hidden places in Sapa
Sapa is no doubt the most popular destinations in Northern Vietnam. With new tourist facilities, this hill station is receiving more visitors both domestic and foreigners. But is this really not possible to find a place for you to relax and indulge in the tranquil scenery of this beautiful hill station? I’ll give you two places of my choice after my recent visit to Sapa.
Gem Valley: Café and art gallery
Gem Valley is a cafe combined with an art gallery. It’s a small residence of a Hanoian artist couple who have been living in Sapa for 10 years. You’ll find this beautiful place with a gentle 3km walk from Sapa center downhill toward Cat Cat village, just about 50m pass the Vietnam-Japan hill.
The owners are very friendly and welcoming. They felt in love with Sapa after spending months living here to understand the local’s cultures and arts and decided to settle down in this land and open an art gallery to showcase their works and a cafe where they can meet fellow travellers around the world.
The first impression of the Gem Valley is a fascinating view of lush rice fields and majestic mountains. I was happened here on a sunny afternoon with deep blue sky, the place offers a view to die for: the narrow rice terrace field, the forest, black simple wooden houses and the Fansipan mountain from distance. I sat hours there just to enjoy the view, listen to the nature sound, feel the cool climate and drink a wonderful local herbal cinnamon tea. I did not bring a book with me but one could imagine that this is among the best place to read your favorite travel book.
Gem Valley is also accepting overnight guests as a homestay place. You need to contact the owners in advance if you would like to stay. A $10 dollar per person for a bed is a good deal. This is a common room stay while you are having your own bed. Of course you can also enjoy home cook lunch and dinner with the owners at reasonable price too.
Topas Ecolodge is located 18km away from Sapa town, an approximately 45 minutes driving through the mountain road. Situated on a hilltop, the resort has 25 well appointed bungalows. The bungalows were built with local materials such as white granite, wood and covered by thatched roof. Each bungalow has its own wonderful view of the rice terrace fields on the mountainside, villages down in the valleys and imposing mountains from afar.
Topas Ecolodge was created in the remote village of Sapa to provide a unique experience for its guests. There aren’t any luxury hotel’s facilities, no TV or internet. The rooms are simple but very comfortable and clean, with a magnificent. You are forced to relax when staying here. Just enjoy the view, meeting with locals and good food. Don’t worry about our busy life with so many pressures we have to deal with anymore. This may be the reason why Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg chose Topas Ecolodge as his accommodation while he visited Sapa back in 2015. The most wonderful moment I had here was in late afternoon, when I was sitting in my bungalow’s balcony and watch the last rays of sun going over on the other side of the mountains. One of the most beautiful scene I have seen in my life.
From here, I took a full day trekking down to Ban Ho and Thanh Phu in the valley on the foot of the mountain. It was a very nice full day walk that I enjoyed a lot. During the walk, I visited several local families of all different tribes including Tay, Dzao and Xa Pho. I visited them in their home, shared stories. I had a wonderful home cooked lunch in My Son village before return to the eco-lodge.