Vietnam Homestays: Vu Linh and Sapa

We spent 4 nights each at 2 different “Homestays” in Northern Vietnam. One was near the town of Vu Linh, a ‘Dzao’ (aka Dao or Yao) tribe village, and Ta Van, a Hmong village. Both were very interesting, and I recommend the experience if you don’t mind ‘roughing it’ a bit. Both were fairly expensive relative to staying at a hotel in town considering the comfort level, but comfort is not really the point.

The total cost for lodging, food, and a few beers, and a couple guided walks worked out to $130/day in Vu Linh, and about $50/day in Ta Van, Sapa. Food was surprisingly similar in each, tho the coffee was much better in Vu Linh. The homestay family was much friendlier and more informative in Sapa. We even got to see a pig get slaughtered at our homestay in Sapa. Quiet a different technique used than I saw at Oscar Mayer when I worked there in 1980.

Here are the links to the places we stayed:

Some Photos of each are here:

Of course one should not over generalize based on just these 2 experiences. I think the lesson is to do quite a bit of research before you go. The place we stayed in Vu Linh was definitely not worth the cost. Both areas did have cheaper options, but you do end up paying more for places with good English.

More on Sapa

I recommend avoiding the town of Sapa completely at the moment. Its a huge construction site, and fairly expensive. If you do stay there, stay near the lake, which is quieter.

I would stay in the small village of Ta Van, about 8km outside of Sapa. Somewhere near Luckydaisy’s Bamboo Bar would be good. We stayed in the next Village over, which was a bit too quiet for my taste. If you play an instrument, and don’t might walking up a steep hill, definitely stay at the Musician House.

Note that everything is more expensive in Sapa compared to Hanoi. For example, the standard price for a beer was 30K VND ($1.50) in the Sapa area instead of 20K in Hanoi. Still cheap, I know….

Overall, you might want to just skip the Sapa area completely. It’s too crowded with tourists, including on the trails, and too many women following you around trying to sell you handicrafts. But it is really beautiful, and we met some great people (both travelers and locals), so its a tough call.

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