Textiles of Vibrant Vietnam – Sapa, Hanoi, Halong Bay & Hoi An


We had travelled on the overnight Franxipan Express from Hanoi to Lao Cai and arrived in teeming rain! Revived by breakfast at a French Restaurant, we piled into our buses to drive to the Sunday Market at Bac Ha. The Flower H’Mong minority bring all their produce that day to sell – fruit, vegetables, hardware, home-produced tobacco and spirits, textiles, machinery and animals. The colourful costumes provide endless photo opportunities!

After the market it was back on the buses to a wonderful lunch at another Homestay, and then onwards towards Sapa and a remote village where the Red Dzao live. The journey was challenging as we were stuck in traffic gridlock on the side of the mountain due to roadworks. One busload struck up a Gridlock Karaoke and the other bus caught up on sleep! Eventually we made it to our turn off for the village and left the traffic behind, only to find we were on a white knuckle ride through rough and muddy roads as the twilight dimmed even further! The ladies at the village came out to welcome us and in dim light we could just get an idea of the fine stitchwork that they carried out. Before they get married they take a year to handstitich their traditional garments.




This morning we took a walk along the valley enjoying the views, the sunshine and the chat from the local ladies who told us about their lifestyle, their families and the stitching that they do to sell.

The valley walk took us to the home and studio of Ms Dzee who had prepared a batik workshop for us. The wax bowls were set over the charcoal and, with a brief instruction, we were off designing our own batik pieces. Once we had finished applying the resist, we dunked our pieces in the indigo dye and Ms Dzee promised she would bring our finished work to the hotel the next day.

Our lunch stop provided us with an added bonus! We met a group of young women sitting, stitching the flower closures for their traditional blouses. They showed us the process from start to finish and the fine needlework involved (and yes – we could purchase! So you might see some of these appearing on our projects here!) Taking a break from their stitching they then performed some traditional dances.



Mrs Dzee, our batik teacher, sent over our finished batik pieces to the hotel which we were delighted with and agreed that they were better than we had ever thought they would be! Off then for a quick visit to the Museum in Sapa to find out how the village has developed over the years and to see some of the tribal costumes and artefacts. The afternoon was taken up with a steep stepped descent down into the valley to see the picturesque village of Cat Cat. Everyone made it down safely and we were able to see the local people spinning hemp, weaving their traditional baskets, batik printing and then time for a photoshoot in front of spectacular falls! A terraced walk through the jungle and over a swing bridge took as back to our bus. A quick stop to view the Chinese border and the Women’s Temple as night descended before getting on back on the overnight train back to Hanoi.



Up at 4.30am as the Fanxipan Express drew into Hanoi station and then off to join in ‘Laughter Yoga’ in a city centre park – what a wonderful way to start the day! Today we are travelling to Ha Long Bay to cruise around the thousands of dramatic limestone rocks that rise out of the water. An impromptu stitching session took place on the sundeck whilst floating around the islands.



We awoke to early morning mists hanging over the still waters of the bay. Our Tai Chi instructor took us through some basic moves at 6.15 to loosen us up and to center us for the rest of the day. Another great way to start the day! Back to Hanoi and then a short flight down to Da Nang for some new adventures in Hoi An.



Keep your eyes peeled for the final part of Pat’s Travel Blog featuring visits to Hoi An, Saigon & Mekong Delta (and plenty more of her stunning photos!)



We are delighted to be returning to Vietnam in 2018 with Pat Archibald & hope you
can join us on our second visit to this beautiful country.

For full details of our 2018 trip, Click here>>