The Mama Mu Experience

Whenever I go somewhere new, I want to experience that place like a local. I want to cook with them, I want to eat what they eat, I want to know what it's like to wake up to the sound of roosters on a typical Wednesday morning. Let me show you the Mama Mu Experience.


Sapa is a small remote town; five hours northwest of Hanoi. The road to get there is through the mountains on a super windy road. There were two bus options to get from Hanoi to Sapa: 6am or 6pm. I didn’t want to get to Sapa in the middle of the night so I went with the 6am bus for $9usd. It was a nice comfortable sleeper bus.

Five short hours later, we arrived in Sapa. The town itself is whatevs, but it’s just a hub to meet at before you take off on a trekking experience with some of the locals. Speaking of experience with the locals, don’t book anything ahead of time. As soon as you get off the bus, there are tons of local Sapa mama’s that will offer you to stay with them. Do it! I met a girl in Cambodia that was telling me about her amazing experience with a lady that called herself Mama Mu. In that moment, I knew I had to meet her. As soon as I stepped off the bus, tons of mamas tried to recruit me. I let them try to sell themselves to me. One lady started to talk with me, super chill. I asked what her name was and she said Mama Mu. AHHH! IT WAS FATE!

I immediately said yes ($35 for two nights with her). We walked to a nearby guesthouse so I could change and eat something before our three hour trek through the mountains to her house. Mama Mu’s husband took our big packs on his motorbike so we didn’t have to carry it! SCORE! Two other backpackers joined us & off we went.

I was kind of nervous about the trek because I did a similar trek in The Philippines and it turned out to be 25 miles full of exhausting uphills and knee-breaking downhills. Luckily, this trek wasn’t too bad. The views doeeee!!! Freaking amazing.

Three hours later, we made it to Mama Mu’s house. It was a simple little house made out of concrete. She even had wifi!

We showered (yes, she has hot water too!), settled in, and had an amazing homemade family style dinner with Mama Mu, her husband, brother, two kids, & grand daughter.

The homemade dinner was delicious! A fun filled day full of adventure, kindness, and genuine  Vietnamese hospitality. Exactly what I came for.

Local village attire, dress up time!

Local village attire, dress up time!

The next day we woke up at 8am, had breakfast, and went off on our second day of trekking. EVEN MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN THE FIRST!!! I was in love. The simple life. It was absolutely gorgeous.

We trekked for about three hours until we got to a small town to have lunch. Then we trekked back a different route until we got back to Mama Mu’s house. Another amazing family dinner, another amazing night with new friends.

The next morning we had breakfast and tea before getting dropped off back to the Sapa town. And no we didn’t have to hike back out (Thank god, because I was pooped!). Mama Mu’s husband motorbiked us back to town.

If you visit Vietnam, Sapa should be one of those definitely must-do/must-see places. To get the true Sapa experience, I highly recommend spending at least 3D/2N in Sapa and stay with a local family. If you would like contact information for Mama Mu, simply comment below and I will share it with you. Here’s a fun one-minute video I made of my stay with Mama Mu. Enjoy! XOXO MEL

TOTAL COST SUMMARY: $46

DAY 1: $29
$9 bus from Hanoi to Sapa
$3 breakfast/lunch
$0 dinner included
$17 Mama Mu homestay

Day 2: $17
$0 breakfast included
$0 lunch included
$0 dinner included
$17 Mama Mu Homestay