Tips to Exploring Sapa, Vietnam
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Have you ever taken part in Saigon tours, Hanoi tours or Danang tours? You spend time relaxing after the bustle and hustle of modern life, but these tours cannot meet your needs? Do not worry! It is time for something different – It is trekking in SAPA, Vietnam – one of the best tours in Vietnam with the chance to admire incredible picturesque, enjoy the cool weather and to be deep in natural beauty.
And now let me give you some useful tips to explore this amazing land.
Sapa beauty (Source: Internet)
The Best Time to Travel to SAPA
You can go all year round. Summer is cool and winter is cold, but in winter you can see cloud formations and fog covering the town. And sometimes, you can even enjoy 4 typical seasons of the Northern Vietnam in just one day. Each season has a particular beauty. From my experience, you should spend at least two days and one night in Sapa to have enough time to visit the most beautiful spots. And ideally, summer is the high peak of Sapa as its climate is amazing, opposed to the rest of the Northern – dry and extremely hot.
How to arrive in Sapa?
There are two ways to get to Sapa, you can go by train with air-conditioning and soft seats or sleeper beds. I recommend the sleeper beds. It is slightly more expensive but more comfortable and you will arrive rested the following day. You should book train tickets at the train agents in advance on holidays. You can also take the bus to Sapa, or a sleeper bus departing at night. Night bus services in the North are not as good as in the South, but they are adequate. The advantage of taking the bus is that it works out cheaper than the train. Some bus companies are Hung Thanh, Hai Van, Sen Viet or Viet bus. If you go in the evening, you will be in Sapa by the next morning. It is advisable to buy your return ticket in advance.
What to admire in Sapa?
There are many tourist attractions in Sapa. However, there are some key points you should not miss, such as Ta Van village, Lao Chai village, Ta Phin village, Cat Cat village, Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall. These attractions are not located on the same route; they are scattered around Sapa. It is advisable to rent a motorbike to save the money. If you go with your family, it is better to hire a car. This does not include gasoline. You can inquire about car rentals at your hotel.
The routes from Sapa to Ta Van village and Ta Phin village are flanked by beautiful rice terraces. Ta Phin village is inhabited by the Red Dao people, so you can take a herbal bath there. Ta Van village is located in a valley which is covered by cloud in winter and spring. You can reach Ta Van, Ban Ho and Sapa rock field by the same road. You can take in the beautiful view of Sapa town from the peak Ham Rong Mountain. If you prefer trekking, you can go Ta Van or Cat Cat; trekking is very comfortable and free of charge. You should go trekking in fall or winter as the weather is cooler in those seasons.
Ham Rong Mountain
Ham Rong Mountain is located close to Sapa town, only 3 km away. You can visit the mountain on foot from your hotel in about half a day. From the top of Ham Rong Mountain, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Sapa, the Muong Hoa Valley, and Ta Phin under the fog. Today, Ham Rong has been renovated with many beautiful gardens; many precious flowers are also brought here for display.
Ham Rong Mountain (Source: Internet)
Sapa Stone Church
Located in the heart of Sapa town, Sapa Stone Church, built in 1895, is considered the most integral architectural imprint the French left. The Church has been renovated and preserved; it is a must see when visiting Sapa Town.
Sapa Stone Church (Source: Internet)
Ta Phin Village
Ta Phin Village is located about 17km to the east of Sapa Town. It is inhabited mostly by Red Dao people. Along the way from the highway to the village, you will cross beautiful terraced valleys. The dirt road leads to the base of the valley. Besides discovering Dao culture, you will also have the opportunity to visit Ta Phin Cave nearby. The many stalactites in the cave create interesting shapes such as the dancing fairies, the sitting fairies, or meadows. Apart from the Dao in Ta Phin, you can experience cultures of other ethnic minorities in Sapa such as the Hmong in Ta Van Village, the Giay and Tay, of Y Linh Ho Village, the Black Hmong of Lao Chai Village, the Tay of Ho village, Black Hmong in Lao Chai Village, and the Xa Pho of Ho Village.
Ta Phin Village (Source: Internet)
Sapa Rice Terraces
When traveling to Sapa, you should not miss the rice terraces stretching around Sapa Town. The best routes for seeing rice terraces are the highway to Lao Cai, the road from Sapa leading to Ta Van village, the route from Y Linh Ho to Ta Van, Lao Chai as well as the road leading to Ta Phinh. The best time to visit the rice terraces is usually from mid-September to mid-October, depending on the rice harvest each year.
Sapa Rice Terraces (Source: Internet)
What to eat in Sapa?
You can go to the food market near the square to eat. It is opposite the church. There is a lot of choices and prices are affordable. Restaurants in Sapa all put their menus in front of the entrance which helps you choose easily. There are also food stalls along the streets for those who prefer fast food such as barbeque, fermented pork etc.
Ideally spending 2 days and 3 nights in Sapa – How?
This is my suggestion at hellosapavietnam based on my experience of traveling to Sapa.
Night 1: Your first night is spent on the train to Sapa. Book a sleeper seat for the train.
Day 1: In the morning when you arrive at Lao Cai Station, take a bus to Sapa. Leave your luggage at the hotel, rent a car to take you to Ta Van Village and Sapa Rock Field. Return to Sapa Town for lunch at noon. Continue the trip by motorbike the next afternoon, visit Ta Phin Village, try a Dao herbal bath or go to Silver Falls or Cat Cat Village. Go back to Sapa in the late afternoon, return the car and go sightseeing on foot.
Night 2: In the evening, enjoy a salmon hot-pot or other Sapa specialties. If you go to Silver Falls by motorcycle, remember to ride up to the top of O Qui Ho Pass to see the beautiful scenery.
Day 2: (walking) You visit Ham Rong Mountain, the Foothill Gardens. After lunch, you can go shopping at the market. You can also go to the market first depending on the situation of the market in Sapa. You can also rent a motorbike if you want to visit any of the more outlying attractions.
Night 3: In the afternoon, take a bus to Lao Cai and go back to Hanoi by train.
There are many types of group tour with prices ranging from 800,000 to 1.3 million VND for two days and three nights in Sapa – some of them are voted to be one of the best tours in Vietnam. The prices depend on the rating and level of service offered by the hotel. However, personally, I think it's better to explore Sapa by yourself to have the most memorable time with friends and family.