The small market town of Sapa is perched dramatically on the edge of a high plateau in the Tonkinese Alps of North Western Vietnam. The Colonial French chose Sapa as their holiday escape from the heat of Hanoi in the early 20th century. It offers spectacular views of jagged mountain ridges, terraced rice paddies and green valleys inhabited by people of various ethnic groups. Sapa is renowned for its weekend market which attracts the colourful local hill tribes who come to trade, gossip and attend the 'love market', however this has now become rather staged and touristy. Sapa is a great base for walks to explore local villages and treks in the hills.