An unusual stay in Sapa in the Ta Van and Ta Phin villages
- on Mar 16, 2020       By: BN
How can you reveal the wildest and mystical side of Sapa, Lao Cai province, without visiting these villages which remain less frequented than others, Ta Van and Ta Phin?
Ta Van village
It is by taking the Cau May road and then the Muong Hoa road that you will find yourself in the Ta Van village, 10km from the town to experience a more calm and authentic Sapa and to discover the life of the Giay. Perched at the foot of the valleys and surrounded by the awe-inspiring Hoang Lien Son mountain range and majestic Ham Rong mountain, the Ta Van village gives an impeccable view of the rice terraces which unfurl like a superb undulating carpet. Like natural masterpieces, spread over hundreds of hectares of rice fields, it’s the fruit of centuries of farmer artisans. The landscape is more spectacular during the harvest months, April and September, when the golden rice fields of Ta Van delight villagers and visitors alike. Stroll along the village paths to breathe the scent of nature that smells of flourishing fields and immerse yourself in the song of birds and the murmurs of streams.
Following a fairly tight dirt track, you reach the Ta Van hamlet bordered by fields of green rice and corn, with the limpid Muong Hoa source opposite. Ta Van is home to around 40 families of the Giay ethnic group who, with other ethnic groups, live together in harmony. The Giay settle more often near the springs at the bottom of the valley and practice flooded rice cultivation while the Hmong settle in the higher regions, living on the cultivation of corn, cassava and slash-and-burn farming.
The Giay in traditional dress
Their habitation, on stilts and also on earth, reserves the main span, located in the middle, for ancestor worship and for welcoming guests. Farmers, many of the Giay are also blacksmiths, making silver utensils and engravings themselves. In terms of clothing, fairly simple, men or women, they are characterized by black shirts, blouses and pants and an indigo cotton turban. Women, in addition to silver jewellery, also carry colourful embroidered cloth bags.
The breath-taking landscapes of Ta Van invite you to one of the most beautiful trekking tours in Sapa during the day. In the evening, instead of drowning in the hubbub of hotels, stay with a family to rediscover the pleasure of meeting around the fire. Warm hosts and alluring corn alcohol, what unforgettable moments immersed in local life!
Ta Phin village
A little further, 17 km from the town is Ta Phin village, land of the Hmong and the Red Dao, two most populous ethnic groups in Sapa. The village will seduce you as much by its peaceful atmosphere as by the multi-coloured brocades. As soon as you arrive, it is the lovely costumes of the young girls from Red Dao that will strike your eyes. You will then come across, at the bottom of the houses on stilts, women in traditional dress who practice weaving.
In the life of mountain tribes, brocade objects are an integral part of everyday outfits, but also special occasions as a souvenir of love or a wedding gift. In addition, Ta Phin's artisanal products, diversified thanks to the village's brocade club, are among the most sought after by visitors, contributing greatly to export to foreign countries. You will have a large choice of souvenirs such as backpacks, wallets, scarves, hats, clothing… which prove an unexpected skill of Ta Phin women, a great pride of Sapa.
The Red Dao women are recognizable by a red turban that explodes an entire corner of the market in Sapa, a high meeting place for ethnic groups as in all the mountainous regions of the North.
The wedding of the Red Dao
It will be a great chance for those who attend a wedding of the Red Dao, which is colourful and reflects the original customs well attached to the centuries-old traditions of the populations of Ta Phin. With regard to the Kinh New Year celebration, they have their “Dance Festival” which is added to other festivities such as the “Congratulation ceremony for the new house” and in particular the “cap sac” ritual, meaning “ceremony of transition to adulthood” classified as national intangible heritage.
Finally, do not leave without trying a typical "spa" among the Red Dao, who, fortified by their knowledge enriched for generations, carefully prepare a bath of medicinal herbs. These remedies using a dozen to a hundred experienced wild leaves, with their magic, will give you an hour of relaxation. What a reward after hours of walking in the mountains! Another unique experience is to learn the traditional methods preserved with beneficial properties.
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