Sa Pa in Vietnam – Visiting Hau Thao Village, a minority in North Vietnam with limited Electricity

Vietnam Travel Photos for Hanoi Gallery Exhibition

Sa Pa in Vietnam (or Sapa Vietnam) is a different world and a genuine traveler’s experience. This is a guide on how to get to Sapa and things to do in Sapa such as trekking. We also include a ton of photos, so you can get a better understanding for what to expect.

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. Find here all best hostels in Sapa.

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.

Sapa Vietnam - Images, How to get there and Trekking

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

Follow our footsteps 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 the area, and what to expect.

Read: 41 cool things to do in Hanoi

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 Sapa Vietnam from Hanoi.

When coming from Ho Chi Minh to Sapa, you have to get a flight to Hanoi. From here you have the following three options.

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.

Read: 24 Best Things to do in Vietnam

24 Things To Do in Vietnam - 10 Travel Tips for Vietnam to eat, cruise and enjoy

2. The Train:

There is an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai.

There is no train station in Sa Pa. 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 “disadvantage” – just call it like that.

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

There it only costs around 385k dong.

Therefore, go to the train Station in Hanoi and purchase your ticket here.

The online version is much more expensive. There is also a cheap version of train tickets online, but here is the catch: Only locals with a local, Vietnamese credit card can buy those cheaper tickets.

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

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.

Overnight Train from Hanoi to Sa Pa

3. Bus

You can also take the bus from Hanoi to Sa Pa. There is a so-called sleeping bus going from Hanoi to Sapa directly. Yet, I am not a big fan of buses, and we went by train.

I was told by other fellow traveler the bus is actually quite luxury and comfortable. It is a bit cheaper than the train.

Here you can find an overview and schedules.

SaPa Vietnam 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. As said, you will arrive in Lao Cai and take an extra shuttle bus to Sa Pa Village. The bus itself cost around $2 per person.

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

I wish I would have 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.

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

Souvenir from Sapa Vietnam - Images and Photos from Sapa Local Market in Sa Pa Vietnam

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 worldSa 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 world A 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 Pa Heating system - even the cat didn't want to leave the fire alone Sa 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.

Afterward 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 world Playing children in Sa Pa

This is how white people look to this little fella.

Playing children in Sa Pa Playing children in Sa Pa

Any questions?

I would love to help you with my own experience traveling to Sapa Vietnam.

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a comment. I am always keen to share my knowledge, it’s truly an experience to get here.

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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.

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You can find all stories in our Photo Journal.

More guides on Vietnam

We have traveled around Vietnam for more than 3 months.

On our journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, we have experienced so many wonderful things.

Our travel tips Vietnam here:

27 Best Things to do in Vietnam – including motorbikes, tractors, and monkeys

24 BEST Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City/ Saigon (including understanding the cities history and name)

The coolest and best hostel in Ho Chi Minh City with rooftop terrace and fun vibes

109 travel photos from Vietnam

a guide to Sa Pa Vietnam, how to get there and have a great time with the locals villagers

Motorbike Tour in Vietnam With the tractors shovel to the beach BEST Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon - Cu Chi Tunnels in Saigon, Vietnam

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