Monday, April 5, 2010

Hmong Tour Guide in Sapa

We recently went on a two day trek through the gorgeous rice fields of Sapa. Our guide was a young Hmong girl named Ker who was 19 years old and lived in a nearby village. She was 3 months pregnant with her second child, her son now 15 months old. She was married at 16 and is one of 6 children. She walks on treks most days and is the breadwinner for the family. Her husband is a farmer and provides the food for the family. She earns about $5 a day from the hotel for taking groups on treks around the Sapa area. She has left her region once, travelling to Hanoi 3 years ago.

Ker has perfect spoken English as do many of the Hmong women around Sapa. She can't read or write in English and has learnt entirely through her interaction with tourists. She has not once taken an English class and tells me she has been practising for 8 years. She understands many difficult expressions, humour and double meanings and often held her own in my much loved use of sarcasm. She is not educated and left school very young but her use of English is very impressive.

She was a great guide and really sweet girl. She organised everything perfectly and even instigated some drinking games at night. It was I guess a sign of changing times but it was always amusing when this little local living on simple means would pull out her mobile phone and start talking away.

When saying our goodbyes she gave us a business card an Australian traveller, who must have also fell in love with Ker, had made and shipped to her. We exchanged numbers and only an hour ago I received a call from her saying hi from Sapa. She has invited us to stay in her home the next time we visit which is something we definitely plan on doing.



  1. Love the blog, lots of great insights. I'm spending a few weeks in Vietnam this April and have booked a tour of Halong Bay with Eco Friendly. I am planning to spend a couple of days in Sapa and would love to use your guide Ker. Do you have a way that I may contact her, and do you have a recommendation on a Sapa tour operator?

  2. Hello kcronayne,

    You will have a good time in Halong Bay with Eco Friendly. Ker is not working at the moment. She has recently had a baby and is off work for a few months. The company I used when I went to Sapa was the Kangaroo Cafe:

    It was through this company that I met Ker. They offer private tours. I am sure Eco Friendly has ok tours as well to Sapa. My opinion: go on a private tour and make sure you stay in the homestay.


  3. Without Guide i thing trip is not complete because a guide can tell you the history and story of places.

    Tours Vietnam, Indochina Legend Travel Groupm