Vietnam Northern Minorities - Experiences?
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Nov 4, 2012 8:43 PM Last Post By: Jo124
Sep 10, 2012 1:33 PM
Vietnam Northern Minorities - Experiences?Hi All
We are planning our first backpacking trip to Vietnam and we would like to include as part of that experience the possiblity of getting close to some Northern minorities. We understand this is easier to find in the Sapa area but we also hear some other travellers saying that generally this "interaction" comes down to:
"You buy?" "No thanks".
Are there any fellow travellers here who could share their experience with these minorities?
Any particular places where getting a closer feeling to the "real thing" may be easier than in Sapa?
We planned around 3 days in the Sapa "area", but we do not have any particular preference for Sapa. We would be departing from Hanoi to wherever the suggestions and advice would take us.
Thanks in advance!
Sep 10, 2012 9:29 PM
2what sort of interaction are you hoping for? They've got to eat so they don't have time to just hang around and chat. They sell stuff to all the tourists that come to look at them. That's the way it works - you want to show up at their village to watch them, the price of admission is buying some of the crafts or whatever they're selling. It's a reasonable exchange. You're on holidays they aren't.
Sep 11, 2012 3:54 AM
3Try a tour company that has northern 'loop' type tours to places like Bac Ha, Cao Bang and Ha Giang province. You'll see many different peoples that, in general have no interest in you, (and I mean this in a good way). In fact you'll be nuisance, as they just want to get on with their business. Buy something from them and you are part of their business.
Edited by: Otford1
Sep 11, 2012 7:39 AM
4JJack makes a very good point.
We were in Northern Vietnam in March of this year and had a wonderful time and met some incredible locals.
Yes they do try to sell you their wares as that is how they make a living. They are there because you are there. Many of those you encounter are willing to stop and talk and share a small part of their life with you.
The culture is incredible and in our opinion most of these people are far happier than the majority in North America or Europe.
One thing you will see is how hard they work especially the women.
Sapa is definitely overrun with tourists and hawkers some of which are more aggressive than in outlying areas however it is interesting for part of a day. If you take a few days and visit Can Cau and Bac Ha you will see some incredible scenery and meet some wonderful people.
There are many villages you can hike to that are also very scenic and interesting and the best way to get to see them is hire a local Hmong guide.
Sep 12, 2012 4:48 AM
5http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2231061&messageID=20241893#20241893 That link may help. I'm sure there are plenty of others similar.
Sep 14, 2012 1:45 PM
6Posters 4 and 5 are correct. If you take the time and talk to the local Hmong girls in Sapa it is truly rewarding as they are, generally, fantastically hospitable and lovely people. As the other posters say, they do have to make a living though and tourists are not thick on the ground all year round so of course they will try and sell something - put simply (and relatively perhaps) they're poor and you're rich!!! Personally I found sitting talking with people at the market was a great laugh. Relax, take the time to talk and you will get the rewards. Why else are you there after all?
As to hiring a local guide, this is something I have done myself but you should be careful here as it is illegal and the authorities can come down on people acting as guides when they are not registered or trained to do so. If you read your LP Vietnam then there is a box on sustainable tourism in Sapa and the surrounding area. Contact Sapa O'Chau which is run by a local Hmong woman and volunteers and who are trying to do good things for the local community (they run a school for Hmong kids among other things). Their website can be found here: http://www.sapaochau.org/index.php/trekking
Nov 4, 2012 8:43 PM
I've been in Sapa few times and i can give some advice.First its better to book a tour directly from Sapa because from Hanoi that will be more expensive. There is many good agency in Sapa to find what you expect. In my case i have trekking around with SapaTravelmate and is was nice, i get some no-tourist trek. So i think you will find your happiness in Sapa.
Hope that will help you !
Have a good trip
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