Take photos of the splendidly picturesque view of the hills and the terraced rice fields. You can never get enough snaps. Good thing I was in a solo-tour and my guide had been very patient with me.
Look through the houses of the ethnic minorities in the village and discover how people in this area live. You will often see a big family so in one household; 10 members more or less and you will be amazed at how they share in it.
Visit the school. According to the guide:” 10 years ago, kids wouldn’t go to school without candies”. Currently, the government has made an effort to discourage villagers and tourists in giving of candies -all for the good reasons.
Shop. As you go down the village you will walk past a lot of stalls with ladies selling handicrafts. My attention was glued to the blankets- they are very colorful and beautiful so I asked one lady how much time she had spent to make the blanket and her reply was: “8 months”. One of the overwhelmed Asian tourists announced in his group, ‘This is a shopping Mecca, let’s buy!’
Drink the home-made apple wine. With just 10,000 VND (50cents), you’d have a glass of fine traditionally made wine. I haven’t personally tasted it (I was too exhausted when I got there) but I have seen two tourists take and they did love it.
Talk to the villagers and learn how Hmong say ‘Look’- Loke, Make- ‘Meki’. When you don’t buy you just say, ‘I’m only loke Ioke’ . ;-) I had fun talking to them-they are all nice and friendly. And when you don’t buy, they don’t really harass you.
Check out the falls. As you hike to the bottom of the Muong Hoa Valley you will see the stunning Cat Cat Waterfall. There were already a lot of people when I arrived at this wonderful cascading body of water. There is actually a hydroelectric station , which the French built, that people in Sapa use to generate electricity near the waterfall, and you will see this as you walk down to the site.
Feast your eyes and ears on the Bamboo Dance. For me, getting to know Hmong culture isn't complete without experiencing their music. It was 15 minutes after we had arrived at the waterfall when the show started. So we went into their small theater to watch the talented locals showcase their traditional dance. I watched the show for 20 minutes and took videos.
Try the local delicacy and take loads of photos of them. Chances are-you can no longer find them anywhere else as soon as you have left the village. So while you are in the area, taste their food to remember the experience and capture the moment by recording it on your memory card.
Hike. Yes, it’s all about hiking in Sa Pa. I am not fit, myself but I did survive the ‘medium’ (as described in their brochure) trekking. You’d go over a red bridge as you walk back up to Sapa- you’d see a different view. It’s always refreshing and I had 1000 ‘WOWs’. For one, the weather was cool so I did not sweat a lot; also, the beautiful scenery was always keeping my strength at an optimum level as I carried on.