THE ROAD FROM HANOI TO SAPA
So we decide to leave the capital, always crowded and noisy, the mountains and the terraces that surround the city and the Sapa area. Still inexperienced regarding the routes in this country, we rely on Google Maps as far as the path.
The suggested route is the highway QL32 / C that we can walk with our bikes (highways are off-limits to the two wheels) to the town of Yen Bai, and then continue on the DT163 up to Lao Cai where we take the only road leading to Sapa, namely QL4D. According to the schedule the time for this route was just under nine and a half hours for a total of 336 km.
Our first experience on Vietnamese roads was what I would call a small nightmare (see video at end of article).
Released from the city of Hanoi, the streets are quite dusty, and over here is also all right. Unfortunately, in the days before it had rained a lot, so the more we moved in rural areas, as the roads were in pegiore condition. As long as the roads were still unpaved, the biggest difficulty was to avoid the potholes, but from a certain point on the asphalt failed, and in its place there was only dirt, mud and puddles of varying sizes.
After the city of Yen Bai few kilometers, we found ourselves in front of a landslide that prevented him from continuing.
At this point we were forced to move on the CT05 which made her look like the tracks of motocross luxury highways.
The average speed that we held in this part was about 20 kph: positive there is to say that we passed many small villages full of people who continued to greet us warmly, probably impressed and fascinated by Marion hair color .
The initial idea was to cover the distance between Hanoi and Sapa in a day, but in reality we had to stay two nights on the road, because driving in the dark in those conditions was not a particularly wise choice!
Arriving in Lao Cai the road suddenly changes: we pass under one of the many bridges that support the highway, marked by the gravelly bottom channels left by the flowing of the rain, uphill with the bike charge of two suitcases, we arrive at sgasando top of the climb and sfrizionando when we pass the sign "Welcome to the Lao Cai province" and a few meters further we have the wonderful surprise of a strava perfectly paved.
Finally it was able to drive at maximum speed. Arriving in Lao Cai we take the road to Sapa.
The information that we had on this piece of road had to have a lot of caution in that van and usually self-articulated will surpass each other without paying much attention to who comes from the other side.
While chiacchiaravo with a guy known in Hanoi, I received a very valuable advice. exact words I quote "When you get to Sapa get behind the bigger and slower vehicle you see, and do so all the way. We do not need people who do stupid things in this country, we do not need American heroes. "
Impressed by his words I followed to the letter and I must say we got no problems.
Once in Sapa Town we waited for our reward after a trip lasted two days longer than expected, but unfortunately we were quite disappointed by the city: there are construction sites everywhere, traffic, so much noise. The city itself has no charm and is hard to find a point where one can observe the mountains or the beautiful terraces. Among the few attractions of this place is the cathedral of Notre Dame, which if you saw that in Paris you can really help but go through this.
If you are forced to spend the night here, I advise you to find accommodation on Murong Hoa street, in the south-east, on the edge of the urban area (you can find your accommodation HERE).
WORTH THE TRIP
What I suggest instead is to try the "Homestay" which are located about ten kilometers outside the city: always follow the Murong Hoa in the south-east direction, take the TL152 and then turn right onto Ta Van, pass the bridge and you will arrive in a very pretty area inhabited.
We stopped for a week to "Trường Giang Homestay & Restaurant” (booked here), The family that hosted us has a structure still under construction, but the rooms are nice and there is a chance to have a view of the terraces.
The restaurant is run by her husband, who worked as a chef in France, as well as in Sapa Town, and the food quality is far superior to the average of the posts here.
One of the most practiced here is trekking activities but be careful not to be fooled by false local guides that abound in this area. You can easily recognize them because they are dressed in typical local clothes, very colorful, and are terribly insistent: you will approach by asking you where you come from and end up wanting to sell you something or offer themselves as guides for a few laps in the area, which you can organize easily from you, just looking at the maps and asking your host, or by following other tourists!
After a few hours of walking we came across an unexpected cafe, the Luckydaisy's Bamboo Bar, which offered refreshments and shelter from a thunderstorm. The atmosphere is intimate and warm, which does not hurt to have seen the collapse of temperatures due to rain.
The owner lit the fireplace for us to dry, while Death Cab For Cutie were disclosed to right volume from the speakers.
If you have some money to invest, there are a few things that are worth doing.
The first is to go to Mount Fansipan. This mount is the highest Indochina, and is reached via a cable car located in north-west of Sapa Town. After about fifteen minutes you come to the station of the mountain, you are waiting more than six hundred steps from here to reach the summit.
When you buy tickets for the cable car you will be offered the option to buy tickets for the fuiculare and avoid the stairs. Taken by greed and optimism we have decided to make us all walk the stairs, and both lack of training, both for the thin air, getting to the top was not the walk that we expected so if you are not particularly trained, advice strongly to take the funicular and cut those steep steps.
Choose carefully the day I go to Fansipan, because a sunny day will give you scenarios and emotions difficult to describe. The sky is a clear blue and the view over the valley is breathtaking. You can also fly the Vietnamese flag after reaching the summit, which from a certain satisfaction (you can book tickets WHO but I recommend you do it right here)
If you want to pamper yourself and spend time in the most beautiful area of the resort, the perfect solution is the "Topas Ecolodge" (booked here).
Located atop the beautiful and manicured terraces, bungalows with views of the mountains and across the valley, cozy, intimate atmosphere. There is a spa and several treatments, and you can swim in an "endless pool" with views of the valley.
The Topas restaurant has above average price but the food is worth the premium. The bar looks more like a lounge where guests get together for a chat, read and use the Internet, only available in this area.
If you turn the area into motion beware of the road to get here, especially if it rained in previous days: the path may turn into a living hell with a lot of rivers and streams that become invade roadways.
THE RETURN IN HANOI
After a week in Sapa we left its valleys and its mountains to return to Hanoi. We decided to take the train to Lao Cai and load our bikes. The ticket cost 400,000 dong each for the night train, and the cost to charge the bike was 250,000.
We brought the bike to 17 at the station, they emptied the tank (I made the reservation, so they could clear only that) and we went to eat something waiting for 20:50, in which time the train left.
The conditions of our car were more than decent, the bathroom clean and fairly comfortable bunks. We arrived in Hanoi who were not even five in the morning, we took our bikes from the last car of the train and headed for the nearest gas station.
Since our hotel was the check-in at 14, we went to Xofa Café is open 24 hours and the ability to collapse on the sofas. This cafe located in the 'Old Quarter of Hanoi is really nice, the interior is designed and very comfortable, and it was the perfect place to rest while the city was waking up at dawn of a new hectic day.
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- October 25, 2017THE ROAD FROM HANOI TO SAPA So we decide to leave the capital, always crowded and noisy, the mountains and the terraces that surround the city and the Sapa area. Still inexperienced regarding the routes in this country, we rely on Google Maps as far as the path. The suggested route is the highway QL32 / C that we can walk with our bikes (highways are off-limits to the two wheels) to the town of Yen Bai, and then continue on the DT163 up to Lao Cai where ...
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