Topas Ecolodge is just 11 miles from Sapa, but its a drive which takes 45 minutes heading deep in to the Hoang Lien Mountains. Its worth the trip. Surrounded by paddy fields, rolling hills, lush green forests and remote villages, the lodge sits on the top of two conical hills. The villas spread in a circular fashion around the peak and afford breath-taking views across the valleys below. You come to this corner of Vietnam precisely for these views!
Whilst it should not be described as luxurious, each villa is certainly comfortable. They have been creatively designed using local stone and are furnished with a minimal style, with private balconies. Solar panels provide electricity for the evenings and warm the water – heating is provided during the cold winter months. A wastewater facility avoids polluting the local area.
All meals are served in a central two-storey building. Downstairs is a relaxing bar with cushioned furniture, while dining takes place in the upper floor. The lodge is also flanked by its own farm, which supplies the kitchen with fresh vegetables. Wholesome Asian meals are served on a set-menu basis, which changes daily depending on what’s in season.
That there is plenty to do from the lodge, including gentle walks that visit the local school and blacksmith, as well as having the opportunity to learn about local agricultural traditions. It is also possible to swim in nearby streams. Life around the lodge is colourful and intriguing, with the surrounding tribal communities of Black H’mong, Tay and Red Dzao simply going about their every-day lives. Topas Lodge put back in to the community by employing only these locals and sourcing all their produce in the nearby markets – the eco-credentials are genuine.
There are more comfortable options up the road in Sapa itself, but the remoteness, the simplicity, the authenticity and the amazing views makes Topas Lodge the pick when staying in the region.