talked with friends beforehand, we knew 20$ is a fair price to pay for the trekking and stay.

We got a decent breakfast at one of the snack bars around the main square in Sa Pa. Then we started our 8km trekking, passing an interesting local market. Xi bought some food for her family and she handed us two blue-colored bracelets as a gift.

Souvenier from Sa Pa Local Market in Sa Pa

After the market our hike started for real and we walk-passed cows, chicken, a kindergarten with kids playing.

We stopped as the kids were just into taking photos and looking at them.

After a rough 2 hours hike it was time for the lunch break.

Good food was served and after a short break, the 2nd part of the trekking experience kicked off.2.5 hours of slippery trekking path.

Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different world

Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different world

Meeting Locals along the trekking

We also met children along the way. They were crazy about the camera and wanted to take endless photos.

Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different worldA present

Buffalo Bill chilling

The minority village

The village is surrounded by tea plantations. In our home stay there was the whole family living: the sister of Xi with her 3 kids, her two grandmothers, Xi herself and her 2 kids as well as the husbands.

The house is big while walls are built with wood.

The many holes between the wood let the wind and cold easily stream into the house. The kitchen has one table and plastic chairs, which are only used by guests. Xi and her sister used the open fire to cook incredible meals.

From fries, spring rolls to banana pancakes they mastered the cooking on open fire.

In cold times, the open fire is also the heating system.

Breakfast time at the Homestay in Sa PaHeating system - even the cat didn't want to leave the fire aloneSa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different world

Fascninating Technology

The kitchen is a closed room and the smoke from the open fire can only leave through some holes in the roof.

The entire room is smoky and everything smells like smoke.

Since 2009, the village has access to electricity.

They also got an old TV and mobile phones, followed up by a water heating system. Back in the days, when there was no electricity, they ate at times when there was the last sunlight.

Afterwards they went straight to bed.

Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different world Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different world Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different world Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different world Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different world Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different world Sa Pa in Vietnam - Visiting Hau Thao Village in a different worldPlaying children in Sa Pa

This is how white people look to this little fella.

Playing children in Sa PaPlaying children in Sa Pa

Royalty License for Media

Would you like to use our photos for your own media?

Please drop us an email with some information of usage, we’d be happy to give you access to the original high-quality photos.

You can find more of the Hostelgeeks travels on the photo journal.

Explore with us the beautiful beaches of Menorca, walk with us over the clouds of Andorra.

You can find all stories in our Photo Journal.

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