Sapa Vietnam – Must Visit Places
Ham Rong (Jaw of Dragon) Tourist Site
Entrance Fee: VND 70,000 (~USD 3.3)
Vietnam people often say that if you haven’t visited Ham Rong, you haven’t been to Sapa. Indeed, visitors are often amazed by the beauty of this place.
The first impression of Ham Rong is flowers everywhere. From orchid garden 1 to garden 2, you will find over 6000 basket of 194 different kinds of orchid. There are also peach, plum and many other. The whole place is so heaven-like during spring for you will be surrounded by flowers and clouds every step of the way.
Going further upward, there are numerous caves and stones in various extraordinary shapes which the local like to call dragon claw or dragon scale. The highest point that you can climb up to is “San May” (Cloud Yard), near the top of Ham Rong mountain, where you view the whole district of Sapa and Hoang Lien Son mountain range.
Sometimes, there are concerts/shows of Vietnamese culture and traditional music inside the complex, which is pretty cool. You can buy souvenir there too. Visitors usually spend a whole morning/afternoon to visit Ham Rong Tourist Site.
Entrance Fee: VND 20,000 (~USD 1) (if I’m not mistaken)
This is the place that you will probably hear about a lot in Sapa but it’s actually not that special. The amazing thing is the scenery along the road that takes you to that place.
We usually rent a motorbike (VND 120,000 per day) to go there. You can enjoy the scenery while driving or stop anywhere you want to take photos. Driving a bike on mountainous highway is not an easy task and certainly not for those who are new to motorbike driving. In that case, it’d better off to rent a car with driver instead. With that said, I’ve seen most foreign tourists take on the bike.
Silver Waterfall lies beside the National Highway No 4, 12km from Sapa town’s center. The waterfall is 200 meter high and the source of Muong Hoa stream. If I remember correctly, there’s an entrance fee of about VND 20,000 to visit. There’s a bridge that connects the right to the left passage in middle of the waterfall. It’s an ideal spot for photographers.
Tip: If you go further a bit from Silver Waterfall you will reach Cloud Yard or Sky Gate (as local calls it), which is most likely not in any travel book. There’s no sign or name to recognize the place but there’s sort of an empty space edging out towards the valley. From there, you can see the most stunning view of the surrounding mountain and the very last forest belonging to Hoang Lien National Park.
Cat Cat Village
2km from Sapa, Cat Cat is an old village of H’mong ethnic people. Again, we normally use motorbike to reach there. You can visit the Silver Waterfall in the morning and Cat Cat village in the afternoon (remember to return the bike before 6PM)
Until today, the H’mong people still live in the traditional “three-rooms three-doors” houses roofed by po-mu wood and walled by sawn timber. There are three main columns in the house, standing on round or square stones. They keep most of their unique customs, including “pulling wife”. And that’s exactly what keeps tourists coming to this place: to witness the unique way of life of this high-land minority people.
H’mong women are famous for their talent of handcrafting beautiful design of brocade. After the brocades are finished, they are dyed and embroidered using special plants and leaves. The colors are reserved by a layer of wax, which was rolled on the fabrics using a round and smooth wood.
Rather than brocade-weaving skill, the residents here are also known for producing fairly sophisticated jewelry. Therefore, Cat Cat is probably the place where you can buy souvenirs for family & friends. The prices for the handicraft and jewelry are quite reasonable especially when you have a good bargaining skill.
Tourists are normally very curious about the “pulling wife” tradition of H’mong people. A man can ask his friend to literally “lure” the girl he likes to his house and keeps her there for three days. During these three days, if the girl agrees to marry him, a wedding will be held. If otherwise, the girl is free to go home.
There are many festivals throughout the year, many of which take place during spring. With the increasing number of tourist to this place, the villagers now regularly organize so-called “culture day” to introduce the unique culture of H’mong people.
Cat Cat Village Video
This video is in Vietnamese, however I feel that it will give you the feel of Cat Cat Village and Sapa in overall.