Mong Sen, 800m above sea level, is home of over 400 Mong people. The village is 10 minutes by car from the centre of Sa Pa. Mong people are hospitable but shy, but the locals are opening up as more tourists flock to the area.

As trekking routes are long and difficult, porters are recommended to help tourists carry their supplies.

Giang A Linh, 27, an ethnic Mong, said he has worked as a porter for nearly two years. He said he can carry between 20 or 30kg of food and supplies for camping.

Song A Chu, 21, who lives in Y Linh Ho Village, down the valley from Sa Pa Town, said being a porter brings him a good income and also a chance to travel.

The route through Mong Sen is a little difficult and slippery, but local guides know the best way.

Hanoian tourist Nguyen Tu Trong said he hurt his leg when he fell coming down the hill, but thought the experience was worth it. It’s the first time I’ve been trekking. I live in the city which is noisy and stressful, trekking has helped me relax, and its a chance to discover this beautiful landscape and see how ethnic people live, said Trong.

Vu Thi Thanh Hoa from Nam Dinh said, Now I know how local people live, I walked through the rice terraces and saw local people grinding rice with a water wheel.

In the last hundred metres of the trek, tourists have to cross a suspension bridge over a large stream to get back to the main road, where they are picked up and taken back to the city.

The tour takes six hours from Sa Pa Town centre, touring not only Mong Sen, but Ta Phin and Ma Tra villages, populated by Mong and Dao people.

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