Meet the Hmong, Sapa, Northern Vietnam

Sapa is a town in northern Vietnam. There is around several villages of the Hmong community. Touristic place now, they all even preserved their culture to our delight!

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Between mountains sculpted by rice fields and villages, I went to meet this women and men in very specific outfits.

Sapa town

Sapa is a town perched in the mountains. Blue colonial buildings, orange and red line the streets. The rice field surrounding the town. There are some nice points of view easily reached on foot or by scooter.

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Hmong women are crossed throughout the town. As soon as we arrived by bus, they wait at the door to offer you to come two or three days with them in return for money or to make a day’s trek to their villages.

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In the streets, they stop you every two meters by saying “where do you come from?” or “shopping for me?”. They all have something to sell, bags, skirts, all handmade with patterns that Europeans would call “ethnic”!

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There is a market in the alleys where you can find everything, fruits, vegetables, raw meat. You can eat a chicken noodle soup for 30,000 dong (prices for tourists of course!), Very good.

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In this tourist area, there are also many restaurants of Western food, overpriced and big hotels. For smaller budgets, don’t worry, we also thought of you and you will easily find a bed for $5 a night.

Hmong villages

The Hmong are an outcome of China community and are therefore also found in northern Vietnam and Laos. They grow rice or corn in season. Their village, originally made of wooden house with straw roof, today is a mix between former habitats and more modern stone houses. They settled in the valley, surrounded by the rice fields they cultivate.

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Today, in northern Vietnam, tourism has become a good way for them to earn money. It is possible to have a “homestay” and “live” like them.

Clothes of women are beautiful. Short jacket and trousers in velvet or black canvas, all secured with strips of all colors, decorated with flowers. A scarf around his neck and leggings attached below the knee. They carry their babies on their backs. Other women are harnessed to a cart in which they store their items to sell or their shopping.

 

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According styles, their caps are made of a scarf, a hat or a ponytail that stuck in a big comb.

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To visit the main towns, Lao Chai, Ta Van Cat or cat, you have several options. By renting a scooter (count $5 rental and $5 for the two days fuel!) But you  will not enjoy and see everything.

Another alternative, go with women from Sapa that lead you through the mountains to explain their lives. All speak perfect English, very impressive! You will have to buy some thing in the end as a tip for the visit, normal!

Even if the place is full of tourists and the Hmong benefit well, it’s poor people so don’t quibble for two euros requested for a fully handmade pouch …

Please note, it is colder in the mountains, bring sweater and scarf for the night !!

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