After having been on a set schedule in Halong Bay, Sapa was a welcome change of pace. We were able to do what we wanted when we wanted, and of course I had researched what we should do. Sapa is mainly known for its trekking, but there's much more to do, so I'm so happy I happened upon Ham Rong Mountain. The botanical gardens first caught my eye, but it turned out to be much more. For some odd reason, we were the only white people around; I guess not many Westerners come here, but everyone should!
So the entrance is right in town (it's the mountain that can be clearly seen from town and from our hotel view) and starts with a bunch of steps, it is a mountain after all. Surprisingly, Sapa was the hottest and sunniest part of Vietnam, and we did not prepare for that, considering we expected the mountains to be the coolest. So the steps seemed harder than they should have been. At the entrance, they give you a map with a bunch of stopping points. We tried to cover them all, but eventually we lost where we were on the map and just wandered. It seems that most people linger around the botanical gardens. There are landscaped gardens and silly statues, including a snake, Scooby Doo, a dragon, and many more. They're nice, but our goal was to find the top and get to the vista.
Our favorite part ended up being Stone Forest, where we got lost. It was a bunch of the (I would think) limestone formations jutting up randomly around the paths. By that point, we were pretty much alone and it felt like we were on an adventure. Brad said it reminded him of Emyn Muil from Lord of the Rings. Based on the size of the map and how quickly we had gone from one numbered spot on the map to the next, I was not expecting Stone Forest to be as big as it was, so that was an awesome bonus!
Eventually, we made it to the vista. The park does have signs throughout, pointing you to future destinations. The vista was pretty cool; it offered panoramic views of Sapa town, Fansipan Mountain (the biggest mountain around), and the botanical gardens below.
Being that we had gotten in to Sapa after noon, checked into our hotel, and had a late lunch, we got a late start in Ham Rong Mountain, so as we were making our way down from the vista, we were hoping that we could stop over at a lower vista, that was much closer to the entrance, and watch the sunset. We made it just in time as the sun popped being Fansipan moments after we arrived. IT was beautiful! And then the next thing that happened was something out of a horror movie. Mist was approaching and it was approaching fast. We watched it come for us and take over the town. It was kinda crazy. We figured we should hurry down and get to town before visibility was zero. Overall, we spent over 3 hours wandering around in here and we didn't even get to all of it. It was a real gem of a find because it really wasn't overly crowded, especially the farther you walked, and it was only a couple of bucks. A must see in Sapa!
Katherine & Bradley
Two engineers with a passion for food and travel! Join us as we eat our way through the world!