Guidebook The way to really live Sapa … a homestay experience


The way to really live Sapa … a homestay experience

“While a homestay can be a great experience, it’s not for everyone,” says Travelfish. So why do it? “Cultural experience aside, taking an overnight -- or longer -- trek means you can get further away from Sapa and explore more of the district.” In the case of Sapa,”that house is likely to be the home of a Hmong or Red Dao family,” and to “legally” provide homestay accommodation, hosts must be registered. “To be registered, a home must have a flush toilet, be clean and tidy, have bedding with a mosquito net and, most importantly, be hygienic … it’s likely that you’ll stay in a room that has been added to a traditional house, which is unlikely to have separate rooms.”    

How do you choose the right one? Here are some options for choosing a homestay in Sapa from  Bianca Caruana at Backpacker Bible

Booking online: “There are homestays that have made their way to and Hostelworld … while these might not be the most authentic choices you are still getting a chance to stay in a relatively traditional home only with a few more comforts … great for those who aren’t yet ready to take on the old traditional Vietnamese living style, which includes a bucket shower and a squat toilet … your money is more than likely going to a more affluent family … if you want to support a smaller family then it’s best to book directly with a local.”  

Booking through a tour agency: “There are countless tour agencies both in Sapa and Hanoi that offer all-inclusive homestay and trekking packages in Sapa … allows you to have a structured itinerary with ease-of-mind about the activities in your tour.” Disadvantages: “tour agencies have been known to take excessive profits from the local people.”  

Booking through an NGO: “There are many NGOs and social enterprises set up in Sapa who offer treks and homestays that do their part for the community … organisations like Sapa Sisters, Ethos – Spirit of Community and Sapa O’Chau offer experiences that provide fair salary and opportunities to the local community … your money is going directly to the local people and helping to support community initiatives.” Disadvantages: “these tours are often more costly and can be outside of the backpacker budget.”

Booking directly with a local: “When you arrive in Sapa you will have many local women coming to offer you their tours … prices are generally very reasonable around $15- $25 per person/per day … your money is going directly to the local people, providing them with an income and giving them the option to set their own fair prices.” Disadvantages: “there are no real regulations other than the discussion you have between you and your host.”

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