Welcome to Sapa! Located in the Viet Nam’s northern province of Lao Cai, Sa Pa was developed almost one hundred years ago as a mountain retreat for the French colonists. Today, the region has become a colourful mosaic of culture, ethnic markets, and inspiring landscapes.
Sa Pa is a favorite destination on Viet Nam’s tourist list. Beyond the tourist centre lie a multitude of trekking opportunities and the ethnic villages where the homes of many of Vietnam’s Ethnic Minorities are found (map). These include: Black H’mong, Dao, Day, Tay, and Thai.
Tourism has played a contentious role in the growth of Sapa throughout its entire history. As in most tourist destinations both negative and positive impacts are evident. As tourism continues to develop safeguards and proper training will be crucial in the sustainability of both the ecology of Sa Pa and the integrity of its ethnic minorities.
The small village of Ta Phin is becoming an increasingly popular spot for day trippers. At the entrance to the village there is place where the tourist buses vans park, as the Red Dao who live there sow and wait for a possible sale. All visitors passing through Ta Phin make the short round-trip through the centre of Ta Phin to a cave at the other end of town (map).
The town of Ta Phin is surrounded by small H’mong and Dao communes. The people who live in these communes are the soul of this little community. They have lived there for four hundred years. They have sculpted the terraced landscape and dug the irrigation routes for the water. They have planted the corn and cut the web of paths that get you to and from their homes and fields. Evidently, the people that live here have given life to this beautiful place.
For added information here is a website that was created for the village.
Located in the Sapa region the village of Lao Chai is currently positioned as a rest spot for tourists trekking onwards to the village of Tavan. Made up of almost entirely Black Hmong, the only means to which the community participates in the Sapa tourism product is through street vendors following tourists along the trekking routes selling embroidered items. There are also a number of young women who have become tour guides in Sapa due to their ability to speak English.
Within the network of trekking routes int he Sa Pa Region, Lao Chai does offer a feasible option to become an overnight spot and offers the opportunity for the region to open new trekking trails.
Once a quiet village with a mix of Dao, Hmong and Day, the growth of the tourism industry has brought many changes to people of Ta Van. Tourism now plays an integral yet somewhat boisterous role in the community, having both positive and negative impacts. The people of Ta Van have experienced the direct effects of this significant economic generator and they have successfully built their capacity to manage this growth.
Currently there are rapid changes taking place, effecting the urban layout, houses, people, and culture. There is a positive outlook for the future of Ta Van and it is hoped that a balance is maintained between tourism and the community that is conducive to its people and culture.
Although Ta Van has not been selected as a target village for training in this PATA / Capilano Project, it was selected in the previous CIDA funded project, and is a key stakeholder to the region’s tourism cluster.