Sapa is a small Vietnamese town located on the Hoang Lien Son mountain range along the border with China. Known as the "Alps of Vietnam", Sapa features impeccably-crafted rice terraces, imposing valleys and Fansipan, the highest peak in the country. On a clear day, the view towards China takes your breath away with a glimpse of no less than eight mountain ranges.
Discovered by the French in the late 1880s, Sapa was soon transformed into a hill station. They constructed hotels, an airport, a hydro-electric station and beautiful summer villas. Whilst most were destroyed during the war with the French, some colonial influence remains in the area.
Sapa is home to many diverse, colourful hill tribes that have successfully resisted integration into mainstream Vietnamese society. The bigger hill tribes - the Hmong, the Dai, and the Dao - form the majority of the area's inhabitants.
I'm glad I chose to visit Sapa in the winter. I saw no tourists and was rewarded with a sprinkling of snow.