Uh Oh, Helen Fell in Love Again: Sa Pa, Vietnam

It was just over a year ago that I announced that I was falling in love with Montenegro. Less than a year ago, I also wrote my passionate experience about visiting Xingping in China.

Both of these places stole my heart and are places I would happily go back to. They are places which are ideal for relaxing, unwinding, thinking, and getting away from the hustle and bustle.

Location number three has now been added to the list: Sa Pa, Vietnam.


It's so Green!
It’s so green!


I explored a fair number of places the last time I was in Vietnam. Sa Pa, however, was not one of them. There are a few reasons. Firstly, I had arrived in Hanoi and was both a bit sick and homesick. The thought of going seven hours into the countryside (and, at the time, a malaria area according to the NHS), did not appeal to my sick self.

So I left Hanoi and headed south, while forever on my journey meeting people who said it was their favourite place in Vietnam. I was feeling regretful but moved on. I knew I’d visited some other wonderful places within the country.

Walking to the village of Ta Van
Walking to the village of Ta Van

However, at the beginning of July this year, I returned to Vietnam, and Sa Pa was a must on the list. Nestled into the north of the country, Mitch and I hopped on a bus and headed into the countryside. We stayed for a night in Sa Pa town, and then headed into the village of Ta Van for a homestay.

My Tra hostel/homestay was recommended to me by someone we met on Monkey Island and it’s no surprise why. Andrew and his family are welcoming and the homestay is so chilled. Mitch and I soon settled into life there, spending the mornings working and the afternoons walking and hiking.

There are some gorgeous (and tiring) hikes around Sa Pa
There are some gorgeous (and tiring) hikes around Sa Pa

The village is somewhat marketed towards visitors and backpackers, and so people will try to sell you something at every corner. However, the landscape is untouched and it is just as green and luscious and you see in the photos. Rice paddies fill the land and the rolling hills go on and on.

I don’t know if it was the chilled vibe at the homestay, the stunning natural surroundings, delicious home-cooked dinner, or the like-minded people we met there, but we ended up staying for nearly a week.

Evenings were spent having a home cooked dinner with other travellers
Evenings were spent having a home cooked dinner with other travellers as the stars came out

Mitch and I are slow travellers and don’t really have a fixed deadline for travelling (apart from our flight in September from Seoul, South Korea to Vancouver, Canada). As such, we can easily stay in places for a week or so. Sometimes I worry we spend too long in places and become too attached. In the words of The Doctor,

You’ve got to keep moving.


I probably could have happily stayed longer in Ta Van, Sa Pa. But, it was time to move on and visit a new country (Laos!).  But a piece of my heart will forever remain in the Northern Vietnamese countryside.

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