Wild and remote, the Hoang Lien mountains in Vietnam’s northwestern reaches rise dramatically above the Red River Valley, forming a landscape of rippling peaks clad with nearly impenetrable forest. While the country’s ethnic minorities have populated these peaks for centuries, there were no large settlements in the area until the early 20th century, when the French established Sa Pa town as a hill station. The area remains sparsely populated, with Sa Pa now serving as a tourist hub for hill tribe trekking.
The landscapes of northwestern Vietnam are characterized by rugged mountains, clad in dense temperate forests and bordered by the Red River Valley. The area surrounding the lodge remains largely undeveloped, providing a habitat for a range of wildlife, including many endemic species. One-third of the country’s known amphibians make their home in the mountains of the nearby Hoang Lien National Park, a biodiversity hotspot that is also home to Fansipan, Indochina’s highest peak.
Vietnam is home to 54 distinct ethnic groups, with around 86% of the population identifying as Kinh. Many of the minority factions are concentrated in the highlands of the country’s north; and while some of the groups live in close proximity to one another, each of these “hill tribes” practices its own distinct language and culture. The Sa Pa region is home to several tribes, and from the lodge, guests can get acquainted with the customs and traditions of eight based nearby: Red Dao, Black Dao, Black H’mongh, Flower H’mong, Tay, Giay, Xa Pho, and Nung.
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