Sapa is a town in the northeast mountains that was established by the French as place to go to avoid the hot and humid summer days. Today it offers accommodation, restaurants and cafes but most importantly, it offers spectacular views of mountains, terraced rice paddies and green valleys. Many ethnic minority groups live in the area each with their own culture and distinctive style of dress made from local grown hemp, dyed with natural colours and embroidered. The local women also use their skills to craft clothes, bags, trinkets and ornaments to sell to tourists. Walking in town or trekking through the rice paddies to the villages you will be met along the way by enthusiastic locals who are eager to sell their products to you. If you are not interested, say a kind but firm 'No' and walk away. If you are interested, have fun with bartering, they expect it!

Getting there: To get to Sapa from Ha Noi, take an overnight bus or train to Lao Cai where you take a local bus for the remainder of the journey.