Vietnam – Travel Log: Hanoi, Sa Pa and the Hmong People

It’s hard  to believe we have only been in this beautiful country for a week – there is so much to see! Writing this, we are sitting on a sleeper bus headed south, back towards Hanoi, and onwards to Cat Bah Island and Halong Bay.

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Sleeper bus.

Although not unexpected, my first few days in Vietnam have had their ups and downs. A combination of jet lag,  a nervous stomach and really different food means that eating has been tough  – especially  the local dishes that I have been dying to try out! But the theme of the week is ‘mind over matter’ and I am persevering. Some of our favorites so far include delicious Bun Cha – noodles with grilled pork, and a sweet, rich broth – and Bahn My – a type of snack sized sandwich, loaded with herbs and other condiments. Apologies for the complete lack of proper accenting!

Besides eating – which we have done a lot of – we have also visited the city of Hanoi, and the town of Sa Pa, which is a trekking hub in the north of Vietnam, near the border of Southern China. How did we get there you ask? You guessed it – sleeper bus!

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Our view of the Old Quarter in Hanoi.

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Horse races and 25 cent beers in Hanoi.

Sa Pa is a beautiful place with lots to keep you busy. If you get lucky with the weather like we did, rent motorbikes and explore the mountains on your own! The views are incredible – just don’t forget to put sunscreen on your face like I did.

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One of the many views along the road from Sa Pa.

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The water buffalo know when to get out of the way. Tourists coming through!

If you prefer to use your own two legs, arrange a trek into the mountains and visit the Hmong tribes that live in the hills. There are multiple ways to do this, from arranging tours to finding your own guide, which we did. Talking to our hired guide, Dom, we arranged a ~13km  hike. On top of being our guide, she fed us and took us in for the night, letting us explore her village and home, and meet her family. The walks there and back were well worth it! Don’t forget your hiking boots.

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Sharing pictures from home.

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Rice terraces in Dom's village (proper name to follow).

From the villages we brought back pictures, some handmade Hmong goods and a pack of head colds. So far, only Matt seems to have escaped.

And so it’s been a week in Vietnam! Already we have seen so much, despite only scratching the surface of this wild country.

I won’t lie, I am a bit homesick. Feeling sick all week has turned me into a bit of a baby, but the time is meow to suck it up and keep going! Coming up: Halong Bay, Cat Bah and warmer weather! Bring it on.

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9 thoughts on “Vietnam – Travel Log: Hanoi, Sa Pa and the Hmong People

  1. Great report Jordan! We hope everyone is starting to feel better. Say hello to Eric for us and tell him to email us!! Carolyn, Bill, and Lynn

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  2. We are sooooo envious! Not really! We are hoping the tummies settle soon. You are right what beautiful country. Very hospitable of the guide to invite you in! Great experience! We can hardly wait to see more blog!!! Love you much! Grandma and Grandpa Nicksy

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    • Thanks for reading and following along Gram! Currently in Dalat, which is a mountain/highlands city. Tomorrow Matt, Eric and I are going canyoning – which is repelling and cliff jumping and who knows what else. Reverse rock climbing – not sure what to expect but everyone raves about it! Outside of my comfort zone but I guess that is good for me. Love to you and Grandpa – time is flying, so see you guys in a few weeks xoxoxoxoxoxo

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  3. Glad to see you made it safe and sound and you are already having a great time. You’ve already made us jealous with the awesome Vietnam pictures. Can’t wait to have a real ban-mi. What did it taste like ? Looking forward to following your travels. Thanks for checking in on our blog. PS. Hopefully you won’t need to use that travel insurance
    Cheers
    Rob and Diane

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    • Haven’t need it yet but the piece of mind is so good. If you guys are on Facebook – look me up @The Travel Years. I added a whole bunch of photos and quick thoughts from my cellphone that haven’t made it into a blog post yet. I’m not travelling with a laptop so finding that a bit of challenge. Banh my is so good – all of the bread is amazing. Very French influenced. Also, a dish called pho Ga tron, with cold rice noodles, cucumber, cilantro and peanut. And bun cha!!! Thanks for keeping in touch. 🙂

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