2. Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa is a beautiful tribal village in North Vietnam that is home to people from the H’mong, Dao, Tay and several other minority tribal groups. The accommodations in Sapa tend to be very affordable and are comfortably clean. Although North Vietnamese food doesn’t have quite the reputation that Thai cuisine does, the eateries in this village are better than most in the area; and of course it’s very inexpensive.
The beautiful, verdant mountains that surround this town can be easily accessed. Just work out a price with a local for a moped ride to your trailhead of choice. Plus, if you’re coming from Hanoi, there’s an overnight train to Sapa that is comfortable and fun. (Splurge and take the Pumpkin train to Sapa. The regular train beds are more like prison beds.)
Locals are very charismatic and friendly in this town. A major source of income for the native tribal women is to sell tourist goods. Even if you have no interest in buying their trinkets remain polite and friendly (as you would in general). If these ladies feel that a tourist is acting rudely or aggressively repelling them, the situation will get very unpleasant.