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This was one of the most interesting experiences I've ever had. Trekking through the Vietnamese mountains with a local guide who had a baby strapped to her back the entire time, I had to keep reminding myself to savor and take in everything, as I know it's something I won't experience again. Everything about this excursion is authentic, although there are tourists aplenty along the way. A couple of recommendations: if you aren't a group of four and aren't comfortable with sharing accommodations in the overnight trains with strangers, ask to pay extra to buy all 4 seats in the sleeping cabin or upgrade to a 2-person cabin. For females especially this would be a good safety recommendation. We did this on the way back from Sapa. Also, this trek requires good physical condition. If you aren't in good shape, don't assume you can just wing it. It's a strenuous, and occasionally treacherous, walk. We had strong, fit men in our group being pulled up slippery hills by local women who were walking along with the group. I took my 80-year-old mother along, and arranged transportation by car rather than walking. We were able to take part in one section of the trek, as we were in a flatter area and there were opportunities along the way to stop and rest. Also, know that the homestay is basically set up like a hostel. You'll be sleeping on mattresses on the floor, side-by-side with other travelers. There are private rooms in the home, so if you're not comfortable with the shared arrangement you might want to ask about paying extra to access them. There are lots of little details that aren't mentioned in the trip write-up but that make it very well-planned and organized. For example, after you arrive in Sapa on the overnight train, the group has arrangements with a local hotel to take advantage of their shower facilities and to drop off heavier bags so you only have to carry what you need for the overnight homestay. You come back to this place the next day to shower again and pick up your other belongings. There is time for shopping and sight-seeing in Sapa. I got a really good 90-minute massage for 12! Overall, we all felt like this was a really amazing experience and we're so glad we signed up for it.
Wayne R United Kingdom
This tour was amazing!
Our plans changed just prior to the Sapa trek and we ended up staying only one night in Sapa-
but! We had an awesome 2 days of trekking with 3 local guides. They were all outstanding! Communicative, knowledgeable, interesting, athletic, patient with all different paces and speeds-
people stopping to buy goods or take photos. They didn't require that everyone stick together which was really nice. They also shared their own personal perceptions and experiences of being in Sapa and seeing it change and grow. While there, we heard that anyone going into the actual villages must be accompanied by a guide. This wasn't really posted anywhere, but word on the street is that the police will fine hikers without guides.
While our guide was great and the home stay was delightful, PLEASE DO NOT book this trip unless you are in VERY good physical condition. The path through the mountains is in no way easy or moderate. The path was narrow, slippery, and very uneven. You will be climbing up and down on a rocky and muddy terrain and through or jumping over streams.
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