Sapa district is located in Lao Cai province, 350 km from Hanoi, close to the border with China. The Hoang Lien Son range of mountains dominates the district, which is at the eastern extremity of the Himalayas. This range includes Vietnam’s highest peak, Fansipan Mountain at 3,142m above sea level, and a vast area covered by thick forest, which is very rich in wildlife.
Famous for its breathtaking landscapes, Sapa is also an ideal inhabitation for a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. It is likely that, Sapa was first inhabited by highland minorities of H’mong and Zao groups who immigrated from southern provinces of China, later came the Tay, Zay, and a small number of Xa Pho to form the 5 main ethnic groups which takes about 85% of the district’s population today. The Vietnamese, in small number, immigrated from lower land to the region, mainly living in town, working in government offices, schools, hospital or running their own mini hotels, shops, while most other ethnic peoples live in small hamlets and villages scattering on the mountains and valleys throughout the district.
For nearly two decade, thanks to the all aspect development of the region in an attempt to turning Sapa into one of the country’s premier tourist destination, the local ethnic peoples has experienced great changes and enjoy invaluable benefit. Road to remote villages is continuously built and upgraded, many schools were built and the most important one is the revolution in agriculture and fast development of tourism which helps the majority ethnic peoples in Sapa improve their live dramatically.
Luckily that in spite of all fast changes taken place in recent years, the ethnic minority peoples in Sapa still maintain well their colorful and unique culture.