Sapa Hill Station in Northern Vietnam To Get Its Own Airport

Proudly contributed by Luc Citrinot

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Sapa is known mostly from backpackers and travellers interesting with ethnic community/voluntary tourism. The small city is a frontier township and capital of Sa Pa District in Lào Cai Province in north-west Vietnam. It has been well known since the early years of the 20th century as French colonial power praised its cool climate. They turn the 1,500 m. elevated city into a medical destination with a military sanatorium followed by private clinics.

In the 1920s, Sapa  turned then into a favourite retreat for French and wealthy Vietnamese looking to enjoy fresh air.Today, tourists enjoy trekking in the surrounding mountains and the beautiful landscapes of rice terraces of a transluscent green. Over a million travellers discover every year Sapa, of which 750,000 are domestic holidaymakers.

Of the 36,000 inhabitants in town, Sapa is mostly populated by ethnic Hmong (52%) and Dao (25%) while a typical handicraft market is a main attraction in the small town.

Sapa is rather far away from Vietnam large metropolis and this enclaved geographical situation has helped preserving the slow pace of life of the hill town. it takes eight hours by train from Hanoi to Sapa and close to five hours by car to cover the 317 km linking both cities.

A proposal to build a US$257 million airport near Sapa has been recently backed by several ministries. The future airport would stretch over 261 hectares of land and will be able to accommodate simultaneously two Airbus A320. Initial capacity would be 560,000 passengers a year with the possibility to double the capacity when necessary. The airport would welcome only domestic flights, mostly from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Haiphong, Danang and Nha Trang.
The 261-hectare airport will have a terminal and space to park two Airbus A320s or other similar aircraft, according to a proposal by the northern province of Lao Cai, home to the popular tourist town. Lao Cai Province has sought approval to sign up real estate conglomerate Sun Group for developing most of the airport’s infrastructure under a build-transfer agreement, according to news website Saigon Times Online said Monday. Once approved by the government, work on the airport could then start in the third quarter of the year. It would take approximately two years to be completed.
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