For the best view in Sapa you must go to the Tram Ton Pass, or O Quy Ho pass (Đèo Ô Quy Hồ). With a height of 1900 meters it is the highest mountain pass in Vietnam and is often called Heaven’s Gate, because the landscape looks like a gate to heaven.
How to get to Tram Ton Pass?
It only takes 15 minutes to get to Tram Ton Pass from Sapa city and it costs around $ 5 for a taxi. If you really want to see the landscape along the way, you can rent a motorbike or scooter for a few dollars a day. The distance is only a short distance from Sapa and you can easily find the way with navigation apps such as Google Maps or maps.me (offline maps).
Going by motorbike
If you want to explore the scenery along the road, you can rent a motorbike, cost about 100K / day. Driving over the road (the QL4d) to Tram Ton Pass is a great experience; limestone mountains on both sides and steep cliffs with green valleys and rice fields below.
A few things to look out for when driving a motorbike over Tram Ton Pass:
- The roads through the mountains of Vietnam are not a place to start learn how to drive a motorbike. It is only recommended for experienced and confident drivers
- Be aware that driving without a Vietnamese drivers licence is not legal. Police often tolerate it, but not always and you might not be fully insured in case of an accident.
- There are vans driving through these mountainous curcy roads, so it is important to keep driving on the right as much as possible when you are on a motorbike.
The safest and most comfortable option is to go by car. You can either take a taxi from the city or rent a car with driver. Make sure to negotiate the price and talk clear about the itinerary.
Tip! Check these Sapa tours from Local Vietnam, with options of sightseeing over the Tram Ton pass, trekking in Sapa and visiting some local minority markets in the area.
6 highlights of Tram Ton pass
1. Tram Ton Pass viewpoint
Tram Ton Pass is on the way between Sapa and Lai Chau. Even if you do not travel to Lai Chau or you do not have a plan to go further north-west, it is worthwhile to go to the top of the Tram Ton Pass and see the amazing view. There is a viewpoint here from which you have a great view of Fansipan on the other side of the valley with lush forests. The view is especially good to see on clear days. The best time to take photos is at sunset or dawn. At the lookout point you will find wooden buildings that are dangerously built on the outskirts, that sell souvenirs and food.
2. Spectacular scenery on the way
Where the road makes a final turn to the left from Sapa, the Tram Ton Pass starts with climbing more than a mile to the viewpoint. The ride is shorter than other famous passes in Vietnam such as Ma Pi Leng or Hai Van Pass, but on a clear day you have endless views. It is an easy route, but be careful for vans and tour buses. The views on the way are amazing, so you’ll often want to stop by for a photo or just enjoy.
3. Silver waterfall
The Silver waterfall is the first waterfall along Tram Ton you will pas. It is right besides the road, so you can not miss it. The waterfall is around 200 meters high with several drops. For a small entrance fee you can climb the stairs next to it.
4. Love waterfall
The Love waterfall is closer to the top and not right next to the main road. You need to take a 30 minute hike through the first with nice views on the way. The path is paved and signs indicate the directions. Because of the hike, a lot of tourist skip the waterfall, so it is more quiet than the Silver waterfall.
5. Chu Va viewpoint
What many travelers don’t know is that the you can keep following the road after Tram Ton Pass to enjoy a lot more scenic views of the mountains above you and the rice fields below. Most will stop on top of the pass and go back to Sapa. Twenty or thirty kilometers further from Tram Ton the road starts to turn up through the Hoang Son Lien mountain range, of which Fansipan is also a part. Continue heading to Lao Cai to have more superb views, with another highlight at Chu Va viewpoint. Chu Va is one of the highest peaks of the Lai Cau province.
The Tram Ton Pass is leaning against Fansipan, the highest mountain of Vietnam. The start of the hike up the mountain is actually right at the pass, close to the Love waterfall. Hiking up the mountain requires a guide and takes normally 2 days, where you will be camping half way to the top. If you are not into the climb then you can also take the cable car from Sapa town to the peak for some spectacular views.
Best time to visit
You can visit the Tram Ton Pass all year round. Keep in mind that during the winter months of December and January it can get quiet cold in Sapa. Make sure when you are planning to drive a motorbike by yourself to bring warm clothes. In the summer there is a lot more change on rain, so best to bring a rain jacket with you. Read here more about the best time to visit Sapa.
The pass is high up in the mountains, so there is always a good change that there are a lot of clouds, which will block some of the stunning views. The best time to take photos is at sunset or dawn. Make sure to check the weather forecast before you go out.