Ta Van, Sapa, Vietnam is a small village set within a picturesque valley of Muong Hoa. A night stay here will give you a close-up experience of the life-style and culture typical of the area.
Convenient to the town centre, this popular day trip from Sapa is a good chance to traipse around the rice terraces and experience a bit of rural village life. Hire a car or motorbike for the 9km (5 1/2-mile) road down the valley from Sapa to the Hmong village of Lao Chai (some folks even walk it); it’s a nice ride in itself, with great views of the lush terraces. From there, you’ll just follow the valley for a few miles to the next town of Ta Van. Along the way, you’ll walk through terraced rice fields and among some picturesque villages, and experience a bit of rural life. (I even had the chance to help with some rice threshing — a process by which grains are separated from harvested stalks; you whack a handful of shoots, using a wooden holder, against a bin and loosen the grains onto a mat for collection.)
As you walk through different hilltribe villages (Hmong and Dao people), it’s helpful to have a guide to explain customs or practices to you and perhaps translate. You’re sure to see other tourists on the trail (which puts many people off), but this is a good example of the many great treks in the area. Wherever you go, you are greeted with a hearty “Bonjour, madam! Bonjour, monsieur!”.