The Sapa region of North Vietnam, a hugely popular tourist destination in the Southeast Asian country woke up to snowfall this morning as temperatures across the region plummeted to the lowest levels recorded in over a decade.
Local people were rushing to the area in their droves to experience this once in a lifetime phenomenon, and saw snow of 2. 5cm thick sprinkled across the town, which lies just inside the tropics.
According to Nguyen Manh Ho, the Director of the Hydro-meteorological Forecast Center in Hanoi, temperatures across the north of the country averaged between 4˚C and 7˚C on Thursday across mountainous areas, with the temperature dropping to below 0 in Sapa, where heavy snow began falling at 5am in the morning.
These freak weather conditions are totally unexpected in a region that is supposed to be embracing the hot season at this time of year, with average temperatures for March normally hovering around the 30s.
The temperature dip is not just limited to Vietnam though. Large parts of Southeast Asia have been affected. Temperatures in the Thai capital Bangkok dropped to their lowest level in two years, 19˚C at noon today.
Sapa, located in the Lao Cai district, about 120km north-east of Hanoi, is a popular destination for travelers on the Southeast Asian backpacker trail, with its local hill-tribe population, its markets and its spectacular mountain/jungle scenery. No doubt many travelers woke up in shock this morning upon being confronted with snow and ice – a huge contrast from the normal scene pictured when you imagine the stereotype shirtless backpacker with long hair, shorts and sandals!
The cold spell is expected to last for another 2 days before things get back to normal in the region.