On arrival from Halong we were quite distrustful of travel agencies, though we knew that we wouldn´t make it to Sapa and back to Hanoi in 48 hours on our own. We took the risk, paid 40 USD per person for two days with one night at homestay (6 tasty meals included) and this time we were perfectly happy with the tour, just as with the first one to Mekong Delta. We left Hanoi at 10 PM by sleeping bus and arrived at Sapa around 4 AM. After the renovation of the road it is the quickest way to get there (it takes 7.5 hours by train).
Taxis took all of us from the bus station in Lao Cai to a hotel located high up in the mountains. There we had an opportunity to take a shower in a common bathroom at the hotel lounge and then we were offered a choice of delicious pancakes and scrambled eggs. After the breakfast we were divided into groups each one with a guide and several local women (carrying baskets on their backs) helping us along the way. The trekking was fantastic, quite challenging (it was virtually impossible not to fall into the mud and water at least several times), yet the views were spectacular and we had a very cheerful company. The local guides were very helpful, but for them we would be sliding on our backs all the way down and up again, their coordination and skilfulness were impressive.
In the afternoon we had to say good bye to the local women and buy some of their handmade purses or bags (10-30USD) in return for their help. We reached the homestay exhausted around 6 PM. Around twenty tourists fit in a single family house (together with the owners), don’t ask me how. We had a lovely time together talking, drinking and having a great supper prepared by the guide and the family. We met many fantastic people and were able to listen to their stories.
On the following day we set out on another trekking back to the hotel. On the way we stopped at a picturesque waterfall and then refreshed ourselves swimming in the river. After lunch we were given a lift to the hotel from the place were we had a very good soup. Then we had some free time to walk around Sapa and go shopping. Taxis took as to the bus station in Cao Lai at around 4 PM and we arrived at Hanoi at 10 PM. We definitely had a wonderful time there, and then still a few hours in Hanoi before taking a flight back to Europe.