Top things to do in Sapa
The hill station of Sapa is well known as one of the best trekking bases in northern Vietnam. While the town witnessed some French colonial heritages, its surrounding has an abundance of spectacular formed by Hoang Lien mountain and Muong Hoa river.
There are many ways to experience the beauty of Sapa and here are just some of the best that you should soak up
Step on Fansipan Mountain
Lying on the elevation of 3.143m, Fansipan is the rooftop of Indochina countries. The peak is the highlight of any visit to Hoang Lien Son national Park as you will have chances to spot wide range of fauna and flora, especially the wild orchids. The adventure to the top of Fansipan is rewarded with stunning mountain views, cascading waterfalls and fresh mountain air. There are 2 options to reach the peak of Fansipan. The adventurous travelers can take a long trek with camping in the forest for 2 to 4 nights while the cable car takes half day for a 2 ways trip.
Trek through Hoang Lien Son Mountain
One of the most spectacular Vietnam Trekking destinations, Hoang Lien Son national park is full of wild trails, cascading waterfalls and amazing forests. Imagine a trek without other tourists, exploring the authentic Vietnam nature, listening to the sounds of birds and grab a chance to spot wildlife.
Admire Silver Waterfall
The falls is about 200 meters high with different layers. Its paved walk way allows you to behold the bird eye view differently from each step you move uphill. This is one of the most popular tourist attraction which offers stunning photogenic chances. Silver Waterfall is about 15km from the town.
Walk to Cat Cat village and Its Waterfall
Another fascinating hill side village which perches on the sloop of Sapa town. It is home to the friendly Black Hmong who are very family with foreign visitors. The locals expose authentic Hmong culture. Right after the village is the cascading waterfall of Cat Cat - a very nice spot to have some photo souvenirs of Sapa.
See Love Waterfall
This fall is more inspiring with its legend. It is located right at the foot of Hoang Lien Son national park. To reach the park, you need to drive about 14km from Sapa then take a walk crossing the dense forest along the stream.
Things to do in Sapa: Explore Muong Hoa Valley
This valley lasts for more than 25km, offering the typical, mesmerizing landscapes of Sapa where rice terraces curves along the mountain, fascinating villages scattering along the banks and hills where Muong Hoa river flows through. If Sapa is all about trekking then Muong Hoa valley is one of the must sees. Though there are famous attractions, you still have chances to enjoy the unspoilt nature if you take some off tourist path trek in O Quy Ho or Seo Mi Ty routes.
Recommended Reading: Sapa Trekking Tours
Easy Sapa Attraction: Ham Rong Mountain
For those who do not plan for a long trek, Ham Rong park is a perfect alternative. Apart from the panorama view of Sapa town, the park also provides grateful cultural performance. It is a very relaxing atmosphere as you walk through the dense forests then sit for a true Hmong music, dances.
Get a ride to the Heaven Gate
Those who fancy a distinctive bike ride will find Tram Ton pass a great descent in north Vietnam. Known as Heaven Gate, this pass is the border of Lao Cai and Lai Chau province boasting the magnificient vistas while it winds through cascading waterfalls, untouched forest, remote villages and verdant plantations. The ride is listed in most of the bike tours in north Vietnam. However, there are plenty of choices for mountain bikers such as Ban Khoang route, Ben Den route.
Unique Things to do in Sapa
These distinctive experiences are either for those who seek for something different or active travelers who want to see other sides of Sapa which is less touristic. Some of them are self-do experiences, others should be organized by a dedicated local Vietnam Tour Operator :
Photo : Luca Varisto
Learn about local traditional workshops
In many villages of Sapa, ethnic hill tribes reserve very well their tradition of making clothes from the jute. In weaving season, Black Hmong people unskin the jute, making the fabric then dye them with indio leaves before decorate it by their own technique. The Dzao people on the other hand are specialized for herbal medicine, embroidery making. You will surely be tempted by their eye-catching customs.
Take a Photography Adventure
There are 5 ethnic groups living in Sapa including Hmong, Dzao, Giay, Tay, Xa Pho. They live in different topography along the mountain. A photography travel is a ideal for those who want to capture their colorful portraits as well the stunning landscapes of Sapa. You may have to travel on small path, crossing forest to reach their villages but all your effort will be rewarded by some life time shots.
Climb Nam Tay Mountain
While Fansipan is touristic, Nam Tay is a small but challenging mountain that worth exploring. The peak is not mentioned in the travel guide that means your trip is really unique. Nam Tay is located on the road to Ban Khoang village, about 25km from the town. It is surrounded by pristine forest overlooking a postcard like Hmong village. Participate in Hmong Sewing Class Indio Cat opens a workshop which let all visitors trying to learn about Batik art. This is a very fun-packed activity as you will witness the experience teacher working on the silk, making pattern by the most traditional Hmong way.
All the motifs are inspired from nature such as snail shells, cucumber, pumpkin seeds.
Location & fee: Ta Van village. The workshop lasts for 3 hours from 1.30pm till 4.30pm without any reservation - just drop in
Things to do in Sapa: Having a homestay
While the main town is perfect for leisure and soaking up the fresh air, the true hospitality of the locals are more visible in the remote area. The best way to experience it is to embark on a trek to the further area like Thanh Phu, Sang Ma Sao commune which are out of tourist track. If you expect some fun, do not hesitate to ask your guide to let you try the farm work.
Rise up for an incredible sunrise in Hau Thao
To mark one of the best points to shoot Muong Hoa valley in the morning, Hau Thao village should be in the list. There is no certain points that you should stop but the ascending road with many local plantation features incredible viewing points. Do not miss the chance to witness the " forest of cloud" moving out of Hoang Lien mountain to release the magnificent rice terraces along Muong Hoa river.
Sapa Travel Guide for First Timer
Look no further for some of the most useful information about any travel to Sapa with our Q& A about Sapa
When is the best time to visit Sapa?
You can visit Sapa all the year round as each season has something to offer. Spring is the time of festivals, cultural events while summer is ideal to capture Sapa`s picturesque landscapes. Autumn is a perfect time to have an instagram photo with golden rice terraces. Winter is pretty cold but worth exploring the mountain side where the local hospitality is abundant.
What is the most popular activity in Sapa?
Sapa is mostly well known for trekking. There are options for trekking from 1 to 5 days.
Many travelers come to Sapa to conquer Fansipan Mountain - the highest peak of Vietnam too.
How to travel from Hanoi to Sapa?
There are 3 main ways to reach Sapa from Hanoi: train, bus and private car.
Taking a train is a comfortable option as it goes overnight and you can sleep onboard with a comfortable berth. You will then need to have 1 hour bus drive from the train station ( Lao Cai city) to Sapa town.
See also: Vietnam Train.
Tourist buses depart from Hanoi in the morning and arrive in Sapa in early afternoon. It takes about 5 hours in total.
A private car may not reduce the travel time but you can have some stops on the way and it is more comfortable than a bus.
How long should I spend in Sapa?
We recommend you to spend 2 to 3 days in Sapa. For culture exploration, 2 day is a good timeframe to soak in all the highlighted attractions of Sapa.
For those who love adventures, especially, trekking then think about planning 3 days in Sapa.
Recommended reading: 3 day Sapa Itinerary
Should I take a motorbike trip in Sapa?
If you are adventurous and want to experience something extraordinary in Sapa then do not hesitate to hire a motorbike. The roads are snaking but really scenic.
How far Sapa from China Border?
It is about 40km from Sapa to Lao Cai city which has the border line with China. To visit China from Sapa, you need to apply for a visa first. The Lao Cai - Hekou border gate is open for border crossing.
How can I travel from Sapa to Halong Bay?
You can take a connecting bus from Sapa to Halong Bay via the highway. To do this, it is better to ask a local travel agency or a bus company in Sapa to arrange it for you instead of doing in yourself.
What should I eat in Sapa?
Sapa has many food specialties that you should try. Some of the most famous foods in Sapa are: Salmon, Horse hotpot, sticky rice baked in bamboo tube, local black chicken, pumkin soup.
Can we book a Sapa Tour online?
We offer private Sapa Tour with good price and importantly very flexible and customizable for all travelers. Our tours are designed by real local experts with insider knowledge of the area.
You can also book a Sapa day tour from some tourism offices in Sapa too.