Sapa is a small village, 350 km north of Hanoi, near the Chinese border. Sapa is known for having spectacular views of a valley with rice field fields that can be seen on clear days, with mountains towering on all sides from above. The view of this epic landscape is often tempered by dense fog that rolls over the tops, but even when it is cloudy, the local hill tribes fill the city with color.

5 reasons to visit Sapa

  1. Make a trekking through the green rice terraces of the Muong Hoa Valley.
  2. Learn more about the culture and traditions of the local hill tribes.
  3. Climb or take the cable car to the highest mountain in Indochina: Fansipan.
  4. Explore the area by motorbike and drive over Vietnam’s highest pass: Tram Ton Pass.
  5. Visit a local colorful market.

Practical information

In short

Region

North Vietnam, Lào Cai province

Number of residents

8,975

Recommended travel days

3 days

Vietnamese name

Sa Pa

Best travel time

  • The best time to visit Sapa is from March to May and from September to November. In these times the weather is relatively stable with sunny days and cool nights. The first period is the fall season. The weather is very comfortable at this time of the year. It is dry, clear with lots of sunshine. The view of the terraces of Sapa is at its best between September and October. The cool and dry weather with the stable temperature makes it the perfect time for trekking and photos.
  • In the summer, although it is quite hot, it is not as hot as other regions in Vietnam.
  • If you spend time between April and May in this city, you have the chance to see the beautiful landscapes of many colorful flowers and green fields.
  • In the winter, from December to February, the weather in Sapa gets very cold, especially at night. In exchange, however, you get the chance to see the sunrise over the valley in the morning. In recent years, snow has fallen in Sapa.

Money

There are ATM’s in Sapa. Many hotels and travel agencies can exchange euros and US dollars.

What to see and do in Sapa

Best things to do

Sapa has become enormously popular in recent years. The locals benefit from the boost in the form of electricity and good infrastructure. Sapa may no longer be the romantic village as it once was; the surroundings of Sapa with the impressive rice terraces and stunningly beautiful valleys with small villages are of unparalleled beautiful.

1. Trekking in Sapa
A trek in Sapa is without a doubt the highlight in this region. There are many villages with minority groups in Sapa that you can visit and you can enjoy views over stunning rice terraces.

2. Mount Fansipan
The highest mountain in Vietnam with 3143 meters. If you want a challenge, you can climb the mountain in a day or two days. Alternatively you can take the cable car to the top.

3. Stay in a homestay
Staying with a local minority group means that you experience their life, customs and traditions.

4. Tram Ton Pass
It is the highest mountain pass in Vietnam at 1900 meters. On top of the pass you have a beautiful view.

5. Visit a local market
The place where you learn a lot about the minority groups are on the markets around Sapa. Local ethnic minorities come to buy and sell in their most beautiful traditional clothing.

6. Discover waterfalls
The most popular waterfalls are: Cat Cat waterfall, Silver waterfall (Thac Bac) and Love Waterfall.

7. Rent a scooter
One of the best things to do is rent a scooter to explore the area around Sapa. The further you go, the fewer tourists you encounter and the wilder the landscape becomes.

8. Visit local coffee shops
Visiting a local coffee shop is one of the best things you can do in Sapa to recover, enjoy the view or warm up when you visit Sapa in the winter.

9. Moang Ho train
The Muong Hoa train is the longest mountain railway in Vietnam between Sapa and the cable station to Fansipan Peak. The train route is very spectacular with a viaduct, tunnels and great views of the Muong Hoa Valley.

10. Walk through Sapa Town
On Ham Rong Mountain you have a view of the entire city. Other places of interest are the church and local market which is especially busy on weekends. There is also a small museum that tells more about the local minority groups.

Most popular activities in Sapa

Favorited experiences, day trips and tours in Sapa booked by fellow travellers.

Accommodation in Sapa

Where to stay

Hotels around the lake – the cheapest place to book a room compared to the same quality rooms in the rest of the city.

Hotels in Cau May – Muong Hoa – more expensive than the other areas because the view is very beautiful, including views of the Fansipan and Hoang Lien Son mountains.

Hotels in center of Sapa – full of tourists and many options of quality hotels, from affordable to expensive luxury hotels.

Homestay in Sapa – An overnight stay in a homestay is a great alternative to a hotel in the city itself, if you don’t mind staying in a more basic accommodation.

Best hotels & hostels in Sapa

Budget hotels & hostels

  • Mountain View Hostel
  • Go Sapa Hostel
  • Sapa Capsule

Mid range hotel

  • Sapa Elite Hotel
  • Praha Hotel Sapa
  • Sapa Diamond Hotel
  • Sapa Eden Hotel

High end hotel & resort

  • Sapa Legend Hotel & Spa
  • Sapa Freesia Hotel
  • Pao’s Sapa Leisure Hotel

Food & drinking

Restaurants

There are many restaurant in Sapa, including both local dishes as western dishes as pizza, pasta and hamburgers. Try the specialities of the local hill tribes, often with wild mushrooms, herbs and local fish.

1. Good Morning Vietnam Restaurant
2. Sapa Natureview
3. Little Vietnam Restaurant

4. Moment Romantic Restaurant
5. Good Morning View Restaurant
6. Hill Station Signature Restaurant

Nightlife

Sapa is not known for its hectic nightlife. There are a few bars that offer a place to meet fellow travelers, drink a few beers and play a game of pool. Most restaurants that sell beer and other beverages tend to close early in the evening.

  • Mountain Bar & Pub: Cocktails, cold beer and games, this is the to-go bar for an evening out.
  • Hmong Sisters: A spacious bar with pool tables and a fireplace with great music.

Transportation

How to get there?

Bus

The bus from Hanoi to Sapa is the cheapest option. The advantage of a bus connection is that it goes directly to the city of Sapa, without stopping anywhere and the bus also runs at night, just like the trains. The bus trip from Hanoi to Sapa takes around 5 to 6 hours..

Train

Many people who travel to Sapa choose the train because it is safe, comfortable, convenient and time-saving. The disadvantage is that the train only takes you to Lao Cai station, from there you have to take a bus, minibus or taxi to Sapa.

How to get around?

Hiking – Places in the city of Sapa are easily reached on foot, because Sapa is small enough. Hiking is also the best way to explore the area around Sapa. However, if you choose this form of travel, you must also provide yourself with good shoes, drinking water and good endurance. There are a few small day walks that you can do alone. It is recommended to do a multi-day trek through the area with a guide who can show you the way.

Cab – The price for a taxi in Sapa is almost the same as in Hanoi. You can often choose between taxis with 5 to 8 seats, depending on the number of people you are with. Some reliable taxi companies are: Sapa Green Taxi, Phan-xi-pang taxi, Northwest taxi. You pay per kilometer from 9,000 to 12,000.

Per tour – A comfortable way of traveling in Sapa is per tour. No danger of driving a motorcycle on difficult roads and no stress of getting lost. A simple way to view the highlights and a local guide who can show you things about the area and tell them.

Itinerary 2 days Sapa

Day 1

  • Start a 2 day 1 night trekking
  • Stay overnight in a homestay

Day 2

  • Get back in early afternoon from the trekking
  • Choose to go to Fansipan by cable car or Tram Ton Pass by taxi/scooter