Sapa Vietnam
Sapa Vietnam

Sapa - Lao Cai

Sapa Vietnam is 400km (9 hour drive by car) north-west of Hanoi. This cloud-covered town is located at 1,550m above sea level, cool all year round. There are many magnificent mountains including the peak of Indochina-Fansipan of 3,143m elevation.

The Hoang Lien National Park is home to the highest leg of the Hoang Lien Mountain Range which stretches from the north-west to the south-east covering a part of both Lao Cai and Lao Chau Provinces. Sapa is located right to the north-east of the Hoang Lien National Park, right at the base of the highest peak of Hoang Lien as well as Vietnam, Fansipan.

Sapa Vietnam
Sapa Town from above

The terrain of Sapa is mountainous with steep gradients. There are small valleys in between the peaks. There are several ethnic villages on mountain slopes and in the valleys around Sapa.

Sapa has a cold temperate climate: rainy season from May through October an dry season from November through April. During the rainy season, the temperatures are around 18-20oC and there are westerly and north-westerly winds. In the dry season, the temperatures are about 10-12oC; there is often snow in high-altitude areas; the winds are easterly or north-easterly; and it is often foggy. It is normally humid in Sapa with average humidity of 90%. The average annual rainfall at Sapa is around 2,762mm.

Red Dzao ladies in Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam
Red Dzao ladies in Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

The area is home to 7 ethnic groups with unique cultures, lifestyles and languages; all wearing their traditional attires, working on evergreen terraces. Hill tribes gather for the weekend market for trade and for meeting with lovers. Sapa is a good place for relaxing, for cultural touring, and for trekking and should not be missed on your trip to Vietnam.

Sapa was built into a hill station for the French colonialists to get away from the heat of Hanoi in the summer. There used to be many French-styled villas in town. But most of them were destroyed during the border clash with China in 1979.

Sapa Town
A sunny day in Sapa Town with blue sky

Nowadays Sapa attracts thousands of tourists from all over Vietnam and abroad thanks to the cool and fresh climate, the sublime nature beauty and the colorful hill tribe cultures.

Tourist Attractions and what to see in Sapa

Given the nature and peoples of Sapa, the whole area is a beauty and everywhere you turn, it is purely lovely a scenery. Except for Ta Phin Village, O Quy Ho Pass (and Silver Waterfall) and Ta Giang Phinh Village, most the other attractions in Sapa are along the base of the Hoang Lien Mountain Range. To make it easier for your orientation, Paradissa’s team would make it into different spots as below.

The Sapa weekend market held on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Ethnic groups from different villages would flock to town for trading and for meeting with lovers. The whole town of Sapa would be colored by their traditional colorful costumes.

There used to be a love market in town on Saturday night until late 1990s. Since more and more tourists travel to Sapa for beholding the love market, it's not in session as it once was.

Black H'Mong in Sapa
Black Hmong Ladies sun-bathing in Sapa Town

 Cat Cat Village is about 1 km south Sapa town. It's located at the bottom of the Muong Hoa Valley and near the stunning Cat Cat Waterfall. Cat Cat is home to the Black H'Mong who accounts for over 50% of Sapa's population. To visit the village, you walk through Sapa Market down the valley. Once you walk out of the crowds, you'll be stunned by the natural beauty with high mountains of over 3,000m and the green rice terraces dropping nearly 1,000 below. The sun shines across and there are H'Mong houses scattered in the valley. The walking tour of the whole loop would take you about 2 hours.

 The Muong Hoa Valley located 8km to the south-east of Sapa Town and surrounded by Hoang Lien Mountain Range, and another high mountain range running parallel to the former, and other lower mountains to the north and south. There is a river running north-south through the middle of the valley. There are wonderful rice terraces in the valley and Giay and Hmong Villages that make your photos more sensational should you come here at the rice time.
Sapa golden terraces at the Muong Hoa Valley
Sapa golden terraces at the Muong Hoa Valley

 Lao Chai and Ta Van Villages are home to the Giay People and Black H'Mong People. They are at the bottom-south of the Sapa Muong Hoa Valley and offer breathtaking scenery of rice terraces dissected by the running water of mountain streams. To visit these 02 villages, you'll need to hire a jeep or a motorbike and travel past the stadium and Sapa market gate. You'll follow this main road for 8km, then you'll see a path down the valley to the right where you'll get off and start the walking trip of Lao Chai and Ta Van Villages. The whole tour takes about 1.5 hour.

Sapa Terraces
Terraces out of Sapa Town

 Ta Phin Village is 12 km north of Sapa Town and it's home to the Red Zao People. The village nestles itself on the mountain slopes and offers unreal mountain views. You can take a motorbike/jeep from Sapa to the village and enjoy a walking tour around chit-chatting with the local young girls selling handicrafts. Very likely you'll be invited to visit their home. The tour takes about 1-1.5 hour.

 

Red Dzao Ladies at Ta Phin Village
Red Dzao Ladies at Ta Phin Village

 The Silver Waterfall and the Gateway to Heaven: these 02 sites located about 15km west of Sapa Town on the road from Sapa to Lai Chau province. The Gateway to Heaven is Tram Ton Pass between Sapa and Binh Lu town which offers stunning panoramic view of the Fansipan and the deep valley below. The trip takes 2 hours by jeep or motorbike. Make sure the camera has enough memory for this route.

Mount Fansipan Sapa Vietnam
Mount Fansipan Sapa Vietnam

 Ham Rong Mountain is just right in the center of Sapa Town. The mountain offers panoramic views of Sapa and its surroundings including Fansipan - the Peak of Indochina. Accessing the mountain, you'll go alongside the church from the town center to the end of the road and turn left for the ascending path. There are steps which will guide you through the fresh orchid gardens and flower gardens to the top. There's also an ethnic house on the mountain with ethnic music and performances played by local girls and boys.

Mount Fansipan (3,143 km elevation) is the Peak of Indochina. You can join Paradissa on an adventure of a life time conquering this summit in 4 days. Our staff including H'Mong boys will help us with logistics for the tour. Mountain camps as accommodation, untouched jungles on the way to the top, hotly cooked meals accompanied by sounds of jungles are highlights of the adventure.

The Hoang Lien Mountain Range at Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam
The Hoang Lien Mountain Range at Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

Travel and Tours in Sapa

Sapa is ideal for sightseeing relaxing tours, nature tours, cuture tours, adventure tours such as trekking, hiking, mountain biking or white-water rafting...

From Hanoi, you can join Paradissa Travel on a relaxing luxury tours, discovery tours, mountain bike tours or trekking adventure tours in Sapa for 3-8 days.

There are also several tour companies in Sapa who operate mostly trekking tours around the Muong Hoa Valley in Sapa.

 Accommodation in Sapa
There are many hotels in Sapa Town ranging from simple guest houses to luxurious 4 star hotels.

 Staying overnight with a local ethnic family in their simple house is an option. Conditions are limited and poor, but the experience is unmatched.

 For those doing adventure tours like mountain climbing or hiking or trekking, you can bring along or check with us for mountain camps. This is also an exotic experience that many miss going wild in Sapa.

Sapa green terrace
Sapa green terrace

 Getting there and away

Sapa can be accessed by road or by train (to Lao Cai) from Hanoi. The journey by road would take 5 hours via the express way. The road conditions are good.

 There are nightly trains between Hanoi and Lao Cai. The train trip is 8-9 hours. The train conditions range from standard to good and luxury: hard seats without air-conditioning, soft seats with air-conditioning, soft sleepers with air-conditioning.

 For sleeper carriages, there are 4-sleeper or twin-sleeper compartments. For these carriages, the train company provides 1 tiny bottle of water and 01 bread for the cool journey. Lock your compartment carefully before dozing off! Security on the train is fairly good, but always wise to use your common sense while traveling!

Y Ling Ho Village of the Black Hmong in Sapa
Y Ling Ho Village of the Black Hmong in Sapa

 Getting around Sapa
On foot: Sapa Town can easily be explored on foot. There's only one main road running the full length of the town with a lake at an end. it's safe to stroll in town at night.

 There are many buffalo paths which range from easy to steep, slippery and, no doubt, hard for the visitors to do exercise.

 Xe Om (motorbike taxi): There are many Russian-Minsk Xe Oms with driver near the church in the center of the town. Prices should be negotiated before setting off. Check their brakes carefully, too!