We had spent more than three weeks in Vietnam by the time we arrived in the mountains of Sapa. We started in the southern tip in the Mekong Delta and made our way north. Vietnam is full of great travel experiences but my favorite place was Sapa and my favorite travel experience in Vietnam was trekking in the mountains surrounding Sapa and spending time with the Black H'mong people there.
If you visit Sapa be sure to hire a guide from the Black H'mong minority and if possible spend the night in a home-stay. At a minimum be sure to have a meal with a Black H'mong family in one of the mountain villages. It is an unforgettable experience and for now it is off of the "banana pancake trail"!
The hiking can be quite technical, but the views of the endless terraced rice fields are more than worth the effort. It can also be cold in this part of Vietnam so be prepared to purchase a coat upon arriving here.