Sapa is a small town in Lao Cai provine – Vietnam, well-known for cool climate, diverse culture and majestic nature. Coming to Sapa, you will have the chance to relax in the cool climate right in Vietnam, a tropical country, visit villages of ethnic minorities and discover the beauty of majestic nature.
Best time to visit Sapa. You can visit all year round, summer is cool, winter is very cold, however, you will have big cloud formation, and fog covering the town. Each season has its own beauties. According to my Sapa travel experience, you should spend at least 2 days – 1 night, that’s enough time to visit the most attractive sites. Below is my experiences and top things to do in Sapa – Vietnam, hope it will be helpful for your Sapa trip.
How to get to Sapa – Vietnam
There are 2 ways to get to Sapa (assuming you are in Hanoi – Vietnam).
1. You can go by train from Hanoi to Lao Cai city, from $8 to $40, depending on the quality. Then, get a bus or high quality car to Sapa, fares are about $2,5. Total time, from Hanoi to Sapa, is 10 hours (1 night).
You can buy the train tickets at:
– TSC agent (add: 114 Pho Duc Chinh street – Ba Ðinh district – Hanoi): +844-37162868
– Mua Xuan (spring) agent (add: 41 Ma May Street – Hoan Kiem district – Hanoi): +844-39263138 or +844-22109775
– Hanoi train station on Le Duan street.
2. You can go by high quality buses from Hanoi up to Sapa in about 5-6 hours.
You can buy car tickets of firms: Hai Van (Tel: +84203.872.606), Ha Son (Tel: +844 126.96.36.199), Hung Thanh (Tel: +84989.294.294), VietBus (Tel: +8443-627.27.27), …
Motels and hotels in Sapa
2 areas that gather many cheap motels and hotels are Cau May and Fansipan streets. The average prices are from $10 to $20 for normal days, and $15 to 30$ for holidays. You can consider:
– Quoc Thai motel, on Fansipan street, tel: +84203.871384. The price is about $10 for normal days.
– Hoang Phuong motel, 200m from Stone church, close to the Sapa market and Ham Rong mountain. The motel is quiet and affordable, about $15 for normal days, 20$ for holidays.
– Momisa hotel is close to the market at $15/room/night. Tel:+ 84203 871 262
– Mua Xuan (Spring) hotel is also close to the market and 5 minutes by walk to Stone church. Rooms are good, clean and look to Hoang Lien Son majestic mountains. The prices are $12 for normal day, $16 for weekends and holidays. Tel:+ 84203 871 380
– Co Vuong (Mrs. Vuong) motel is located at 10 – Son Thach street. Prices are around $15 – $18, depending on days. Tel: +841677 604 658
– Khuyen Ngoc motel is located on Xuan Vien street. Quite cheap or you can call to recheck: +84203 872 449
– Little Sapa II hotel and restaurant. Add: 38 – Cau May street, tel: +8420 871238 or +8420 871222. Hotelier (Mr.Dung) is very gentle. You can also call him (+841688 063 526) to book room. The Little Sapa II is located in the heart of Sapa. From here, you can stroll around and visit some famous sites in few minutes.
Places to visit in Sapa
There are many attractions in Sapa, however, there are some main sites that you should not miss:
– Ethnic Villages: Ta Van village (bản Tả Van), Lao Chai (bản Lao Chải), Cat Cat (bản Cat Cat), Ta Phin (bản Tả Phìn), Sin Chai (bản Sín Chải)
Ta Van and Ta Phin villages have many rice terraces, which are really impressive and majestic. Ta Phin is the village of Dao ethnic. Dao people have a very special service of bathing in herbal leaves, which is believed to be able to help get rid of many diseases.
– Ham Rong mountain is a tourist resort, located in the heart of Sapa with many things to see: Ham Rong flowers garden, garden of 12 holy animals, Thach Lam rocks garden,…and the most beautiful place is Ham Rong peak, where you can look down to the entire Sapa.
– Waterfalls: Silver (Bạc ) and Love (Tình Yêu ) are 2 most beautiful waterfalls in Sapa.
– Stone church is the only church in Sapa.
Fares of some attractions in Sapa:
– Ham Rong mountain: $3.5
– Cat Cat village: $2
– Sin Chai village: $1
– Lao Chai – Ta Van – Ho villages: $2
– Ma Tra – Ta Phin villages: $1
– Silver waterfall: $0.5
– Love waterfall: $2
– Fansipan, the highest mountain of Vietnam (3143m). To conquer Fansipan, you either take the newly built cable care or climb on your feet. You must be strong man because the journey is very difficult. You will need 2 days (and 1 night) to climb up the peak. Price for 1 Fansipan conquest tour is around $75 – $100.
What to eat in Sapa
Sapa has many specialties:
– Cap nach pig (lợn cắp nách): Small pigs, that you can lift it up with one hand.
– Black chiken (gà ác): their bones and skin are black.
– Thang Co (thắng cố): this is a dish of Hmong ethic. I really don’t dare to try this dish.
– Bacon (thịt xông khói), a nice dish of ethnics.
– Grilled food in Sapa is really tasty.
Top things to do in Sapa (For 2 days – 3 nights)
Night 1 and day 1: take the train to Lao Cai city. At 7am of the next day, you will be at Lao Cai station, catch a bus to Sapa. Next, check in your booked hotel and get going. You should rent a motor (for 2 days), asking your hotel for the shops.
-Morning: go to Ta Van village, visit the ethic houses (if they allow).
– Noon: back to the town for lunch.
– Afternoon: go to Ta Phin village, try out herbal bath of Dao ethnic and back to the town in evening.
– Second night: try Thang Co, Cap Nach pig and other specialties of Sapa in cuisine market, then stroll around Sapa lake.
– Morning: climb Ham Rong mountain and visit Silver waterfall (by motor).
– Afternoon: go to Cat Cat village, watch Hmong dance. You must get back to Sapa at around 4pm to return the motor, pack up and catch a bus back to Lao Cai city at 5pm.
Night 3: sleep on the train and dream about Sapa on the way back to Hanoi.