Ta Phin Village
"This is the place to go outside of Sapa to see Hmong and Dao. The village is not rich by any means. The women of the village glom onto to tourists the moment they emerge from a vehicle and follow them around until they relent and buy something (one can hardly blame them; the good jobs in the Sapa area mostly go to Vietnamese, many of them migrants from Hanoi and elsewhere).
You can find some nice textiles and other handicrafts, and there is one coffee shop with its own fish pond and natural stone formation in the back where you can sit and enjoy traditional Vietnamese drip coffee. Other than that, there's just one long dirt street lined on both sides with shops and houses."
Ta Phin, a small village 15 km from Sapa in northern Vietnam. The village is mainly populated by the ethnic groups of Hmong, Dao and some people from the Kinh. Ta Phin is located about 1,500 meters above sea level in a secluded valley, where you will find rice paddies and corn fields.
The mountainous road to Ta Phin makes it difficult for cars. Therefore, only a few tourists come to Ta Phin. Through this winding road, the inhabitants of the village are protected from mass tourism, unlike the places Lao Chai, Cat Cat and Ta Van.
The people of the Red Dao who live there, still adhere strongly to old habits:
- in arranged marriages must still be paid a decent amount of old Indochina silver piastres for the bride;
- the use of roots and plants to dye silk threads in bright yellow or dark orange;
- harvesting of medicinal plants in the jungle to make their traditional herbal healing or to get energy.
Hmong people usually live in smaller houses and cultivate hemp plants and indigo plants. They use these plants for their beautiful clothes and souvenirs for visitors to the village.
In the village Ta Phin
Due to the isolated location there are not many ways to reach the village of Ta Phin. A possibility is to rent a motorbike or a motorbike taxi. The journey takes about 30 minutes. Every time when a car is parking in the village, you can see a funny, but also a sad event. All local women start screaming in order to deceive the driver or passenger to buy something from them. They will follow him for some time, till he or she buys something.
Since 1998, Ta Phin has the official mark of "brocade village". Tourists can buy the famous handmade brocades made by the ethnic population with that official mark "brocade village". All products are striking with lots of bright colors and patterns, ranging from purse, scarf, bag and even backpacks or jackets.
Another way is to take a nice walk along paddy fields, beautiful sceneries and some villages.
Trekking to Ta Phin start mostly in Sapa and the distance is about 12 to 14 km, depending on where you stop and in which village. The easiest way is to start at the Sapa Lake: a small rocky path takes you to the first village "Ma Tra village" with its rice fields.
Whether you come on foot or by bike, you have to buy a ticket from 20,000 VND per person on arrival in the village. The money collected will be used for the rehabilitation of roads and schools.
There is not much to do and to see in the village of Ta Pinh itself, with the exception of a cave. Brave tourists would like to go in the cave, but it's pretty low, so tall people will not enjoy to go in. It is said by locals that the cave is 15 km long. So bring old clothes and flashlights with, if you want to go deeper into the cave. Remember that July and August is not a good time to visit the cave, because it is very slippery and wet.
You can make several trekkings nearby Ta Pinh. There are plenty of small peaks, which you can reach on foot. You can easily buy snacks at the village shops or ask at a homestay in a host family for sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves.
From a travelogue:
"We had the most wonderful experience while staying with our trekking guide. We were lucky enough to be invited to one of their families wedding. It was an amazing day where we got to be part of the Red Dao culture and were welcomed into their home, we had a fantastic time!
Pham is so lovely, friendly and we loved the time we spent with her and our stay in her beautiful home. She taught us a lot about her culture and took us trekking through some really beautiful country. We also bought some beautiful hand made items from the lovely local ladies. It was the best time ever!"
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