Among the crowds of visitors in Sa Pa district in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai in the early days of 2018, many chose to stay at the homes of local ethnic minority people to experience the unique culture first-hand.
Homestay services in Ta Van, Lao Chai and Ta Phin have recently been packed with domestic and foreign holidaymakers who love to learn about the daily life of local residents through eating, living and working with them.
Located in Muong Hoa valley, at the foot of Hoang Lien Son mountain range, Ta Van commune impresses tourists at first sight by spectacular natural scenery with terrace fields, high mountains, and traditional houses.
Patrick O’Regan from New Zealand shared that he knows Sa Pa through his friends who traveled there and had a lot of compliments on the nature as well as the unique culture of Vietnam.
That was the reason why he and his family chose a homestay tour in a rural area in Sa Pa to explore the local culture and customs, he said.
Dev Dervesh, a tourist from India, said he enjoyed very much the stay at The Little H’Mong House at Ta Van’s Giang Ta Chai Mong village. He planned to stay longer in Sa Pa during his trip to Vietnam.
Bui Thi Oanh, owner of The Little H’Mong House, said her traditional wood house, which can accommodate 30 guests, was filled during the first several days of 2018.
Several companies have invested in facilities after the homestay model with a modern note. Director of Vietdiscovery Co., Ltd. Do Trong Nguyen said the company’s La Dao Spa Ta Van facility offers homestay services plus several extra treats such as herbal bath of Dao people and traditional dishes of Mong and Giay ethnic people.
Le Manh Hao, Vice Chairman of the Sa Pa People’s Committee, said the district is home to nearly 500 accommodations with 6,000 rooms, including 154 homestay facilities in Ta Van, Lao Chai, Hau Thao, Nam Sai, Ta Phin, Ban Ho, Thanh Phu and Thanh Kim communes with 2,800 beds.
The district is focusing on community-based tourism development to increase incomes for locals and preserve traditional cultural values, he added.
Located 350km northwest of Hanoi capital city, Sa Pa is 1,600m high above sea level, with the average temperature of 15-18°C. The whole town is dominated by the Hoang Lien Son mountain range which is famous with the Indochina’s highest mountain of Fansipan at a height of 3,142 m above sea level.
Discovered in 1903 by the French, Sa Pa has many natural scenic sites such as Ham Rong Mountain, Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall), Cau May (Rattan Bridge), Bamboo Forest and Ta Phin Cave. The hill town is home to six main ethnic minority groups, including Kinh, Hmong, Dao, Tay, Day and Xa Pho with various traditional festivals and unique cultural practices, especially the Bac Ha market and Sa Pa love market.
The resort town of Sa Pa was recognised as a national tourism site in December 2017.