Sapa is situated in the countrys northwest at an altitude of 1,600 meters. In the early 20th century the French took advantage of Sapa's cool climate, developing it into a summer retreat from the heat and humidity of Hanoi. Today, Sapa town still retains its European feel, largely due to the French architecture and gardens and today is a popular destination due to its beautiful scenery and colorful ethnic people. Sapa town is reached via a winding 40km road from the town of Lao Cai. The drive provides a taste of what is to come as the road winds its way up through lush rice-terraced valleys and breath-taking scenery passing several different minority villages along the way.The valleys surrounding Sapa are home to several of Vietnams 54 ethnic minority groups, each with their own distinctive dress, customs and dialects. These tribes can all be seen at the weekend market in Sapa town to trade with one another. Sapa has also become a destination for travelers seeking adventure. It is a staging point for trekking in the nearby valleys and for climbing Mount Fansipan, Vietnam's highest peak as well as motorcycle rides in to the wild hill country.
Extended treks to visit villages of minority tribes are also available.
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