The final destination of our Việt Nam visit is a resort town named Sa Pa in the Northwest corner, at the foot of the highest mountain in the country, Fan Si Pan (3,143 m or 10,312 ft). Nestled in the mountains at 1,500 m (4,500 ft), Sa Pa benefits from cooler temperatures than in most of the country. Toward the end of the 19th century, the French discovered it and soon began building villas for French colonials to use to escape from the heat and humidity of the Red River delta. Today, both lowlander Vietnamese and foreign tourists from around the world come to Sa Pa for its beautiful scenery and to see the way of life of the ethnic minorities that inhabit the area.
I took the photo below from the window of our hotel room which faced Fan Si Pan. Clouds descended from Fan Si Pan to regularly shroud Sa Pa and the hamlets around it with a thick and fast moving fog. The scenery could actually change within seconds, and on many occasions, by the time I got set up to take a shot, fog had covered and hidden what I was aiming for.
A favorite for many are the rice terraces built over many centuries on mountain slopes by the ethnic minorities living in the area. The rice had been harvested when we were there, so most of the fields were brown and fallow, except where vegetables were grown.
The day before we left, the sun finally came out and illuminated the whole valley. Fortunately, we had climbed up to the top of Hàm Rồng mountain (1,800 m or 5,200 ft) which offered a clear view of the town of Sa Pa below it.