A Paradise in Vietnam

in Train

As seasoned world travelers for business and leisure, I traveled to many countries but not often domestically, I always looking for our next luxury adventure, we had long heard of the beauty of Sapa.
The US Travel & Leisure magazine has named Sa Pa's terraced fields among the top seven most magnificent terraced fields in the world, this news excited us to discover and to purchase the newest model of Canon 5D camera with us for this trip.
We searched options on the internet and book with a reputed luxury tour operator http://luxurytravelvietnam.com/ based in Hanoi which tries to convince us to travel to Sapa by overnight Victoria Express train from Hanoi to Sapa at the weekend even the tour price is a little bit higher. It is also perfect suitable for our weekend escape.
Train experience

We enjoyed a spa treament after leaving office and made an appoitnment with the tour operator representative to pick us up at Le Tonkin Restaurant near by the Ga Hanoi (Hanoi Train station).

9 pm Huong Pham from tour company was gathering us up for our overnight journey on the Victoria train to the mountains of Sapa. She got us safely on our cabin with some snacks and drink and asked every thing ok before she bid farewell us and wished us on our happy jouney to Sapa .

The Victoria train was clean and comfortable and we slept well as we rumbled along the tracks into the mountains bordering China.

Intrepid travelers having more time can travel by road from Hanoi. It is an adventure in itself. The tour operator told us that reaching Sapa has never been more appealing, stylish on board the luxurious Victoria Express Train. The Victoria Express Train features one dining carriage and two sleeping carriages.

We were very happy to get a deluxe cabin just for two of us and next door a cabin four people sharing a cabin. The train departs at 10:00 pm on Friday evening from Hanoi to Lao Cai. A few cup of wine at the dining carriages help me to sleep very well, something I felt the train was bumby. 
We arrived at six am in the misty Lao Cai. From the moment we stepped off the the train, we were in the excellent hands of our driver & guide who were waiting us with our name on their placard outside of the train. Their mission seemed to be ensuring we had the trip of a lifetime. Duc and Minh invite us a cup of coffee in the border town of Lao Cai, near Bang Kieu Brigde where I can see the China in other side of the River. What's is a nice experience!
Stuning view and meet hill tribes
After morning coffee, we head up to Sapa, only 35 km it takes us more than one hour from Lao Cai to Sapa as the road is very senuous but we awoke to the exquisite beauty of Sapa along the way. The fog-draped mountains were stunning. The terraced rice fields being tended by farmers and water buffalo were living photographs. To enter the world of Sapa is to enter a different world entirely.

It was sheer joy to stroll through villages, meeting the friendly people, all so beautiful in their ethnic costumes. Children tagged along, eager to practice their English and Vietnamese and even more pleased to teach us some words in their Mong language; women invited us into their homes and offered us warm hospitality. It is lovely to bargain the the weekend market in Sapa and shops unique handicrafts for our colleagues and learn the values of market and life.
Without a market place, life can be quite boring.
Born in the countryside of the North, my childhood memory, as all other children I always want my mother to take me to go to the market especially Tet Market. In Vietnamese culture life, the marketplace is a meeting place, not simply a trading place. This concept has always remained with Vietnamese culture.

And I know discover how the market is important to hill tribal villagers living in a remote area they have to work hard in the field or elsewhere to make a living. People have few opportunities to meet friends, relatives or neighbors, so the market is a great place to meet those needs.
Without a market place, life can be quite boring. It is short and sweet.
Communities chose to set up markets for more reasons than for just shopping. For example, people want to meet each other, look for friends and life partners or just simple have fun around the alcohole table. They feel a need to belong to a community, and also may wish to share fashion tips and show off their skillful talents.

People often go to a great deal of effort to travel long distances over the hills and valleys. Many even cross the land border to only come to the market. There is always a lot of excitement and joy associated with the market place environment.
Unique Experience at Home Away From Home
Of course, the Victoria Sapa Hotel and Spa, where we stayed in suite, was another perfect spot.
Built as a traditional mountain French chalet with an accented wooden decor and a welcoming stone hearth fireplace, Victoria Sapa Hotel overhangs the village, blending perfectly with the natural surroundings. Our suite room was spacious and lovely with a balcony to enjoy the never-ending view. (And we can't forget to mention…more great spa services!) While we would have been happy to stay there for days.
Total Experience
How wonderful is that we have someone to take care of us day and night, we have worry free time, all thing in order and we got many nice surprises. We say to all our fellow travelers of the world: You couldn't pick a better place to venture to than Sapa , Vietnam to fulfill every kind of travel experience in this paradise. It is an absolutly a paradise for trekkers and climbers, luxury adventurer, explorer, leisure travelers and perfect spot for escapers. I regret that I missed Bac Ha ethnic minority Saturday market, it means I will come back for trekking, experiencing home stay, visiting Sin Ho and conquering Fansipan summit next time, why not.

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A Paradise in Vietnam

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This article was published on 2010/12/28