Sapa sits just 350 km north-west of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, and approximately 40 km from the Chinese border. It is easily accesible by rail or road from Hanoi, with a convenient night train running daily from Hanoi to Lao Cai.
The topography of Sapa is characteristic of the north of Vietnam, with immense mountains seperated by valleys. The main mountain range in this area is the Hoang Lien Son Range, which is actually the eastern tail end of the Himalayas. The range is also home to the highest peak in the country and Indochina, Fansipan.
Because of this moutainous environment, the people had to adapt their traditional farming techniques. They took to farming rice in terraced paddies which were carved into the sides of the lower hills. These beautiful cascades of agricultural land change colour with the seasons, creating mesmerising patterns across the land.
The varying altitudes of the region also allow many different species of animals and plant life to survive here. This is particularly noticible when trekking up the mountains; at higher altitudes, the vegetation changes to hardier species such as pine trees.