Film Photography: Sapa Where Earth Meets Heaven

The beauty of peach blossom in Sapa. Photo by: Thanh Huyen

Sapa Vietnam is a tiny little mountainous village located in Lao Cai province, bordering China. The mountainous town of Sapa is known for its culturally diverse population as well as its proximity to incredible scenery.

Only when the French arrived in Tonkin in the 19th century, Sapa was acknowledged and included on the national map. The site where Sapa is located became a key location for the French military as well as missionaries. For decades, this mountainous backwater was unknown to tourists. However, in 1993, Sapa became well-known when it was formally promoted as a tourists destination.

Nature’s Creator bestowed on Sapa a landscape picture. That is both romantic and majestic, with ridiculous ranges of clouds waiting for the wind, terraced fields to see. As visitors climb to the mountain, there are stunning vistas in every direction. From the height of 1,600 meters above the sea level, mornings in Sapa are often surrounded by heavy mist. The average temperature of the area is always 15-18°C, cool in summer, but a bit cold in winter.

The breath-taking views over the surrounding mountains in Sapa. Photo by: Thanh Huyen

Sapa is the place of adventure best seen on foot. The best time to visit Sapa is on the weekend so visitors can experience the local markets. They are the town’s typically cultural element, which are always crowded and joyful, attracting hundreds of visitors. On Saturday, the town is filled with native people and tribal costumes, offering embroidered goods homemade fabric and jewelry for sale.

Sapa is not only famous for its exquisiteness, rugged mountainous landscape but also well-known for cultural diversity. Thousands of ethnic minority people living in small villages make this place a treasure. Beside the Kinh people, there are eight different ethic groups living in Sapa district. The total population of this town is about 36,000, among which Hmong accounted for 52%, Kinh 15%, Dao 25%. H’Mong is the most populated minority group in Sapa. They wear the dark blue clothes, traditionally woven from hemp and dyed with indigo. The clothes are made and embroidered by the women in each family.

The making of the elaborately decorated costumes of the H’mong people is very sophisticated, requiring a lot of diligence, creativity and meticulousness in every step. Photo by: Thanh Huyen
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Traditional costume of the Tay is made from woven cotton cloth, indigo dyeing uniformity on menswear and women, almost no decoration. Photo by: Thanh Huyen

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 represents for very nature of being a labour-intensive crop, makes the daily fight for survival paramount. 

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In Sapa, ethnic groups grow water rice on terrace field and build the culture of villages. Photo by: Thanh Huyen
In Sapa, children from ethnic minorities often support their families financially by selling trinkets to tourists or play a role as a local guide. Photo by: Thanh Huyen

In 2019, Sapa named in list of natural wonders in Southeast Asia. Fodor’s Travel said that the natural landscapes in Sa Pa are the ideal vacation destination for those looking to break a sweat while also enjoying the unique flora and animals native to the region.

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