A full guide on how to visit Sapa in Vietnam
The most diverse and crazily stunning place I got to visit in Vietnam. I googled Sapa before my visit and read some reviews and travel blogs. However, I was quite shocked after my visit that there is not more information on the web about Sapa. I think it’s the best place in Vietnam to visit. I have labelled it the Swiss Vietnamese alps because of the awe inspiring scenery.
“An unbelievable hidden gem in Vietnam, this is a full guide to Sapa in Vietnam. One of the most stunning mountain villages in the world”
I’ve read a few negatives reviews on Sapa but I just reckon them people are not opened minded. So what if you get people trying to sell you stuff, would you not do the same if you struggled for food? This doesn’t take anything away from the amazing experience you will get on your visit to Sapa.
Where is Sapa in Vietnam?
Sapa is North of Hanoi by around 350km. It’s also very close to the Chinese border. On our Sapa trek, the trek guide actually told us how the Vietnamese sneak over the Chinese border daily to do labour work in China.
For a not so long bus ride, you will get a completely different backpacking experience from Hanoi to Sapa. For example, the biggest difference from Hanoi to Sapa is the lifestyle. The locals of Sapa seem to have a different way to life compared to the fast life city of Hanoi.
Sapa is high up in the mountains in Vietnam and from my research I think Vietnam’s Sapa is a hidden gem.
How to get from Hanoi to Sapa?
Straight up there is no cheaper and better way to get from Hanoi to Sapa other than the Green sleep bus. This costs around $10 (240,000 vdk) and this also includes the return bus from Sapa to Hanoi.
The bus will pick you up from your hotel in Hanoi at 7am and you will arrive in Sapa at 1pm. Furthermore, the bus from Sapa to Hanoi will set off at 1pm and arrive at 7pm. Getting on the bus to get back to Hanoi we found out the bus from Sapa calls at Hanoi airport first. This is great as we was flying the next day. Therefore, it’s worth making note if this if you are getting a flight from Hanoi airport. In addition to this , there are plenty of places to stay next to the airport.
Do you need info on visas in Vietnam? Check this guide to Vietnam visas for your travel adventures.
The best things to do in Sapa
There isn’t many things to do in Sapa, however the best things to do in Sapa make the amazing place worth a visit!
The trekking tours in Sapa
The Sapa trekking experience is the most popular thing to in Sapa and it is definitely the number one adventure that should be on your list of things to do. The landscape of Sapa is crazily stunning and as I mentioned earlier, it’s something of a similar setting to Switzerland. The Sapa mountains are also covered in Canadian forestry like trees. So we have Switzerland and Canada wrapped up into Sapa’s fine landscape. You really do have to see it to understand what I mean. You will explore 12 kilometres of landscape formations of hills, villages and rivers. Furthermore, you will be joined by other walkers, your own very friendly guide and a few ladies from villages of Sapa.
Unsure what clothes to take travelling? see backpacking essential item list for Asia for what clothes for travelling you need
The Sapa Trekking trip will take you on a journey you will never forget. A Sapa trek will take you through three of Sapa’s authentic villages including Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai and Ta Van. As a result, you will get a unique connection and understanding into the historic atmosphere surrounding these timely villages of Sapa.
Top tip for the Sapa trekking – The trek routes in Sapa can get very muddy. We was going to do it in our Nike running trainers as we don’t carry walking boots in our backpacks. However, our hotel told us the shop facing rents out wellies for 30,000 vdk. Man was we glad we did this. This is some really muddy patches and you even cross through ankle-deep rivers!
Guide to Sapa Fansipan Mountain
No visit to Sapa is complete without seeing The Tallest mountain in Vietnam, Fansipan. Standing at a whopping 3,143 metres Cool fact, Fansipan is referred to as the “roof of indochina” why? Because it has the highest summit in its region and that’s including Cambodia an Loas. And you get to go to the top of Fansipan. There are two ways to get to the top of Fansipan.
- Hike up mount Fansipan – Yes you can take a walk on the wild side and trek to the top of mount Fansipan. You can do a Fansipan 1 or 2 day hike, the 2 day hike will require you to sleep on the mountain. You will need to book a guide in Sapa a few days in advance. Also, the Fansipan hike will be weather permitting and this will undoubtedly be the ultimate decider as to what day you can trek.
2. Cable car ride to the top of mount Fansipan – I have a life top 3 favourite views I have ever seen. Halong Bay, Kelingbeach the secret point and the unbelievable views from the sun world Fansipan legend cable car. Take just a 12 minute cable car ride to the top of Fansipan, take in the stunning views along the way and then explore the top of Fansipan. Furthermore, there are unique temples and statues at the Fansipan summitt. Then, you can enjoy another ride on the cable car back to Earth in Sapa.
Tickets to the Fansipan cable car can be booked here – book ticket to Fansipan cable car
Take a visit to the Sapa’s Cat Cat village
Cat Cat is a traditional village in Sapa that allows visitors to take a journey on a maze like path through its history of huts, farming areas, market stalls and of course the quirky Vietnamese locals. You really do see a different side to life and it allows you to understand how much you may take for granted in life. However, the locals of Cat Cat are happy people and it shows in their smiles and greetings.
How to get to the Cat Cat village from the centre of Sapa? You can either embark on a 30 minute walk or we had a scooter which allowed us to take a ten minute ride. In addition, there is a 70,000 vdk fee per person to enter the village. Nevertheless, a visit to the Cat Cat village this is one of the must-do things in Sapa.
Take a scooter ride to the Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall)
I found the 15km scenic highway scooter drive from Sapa town centre to the silver waterfall a sweet experience. Once you arrive at the 100 meter free-flowing waterfall, you will need to pay a small 30,000 vdk entrance fee. From here you can make your way up the side-stairs of the waterfall, however you can only go half way up and it will only take you five minutes to get up.
The visit to silver waterfall is a top thing to do when staying in Sapa and you will be able to take many great photos along the way.
If you enjoy riding bikes, why don’t you check out the Ha Giang extreme motorbike 3 day loop 🙂
Visit the best waterfall in Sapa, the Love Waterfall
This is one of the most visited places in Sapa. Why not make a visit to Sapa’s love waterfall for a dip at the bottom in the fresh rock pool as the waterfall of love flows from above.
How to get to the love waterfall? You can take a 16km scooter ride from the centre of Sapa to the waterfall, also Sapa’s love waterfall is close to the Silver waterfall. As a result, you can visit both waterfalls in one trip. In addition, the love waterfall costs 70,000 per person which is a little more expensive than the Silver waterfall. This is because it includes a 15 minute jungle trek to reach the waterfall. You also get to swim at the bottom of the waterfall. Don’t forget to take some great pics at one of the best places to visit in Sapa.
The must-do shopping in the guide to Sapa
Wow the shopping in Sapa, my visit to Sapa is the only time I wished I was on holiday and not backpacking. Why? Sapa has lots of mega shops that are dedicated to hiking. There are hiking bags, waterproofs, hiking shoes and all other attire. Furthermore, there is plenty of NorthFace gear, obviously not real but it’s great quality for a fraction of the price. Unfortunately I couldn’t fit anything in my backpack. However, if you have room then take full advantage of the shopping in Sapa. A visit to Sapa is not complete without visiting the hiking shops they look and feel like a real NorthFace hiking shop.
The unpredictable weather in Sapa
Sapa weather is very unpredictable, hence the “Sapa – four seasons in one day” and it really does live up to the name. The weather has a big effect on the things to do in Sapa. For example, there isn’t much point in doing the day treks in Sapa and a hike up Fansipan will likely to be cancelled if the weather is bad.
On the flight side of bad weather, is the great weather in Sapa. On a Sunny day Sapa really is a breathtaking landscape. Furthermore, on a good day you can see China from the top of Fansipan.
As the weather changes in Sapa throughout the day, don’t let a little rain in the morning get you down because you most likely get glorious sunshine by the afternoon.
Where to stay in Sapa?
There are many places to stay in Sapa and a lot of them do have mountain view within their name. This is because you will most likely have a room overlooking he amazing mountains of Sapa.
But which room do I pick? I couldn’t recommend any highly the ham hotel. This is my favourite place in Sapa to stay. As I write this post I promise to you this has been the best room I have stayed in so far in Southeast Asia and I have stayed in some epic rooms.
If you stay at this hotel in Sapa you will receive amazing service, breathtaking views from the comfort of your bed, brilliant location, extremely low prices for the quality and a free breakfast included. Oh and there’s perfect WiFi and a smart tv with Netflix.
What more do you need?
This was one of the cheapest places to stay in Sapa and I couldn’t believe how lucky we have been to stay here for our visit to Sapa. We have given them a mega rating on booking.com due to the extraordinary stay at the ham hotel in Sapa.
Conclusion – Why must visit what I named the Swiss alps of Sapa.
We nearly crossed off the list a visit to this unforgettable place in Vietnam. I couldn’t be more pleased we decided to visit this gem. This should be included on any Vietnam itinerary.
I still can’t believe there isn’t more of hype on travel blogs about this truly epic place! This is definitely the number one place to visit in Vietnam. There seems to be a warm traditional atmosphere around Sapa and it’s a joy to be part of it, even if it’s only for a few days.
I know I will visit here again in the future and I hope I have shined some good light with the “Vietnam guide to Sapa” and maybe you will make a visit to Sapa. You will not be disappointed 🙂
Please let me know if you need anymore information on Sapa, I will be more than happy to help.
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