When taking Sapa tour, tourists cannot miss the activity of trekking to villages, the forests or mountains to discover the nature as well as the life of local people, the majestic beauty of the terraced fields, mountains or waterfalls. Journey is often combined with the overnight program (Homestay). If this is the first time you join the journey, certainly you will be confused. Therefore, we would like to share some information and experiences for trekking and visit to the villages and how to get there as following:
- Knowledge: Trekking is a kind of experience and discovery of unique culture space of ethnic minorities living in Sapa so to have fun and impressive trekking trip, you should search for information about the customs, things to do and not to do when visiting the villages.
- Itinerary: Besides, you have to study cadastral maps and terrain area to make the proper plan for the trip, calculate the distance to move and avoid unexpected dangerous situations. Preview weather forecasts to prepare the backup plan. Prepare reference if you go trekking in the border areas or conservation areas under the management of specialized agencies.
- Clothes: Because you mainly walk during the trip, you need to prepare the neat, sweat-able and cool clothes. (One suggestion: Clothes should have many pockets).
- Walking shoes: You should prepare 1 pair of flat shoes or sneakers, this is the essential tool deciding the success possibility of the trip (do not use: high heels or new shoes for the trekking because it is very unpleasant). Additionally, the shoe materials are cool, dry, waterproof and fast drying.
- Backpack: You will have to carry your luggage yourself during the Sapa trekking tour so it is important to choose the suitable backpack with your ability. The backpack with belt will be preferred so that you can tighten it. The backpack straps with pads will make your shoulders comfortable during the whole trip.
- Food – Drink: For trekking, you will consume much energy and sweat a lot, so you need to prepare enough food – drink to complement the body when needed. Some foods that should be carried are: bread, canned meat, sausages, snacks, confectionery. Also you should bring some packs of candy to give to the children in the villages you will visit.
- Medications: The medications for colds, fever, diarrhea, antipyretic, antibiotics, bandages, red medicine, vitamins, supplements, and Snicker candy (a candy provides very high energy) are indispensable. Using lips anti-chapped Vaseline is also essential.
- Transport: you can take a night train and remember get a soft sleeping bed, you can book online at the site dsvc.vn or for those who are backpackers, the ideal way to enjoy yourself is to get a manual motorbike to drive your own pace, recommend James Hanoi Motorbike for having one reliable motorbike. Here they have a wide range of motorbikes, you can pick one and get planning advice from the expert.
Taboos when visiting villages in Sapa:
- When visiting villages in Sapa such as Lao Chai – Ta Van, Cat Cat – Y Linh Ho, Ta Phin … inhabited by Black H’mong, Dzao, you absolutely cannot sit in the middle of the house or middle compartment. While visiting their homes, you must visit as direction of the owner. The front desk is a chair for parents (in case of parents’ death, the seat will be for nobody). Listen to interesting stories from other villages of the northern countryside.
- If you see the Black H’mong or Red Dzao doing the ritual or exorcism during the visit to Lao Chai – Ta Van, Cat Cat – Y Linh Ho, Ta Phin, you must not attend because they do not want any strangers to participate (the signs to notice when the ceremony is being held are in front of the village gate is a beam of green leaves usually hung on the high pole placed in the solemn area where everyone can see to avoid)
- When seeing the kids, you are not allowed to touch the head or kiss on their heads as it is believed that such action would make children frightened and vulnerable to illness.
- While seeing a nice clean place, please do not give your legs the break in hurry and eat there because that is probably the common worship which is very sacred for the whole village. Whistling during the sightseeing is a taboo. It is said that whistling is the sound calling the devil to the village.
- Villagers’ houses are often divided into many different compartments, of which the nave is always a place of worship and house guests are not allowed to sit there. The house usually has the highest and largest pillar where ghosts reside so travelers should not hang clothes or lean on.
- When talking with the villagers and being invited to drink water or alcohol, you should cleverly refuse if you do not want. Putting the bowl upside down is prohibited because only the shaman can do to expel the evil.
- Moreover you should not use fingers pointing forward while talking as Mong said that such behavior is to express the scorn. Lasly, you should not wear the undyed white linen clothes since it is the color of the funerals.
Some trekking routes reference in Sapa:
– Cat Cat – Y Linh Ho (ethnic groups: Hmong)
– Lao Chai – Ta Van (ethnic groups: Hmong – Dzay)
– Ta Phin – Ma Tra (Red Dao ethnic minority)
– Fansipan Climbing (natural grandeur)