SaPa travel guide (Last updated on January 2, 2020)
Sapa is a town in Lao Cai province, Vietnam, a popular tourist destination from the early 20th century. The natural scenery in this mountainous town is very majestic but also very romantic with terraced fields stretching, high mountains, hills, European classical architecture … Not only that cool climate all year round, together with the culture of the great ethnic minorities in the area such as the Mong, Dzao – all these factors have created a special attraction for visitors to explore this land.
Best time to visit
Although located in Northern Vietnam, it should have a humid tropical monsoon climate, but due to its high terrain and near the tropics, Sapa has a humid, temperate climate, cool atmosphere all year round.
The average temperature of Sapa is about 15 ° C. In the summer, this town is not subject to intense heat, but the temperature will still be very pleasant during the day around 20 ° C – 25 ° C and at night the temperature will drop to about 12 – 15 ° C. Winter often has high humidity, very cold and fog covers the temperature sometimes below 0 ° C, sometimes with snow.
In each season, the town has its own beauty that when you arrive there is something to discover.
– The time to travel here is from September to November or from March to May. During this time, the weather is stable, dry days, cold nights.
– April – May, when ethnic minorities transplant rice on terraced fields. And this is also the bloom season of many beautiful flowers.
– September to October is the rice harvest season, then all corners of the town are bright yellow. Around this time, The terrace fields seem to wear new clothes – yellow on all the hills.
– December to February is very cold, can appear ice and occasionally snow. This is also the bloom season of peach blossom.
How to get to Sapa? Transportation to visiting around
Come to Sapa
Sapa town is only 38km from Lao Cai city and 376km from Hanoi. You can choose either a bus or a train as the main means to move here.
At present, there are many touring car companies that have buses running on route Hanoi – Sapa – Hanoi with around 5.5 hours to 6,5 hours of transfer, with prices ranging from 200,000 – 280,000 VND /person/time. You can contact some of the garages like Interbuslines Express, Queen Café, Hung Thanh, Sao Viet, … (all those buses depart from Hanoi)
Trains depart from 9 am to 10 pm in Hanoi and arrive at Lao Cai Station at around 5 am the next day. And there are many different types of ticket such as hard seats, soft seats, sleeper beds … When you come to Lao Cai station you can call private car 250,000 – 300,000 VND/transfer, or bus 45,000 – 60,000 VND/ person.
- The town on the weekend is full of tourists so the ticket expiration can occur, if you plan to travel there on this occasion, you should book early.
- You should book a return ticket because the afternoon ticket to Lao Cai – Hanoi will be very quickly sold out
Store your belongings, keep valuables, wallets, cameras, phones … with you.
- Vietnam Sleeper Train: What to expect & Some Handy Tips before Traveling by Overnight train in Vietnam
Visitors can trekking from the center of town to villages like Ta Van, Ta Phin or Cat Cat. You should use shoes that are suitable for walking, cool and light rain-proof clothes to be convenient for your trekking trip.
Sapa is small, but all tourist sites are quite far from the center of town. If you like exploring on your own, renting a motorbike is the right choice. For travelers who do not have experience riding a motorbike on difficult roads, you can also hire a “Motorbike taxi”. “Motorbike taxi” in Sapa is often crowded in the center of the town, around the Church area. You can rent “Motorbike taxi” to take you to each tourist destination or buy a package a day.
Motorbike rental is about 100,000 – 150,000 VND/day, self-drive to explore the tourist spots. Motorbike rental services are available at the hotel where you stay or go to the center Square to rent one.
This is also a vehicle suitable for large families or groups of people who want to use cars as a means of transportation during their trips. You can negotiate the price with the driver for each turn you go to a certain location or the number of kilometers will go as usual. Note that the taxi price here will be higher than in other cities because most of the roads here are steep and difficult to access.
Booking a tour package
You can book tours of Sapa by travel companies here or ask at the hotel for more information on these services.
Where to stay? Nice and good Homestay & Hotels in Sapa
In Sapa from the homestay to the high-end hotel, there are many options for you. If you go on holiday, you are recommended to book accommodation 2-3 weeks before to avoid room unavailability or high prices. Right in the center of the town, there are many homestay and hotels at very reasonable prices and you can book directly or through the travel company so you get better prices a lot more than you book directly with that hotel. This is an experience when traveling here you should pay attention.
Homestay in Sapa:
When coming to the homestay tours, you will have the opportunity to experience living life with the host family, learn the customs of highland people at a much lower cost than the hotel.
In addition, Booking.com is a very reasonable choice we would like to advise you with information and photos, a very detailed service, as well as reviews of the people who have booked here.
Places to visit in Sapa
Ham Rong Mountain
Ham Rong Mountain is one of the mountains in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range with the meaning as its name is “Dragon’s teeth”. This mountain is not far from the town, located right near the city center with a ticket price of 70,000 VND / person. Standing on top of Ham Rong Mountain, you can see the panorama of all the town, Muong Hoa valley, Ta Phin village…
The Stone Church
Built-in 1895 is ancient architecture integrity from the French remnant and is an indispensable symbol when referring to Sapa. In front of the church is the square, where performances of the weekend, on the sidewalk where the Dao ethnic minority women, H’Mong sit to sell Brocade.
Cat Cat Village
From the town center, follow the road towards Fanxipan Mountain about 2km, you will come to Cat Cat. It is an ideal eco-tourist destination for visitors when they want to explore and discover the cultural life of people in the Northwest. It is home to the Mong people, Cat Cat village is one of the attractive places of interest for tourists.
Ticket price: 70,000 VND / adult and 30,000 VND / child.
Ta Phin Village
Ta Phin village, about 17 km to the east of Sa Pa Town, is a concentrated residence of Dao and H’ mong ethnic groups. Ta Phin has a beautiful natural landscape, rich cultural traits of the ethnic identity of the Red Dao people with famous brocade craft. Coming to Ta Phin village, you can visit the nearby Ta Phin cave.
Ticket price: 20,000 VND / person.
O Quy Ho Pass
O Quy Ho pass is located on the national highway 4D connecting the two provinces of Lao Cai and Lai Chau, with the length of this pass about 50km and the terrain is very dangerous so it is ranked as one of the 4 largest passes in the North. Despite the rugged terrain, many adventurous tourists also conquered O Quy Ho pass by motorbike.
The Old Rock Site
An interesting place you can combine when visiting Lao Chai – Ta Van, with more than 150 large stone-carved patterns, strange shapes.
Lao Chai – Ta Van Village
Lao Chai – Ta Van is inhabited by ethnic minority people, located about 7km from the center of town. The village is full of modern facilities with hotels and homestay near the center but the indigenous people still retain the traditional culture and routine. It is also attracting visitors at home and abroad.
Ticket price: 75,000 VND / person.
Sin Chai Village
The Sin Chai village, San Sa Ho commune, about 4km from the center of the town, is a village still preserved original wild. This is a Black Mongolian population of about 1400 people.
Mount Fansipan – Indochinese rooftop
Fansipan is the highest mountain of the Indochinese Peninsula (3,143 m), located in the heart of Hoang Lien Son Range. You can go by tour companies or organize yourselves with the guidance of local people Mong people, Dao. On the way to the top of the mountain, visitors will discover the fauna and flora of nature.
Or you can choose the cable car. Fansipan cable car to go into operation in early 2016, has helped tens of thousands of visitors have set foot to Fansipan peak admire, discover, conquer the highest roof Indochina. The time to admire the Fansipan peak is now shortened from 2 days to only 15 minutes. The ticket price for cable car is about 750,000 – 1,000,000 VND / person
Located in the center of town, Sa Pa Museum currently holds about 200 artifacts, models and many publications and documentaries about the ethnic groups currently living in Sapa such as H’Mong, Tay, Giay, Xa Pho, Ha Nhi, and Red Dao. Here, visitors will learn about the history of this town, as well as discover the working life, religious activities, culture and costumes of each ethnic group.
Sapa night market
Sapa Night Market operates from 19h to 23h every day of the week. Especially from 7 pm every Saturday night, Sa Pa Night Market organizes more cultural, arts and entertainment activities for visitors to participate.
Muong Hoa Valley
Located about 10km southeast of Sapa town, Muong Hoa valley is an attractive destination to attract tourists because of its beautiful scenery.
The Cloud Bridge
The Cloud Bridge is about 7 km southeast of the town. From the big road, visitors follow the newly opened road, which is a bit steep and bends, but the road to Ta Van has now been extended very conveniently.
In the past, this was the only bridge for local residents to travel from Ta Van Commune to the center of Sa Pa Town. Later, local authorities built a new bridge right next to the old one to ensure safety. It is also safe to facilitate the travel of ethnic minorities living around this area.
Currently, The Cloud Bridge has been remodeled to serve tourism purposes.
The waterfall is located right next to 4D Highway, about 12 km west of Sa Pa town area, so it is quite convenient to visit. Silver Waterfall with a height of over 200m is upstream of Muong Hoa stream with an altitude of 1,800 m located at the foot of O Quy Ho pass. Standing on the top of Ham Rong Mountain in the center of Sa Pa Town, you can see Silver Silver Waterfall which looks like the color of silver on sunny days and this is also considered the origin of the name of the waterfall.
O Long Sapa Tea hills
This is one of the new tourist destinations for visitors to explore. O Long tea hill is located about 8km northwest of Sa Pa town (Lao Cai) to the Northwest, with an altitude of 1,800m above sea level. With each row of tea planted intermingled with plum trees along the path, has created a beautifully natural picture for this place, making tourists in Sapa reluctant to leave.
In addition to Sapa tourists, O Long tea hill is also a destination for those who are passionate about photography.
The experiences you should try when coming here
- Conquer the peak Fansipan
- Watch the terraced rice fields of the world’s most magnificent
- Climbing Ham Rong and having panoramic view of all the town from above
- Morning sunrise, sunset
- Walk to explore the villages
- Sleeping homestay at home of ethnic minorities
- Conquer one of the four largest passes in Vietnam – O Quy Ho Pass.
- Enjoy the specialties here
Some other travel experiences should be noted
- Take sunscreen, mosquito repellent, personal items necessary.
- If you drive yourself, you should bring a travel map or phone with the internet to use the map.
- You can buy souvenirs at the walking street in the town center but remember to bargain before buying.
- Ask for permission before taking pictures of ethnic people or when you want to visit their home.
- You should wear shoes suitable for walking.
- Absolutely not recommended to give children anything like candy, money …
- The weather in Sa Pa is cool in the summer and very cold in the winter so remember to bring suit.