Sapa town stands at the head of a deep valley of magnificent rice terraces that are still worked today as they have been for centuries. Backdrops don’t get much more spectacular. Enticing ribbons of road lead the eye down to the valley floor, white-water rivers rush among rice fields, and lush green mountains stretch into the distance as far as the eye can see. The highest peak in the region, Mount Fansipan, crowns the ragged ridge line high above town.
Time to visit Sapa
The best time to visit Sapa is in September and October when the rice terraces are at their most splendid; or in April and May when the weather is fine and the skies clear. June to August is an ideal period for those who don’t mind hot weather.
How to get to Sapa
Overnight trains offer the most romantic way to reach Sapa via the province capital, Lào Cai. Alternatively regular buses run from Hanoi with a journey time of around 6 hours, and there are now shuttle vans you can book from the capital to your hotel in the centre of Sapa.
To book bus ticket: https://www.sapaexpress.com/en
Where to stay in Sapa
There are many standards of accommodations here from hostels to the luxury hotels. It is very easy for you to find the information and booking your services.
- Pao’s Sapa Leisure Hotel – Add: Muong Hoa Street, Sapa Town, Sapa District, Lao Cai Province, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 115 USD/room/night.
- Hotel de la Coupole Mgallery – Add: 1,Hoang Lien Street, Sapa District, Lao Cai Province, Việt Nam /From 240 USD/room/night.
- Silk Path Grand Resort & Spa Sapa – Add: Doi Quan 6, Group 10, Sapa, Lao Cai, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 140 USD/room/night.
- KK Sapa Hotel – Add: 028A Mường Hoa, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 140 USD/room/night.
- My Boutique Hotel & Spa – Add: 49 Muong Hoa Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 102 USD/room/night.
- Lotus Aroma Sapa Hotel – Add: N1 Road, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 95 USD/room/night.
- Eden Boutique Hotel & Spa – Add: 3B Thac Bac Street, Sapa, Lao Cai, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 110 USD/room/night.
- Azure Sapa Hotel – Add: 43 Fansipan Street, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 85 USD/room/night.
- Amazing Hotel Sapa – Add: Dong Loi Street, Sapa Town, Việt Nam /From 102 USD/room/night.
- Ladybird Sapa Hotel – Add: 4, Thach Son Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 55 USD/room/night.
- Sapa Romance Hotel – Add: 16, Nhanh Noi 10, Ngu Chi Son Street, Sapa Town, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 40 USD/room/night.
- Heart Of Sapa Hotel – Add: 08A Dong Loi, Sapa, Vietnam /From 52 USD/room/night.
- Phoenix Sapa Hotel – Add: 06A, Vuon Treo, Sapa, Lao Cai, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 47 USD/room/night.
- Moc Hotel Sapa – Add: 20 Dong Loi, Sapa, Lao Cai, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 43 USD/room/night.
- Sapa Valley view hotel – Add: Mường Hoa 034, Sapa, Việt Nam /From 36 USD/room/night.
There are two types of home-stay. The choice is either a well-established luxury home-stay with other travelers or staying in a traditional home. In both, expect to experience village life in all its glory. On the plus side, you will get some quality time with the wonderful ethnic group community. National homes are set within the famed rice paddies and have incredible views if the weather permits.
- The Little Hmong House – Add: Giang Ta Chai Mong, Km5, Ban Den Village, Lao Cai, Sapa, Vietnam /From 21 USD/night.
- Hoa’s homestay Sapa – Add: TL152 Thon Ban pho – Xa Hau Thao – Huyen Sapa, Sapa, Vietnam /From 19 USD/night.
- Lao Chai Bamboo Stay – Add: Lo Hamlet, Lao Chai Commune, Sapa, Lao Cai, Sapa, Vietnam /From 20 USD/night.
- Surelee Homestay – Add: Ban Pho Hamlet, Hau Thao Commune, Sapa, Lao Cai, Sapa, Vietnam /From 17 USD/night.
- H’mong Stilt House – Add: Hoa Xu Pan 1, Ban Ta Van, Su Pan, Sapa, Lao Cai, Sapa, Vietnam /From 15 USD/night.
- Sapa Orange Homestay – Add: Ho Village, Sapa, Sapa, Vietnam /From 31 USD/night.
- Po Mu House – Add: Ta Van Village, Sapa, Lao Cai, Sapa, Vietnam /From 22 USD/night.
- La Beauté Sapa – Add: Giang Ta Chai Village, Sapa, Lao Cai, Sapa, Vietnam /From 19 USD/night.
Places to visit in Sapa
Home to diverse hill tribes, breathtaking landscapes, harlequin green rice terraces and the highest mountain in Vietnam, the Tonkinese Alps of northwestern Vietnam have an abundance of attractions to offer. The Sapa region is notable for its picturesque mountain landscapes and the distinct cultures of many tribes such as the Hmong, Red Dzao and Phù Lá ethnic groups.
Fansipan is the largest mountain in the Indochina region (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos). Fansipan has a varied topography suitable for trekking. There are a number of tour operators which take groups of people on organized treks. Fansipan also has indigenous flora and fauna which offers you with an exciting opportunity to learn about it. Recently, cable car services have been nstalled to reach the summit of the mountain, which makes it easier for those ho do not want to trek gto experience the breathtaking view from the summit.
Silver or Thac Bac waterfall is a picturesque cascade of water located right beside the Highway 4D. Located about 30 minutes away from the Sapa main town, Silver waterfall lives upto its name. The white waters cascading down the hill slope glint in the sunlight, making it appear as though molten silver is flowing down the slope. From the base of the waterfall, you can climb upto a distance of 30 metres to get a better view. If you look in the other direction, you are greeted by sights of green pine forests on the hill slopes.
A church built by the French. This Is one of the oldest churches located in the area which was built from stone by the French in the 18th century.
Muong Hoa Valley
Muong Hoa valley offers breathtaking scenery. Located in the intersection of two large mountains, the valley offers you the chance to trek along the Muong Hoa river. The valley also provides you with the unique opportunity to educate yourself about rice cultivation from the local H’moong and Gaiy tribes that have been in the profession for centuries.
Sapa Market is a must-visit tourist attraction in Vietnam which is famous for trading and socialising. It has at its disposal traditional handmade products made by the ethnic groups of this region. The visitors can immerse themselves in the local life and also get the local taste and flavour by the traditional food available at the Sapa Market.
Sapa Market is a place where different types of commodities and local products are exchanged between people from different villages. The market also provides a platform for youngsters to find someone to love through love songs, sounds of flute and lip lute; numerous adults witness this as a source of entertainment. This market is the perfect place for tourists who want to get a glimpse of the unique culture of Sapa and witness the skills of enterprising women and ethnic girls. It is recommended to visit the Sapa Market on Sunday, early in the morning for the best experience and to be able to enjoy the local breakfast dishes.
Bac Ha Sunday Market
The Sunday Market at Bac Ha is among the major tourist draws of Northwestern Vietnam, particularly if SaPa is a part of your itinerary. The rural beauty of Bac Ha is a beautiful mix of various ethnic groups that call Vietnam home. It is the capital of the Flower Hmong region and is most famous for this display of ethnic and daily household wares.
The region of Bac Ha is a mix of activities on Saturday evenings when the weekly market comes to life, and this celebration of Vietnamese culture continues on Sunday as well. From intricately designed handmade traditional clothing to delicious local cuisine, all the essentials of this vibrant culture find a place here. You can interact with the locals and learn about their culture and lifestyle, which is a mesmerising experience in its own right. Popular items that you can buy from here include different textiles, saddles for horses, bags, cushions, figurines and other handcrafted items.
O Quy Ho Pass
O Quy Ho pass is located 2000 meters above sea level and is vietnam’s longest pass. O Quy Ho pass, named after a mythical bird which is said to have lived in the region, offers a picturesque cloudy top. One-Half of the pass is in Lai Chau while the other is in lao cai and in winter, you can strikingly feel the weather change between the two regions. This area offers some of the best scenic viewpoints in the country.
Cat Cat Village
Cat Cat Village is a poplar place to visit for tourists interested in the culture and ethnicity of the mountain people inhabiting North Vietnam. Located at a distance of 3 kilometer from the hill station of Sapa, the village can be reached by traveling on foot along the well trodden trails. The Cat Cat Village is well known for its inhabitants who adhere to the traditional ways of living. There is a fee of VND 25,000 charged for entering the village though.
Tourists are amazed to find the villagers hard at work during the day with the womenfolk weaving and embroidering cloths. The locals are noted for their brocade products and woven fabrics while many also engaged in fashioning jewelry out of gold and silver. The terraced fields on the mountainside are used to cultivate rice and corn mostly while flax is twisted to be sold as handicrafts. Both sides of Cat Cat village paths are lined with quaint shops that cater to the tourists looking for souvenirs. The architecture of the village homes also bear the hallmark of the Black H’Mong tribe.
Ta Van Village
Located quite close to the town centre of Sapa, and set in the breathtakingly stunning valley of Muong Hoa, the Ta Tan Village is a welcome relief from the busy streets of Sapa and boasts of being home of vast rice fields and pristine beauty. A short trip or even a night stay at this simple yet beautiful village is an excellent way to explore the local lifestyle and culture of the communities that reside here.
Although it is possible to explore the area for a while and then return to your hotel, most people prefer to stay in the village overnight. Halting at the town would help you better understand the local culture and also enable participation in the day to day activities. One could be a part of the Giay and Dao community and relish their delicious home-cooked meals as well. Another advantage of visiting this quaint village is that you can also easily trek to other tribal villages of the area from the Ta Van Village. So make sure to carry a camera along, and click some amazing photos as you live some of the best days of your life in Sapa.
What to eat in Sapa
Sapa is not only famous for its scenic landscapes, but also for its special food you only find in the North of Vietnam. The minorities in this region have a different culture then the Vietnamese from more south. This also means a different and unique cuisine.
Thang Co is the traditional food of Hmoong people and it has been cooked for hundreds years. Thang Co is a type of soup which is made of horsemeat, horse’s viscera and horse’s bone. You might feel a little bit panic-stricken when hearing about the ingredients but that feeling will be blown away once you taste it. Cooking this dish not only requires time but also the skill of cooks. The seasonings comprises of 12 spices from cardamon, ginger, citronella, anise to cinnamon twig.
The locals stew horsemeat with these 12 spices in a big pot within a couple of hours. To elevate the flavor of Thang Co soup, they serve it with fresh vegetable and a special red hot pepper name Muong Khuong.
Where to eat?: A Quynh – 15 Thach Son st, Sapa district.
Sapa “Cap Nach” Pork
Cap Nach pork is a specialty of this mountainous region. The ways to make this dish is diverse. The locals usually roast a whole pig directly on charcoal so that the skin covering the pork is very brittle while the pork inside is very delicious and fleshy. Others stir-fry thie pork with little or no water and herbs. No matter how does you cook it, make sure the pork is soft with a hint of spicy.
Where to eat?: Anh Dung Restaurant – 69 Xuan Vien st, Sapa town.
Pau Play Day Cake
Pau play day cake has been in Viet Nam for a long time since the Hung King. Time flies, the cooking manner has been changed but the original taste of Pau Play Day cake still remains.
This cake is made of glutinous rice and green peas. This white round cake is not easy to make as it looks. Choosing the best glutinous rice is the most important part of all. The rice need to be dried out carefully. Then, it is soaked in water for 2 hours and steamed till the rice well done. Afterwards, soaked rice is poured into a big wooden rice polisher and grind until well-kneaded, viscid and sticky. Filling is made from green peas which softly and smoothly isgrinded. When you break into the cake, you could see a beautiful green mixture inside.
Where to eat?: Pau play day cake is often sold by street vendors in the morning or you can find it in markets.
Salmon Sour Hotpot
Sapa has an extremely cool weather all year round and the water here is pretty cold that is suitable for salmon to exist. It’s explained why salmon sour hot pot is a familiar food to local people. The food has a timeless quality. No matter when you enjoy this hot pot, your eyes will littery light up talking about the dish.
The real star of the hot bot is its broth. It’s a combination of several vegetable types and freshly caught salmon. Unlike other fish, salmon brings to diners an elegant and delicate flavor. Nestle up to a restaurant on Sapa hillroad and make an order of salmon sour hot pot, your heat beat is just a little bit faster.
Where to eat?: Lotus Sapa – 34 Cau May, Sapa Town.
Bamboo sticky rice
Vietnamese have more than an obsession with rice. You can taste several kinds of rice along the way.
Bamboo sticky rice in Sapa is an abnormal version of rice. Different from others, it is absolutely cooked in bamboo sections. Local people spend spend hours on collecting the bamboo then cleaning and chopping them into small sections at about 30 centimeters in length. The locals mix rice with a little bit of salt then they stuff up bamboo with salty rice. Don’t forget the water used to cook this dish. It’s brought from the streams which is fresh and a little bit sweet. A biggest secret here is that you need to resolve the bamboo sections while grilling.
Where to eat?: Along Cau May st, Sapa Town.
Apart from salmon, brook fish is also a popular and favorite dish of both local people and tourists. Normally the locals just grill brook fish directly on charcoal. Step by step, the fishy smell will not be anymore. Instead, it’s now crunchy, greasy, and packed full of tastiness.
Where to eat?: Hoang Minh restaurant – LT 152 Street, Lao Chai, Sapa Town.
Be favored by nature, Sapa has a wonderful climate that many kinds of temperate plants grow and black forest mushroom is a typical one. Local cooking scientists always know how to take advantage of their natural plants to make outstanding foods. Peopel stir fry mushroom with pork while others use it as a main component for hot-pot. On any cool day of a year, a plate of stir-fried black mushroom will melt your heart.
Where to eat?: Red Dao Restaurant – 4B, Thac Bac st, Sapa.
Black chicken is a kind of small chicken with a dark skin. The locals here usually graze these black chickens naturally so chicken is quite tough and tasty. You can enjoy black chickens processed in many different ways but the best recommendation is the chicken soaked in honey then grilled directly on charcoal. It’s more flavorful if you eat the chicken with a mixture of salt, pepper and lime juice.
Where to eat?: Hoa Dao restaurant – 48 Le Van Tam st, Sapa Town.
Smoking-shelf meat is a traditional food of the highland people, and is made from buffalo, beef, horse or pig which is hanged at the smoking shelf to be dried. In addition, you should also enjoy the barbecue from vegetables, potatoes, eggs, meat, fish or sticky rice.