Sa Pa Travel Guide

All things need to know before travelling to Sa Pa

Sapa has long become an attractive destination for tourists from near and far. With majestic natural scenery, endless green mountains and unique culture of indigenous ethnic minorities, Sapa will never disappoint you. Let’s explore this beautiful land with Origin Vietnam.

1. Where is Sa Pa?

Sa Pa is a mountainous district in Lao Cai province in the Northwest region of Vietnam. About 30 km southwest of Lao Cai city and about 310 km northwest of Hanoi capital. With geographical location:

  • The East borders Lao Cai city and Bao Thang district.
  • The West borders Tam Duong district and Tan Uyen district of Lai Chau province.
  • The south borders Van Ban district.
  • The north borders Bat Xat district.

2. How is Sa Pa unique?

Located on a mountainside 1,500 – 1,600 meters above sea level. Sapa has a tropical climate with four diverse seasons, and is especially one of the rare places in Vietnam with snowfall in winter.

Sapa with an area of about 678.6 km2 is inhabited mainly by the H’Mong, Dao, Tay, Giay, Xa Pho, Kinh, and Hoa ethnic groups. This is a famous tourist land in Lao Cai because it contains many wonders of natural scenery. Sa Pa’s natural landscape is combined with human creativity along with the topography of the mountains and the green of the forest, like a picture arranged in a harmonious layout, creating a region with many landscapes. Attractive poetic color. Sapa tours is a journey which gives visitors a contrast about the north highland of Vietnam. It is the spectacular rice terraces appearing which is described as waterfalls.

Immersed in floating clouds, Sa Pa seems to be immersed in magical mist, making visitors feel like they are lost in a fairyland. Here, there is an invaluable resource that is a cool, fresh climate with many diverse nuances. Sa Pa is not only a wonderful destination in Vietnam for unique culture, cuisine, and local minority people groups. But also unique architectural buildings. Its speciality is divided into two main types. The first is the tradition of local minority groups with stilt houses and the last is French architectural buildings.

The traditional style of Sa Pa

The traditional style of Sa Pa is expressed through houses of local ethnic people clearly. Some of them are Tay, Nung, and H’Mong people. Each stilt house in each ethnic nation designs differently, however, all ethnic stilt houses are made in wood in general. Visitors can visit ethnic villages and see their stilt houses in Cat Cat, Lao Chai, Ta Van, Ta Phin, Giang Ta Chai, Y Linh Ho villages, etc. While French constructions you can see mainly in Sapa town center or surrounding such as Stone Church, villa, ect.

Combined with majestic, lyrical natural scenery, diverse ethnic cultures, sincere and hospitable people, Sa Pa is a great destination whether you are a tourist who loves to explore or are looking for a perfect vacation spot.

3. When is the best time to visit Sapa?

Although the climate is divided into four distinct seasons, Sapa’s average temperature rarely exceeds 25 degrees Celsius, even in summer. Coming to Sapa in any season of the year, you can enjoy a unique scenery, each season has its own beauty, and will easily “captivate” any visitor.

3.1 Spring

From the end of December, peach blossoms in Sapa have bloomed, lasting until February, covering this place in brilliant pink. From February to March, you will admire the forests of apricot and plum flowers blooming white on the horizon.

Continuing until March – April is the time when all kinds of flowers bloom, when the weather is warm in spring. This is the time when the whole town is filled with white flowers.

3.2 Summer

It is also the rainy season in Sapa, but we don’t think summer is not suitable for traveling to Sa Pa. Early summer and late summer are two great times for you to make a self-sufficient trip to Sapa, if you have always been fascinated with the majestic terraced rice fields.

April – May is rice planting season, also known as pouring water season. This is the time when people start the new crop season, Sapa is immersed in the green of young rice fields. But the most beautiful moment is the moment of sunrise or sunset, when the orange-yellow sunlight spills over the fields, reflecting sparklingly on the water surface.

Late August – September is the season of ripe rice. Coming to Sapa at this time, you will have the opportunity to watch the golden rice season on winding terraced fields meandering in the cool air of late summer and early autumn.

3.3 Autumn

Fall is a favorite time for self-guided trips to Sapa, because this is the famous buckwheat flower season. Starting from mid-October to the end of November, the entire Northwest mountainous region is immersed in the pink color of buckwheat flower fields.

In particular, the last two weeks of October is also the time to organize the Buckwheat Flower Festival with many interesting cultural discovery activities.

3.4 Winter

Sapa is one of the rare regions in Vietnam that gives you the opportunity to watch snow fall. If you want to experience the cold of the high mountains, and admire the scenery of white snow covering this small town, do not hesitate to come to Sapa in the winter months. Besides, from the end of November to the beginning of the new year is when the canola flower fields in Sapa bloom, welcoming tourists.

One point to note is that although winter in Sapa is charming, the weather is also very harsh, the temperature can drop below 0 degrees, and the sky is cloudy. Therefore, when traveling to Sapa during this time, you need to equip yourself with warm clothes and necessary items to ensure your health for the trip.

4. How to get to Sa Pa?

Only 310 km from Hanoi, visitors have many options for transportation to get to Sapa. However, visitors from far away will often have to go to Hanoi first before starting their Sapa trip, so they can explore both places to their heart’s content.

4.1 From Hanoi go straight to Sa Pa

Passenger car: Is the simplest and most economical means of transport for self-sufficient tours of Sapa. Companies such as Sao Viet, Sapa Express, Inter Bus Line all have sleeper buses.

4.2 From Lao Cai city to Sapa

Train: If you choose Lao Cai city as your destination, the most convenient means of transportation is the train. Trains running directly from Hanoi to Lao Cai have popular brands such as Sapaly, Chapa, King Express, Victoria Express,… with different seat classes and cabin types.

The ideal departure time is the night train; you will arrive in Lao Cai early in the morning. After that, you can continue to catch a bus, bus, shuttle bus or rent a motorbike to get to Sapa. Travel time from Lao Cai city to Sa Pa is only about 45 minutes.

4.3 Traveling to Sapa by motorbike

For those who love adventure, traveling to Sapa by motorbike is also an interesting choice to experience the beauty of the rugged but equally beautiful and romantic roads of Northwest Vietnam.

However, you need to ensure your safety when driving, because these roads have many steep and dangerous passes. In addition, traveling by motorbike also helps save you a lot of money going to Sapa.

4.4 Means of transportation in Sa Pa

By motorbike: The most convenient means of exploring Sapa is definitely a motorbike. You can easily rent a car in the central area of Sa Pa town for about 100,000 – 150,000 VND/day.

By taxi: For those traveling to Sapa with family or large groups, you can choose a taxi to explore the town. Some popular taxi companies here are Sapa Xanh Taxi (Phone number: 0203.63.63.63), Phan Xi Pang Taxi (Phone number: 0203.62.62.62),…

5. Sightseeings & things to do in Sa Pa

5.1 Area near Sapa town center

5.1.1 Stone Church

Located in the center of Sapa town, Stone Church (or Church of Our Lady of the Rosary) is one of the great symbols of Sapa. Built in the early 20th century in French Gothic architecture, the church is preserved almost intact until today.

5.1.2 Love market

This is the market of the Dao people, only opened once a week on Sunday, but the night before, many couples came to exchange love and confide in each other. Today, the market is an interesting place for visitors to explore the culture of highland ethnic groups, as well as enjoy attractive local products.

5.1.3 Sapa Lake

Sapa Lake is located in the center of Sapa town, is one of the attractive and interesting tourist destinations for many tourists. Coming here, visitors will admire the poetic and charming natural scenery and also have the opportunity to participate in unique and meaningful festivals.

5.1.4 Sapa Night Market

Coming to Sapa, you should not miss the bustling night market here. Coming to Sapa night market, you will have the opportunity to enjoy attractive cuisine along with entertainment activities, or interact, meet and chat with the people here who are equally interesting.

5.1.5 Ham Rong Mountain

Ham Rong Mountain is about 3 km from Sapa town, located at an altitude of nearly 2,000 meters above sea level. From the top of Ham Rong, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Sapa and the surrounding beautiful valleys. On foggy days, the clouds playing around the mountain are extremely magical, making this place known as the “Cloud Yard” of the foggy town.

5.1.6 Muong Hoa Valley – Ancient stone field

About 8 km from Sapa, this beautiful valley retains many ancient traces, typically ancient rocks of unknown date and origin.

Muong Hoa Valley will bring you a satisfying experience of viewing nature with gradually rising terraced fields leading up to the sky. Besides, this place is also considered a convergence of precious cultural and profound historical values of the nation.

5.1.7 Ta Phin village

The main residents of Ta Phin village are Red Dao people, with a small number of H’Mong people. Coming to Ta Phin, you will see with your own eyes ethnic girls weaving brocade on wooden looms. Near Ta Phin village is Ta Phin cave – a wonder of nature with a massive stalactite system.

5.1.8 Ta Van Village

Ta Van village is located in Ta Van commune, Sapa district, Lao Cai province, only about 12 km from Sapa town. Ta Van in the H’Mong ethnic language means large arc. The village has its back against the Hoang Lien Son mountain range and the front is the winding Muong Hoa stream.

5.1.9 Cat Cat village

Located at the foot of Hoang Lien Son mountain, Cat Cat village is where the H’Mong community lives. People here still live mainly by farming, weaving, and silver carving – traditional jewelry design.

5.1.10 Y Linh Ho

Y Linh Ho village is a village of the Black H’mong people, located in San Sa Ho commune, Sapa town and surrounded by the majestic Hoang Lien Son range.

Coming here, visitors will be immersed in the poetic and beautiful natural scenery and enjoy specialties of the mountains and forests prepared by the people here.

5.1.11 Lao Chai village

Nestled in the middle of Muong Hoa Valley, Lao Chai village is loved by many travelers as the “Muse of the Northwest”. The best time to travel to Lao Chai, Sapa is from April to June (falling water season) or from September to October (ripe rice season).

In the last months of the year, nature in Lao Chai is dyed a brilliant yellow color – combined with the rolling mountain and forest landscape and hazy white mist, creating an unreal splendor.

5.1.12 Fansipan Peak

Referring to Sapa, it is impossible not to mention Fansipan – the “roof” of Indochina, more than 3,000 meters above sea level. There are two ways to conquer Fansipan: a 2-3 day climbing journey, or by cable car. For who love adventure Sapa is a wonderful place for trekking, climbing the mountain and conquer Fansipan Mountain.

5.2 Sa Pa central periphery area

5.2.1 O Quy Ho Pass

O Quy Ho is known as one of the “four great passes” of Vietnam, and is one of the most dangerous roads, challenging the passion of many tourists to conquer. O Quy Ho Pass is also known by other names such as Tram Ton Pass, Hoang Lien Son Pass.

5.2.2 Sa Pa Heaven Gate

Weaving between the winding Hoang Lien Son range is Sapa’s heaven gate – where you can have a panoramic view of the valley, fields, and corn fields.

5.2.3 Love Falls

Also originating from Fansipan, Love Waterfall has a height of nearly 100 meters, falling majestically all day and night. The waterfall belongs to Hoang Lien National Park, surrounded by green forests and diverse vegetation.

5.2.4 Thac Bac Waterfall

Near Love Waterfall is Thac Bac Waterfall. The waterfall is more than 200 meters high and is upstream of the Muong Hoa stream. Standing at Ham Rong peak, you will be able to see the majestic waterfall, pouring from this strong, white stream.

5.3 Activities and experiences in Sa Pa

5.3.1 Fansipan Trekking

Fansipan Mountain or the Roof of Indochina with a height of 3143m, this place is a good choice for visitors who love trekking mountains. I was proud when I made the conquer Fansipan Mountain trip. You definitely should have a travel company to help and organize your trip so that you can enjoy this beautiful mountain in Vietnam safely and on the best route. The best time to conquer Fansipan Mountain is from mid October to mid November and in March again.

5.3.2 Rice Terrace Fields Enjoyment And Shooting Photograph

How beautiful it is once you see it in your eyes? Your tour Vietnam is not really perfect if not have a trekking time through village and see beautiful rice terrace fields. There are many villages to experience and shoot wonderful photos such as Lao Chai, Ta Van, Ta Phin, Y Ty, etc

Local ethnic people here often grow rice and establish next terrace rice fields from the foot to nearly top mountains. It is passed on from generations to generations without selling because these are the most valuable for them. Visit the Thac Bac waterfall.

Silver waterfall is about 12 km from Sapa town center. It is one of the places for discovering its beautiful waterfall. Like a white dragon looking down from the sky. It’s easy to travel to this fall by motorbike or car within 30 minutes. All of the above factors have created a special attraction for travelers who want to explore this land and book a tours in Sapa from Hanoi right now.

6. Specialties when traveling to Sapa

Sapa in particular and the mountainous provinces of Northwest Vietnam in general possess extremely unique specialties. Let’s take a look at the list of dishes you cannot miss when coming to Sapa.

6.1 Thang Co

The most famous dish in the Northwest that every tourist definitely wants to “try” when traveling to Sapa is thang co. Thang co is cooked from various types of meat and animal organs in a large pan, simmered on a charcoal stove for many hours until tender and the spices are absorbed evenly.

6.2 Indigenous chickens

Native chicken is famous for its medicinal and nutritious values. In the cold weather of Sapa, there is nothing better than a bowl of chicken marinated with herbs, or hot grilled chicken with honey.

6.3 Indigenous pigs

The native pig is a small type of pig that can be carried under the armpit or put in a basket for convenient carrying. Armpit pork is firmer than conventionally raised pigs, so it can be processed into attractive roasted, grilled, and boiled dishes.

6.4 Barbecue meat

Grilled skewers are a great snack on cold days in Sapa. The choices are also extremely diverse from meat, sausages, chicken feet, vegetables, etc. Most especially, when eating grilled food, it is indispensable to have a tube of fragrant bamboo rice and a cup of sesame salt somewhere.

6.5 Sa Pa salmon

Salmon is no longer a “rare thing” in temperate lands but is now raised in Sapa. If you are a salmon enthusiast, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy an attractive menu including: sashimi, salmon hotpot, or grilled salmon.

7. Accommodation when traveling to Sa Pa

When traveling to Sa Pa, visitors can refer to some of the accommodation facilities below:

7.1 Hotels:

As for hotels in Sapa, there are many segments for you to choose from. Focusing on design, investing in space and service quality, reasonable costs, suitable for those who travel to Sapa, we must mention names such as Sapa Hills Hotel, Golden Villa Hotel, Sapa Odyssey Hotel will surely make you satisfied.

  • KK Sapa Hotel. Address: 25 Violet, TT. Sa Pa, Sa Pa, Lao Cai.
  • DeLaSol Phat Linh Sapa. Address: 16 Muong Hoa Street, TT. Sa Pa, Sa Pa, Lao Cai.
  • Pao’s Sapa Leisure Hotel. Address: Muong Hoa, TT. Sa Pa, Sa Pa, Lao Cai.

7.2 Resorts:

If you want to enjoy the most complete vacation feeling amidst vast mountains and forests with chilly weather, Sapa resort is a choice that is hard to refuse. Choose hot addresses such as: Sapa Jade Hill Resort And Spa, Topas Ecolodge, Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa, Pao’s Sapa Leisure Hotel, Golden Town Hotel, Nomad Trails Boutique Hotel or Freesia Hotel to “reward” yourself with a vacation Warm and relaxing.

7.3 Homestays:

If you both want to see the wild and majestic natural scenery and experience the daily life of ethnic minorities here, staying at homestay is the ideal choice. Famous Sapa homestays with the backpacking community include Sapa Capsule Hotel, Phori’s House, Little Sapa, Po Homestay,...

8. Some important notes when traveling to Sa Pa

  • Sapa is always crowded with tourists, especially during the flower seasons, or the winter-spring tourist peak. You should book your hotel in advance to avoid price increases and lack of rooms during this occasion.
  • Before buying goods or using travel services, you need to ask the price first, and pay the price to avoid being challenged.
  • You should prepare in advance if you want to buy souvenirs and small-value decorations. If you give even money, the seller may offer to exchange the change for goods.
  • Sapa tourist destinations often have many steep hills and require a lot of walking. You should choose comfortable clothes, sports shoes or soft-soled shoes.
  • If you see ethnic girls and want to take pictures with them, you should ask in advance because sometimes you will have to pay a fee.
  • The average temperature in Sapa is quite low, especially at night, so you need to prepare enough coats, scarves, socks, gloves, and wool hats to keep warm.
  • Bring necessary medication, such as fever, headache, allergies, digestive medicine, etc. to prevent illness.
  • Please respect local culture, avoid unintentionally causing disrespectful behavior. You should not give money or gifts to local children to avoid setting a bad precedent.
  • Please maintain environmental hygiene and do not litter – preserving natural resources and cultural heritage should be a top priority.
  • Coming to Sapa, visitors need to prepare cash and bank cards in advance. Currently, Sapa also has many ATM locations, so you don’t have to worry about withdrawing money. However, you also need to prepare cash in case you need to use it immediately.

Is Sapa Worth Visiting?

Above are Sa Pa travel experiences that you should not miss when coming to misty and beautiful Sa Pa amidst the mountains and forests of Northwest Vietnam. Possesses beautiful natural landscapes and unique culture of indigenous people. This is the ideal choice for those who want to find a place to “escape” from the noise, hustle and bustle of everyday bustling life. Coming here, you will be immersed in the majestic and beautiful nature, feeling a slow and peaceful life.

Are you planning your upcoming trip to Sa Pa but don’t know which destination to go first and which destination next? Don’t know where to book reputable travel services? Please contact Origin Vietnam immediately – a professional tour operator in Sapa, we are always ready to support you with useful and necessary information for your trip. And we are very pleased to accompany tourists on their journey to explore the travel beauty of Lao Cai and commit to bringing you interesting activities and unforgettable experiences.

Sa Pa Medium Trek

This three days trip offers a chance to explore the most stunning area of Sapa. You will have both homestay at village and hotel accommodation in Sapa. You have around 6 hours for trekking everyday with foot paths up and down hill mountains, through terraced rice paddies, crossing river and water streams by suspension bridges. Here is also the chance to visit local families, witnessing daily life activities.
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