Sapa is always bring great experience to the tourists coming to this place by the scenery, people and fresh cooler air. A tourist said ‘Sapa looks like a little Switzerland in Vietnam’ as its weather is beautifully foggy and misty. Tourists are also very impressive with local hill tribes about their daily life, customs and traditional habits.
Best travel experiences in Sapa
• Enjoy the mountain scenery in Sapa and nearby mountain valleys
• Visit ethnic minority villages around Sapa to have a close-up look on traditional lifestyles of Hmong, Dao, Tay and other local tribes.
• Trekking mountain valleys around Sapa. See rice fields, waterfalls and minority villages.
• See colourful ethnic minority markets, from Bac Ha, the most popular among travelers and easily accessible, to other markets, more authentic travel experience.
• Climb Fansipan mountain, the highest in Indochina, located a few kilometers west from Sapa.
• Sapa is a good starting point for motorbike tours around more remote regions of Northern Vietnam.
Why travel to Sapa?
• Sapa has a beautiful location in the high mountains, as well as the best choices of accommodation and guided tours than any other place in the North of Vietnam.
• Travelers to Sapa have a good choice of adventure activities, cultural tours and unique travel experiences, in addition to travel accommodation, that varies from luxury hotels to homestay experience in the local hill tribes village.
• Some travelers, however, may find Sapa town crowded, “touristy” and less authentic then it used to be as a remote holiday destination until just a few years ago.
• For travelers, seeking for more authentic experiences, Sapa can be a base for trips to mountain villages, or travelling to more remote places in the Northern mountains, such as Lai Chau, Dien Bien Phu and many others.
• Sapa is located in Lao Cai province of Vietnam, a few kilometers south of Vietnam’s border with China.
• The permanent population of Sapa is less than 10.000 people, which is at least 20 times lower than the annual number of local and overseas travelers visting the town.
• Mountain valleys around Sapa are considered to be the highest (by elevation) in Vietnam.
• The settlement of Sapa was established as a French hill station around 1890, during the colonial period. In the first decades of the 20th century, Sapa’s settlement became a small but famous mountain resort for wealthy French. Most of the original resort buildings in Sapa (constructed in the first decades of the 20th centrury) are not seen in town these days, the current town architecture is only a few years old.
• Fan Si Pan mountain, the highest mountain peak in Vietnam, and Indochina, is located only a few kilometers west of Sapa, and can be easily seen from the town itself.
• The majority of the town’s population are ethnic Vietnamese. Minority tribes, living in nearby villages around Sapa, come to town mainly to shop or to sell their products.
• Mountains around Sapa had about 15 days of snow in the last 30 years. Sapa is one of the very few places in Vietnam to see snow.
• Tram Ton mountain pass between Sapa and Lai Chau, located at nearly 2.000 meters (6.500 feet) is the highest mountain pass in Vietnam.
Plan your travel to Sapa
Travelers to Sapa have many accommodation choices, including
• Luxury Victoria Sapa resort, from 130 USD per night
• Many three star hotels, including Holiday Sapa, Bamboo Sapa, Royal View Sapa Hotel and others, from 30 USD per night
• Several dozens of budget hotels, guesthouses, and hostels, from 10 USD per night.
• Homestay in village around Sapa, 12-15 USD per night.
Tours in Sapa
Sapa offers many choices of organised activities, including hiking trips, visiting local villages and markets.
Local tips/advice for your travel
• Prices of accommodation and train tickets tend to be slightly higher on a weekend then on week days, and considerably higher before the Tet/New Year and other holidays.
• The best option to have a lunch or snack during the day, for the price and authentic experience, is to visit foodstalls at the local market. The lunch costs no more than 2-3 USD per person. Restaurants in Sapa tend to be overpriced, and the quality of food varies greatly from one place to another.
• It is NOT recommended to drive, ride bicycle or motorbike to Sapa from Hanoi. The distance is nearly 350 km (215 miles) one way, and there is very little to see along the road, especially compared to Sapa itself. The road between the Red River valley and Sapa is located in high mountains, and it is not easy to drive on, especially after the rain. Many reasonably priced options are available for your travel from Hanoi to Sapa (train or bus to Lao Cai, and then minibus or taxi to Sapa).