Nghia Lo – Sa Pa

Nghia Lo - Sa Pa

Distance: 230 kms

Staying here by yourself might be considered overkill but worth every dong each time I’ve been so it draws me back. A no brainer if travelling with your partner.

A swim first up, then overlooking the infinity pool waiting for the sun, an office hard to beat. Immersed in serenity and getting some work done at the same time. A pretty good way to start the day.

The breakfast is a bit ordinary though so coffee and a selfie with the parrot and it’s time to make noise. The ride out of here gets you fired up and into the rhythm very quickly. Plenty of beauty but eyes only for apexes through this pass up with the best in Vietnam.

(A) Interrupted by a nice waterfall and coming out of Hanoi may be your first one for the trip. If this is an extension on the west you might be waterfalled out so keep at it..

(B) Is a must stop. Coffee, refreshments and for me breakfast, is available, so take some time here. If your timing is right, a popular launch point for paragliding.

(C) Is a War Memorial Monument and another view perspective. This pass at 1500 metres with views to the valley and distant mountains is up with the best in Vietnam for wow factor.

(D) Is around where I took these terraces mid-September 23, and the first time I saw them going to gold. One of the very lovely terraced rice regions in the country.

I’ve ventured well off the main roads in this area over the years but the narrow steep and often unsealed tracks are not without risk. If on an XR or similar, worth the time to explore.

(E & F) Are well placed rest and photo stops. Rice turns to tea around (F) but as we get closer to Sapa the staple takes over again.

(G) Is the best viewpoint to Mount Fansipan. At 3143 metres “The Roof of Indochina”.

(H) On a clear day the views from this monstrosity are no doubt phenomenal though my drone gets me where I need to be for perspective so I’ve not done it. Must do it next time.

My first time to Sapa was to a mountain village in 2012. Quaint, unique and for the minority people who live there very special. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still very much a must visit area but not for the same reasons.

Persistent harassment from sellers taking advantage of the tourist mecca has become a nuisance. Using children late into the night to coerce tourists into buying. Like Hoi An particularly but other hotspots also never to be again what it was.

Nghia Lo - Sapa-13

A day here can be well filled with the train and cable car experience to the summit of Fansipan particularly if the visibility is good.

During the ride speakers in the gondola will educate you on the Guiness Records the service boasts. The longest 6292 metres and at its highest point 1410 metres from the ground. Was a 40 odd minute, terrifying experience for my wife.

The weather makes all the difference but it’s hard to pick from ground level. In the first photo, low cloud so nearly didn’t go to find above the clouds a beautiful blue sky on pillows. The second photo a lovely clear day on the ground and in the fog on the summit.

In any case it really is worth going in any conditions particularly if you are unlikely to get back again.

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