Table of Contents
Sapa at a glance
Located in the Northwest of Vietnam, Sapa contains many wonders of the natural scenery and people. Sapa is known with the name “The cloud town”, it attracts visitors with majestic mountain views and many unique experiences exploring the lives of ethnic minorities. Let’s watch the Sapa panorama video!
Located in the Northwest of Vietnam, Sa Pa town is 1.600 meters above sea level, 38 km from the center of Lao Cai city, and 376 km from Hanoi. Besides the main road from Lao Cai city, there is another traffic route to Sapa; the National Highway 4D connects from Binh Lu, Tam Duong, and Lai Chau communes. Although the majority of Sapa residents are ethnic minorities, the town is home to the majority of the Kinh people living on tourism.
Blessed with a cool climate all year round, Sapa attracts many tourists to this beautiful land. Located at an average height of 1500m – 1800m, Sapa is effected by temperate climate, with an average temperature of 15° C to 18 ° C. From May to August, Sapa has a lot of rain. At the end of the year, when winter comes, the temperature in Sapa can drop below 0 degrees, sometimes with snow.
THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO SAPA
You can go to Sapa at any time of the year, but the most suitable time to go to Sapa is from March to May or from September to November in the year. During these times, the Sapa weather is good to visit, relatively mild, sunny in the day time, and cold at night.
From March to May: Go to Sapa to see all the blooming flowers
This is the season where many tourists think that it is best to enjoy the sunshine, wind, and fresh air of highland mountains. Spring in Sa Pa is immense, with many kinds of flowers such as peach blossom and plum blossom. Thousands of flowers bloom all over the hillsides, halfway up the slopes, valleys, mountain slopes, or roads on the town. All blends together to create the most beautiful, colorful picture you can see when traveling to Sapa.
From September to November: Go to Sapa to admire the golden rice field
At this time, the rice begins to ripen, the scenery of Sa Pa turns to the brilliant golden color of the rice, embracing the northwestern mountains. If you want to go on vacation with your family, combined with watching the ripe fields, you should come in from July to September. If you come in from October to December, the weather may have turned cold and foggy. This is also the season of water in Sapa so that the waterfall will flow strongly, very majestic, and vivid.
Besides these two wonderful times, visitors can also consider going to Sapa in December. At this time, Sapa is very cold, especially at night, and sometimes it snows. At this time, many young couples want to witness the romance of the snowy scenery, watch the peach blossom trees in the breeze, as well as the sunrise in the high valley in the early morning, so they come to Sapa in this time. It will be an experience that is hard to find anywhere else in Vietnam.
How to get to Sapa
As one of the best destinations in Vietnam, traveling to Sapa is extremely easy and has many different options, such as cars, limousine, trains. We will guide you on how to go from Hanoi to Sapa in detail.
FROM HANOI TO SAPA
1. By Car
Currently, many car companies are going from Hanoi to Sapa for you to choose with very affordable fares, ranging from 180.000 – 200.000 VND/person/way. The car companies will usually have 2 times of travel: early in the morning from 6:30 am or late in the evening from 10 pm.
2. By Train
If you go to Sapa from Hanoi, you have to move through Tran Quy Cap station. Although the roads are convenient today, the train only stops at Lao Cai station; you have to take the bus to move up to Sapa. But going by train is also one of the exciting experiences that you must try once.
Trains have a variety of chairs, including soft chairs and air-conditioned beds. The train starts at 9 or 10 pm and arrives early in the morning. The train fare is usually around 200.000 – 600.000 VND/ passenger depending on the cabin class and seat class you choose.
3. By Limousine
Besides the above choices, you also can go to Sapa from Hanoi by Limousine. This car is a completely new design with nine seats, with sufficient reclining, for extremely spacious use space, ensuring comfort and convenience; Very suitable if you travel with family, have young children, or groups of friends, colleagues from 5-7 people. Limousine prices are not too high, ranging from 300.000 to 600.000 VND/person/time depending on the firm and seat class, travel time: 4 -5 hours.
GETTING AROUND SAPA
To get around Sapa town, you have three options: rent a motorcycle and go by yourself, hire a motorbike driver, take a taxi.
1. Rent a motorcycle
With prices ranging from 120.000 to 180.000 VND/one, you can go around all corners of Sapa. However, the above rates are applied in 1 day (from 6 am to 6 pm). Whether you rent morning or night, the same rate applies.
2. Hire a motorbike driver
For those traveling alone, hiring a motorbike driver is probably the best choice. Price range from 100.000 – 150.000 VND for 4-5 famous places near each other.
3. Take a Taxi
Besides the above options, you can also hire a taxi to move around Sapa town. However, ethnic minority villages are often located deep in small alleys. Therefore, you should consider this option. Moreover, the price of hiring a taxi is also quite high.
Where to stay in Sapa
As the leading tourist destination in Vietnam, there are many accommodation options in Sapa. You can consult the price and book a room in Sapa on the Stay column. After booking, you should call and check the room before you go.
There are two areas with many cheap hotel accommodations in Sapa: Xuan Vien and Fansipan Street, the average price is from 400.000 VND – 500.000 VND / night for two people room. On weekends and holidays, the cost can range from 700.000 VND – 800.000 VND/ night, depending on the hotel.
If you want to be in a quiet space, close to nature and want to save money on accommodation, you should stay at a homestay. When staying at a homestay, visitors also discover a lot of new and exciting things about the lifestyle and traditional culture of the people here.
In Sapa nowadays, there are some homestay villages such as Ban Ho, Lao Chai, Ta Phin, and Ta Van. You can come here to ask a room, almost every house in the village also provides this service, so you do not worry about no sleeping place.
If you are a little bit more condition, you can choose the villas or resorts with beautiful views and luxurious services.
The most attractive destinations in Sapa
Sapa is famous for many marvelous mountains and beautiful terraced fields. There are some destinations you cannot miss when traveling to this town.
DESTINATIONS IN THE SAPA CENTER
1. Sapa stone church
Sapa stone church built in 1895 is considered as an ancient architectural imprint of the French left. The church has been renovated and preserved, becoming an indispensable place when mentioning the Sapa town.
2. Ham Rong Mountain
Standing on the top of Ham Rong Mountain, you can enjoy panoramic views of Sapa, Muong Hoa valley, Ta Phin hidden in the clouds. Visiting Ham Rong, tourists seem to be lost in the fairy garden with clouds covering the body and colorful flowers on the ground.
3. Cat Cat village
From the town center, follow the way towards Fansipan mountain about 4km, visitors will come to Cat Cat village. This is the gathering place of H’mong ethnic people.
Owning a beautiful location right at the down of Hoang Lien Son mountain, Cat Cat is a lovely village with the simple and beautiful natural scenery of terraced rice fields and small stilt houses in Northwestern Vietnam.
Location: about 4km from the center of Sapa
4. Ta Van village
Follow 4D Highway to the Southeast, about 8 km from Sapa town to Ta Van Giay village. Coming here, visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the lifestyle of the Giay’s ethnic. The road to Ta Van Giay village is small, narrow, and dirty. On both sides of the road are fertile terraced fields adorned with the green of corn and young rice.
Location: about 8 km from the center of Sapa
5. Sin Chai village
Sin Chai village, in San Sa Ho ward, about 4 km from the center of Sapa, is a village that has not been much toured and still retains its pristine untouched. This is a village of Black Hmong ethnic with a population of about 1400 people. Besides planting rice and hybrid maize, Sin Chai villagers also grow cardamom that creates significant income for people in this ancient valley.
Location: about 5 km from the center of Sapa
6. Muong Hoa valley
The special thing in this valley is the ancient rock with many different shapes, interspersed between grasses and terraced fields of ethnic minorities. Hundreds of sandstones with engraved drawings and strange characters have not been identified yet. Today, this ancient carving area has been recognized as a national heritage. In Muong Hoa valley, there is also a beautiful stream stretching about 15 km, passing through Lao Chai, Ta Van, Hau Thao communes, and ending at Ban Ho.
Location: Hau Hao Commune, 8 km to the South of Sapa town
DESTINATIONS FAR FROM THE CENTER OF SAPA TOWN
1. O Quy Ho mountain pass
Dubbed as one of the four high peaks of the Northwest Pass, O Quy Ho is a destination that any backpacker wants to conquer. O Quy Ho mountain pass with a length of more than 40km, is located at an altitude of over 2000 meters, on 4D National Highway crossing Hoang Lien Son range. The top of the pass is free between two provinces of Lai Chau and Lao Cai. The beauty of O Quy Ho Pass is always changing: Lao Cai province side is foggy while Lai Chau province side is sunny. There are snow and ice in winter, clouds in the summer often float. That creates a beautiful landscape picture that attracts both domestic and foreign visitors.
Location: about 15 km from the center of Sapa town
2. Silver Waterfall and Waterfall Love
From Sapa town, going to the West for about 11km on the way to Lai Chau province, you will encounter rushing Silver Falls flowing down from an altitude of over 100m into a stream under the O Quy Ho valley, creating an impressive sound of mountains and forests. However, during the dry season, you should consider when visiting Silver Falls because then the waterfall has very little water. A further 3 km from Silver Falls is to Heaven Gate to look down on Lai Chau valley and the majestic Fansipan peak. If you like to walk, you can stop at Tram Ton and go through Hoang Lien National Park, about 1 km more to explore Love Waterfall.
Location: about 11 km to the West of Sapa town
3. Ta Phin village
This village owns a beautiful natural landscape along with the precious cultural traits of the Red Dao ethnic people with brocade. Coming to Ta Phin village, you can also visit the nearby Ta Phin cave. In this cave, there are many exciting stalactites shaped like fairy dancing, a party fairy sitting, distant fields, sparkling forests.
Location: about 15 km from the Sapa town
4. Fansipan peak
The experience when visiting Sapa that you cannot miss is conquering Fansipan peak – the highest mountain of Vietnam and Indochina peninsula (3,143 m), located in the center of Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Currently, there are many options for you if you want to conquer Fansipan peak. First, you can go trekking Fansipan by following the tour of travel companies or go by yourself with the guidance of local people. On the way to the top of the mountain, visitors will discover interesting flora and fauna.
Secondly, you can also choose to go by cable car. Fansipan cable car route helped over ten thousand visitors who arrived at Fansipan peak to admire, explore, and conquer the highest roof in Indochina. This is also a Guinness cable car with 2 Guinness records: the three-wire cable car with the most significant difference between the world’s departure and arrival station, about 141,0m and the longest three-cable cable car in the world, about 6292.5m. The time to admire the Fansipan peak is now shortened from 2 days to only 15 minutes.
Location: about 9 km to the Southwest of Sapa town
5. Tien Cave
Upstream of Chay river about 6 km, from the center of Bao Nhai commune (Bac Ha district), the boat will take you through the ancient city of Trung Do with many legends. Chay river constricted to create a deep, gentle stream, weaving between the two vertical cliffs. Hang Tien is a miniature Ha Long, associated with the legend of Ba Co temple in Bao Nhai commune. Many tourists come here to enjoy the scenery, take a bath in the Tien stream, bask in the morning light on the flower island, pray for the beauty, health and wealth.
Location: 6km from the center of Bao Nhai commune, Bac Ha district
6. Coc San waterfall system
Coc San is a system of waterfalls and caves with many various sizes. From 4D National Highway, there is a small dirt road about 1km long that is leading to Coc San. The way to Coc San is very twisted, dark, and filled with rocks, the beauty of Coc San is still completely natural and wild. The extraordinary thing is that after the water pouring down from above, there is a cave. Coc San landscape is harmonious and spacious. Everyone who comes here feels the miraculous mystery emanating from the waterfalls, rocks, and caves.
Location: Coc San, Bat Xat district, 7 km from Lao Cai province
7. Hoang A Tuong Palace
Hoang A Tuong Palace, also known as the Northern Cat King Palace, is a tourist destination that many people choose when traveling to Sapa because of the majestic and majestic architecture after nearly 100 years of existence.
Hoang A Tuong Palace was built in a combination of Asian and European architecture, designed and constructed by French and Chinese architects.
Built-in a closed rectangular layout on a total area of about 4,000 m2, the palace is both a workplace and a living for the Hoang family. At the same time, there was a guard tower protruding on the four sides of the wall, no different from the fortresses in Europe. It can be said Hoang A Tuong Palace is a unique and majestic wonder in Bac Ha plateau and a destination you cannot ignore in Sapa.
Location: Bac Ha district center, Lao Cai province
8. Bac Ha fair market
Bac Ha is the largest fair in the highland border area. The market meets on Sundays every week, attracting a large number of people around the region to trade and have fun. It is still a place to exchange and trade of ethnic minorities, mainly ethnic people from all surrounding villages. The stalls displayed all the essentials, such as clothes, shovels, and household items.
Location: Bac Ha district town center, 60km from Lao Cai city
Top 7 must-try dishes in Sapa
Not only famous for its majestic natural scenery, but Sapa also has a unique cuisine, which is bold flavors of the Northwest mountains area. Here are the dishes you cannot ignore when coming to Sapa.
1. Bamboo-tube rice
A typical dish of ethnic minorities in the Northwest, the primary material is sticky rice baked in bamboo tubes. After grilling, split the burnt bamboo outside, leave a thin layer of bamboo, and finally enjoy. Lam rice is popular and loved thanks to the richness of the sticky rice, and the soft fragrance of bamboo.
- Along Cau May Street
Referring to Sapa, you cannot help mention barbecue here. Sapa barbecue is diverse with enough pork skewers, whole pieces of bacon, chicken wings, quails, hearts, beef rolls with cats, kimonos spring rolls, salmon rolls, and even vegetable skewers, mushrooms. All you have to do is take a plate, choose the skewers you like, and wait for the owner to grill them on charcoal.
- Hoang Luc Xoi Restaurant – Ngu Chi Son Road
- Hoang Lien Restaurant – 4 Hoang Lien Road
- Mrs. Lich’s Restaurant – 1 Fansipan
3. Salmon hotpot
Coming to Sapa without enjoying the salmon hot pot, it is indeed deplorable. Unlike imported salmon, salmon in Sapa has a sweet taste, each piece of fish is firm, fresh, beautiful orange-pink color combined with sour bamboo shoots, pumpkin buds, and banana flowers create a delicious hot pot dish. In addition to hotpot, salmon can also be processed into grilled dishes, salads, curries. Besides, you can also try dishes made from sturgeon.
- Hoa Phuong Restaurant – Tier Union Street, group 7C, Ham Rong
- A Phu Restaurant – 15 Fansipan Street
- Hoa Dao – 48 Le Van Tam Street
- Thac Bac Restaurant – Km12 Thac Bac Resort
4. Dried meat
Meat of buffaloes, cows, horses, and pigs are usually hung on the kitchen floor by the Mong people for drying. Buffalos and cows are sliced along longitudinally into pieces of about 2 – 3kg threaded up and hung on the kitchen floor to serve as reserve food. These meats, when hung up in the kitchen, will dry and leave for years. When eating, scrub the soot and dust, then fry it with tomatoes, bamboo shoots. The meat is fragrant and fleshy. Mainly, dried buffaloes and cows were put in the ashes of the kitchen to cook, then brought to the dam to fly away from the ash and dust to served with alcohol. Dried meat is usually fleshy, aromatic, crunchy.
- Viet’s Farm – 26 Dong Loi Street
- Sapa Night Market – Dien Bien Phu Street
5. Pork stealing armpits Sapa Food
Pork-stealing armpits are a specialty of Sapa. The name “swarmed armpits” stems from the local people carrying black armpits to seal at the markets. These pigs have fragrant meat. They are left to roam freely and feed on the mountain slopes. Stealing armpits are very famous in Sapa and used for processing many special dishes. Pork price is about 100.000 – 200.000 VND/kg. They are sold at markets in Sapa to serve tourists.
- Dung Trau Restaurant – 85 Street
- Gerbera Restaurant – 29 Cau May Street
- A Phu Restaurant – 15 Fansipan Street
6. Thang Co
Thang Co is one of the specialties of the Mong people made mainly from horse organs. A pot of brakes consists of meat, heart, liver, heart, horse blood, and 12 spices: cardamom, cinnamon, lemongrass, ginger, and many other heirloom spices.
Thang Co often served with vegetables dipped in mustard greens, kohlrabi, hotpot cabbage, etc. Eating Thang Co must be accompanied by drinking warm, aromatic corn wine. When food and drink mix together, it will create a pleasant and unforgettable feeling.
- Anh Quynh Restaurant, 15 Thach Son Street
7. Sapa Fish
Sapa stream fish Fried or grilled are also must-try dishes. Stream fish are about 2-3 fingers long, often blue. Especially, Sapa stream fish has no fishy taste. Because the bones of the fish are many, the fish is usually cooked by frying both bones and meat. The fish is fleshy, aromatic, and sweet, and the bones are crispy.
- Grilled stream fish restaurant – 15 Fansipan Street
- Delicious fish restaurant – 29 Cau May Street
- Chapa Restaurant – 40 Cau May Street
Festivals in Sapa
Sapa has six ethnic groups living together: Kinh, H’Mong, Red Dao, Tay, Giay, and Xa Pho. Each ethnic group has its unique cultural features, so it’s formed many unique traditional festivals in Sapa.
1. Roong Pooc Festival
Every year in January of the lunar calendar, the Giay people in Ta Van village organize Roong Pooc festival to pray for good harvest crops, favorable rain, and wind. Although still a traditional ethnic festival of the Giay people, these years have spread and become a typical festival of the whole Muong Hoa valley. Besides the unique rituals, there are many games, dancing, and performing of gong drum and gong drum music in this festival.
2. Nao Cong Festival
Every year in June of the lunar calendar, Mong, Dao, and Giay people gather to worship at a temple in Ta Van village to celebrate Nao Cong. Each family appoints a representative, irrespective of male, female, old, and young. Nao Cong ceremony was held to pray for the blessing of the prosperous people, abundant crops. Also, during the festival, the leader will announce the typical conventions and end with a happy party.
3. Tet Dances Festival
Tet Dances is an important and well-prepared festival of the Dao Ta Van people, usually held on the 1st or 2nd of the Lunar New Year. The main content of the ceremony is to pray for the peaceful and prosperous people. The ritual activities during the Tet Holiday are very special, with 14 dances of selected young men or unique rituals performed by the priest.
4. Village sweeping ceremony of the Xa Pho
Every year, the Xa Pho people hold a sweeping village ceremony in February of the lunar calendar with the purpose of keeping people happy in the new year, good crops and healthy animals. During the sweeping village ceremony, each person contributes goats, pigs, chickens, dogs, and rice to make offerings to ghosts, worshiping masters. Villagers draw on their faces and dance to pray for peace. At the end of the ceremony, everyone enjoyed eating and drinking together. All food that is offered to the ghosts must not be brought into the village.
5. Gau Tao Festival of Mong people
The festival opens only for two purposes: to pray for a baby or to for health. One who does not have a child will make a ceremony to ask the fortune teller to open the Gao Tao festival to pray for him. Another who often got sick or have weak children, even had children died, crops, and animals gradually faded, he also asked a fortune teller to ask for the Cao Tao festival. The festival is also usually held at the beginning of the year.
6. Xuong Dong Festival of Sapa
The festival in the early spring of the Tay and Dao people in Ban Ho commune (Sapa) opens on the morning of the 8th day of Tet every year. The ceremony starts with soil and water procession, and then the worshiping ceremony with spirits. The festival started with the unique dances and folk performances of the Tay and the Dao.
But the most outstanding, the funniest part was the show when the trumpet sound rang for the Tay girls to start the show with graceful biting moves, the art of inviting people to join. When the show ended, everyone went to the game area. The games here are mostly folk games such as throwing longer, pushing sticks, spinning, hitting balls, blindfold, and catching.
7. Sapa Love market
Sapa Love Market takes place regularly every Saturday night with many special activities. Love Market is a dating place, expressing the feelings of lovers.
At Sa Pa love market, young men and women in villages in the Northwestern region will come here to meet, talk, and participate in many extremely bustling activities such as blowing aloes, singing love songs, etc. After this night market, many couples have become closer; even some of them have become husband and wife. Coming to Sapa on the weekend, visitors should not miss this unique love market!
Above are all the most detailed Sapa travel experiences summarized by us. Hopefully, with this experience, you will have a memorable trip to this beautiful town!
Meet in Sapa!