Sapa is the “intersection between heaven and earth” with the most majestic natural scenery in the North. This is also the convergence of ethnic minorities living for many generations. Have you ever come to admire and experience this exciting land? If not, now let immediately put in your pocket this Sapa Backpackers Guide through the following article!
Sapa is one of the best places to visit in North of Vietnam.
Sapa Travel Guide
Sapa is a town in Lao Cai province, Vietnam. This is a famous tourist destination from the early 20th century to the present. Sapa was given a landscape picture that is both romantic and majestic. The ridges here is overlapping with the clouds to catch the wind. The terraced fields are so eye-catching. The pine trees stand silently witnessing many stories from the time of Indochina in the heart of the town.
The climate of Sapa is cool all year with unique indigenous imprints. This includes the culture of the two ethnic minorities in Sapa, the Mong and the Dao. And it is combined with the classical European architectural space. All of the above factors have created a special attraction for travelers who want to explore this land.
Best time to travel
Coming to Sapa in each season has its own interesting experiences of this beautiful highland land:
The appropriate time to travel to Sapa is from September to November or from March to May. At this time, Sapa weather is stable with sunny days and cold nights.
April – May is the season of water when the terraced fields feel like running to the horizon.
September to October is the season of ripe rice, then Sapa seems to be wearing a shiny, sparkling yellow shirt. You should go in the middle or the end of September because many fields have been harvested in October.
December to February is very cold, may appear ice, and occasionally snow. This is also the bloom season of peach blossom, azaleas.
Sapa Travel Guide – How to get there
Sa Pa town is only 38 km from Lao Cai city and 376 km from Hanoi. You can choose to travel by passenger car or train.
By passenger car
If you choose a bed bus, the price ranges from 230,000 VND – 280,000 VND/person/way. It only takes only 8 – 9 hours from My Dinh, Luong Yen, or Gia Lam bus station (Hanoi) to Sapa. Traveling by passenger car has the advantage of saving time but in the rainy season can be hindered by many bumpy passes from Lao Cai to Sapa. You can contact some service providers such as Sapa Express, Queen Café, Hung Thanh, Sao Viet, …
Trains have a variety of chairs such as soft chairs, hard chairs, air-conditioned beds … The train runs at 9 am or 10 pm in Hanoi until the next morning to Sapa tourist destination. For seat type, the price ranges from 150k/person to 280/person depending on soft chairs or hard chairs. For bed type, bed of 6 people costs about 480,000 VND/ person, bed of 4 people costs about 560,000 VND/person. 2 beds of senior people cost about 3,200,000 VND/person (all comes from Hanoi).
How to get around in Sapa
There are 4 ways for you to get around in Sapa
Option 1: Arrived in Sapa, you can rent a motorbike that cost about 120,000 VND/car/day (not including gas money). You can drive yourself around the tourist attractions in Sapa.
Option 2: Hire a motorbike driver for transporting a few famous tourist destinations close to each other. It only cost 100,000 VND for 4 – 5 Sapa places.
Option 3: You can book a Sapa tour of local service providers. If you do not know, you can ask the hotel or locals to know more about this service.
Option 4: You can experience the feeling of discovering yourself by the form of trekking tourism (walking) the famous tourist destinations in Sapa.
Where to stay
With the undeniable attraction of Sapa, there are now many hotels and homestays for all types of customers. The price of accommodations is relatively reasonable. Cheap rooms range from 200,000 VND – 300,000 VND (9-13$). If you have more budget, you can choose 3-star hotels about 500,000 VND – 700,000 VND in Cau May – Muong Hoa area. Or you can choose the homestay, the cost is calculated according to each family but not more than 100,000 VND/person (4.2$).
In general, the room price depends on the time you choose to go, if the tourist season or holiday season, the room price will increase more.
Depending on who you travel with: alone, friends, family, … you can choose the right hotel, homestay. Here are suggestions for a few cheap hotels and homestays.
- Premium: Silk Path Grand Resort & Spa, Hotel de la Coupole Mgallery Sofitel, Sapa Horizon Hotel, Eco Plam House, Eden Boutique Hotel Sapa, …
- Average: Pumpkin Sapa, Peace Valley Sapa, Chau Long 1 Sapa, Stunning View Sapa, … ..
- Homestay: Hmong House – Sapa Homestay, Eco Hills Homestay, Little Sapa Homestay, The Haven Sapa Camp Site ,.
Places to visit in Sapa
Fansipan – Indochina roof
What could be better than standing at 3143m, stretching and breathing in the air above. At the same time, you can enjoy the feeling of touching the clouds and looking down at the panorama of Sapa below.
You can get that high-altitude experience with the world’s longest three-wire cable car system. Cable car ticket costs 600,000 VND/round trip. Fansipan cable car has made the dream of conquering the “Roof of Indochina” come true for everyone. Among popular places to visits in Sapa, Fansipan is absolutely a destination that you should not miss.
Ham Rong mountain
Ham Rong Mountain is located right in the center of town, with a ticket price of 70,000 VND / person. You can stay at the hotel near Ham Rong tourist area to have a panoramic view of Sapa, Muong Hoa valley, Ta Phin hidden in the smoke …. On the way to the mountain, you will encounter many kinds of colorful flowers blooming.
Love Waterfall is about 12 km from the center of the town, on the way to the top of O Quy Ho pass. Visiting one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sapa, you will not only feel refreshed when taking advantage of the cool steam but also listen to the legend of the Love Waterfall. On the way through Love Waterfall, don’t forget to visit the Silver Falls too!
Sapa stone church was built in 1895. This is considered as an ancient building imprinted with intact French architecture in Sapa. Experiencing so many ups and downs, the regime but the church still stands there as a symbol of Sapa.
In front of the church is the square, the place of weekend performances. The sidewalk is the place where the Dao and H’Mong women sit on brocade for selling. You can find yourself renting hotels near the ancient stone church for easy sightseeing and tourism
This is one of most popular places to visit in Sapa, Vietnam for tourism.
Quy Ho Pass
One of the things you should do when coming to Sapa is to immerse yourself in the majesty and magnificence on O Quy Ho at sunset. You should come here at 5:30 pm to watch the sunset behind the mountains. There are restaurants, where you can sit there and watch the sunset, enjoy blue rice, pork roasted cabbage, and drink a cup of hot and sweet tea at the restaurant.
Ta Phin – the village of the Red Dao
Ta Phin is an interesting place you should not miss when traveling to Sapa. This is where the Red Dao people live. The Red Dao people in Ta Phin are famous for cigarette remedies for osteoarthritis pain. Only after a few days after giving birth, the Red Dao women bathe in traditional tobacco fields. Red Dao children are also bathed with tobacco after birth.
Sapa ancient rock
Sapa ancient rock is located in the Ta Van area to the temple, with more than 150 large rocks carved with strange patterns and shapes. Scientists have yet to explain what the carved figures mean. Many people talk about the mystery of an ancient civilization. Others talk about the future prophecy. Currently, the pattern on the stone has faded a lot, but this is still an interesting place you can combine when visiting Lao Chai – Ta Van.
Lao Chai – Ta Van
Lao Chai – Ta Van is inhabited by ethnic minorities, located about 7km from the center of Sapa town. From the center of Sapa town, you go along Cau May Street, then turn to Muong Hoa Street to reach a peaceful place – inhabited by the Mong, Dao, Giay, Tay … indigenous peoples. The village is full of modern amenities with hotels near the center of Sapa town. However, the indigenous people still retain the traditional culture and routine. It is also attractive to domestic and foreign tourists.
Cat Cat village
From the center of Sapa town, follow the road towards Fansipan mountain about 2 km, visitors will come to Cat Cat village (San Sa Ho commune, Sa Pa district, Lao Cai province). Located at the foot of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, amidst thousands of mountain clouds, Cat Cat is an ideal eco-tourist destination for travelers who want to learn and explore the cultural life of the Northwestern highland people.
Sapa Travel Guide – What to eat
Besides admiring the lyrical natural scenery of Sapa, do not forget to try the unique local dishes of this town. I would like to introduce you to some Sapa specialties below that you should try once.
Fresh Salmon, Sturgeon fish
Different from imported salmon, sturgeon, cold-water fish raised in Sapa often have toned meat and no fat. Salmon/sturgeon can be sliced to mix salad or grilled. There’s nothing more in the cold air of Sapa, you enjoy a salmon/sturgeon hot pot with fresh vegetables.
Sapa is the land of typical temperate vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, radish, chayote, etc. Sapa vegetables have a special delicious, sweet and attractive taste. The most famous vegetable dishes at Sapa are boiled chayote served with sesame salt and stir-fried coriander …
Armpit Pig (Hanged armpit pork)
Armpit Pork is a special dish of Hmong people. Pigs weighing only 4 – 5 kg are cleaned, marinated, and left to roast. The food is served with 2 – 3 cups of Sapa apple cider, making overnight drinking not boring.
The special barbecue dishes in Sapa
According to our experiences, because of the cold climate in Sapa, everything is brought to grill from chicken eggs, duck eggs, skewered meat, vegetables wrapped in meat, … All are made by Sapa people. In the evening, at the stone church area, barbecue restaurants are very attractive to tourists. Because the warm space and delicious dishes are suitable for the cool weather of the mountain town.
Sapa “Thang Co”
Thang Co is a traditional dish, specialty of the H’Mong minority in Sapa, Vietnam with horse meat & bones as the main ingredient. When listening to this specialty, many visitors will be surprised with this unique name. With the ethnic people, “Thang Co” is cooked with buffalo meat, beef, pork, … To make this dish delicious, it requires 27 different spices such as cinnamon, star anise, aromatic leaves, … and raw forest vegetables.
Grilled stream fish and distinctive Sapa shiitake
Stream fish has many types and it is worth mentioning that there is no fishy taste. Stream fish just grilled over charcoal and eat immediately. Along with that unique stream fish dish, the mushroom – Sapa specialty also attracts many visitors when coming here. Only at 50,000 VND/0.5kg (2$) you can buy as gifts for family and relatives. Dried mushrooms soaked in water will expand but still retain the scent of mountain soil, the taste of forest trees.
Sapa Gifts and Souvenirs
According to our experiences, on Saturday evenings there is usually a love market of the Dao people in the yard of the old stone church. At that time, you can buy unique brocade items of ethnic minorities such as brocade towels, brocade handbags, brocade dresses, …
In this Sapa travel guide we recommend you should go to Bac Ha, Khau Vai, and Cao Son markets. You can also see thousands of typical Sa Pa items. From bundles of forest vegetables to silver and copper jewelry. You can also go to souvenir shops at Sapa hotel to buy. However, you should go to the love market to enjoy the festive atmosphere here.
You can buy Sapa gifts such as cider, corn wine as gifts for men. There are also brocade jewelry gifts and specialties like mushrooms, dried meat, vegetables, … women. Special note, do not buy silver here, because the silver here is all fake silver imported from China. Even if you go to the gold shop to buy silver, the quality is not assured.
Sapa Travel Guide – Trip Expenses
The cost for a Sapa trip depends on the time of travel as well as the mode of transportation and accommodations you choose. Check our expense for a 3-day-2 night trip for 2 people in Sapa travel guide below to plan your budget:
- Transportation: 700,000 – 800,000 VND / person travelling by passenger car)
- Accommodations: 200,000 – 300,000 VND / person / night (depending on the types and duration of stay)
- Food and entertainment expenses: 1,000,000 – 1,500,000 VND/person
The total cost ranges from: 2,100,000 – 3,000,000 VND / person for a 3-day-2-night trip
Above are all the most complete and detailed Sapa travel experiences that I have summarized. I hope all of these experiences will help you have a trip to Sapa with lots of fun and great experiences.