Sapa Travel Guide, Holiday Tips

Sapa is a little hill station hiding itself at the base of the Hoang Lien Mountain Range in the North West of Vietnam. Sapa is 1,500m above sea level and covered in clouds most of the time. The town enjoys a cool climate all year round and the area about the town is inhabited by 7 ethnic groups whose life has been unchanged for centuries and whose cultures are intriguing to the visitors.

The French came to Vietnam and built Sapa into a mountain resort in the early 20th century. There are still some French villas left in town beside many new luxury hotels and resorts, while most others were destroyed in the 1979 Chinese invasion of Vietnam.

Sapa has a temperate climate with two seasons per year. The rainy season is from May through November and the dry season is from December to April. During the rainy season, some walking paths may become too muddy for village tours; traveling at Sapa during this time, be prepared with raincoat or ponchos whenever you go out for your daily tours, as the rain may come any time.

Sapa Town - Vietnam
Sapa Town - Vietnam

 Sapa is a popular tourist attraction for both Vietnamese and foreign visitors alike thanks to the cool climate, the colorful ethnic groups and the breathtaking mountains. Traveling to Sapa, you can have an easy sightseeing tour visiting the ethnic villages to learn about their life or join a adventure tours trekking from one village to another. There are ethnic households providing homestay to the adventure travellers; the accommodation conditions are really rustic though.

Black H'mong girls
Black H'mong girls

Tourist Highlights in Sapa
1/ Mount Fansipan of the Hoang Lien Mountain Range is 3,143m above sea level which is the summit of Vietnam. The landscape of the mountain is pure and sublime. The get to the top of the mountain, you can take a cable car ride or take a two or three day hard trekking tours. The trekking adventures should only be made during the dry season.

The Hoang Lien Mountain of Sapa - Vietnam
The Hoang Lien Mountain of Sapa - Vietnam

2/ The O Quy Ho Pass
This is the highest mountain pass in Vietnam at 2,000m in altitude. O Quy Ho is 10km from Sapa Town and can be visited for 2 hours by car or motorbike. O Quy Ho offers spectacular of the nearby mountains in Lai Chau and Lao Cai.

The O Quy Ho Pass in Sapa Vietnam
The O Quy Ho Pass in Sapa Vietnam

3/ The Ham Rong Mountain
The mountain offers to the visitors orchid gardens, rock gardens and breathtaking views of Sapa Town from high above. Visiting the mountain takes 3 hours and the trip involves hiking on steps. There are daily ethnic cultural shows on the mountain top.

A view from the Ham Rong Mountain in Sapa
A view from the Ham Rong Mountain in Sapa

4/ The Cat Cat Waterfall and Silver Waterfall
The Silver Waterfall is near the O Quy Ho Pass, 8km from Sapa Town.
The Cat Cat Waterfall is deep in the Muong Hoa Valley which can only be visited by two or three hours’ hiking. The landscape on the way between Sapa and Cat Cat are captivating and tourists normally spend half a day easily around here. Efforts are required as the paths are steep. There are steps near the waterfall.

5/ The Muong Hoa Valley
The Muong Hoa Valley is in its most beautiful time when the rice terraces turn into yellow colors (late September, early October). The walk in the valley is easy and the scene is impressive. The Muong Hoa Valley is home to three ethnic communities: Giay, Black Hmong, Dao.

The Muong Hoa Valley in Sapa
The Muong Hoa Valley in Sapa

6/ Ethnic Villages
Needless to day, the ethnic cultures and their villages are among the most attractive things that Sapa offers. The villages are often located amid beautiful natural settings and the costumes that local ladies wear are gorgeous. You can visit Cat Cat, Ta Van, Lao Chai, Ta Phin,… to name a few. There are chances of staying with local families during your visit that you’ll have really engaging experiences.

The black H'mong in Sapa Vietnam
The black H'mong People in Sapa Vietnam

Accommodations in Sapa include mini hotels and luxury boutique hotels many of which offer spectacular mountain views. Accommodations are always in the lack at weekend and during the high tourist season.

From Hanoi, you can take a 5-hour trip by private car to Sapa via the highway or an eight-hour overnight train journey to Lao Cai. The roads are in good conditions, the train sleeper carriages are simple but clean. Train tickets may be scarce in the periods: May-September and October – April.