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Mass tourism changes Vietnam’s Sa Pa

Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 13:58 GMT+7

The popular tourist town of Sa Pa, in the mountainous Lao Cai Province of northern Vietnam, has become a giant ‘construction site’ as countless tourism projects are currently underway.

Covering an area of over 24 square kilometers, Sa Pa is famous for its rustic beauty and romantic scenery.

Located at an altitude of 1,500 to 1,650 meters on the side of Lo Suay Tong Mountain, the tourist destination is also favored for its year round cool climate.

It can experience brisk winters and is one of the few locations in Vietnam where snow still occasionally falls.

Tall buildings mushroom on a hillside in Sa Pa.
Tall buildings mushroom on a hillside in Sa Pa. Photo: Tuoi Tre

However, mass tourism has been changing the face of the town, with hotels being built in most corners.

In front of the Stone Church, one of the most famous sights in downtown Sa Pa, a hotel complex is currently being built.

A street in downtown Sa Pa is filled with potholes, making it difficult for people to travel on.
A street in downtown Sa Pa is filled with potholes, making it difficult for people to travel on. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Enormous cranes and loud construction noises are no longer uncommon in the formerly sleepy town.  

Several nearby hills have even been leveled to facilitate the construction of large-scale resort projects.

Garbage from local diners gathered in the town’s center.
Garbage from local diners gathered in the town’s center. Photo: Tuoi Tre

In addition, local children now frequently pester tourists to buy their souvenirs.

According to a local tourism plan, Sa Pa is set to become a major tourist area, attracting about 5.2 million visitors by 2030.

The construction of a building occupies sidewalk space.
The construction of a building occupies sidewalk space. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Residents build makeshift bridges during a road upgrade in progress.
Residents build makeshift bridges as a road upgrade is in progress. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Workers at a construction site in Sa Pa.
Workers at a construction site in Sa Pa. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A coffee shop overlooks an under-construction high-rise building.
A coffee shop overlooks an under-construction high-rise building. Photo: Tuoi Tre
An excavator travels on the street.
An excavator travels on the street. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A foreign tourist takes out money from his wallet to buy souvenirs from local children.
A foreign tourist takes out money from his wallet to buy souvenirs from local children. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Buildings with multiple stories are no longer uncommon in the town.
Buildings with multiple stories are no longer uncommon in the town. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A group of visitors take selfies during their cable car journey.
A group of visitors take selfies during their cable car journey. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A large part of a hill is leveled to make way for the construction of a resort.
A large part of a hill is leveled to make way for the construction of a resort. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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