Sapa and Fansipan
Perched high in Vietnam's remote northern mountains and close to the Chinese border, the former French military outpost of Sapa offers some of Indochina’s most breathtaking views. The country’s highest peak, the 3,143-metre Mount Fansipan, looms overhead, whilst fast-flowing streams cut through the terraced rice paddies below. Layer upon layer of green ridges fade into the distance, edged and framed by sharp, rocky peaks.
At dawn and dusk the mountains take on differing and subtly contrasting shades of maroon and green and are delineated by the meandering lines of the ridges that separate them, creating as beautiful a tropical mountain tableau as can be found anywhere, with the possible exception of Laos’ Luang Prabang.
The region is home to several ethnic minority groups, most of whom still wear their traditional and colourful tribal attire. Sapa is a perfect choice as a base for trekking, hiking and climbing, provided you can do without luxury hotels, of which there are as yet none. Mt. Fansipan is only 9 km from Sapa town but it takes at least three days for a trip to the summit, which is accessible year-round.
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