Tavan and Lau Chai @ Sapa

Located about seven kilometers to the east of Sapa, you can find the villages of Tavan and Lau Chai coupled next to each other at the bottom of the Muong Hoa valley. My effort to visit these villages started on foot until after about two kilometers when I gave in and decided to ask a motorbiker for help, minutes later I was zigzagging down the hillside into Tavan. Entering from the north there is a bit of a hip newer area dotted with upper-class cafes and homestays, not far past this begins the path into the more scenic area. The first hundred meters or so of this path has been taken over by local Black Hmong minority group who have set up a long row of trinket shops, until I made it past this stretch I was basically fighting off hawkers left and right.

Looking into the Muang Hoa Valley

From this point on its relatively peaceful, there are paths branching out in a couple directions and several ways to get up into the rice terraces. The terraces are stacked up quite diagonally yet with easy to navigate cement paths all over, so after hiking about ten minutes in you already begin to get a nice view of the whole valley. One thing which was a bit different from the other terraces I've visited is that these ones were populated with lots of little farmhouses, as I walked around locals were going to and fro with farming equipment and one even rode down on a motorcycle.

After enough terrace exploration for my time budget, I made my way back down to follow the eastward path into Lau Chai. This little village has also built up a bit of a tourist economy, with some scattered trinket shops and homestays, however, it felt a bit softer and more natural than what I encountered at Tavan. I didn't do much here except eat some pho, and then try and figure out what options there were to get out of this place back to Sapa. The important thing I learned here in case you visit, is that there is a bus to this place, every hour from Sapa and back, the last one leaves from Lau Chai at 5pm, make sure you're able to catch that one, or like me you will end up on a motorbike the entire seven kilometers back to Sapa...

Center of Lau Chai
The town bridge
The guy cooking the fish was my driver back to Sapa

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