Topas Ecolodge: The Experience

Located in Sa Pa, Vietnam

Visiting with Sa Pa’s hill tribes is the cornerstone of the experience at Topas; and because the lodge has spent more than a decade developing relationships with several of the area ethnic groups, guests have the opportunity to witness the differences in languages, customs, and traditions across these tribes. Depending on the excursions you choose—including hikes, bike rides, and market visits—you can meet with nearly a dozen different groups, including the Red Dao, Black Dao, Black H’mongh, Flower H’mong, Tay, Giay, Xa Pho, and Nung.

Things To Do

The following experiences are included in the cost of your stay.

Hiking and Trail Running

A network of trails runs through the valley and rice fields below the lodge, and guests are welcome to walk or run them. However, a guide is recommended for hikes beyond the immediate surrounding area.

Mountain Biking

Borrow a bike and helmet from the lodge and explore the mountain trails that wind across the surrounding peaks. See the front desk for a map and trail suggestions.

Soccer and Lawn Games

Every afternoon, the lodge staff plays a game of pickup soccer on the property pitch, and lodge guests of all ages are invited to join in. There is a badminton net on the premises as well as a space to play pétanque—a game similar to bocce or boules. Borrow sporting equipment from the front desk and enjoy these leisure activities in an idyllic mountain setting.

Optional Activities and Experiences

The following experiences are offered at an additional cost.

Guided Hiking

Set out with a guide to explore Sa Pa’s dramatic landscapes and nearby hill tribe villages on foot. Walk through some of the area’s largest paddies, venture deep into the pristine forests of Hoang Lien National Park, and enjoy lunches in atmospheric spots, like at the base of jungle waterfall or in a rustic riverfront lodge. Along the way, meet members from some of the most remote Red Dao communities, and step into their homes for a glimpse at daily life in the mountains of northern Vietnam.

Guided Mountain Biking

Accompanied by a local guide, bike through the mountains to some of the area Red Dao villages. Spend some time with the community members learn about the embroidery used in their distinctive traditional dress.

Mount Fansipan and Sa Pa Town Excursion

Ride the world’s longest cable car to the summit of Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina. Take in magnificent views of the Muong Hoa Valley and, on a clear day, see all the way to neighboring China. Then head to Sa Pa town to learn about the history of this one-time French hill station.

Market Excursion

Peruse the stalls of Bac Ha, the largest Sunday market in the area. Meet members of the Flower H’mong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, and Nung minority groups; and sample local products. The excursion continues with lunch in a local home, followed by a walk through a Flower H’mong and Nung village.

Food and Drink

The restaurant at the lodge serves three à la carte meals daily. Breakfast primarily features international fare, while lunch and dinner is traditional Vietnamese food with a European twist. Guests can also book private three-course barbecue dinners in the property’s hilltop pavilion or take Vietnamese cooking classes, both for an additional cost.

The Spa

After days spent trekking and biking in the surrounding mountains, rejuvenate weary muscles at the lodge spa, which offers a range of massages. For a unique local treat, try a traditional Red Dao herbal bath, a special treatment inspired by the healing practices used by the ethnic group of the same name. Other soaks, including a ginger and brandy bath, are available, as well as beauty treatments such as facials.

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