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Sapa Travel - Rough Guide to know before your travel to Sapa in Vietnam

Cập nhật: 01-01-1970 12:00:00 | Blogs about Vietnam | Lượt xem: 1135

Nestled in the mountains of Northwestern Vietnam, the charming town of Sapa is famous for its magnificent landscapes and rich cultural diversity. From getting lost in the lush green rice terraces to browsing colorful ethnic markets, this wonderful place offers plenty of wholesome experiences you can freely explore. Sapa is an extraordinarily precious gem, a destination that you don’t want to miss during any Vietnam culture and history tour.

Best time to visit Sapa

At an altitude of 1,600m above sea level, Sapa Town Vietnam features a year-round cool climate with an average temperature of 15 – 18°C. It can be visited any time of the year, but September with light fog, clear view and mild weather is the ideal month to travel in Sapa. It’s the rice harvest season, so you’ll be able to admire the brilliant yellow terraces.

November – April is another period loved by tourists thanks to a variety of winter/spring festivals and the beauty of peach blossoms in Sapa. However, the weather during these months is often cold, wet and foggy, so it’s not perfect for trekking.

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How to travel to Sapa

Sapa is about 315km from Hanoi and most foreign travelers often choose to reach this town from Hanoi. Since the construction of the new Hanoi – Lao Cai Expressway, moving from Hanoi to Sapa by shuttle bus has been easier than ever. You can easily book a shuttle for 9 – 18 dollars, and the journey often takes 5 – 6 hours.

Another great option is to take a night train from Hanoi to Sapa. A ticket for a berth in an air-conditioned four-person cabin costs around $30 – 45, while in a six-person cabin it’s $20 – 25. However, trains only take you to Lao Cai Station, which is 30 km from the town center. Afterward, you can either use the railway company’s transit service for a little additional cost, or catch a bus/taxi in front of the station.

Since Sapa is quite small, getting around Sapa is simple and affordable. If you are confident with riding a scooter, renting one is the best way to explore the town at the cost of only $5 – 7 per day. For those who prefer eco-friendly vehicles, bikes are also available for rent at half the price. Otherwise, you can simply catch a cab to reach your destination.
 

Accommodations and hotels in Sapa

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam, Sapa offers all kinds of accommodations you’re looking for, from cheap motels, village homestays to 4 – 5 star hotels and luxury resorts. Among these, hotels around Sapa Lake are the cheapest compared to other same-quality options in the town. Their center location also allows you to effortlessly reach many tourist attractions nearby.

Prefer a breathtaking view instead? Just move a few km further to Muong Hoa Valley. The price there is a bit higher, but you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of Fansipan Peak and the enormous Hoang Lien Son range.

And if you want to learn more about the culture and blend in with the locals, you can choose a homestay in remote villages like Cat Cat, Lao Chai, or Ta Van. These villages are also perfect for immersing in the peaceful atmosphere of Vietnam’s Northwestern mountains.


Things to do in Sapa

Visit the Sapa Stone Church

Also called the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Sapa Stone Church is not only the most visible landmark but also a meaningful symbol of this town. Constructed in 1895 by the French, this cross-shaped church is situated on an area of 6,000 m2 right in the heart of the town. In addition to the stones that are stuck together by a mixture of sand, lime and molasses, it’s also famous for beautiful Roman Gothic architecture, which is highlighted by a 20-meter-high bell tower, arched vaults, and colorful stained glass windows.

Sapa Stone Church opens for visiting from 6:00 am – 9:00 pm on weekdays. On Sundays, you can attend the Mass at 9:00 am and listen to the sweet sound of children’s readings.

Hike up Ham Rong Mountain

Ham Rong (Dragon’s Jaw) got the name for its shape, which looks like a dragon’s head looking up at the sky. It’s located right behind the Stone Church, only 3 km from the town center and can be reached easily. With an altitude of 1800m, this mountain has the highest view of Sapa, a perfect spot to soak up the sunrise or sunset. 

The eco-tourism area on top of Ham Rong Mountain opens from 7:00 am – 6:00 pm. Its entrance ticket costs $2.8 per person.

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Conquer Fansipan Peak

Fansipan, or “the Roof of Indochina”, is the highest mountain in the Indochinese Peninsula at an altitude of 3,147 m above sea level. It offers a spectacular view of the stunning mountains and valleys around Sapa, not to mention the marvelous landscapes along the way up there. On top of the mountain, there’s also an extended Buddhist complex with traditional temples and pagodas, and a giant bronze Buddha statue in the lotus position. If you are a real athlete with enough strength and endurance, two days of trekking up this peak will be a great experience you can hardly forget.

For the less courageous, cable car Sapa will be honored to do the hard job for you in just 15 minutes. The cable station is 3 km from the town center, and the round-trip ticket costs about $35 per person.

Head up O Quy Ho Pass

Widely known as one of the four toughest mountain passes in Northwestern Vietnam, O Quy Ho Pass rises 2035 m above sea level with a deep valley on one side and a steep cliff on the other. This 50-km-long pass connects two provinces Lao Cai – Lai Chau, and is the longest pass in the whole region. At the top of the pass, you will see a panoramic view of the majestic Hoang Lien Son range.

Dubbed the “Heaven’s Gate” by locals, O Quy Ho Pass is covered in white clouds all year round and offers an exciting challenge to the bravest travelers. Riding a motorbike is probably the best way to get the most out of this incredible pass, but if you are not comfortable with this vehicle, calling a cab will be the second-best choice for you.

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Admire the gorgeous waterfalls

Located along O Quy Ho pass, Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall) and Thac Tinh Yeu (Love Waterfall) are two unmissable stops during your journey here. About 12 km northwest of SaPa town center, the 200-meter-high Thac Bac is a cascading waterfall known for its sparkling, silver-like appearance. Moving 2.6 km further, you’ll see Thac Tinh Yeu, a 100-meter-high waterfall that flows straight from Fansipan Peak. To reach this waterfall, you will have to spend about 30 minutes walking through a forest.

Thac Bac’s entrance ticket is only $0.8, while at Thac Tinh Yeu it costs about $3. Lying amid sublime vegetation and covered in fresh mountain air, these spots will be a great break to refresh your soul before coming back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

Discover the ethnic markets

Don’t hesitate to pass by local markets to discover the ancestral customs preserved by different ethnic groups of Sapa. Thanks to its ethnic diversity, this town features many authentic markets that will fulfill your curiosity. Besides multicolored clothes, embroidered crafts and strange-looking daily items, there you’ll also find many tasty culinary specialties such as stream fishes, smoked buffalo, roasted pork, corn alcohol, or traditional cakes…

It’s not hard to find a market situated along your route, but the most well-known among tourists are the Sapa Market at Luong Dinh Cua Street and the Night Market at Dien Bien Phu Street. If you happen to be in the town on a Saturday evening, don’t forget to stop by the Love Market at the square in front of the church as well. It’s a vibrant marketplace where young people gather, sing, dance, and look for their potential partners.

Uncover Muong Hoa Valley

8 km from Sapa Town is Muong Hoa, an astonishing valley situated between two mountain ranges. This land looks like a green maze with splendid natural landscapes, and is home to many ethnic villages with countless different cultural styles.

Muong Hoa Valley is also famous for a mysterious rock field that offers an interesting insight into Vietnam’s ancient past. Discovered in 1925, this field covers an area of 8 km² and consists of 200 megalithic rocks arranged in circular formations. Many of them are engraved with ancient patterns and characters, whose meanings still remain unknown.

 

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Explore hill tribe villages in Sapa

If you want to get closer to local life, don’t forget to tour a few villages nearby, for instance Cat Cat Village Vietnam. Located only 2 km from the town, Cat Cat is a small Hmong village that attracts tourists with its pristine landscape, the rustic beauty of lovely wooden houses, and the traditional culture that’s very well preserved. The entrance fee here is about $4 per person.

Other scenic villages that are worth discovering are Giay Village in Ta Van and Red Dao Village in Ta Phin, both lie 12 km from Sapa, and cost a little cheaper than Cat Cat. Besides enjoying the picturesque view, you can also spend the night in a homestay and share daily life with the locals. Especially, in Ta Phin, there’s a special medicinal herbal bath service managed by the Red Dao tribe that will help improve your wellness and calm your mind.

 

 

Trek along mountain slopes

Trekking the mountains Sapa is an unmissable things to do in Sapa. Thanks to its well-preserved nature, Sapa has become a heaven for trekking enthusiasts with various routes that adapt to everyone’s desires. There are many interesting Sapa trekking tours you could consider, ranging from simple few-hour trips to winding excursions that take several days. 

You can totally come up with your own plan. But if you don’t know where to start yet, our Sapa Travel Rough Guide would sugget a few of trekking routes as below:

Route 1: Sapa – Cat Cat Village – Sin Chai Village – SaPa (1 day, 7 km, easy)

Route 2: Sapa – Love Waterfall – Silver Waterfall – Y Linh Ho Village – Ta Van Village – Sa Pa (2 days 1 night, 25 km, moderate)

Route 3: Sapa – Ta Phin Village – Ta Giang Phinh Valley – Sa Pa (3 days 2 nights, 43 km, hard)

Route 4: Tram Ton Pass – Fansipan Peak (2 days 1 night, 11 km, hard)

To get an insight on each minority group culture, customs as well as their daily lifestyles, it's advisable to get a local tour guide who have known well about these information. Reach out to Bonzer Tour and request for a tailor made tour to Sapa for an immersive travel to Sapa Vietnam. 

 

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