Sapa Travel Information
Sapa District is located in Lao Cai Province,
north-west Vietnam, and 350km's north-west of Hanoi, close to the border
with China. The Hoang Lien Son range of mountains dominates the
district, which is at the eastern extremity of the Himalayas. This range
includes Vietnams' highest mountain, Fan si pan, at a height of 3142m
above sea level. The town of Sapa lies at about 1600 meters of altitude.
The climate is moderate and rainy in summer (May-August), and foggy and
cold with occasional snowfalls in winter.
Sapa is a quiet mountain town and home to a great diversity of ethnic
minority peoples. The total population of 36,000 consists mostly of
minority groups. Excluding Kinh people there are mainly 5 ethnic groups
in Sapa: Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay and a small number of Xa Pho.
Most of the ethnic minority people work their land on sloping
terraces since the vast majority of the land is mountainous. Their staple foods
are rice and corn. Rice, by its very nature of being a labor intensive crop,
makes the daily fight for survival paramount. The unique climate in Sapa has a
major influence on the ethnic minorities who live in the area. With sub-tropical
summers, temperate winters and 160 days of mist annually, the influence on
agricultural yields and health related issues are significant.
The geographical location of the area makes it a truly unique
place for many interesting plants and animals, allowing it to support many
inhabitants. Many very rare or even endemic species have been recorded in the
The scenery of the Sapa region in large part
reflects the relationship between the minority people and nature. This is seen
especially in the paddy fields carpeting the rolling lower slopes of the Hoang
Lien Mountains. The impressive physical landscape which underlies this has
resulted from the work of the elements over thousands of years, wearing away the
underlying rock. On a clear day, the imposing peak of Fan Si Pan comes into
view. The last major peak in the Himalayan chain, Fan Si Pan offers a real
challenge to even the keenest walker, the opportunity of staggering views, and a
rare glimpse of some of the last remaining primary rain forest in Vietnam.
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