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Things to know about Sapa for a successful trip

Content 23/02/2024 10

Sapa is a picturesque town in the mountains of northwest Vietnam, surrounded by majestic and poetic natural beauty. Hills, terraced fields, or traditional ethnic minority villages—each place exudes a special character that attracts thousands of tourists every year. Let's join HoaBinh Tourist to explore interesting destinations and experiences in Sapa right now.

Where is Sapa Vietnam located?

Sapa is a charming town in Lao Cai province, nestled in the northwest of Vietnam. Located about 320 km from Hanoi and 450 km from Ha Long Bay, Sapa has a picturesque geographical location in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. At an altitude of about 1,600 meters, this city was once considered the summer capital of Northern Vietnam by the French.

Sapa is loved for its cool and misty atmosphere, which creates a mysterious charm. The mountainous landscape and magnificent rice terraces attract many tourists seeking nature and authenticity.

What is the meaning of the name Sa Pa?

“Sa Pa”, as it is called by local Hmong speakers, means “sand beach”. The name is derived from the history of the area, which was once a bustling sandy beach where different ethnic communities interacted. After the French arrived in Vietnam, the town was called "Chapa", using the local language but transliterated in Latin. Later, Vietnamese people read this name as "Sapa", the current name of the city.

When is the ideal time to visit Sapa?

Sapa, like Northern Vietnam, has four seasons with an average annual temperature of 15.4°C, a peak of 29.4°C, and the lowest temperature below 0°C.

Winter (December to February): This period can be very cold and is a period of fallow rice fields. For those who love the cold, Sapa at this time is the perfect place to enjoy the coldest time of the year and the snow falling on the mountain tops.

Spring (from March to the end of May): This time the sun is increasing, the temperature is pleasant, and rice begins to be planted in early May. This period is considered the best time to visit Sapa due to the cool climate and brilliant flowers blooming.

Summer (from June to September): This is also the ideal time to visit the golden rice fields. You will be fascinated by the impressive view of the rice fields shining brightly in the sun and releasing a pleasant fragrance in the air. At the end of August and early September, it is time to harvest rice. This is the ideal season to admire the natural beauty of Sapa and experience the local culture related to rice growing.

Autumn (from October to the end of November): At this time, the rain stops and the sun returns. Even though it is not the ripe rice season, a visit to Sapa is always interesting, with walks through ethnic villages to meet local people.

What places should you visit when traveling to Sapa?

If you are planning to visit the town of Sapa in the mountains of northern Vietnam, getting a map of the area is essential to help you plan your trip and choose the places you want to visit.

The map will give you an overview of the area, including hiking trails, local villages, and tourist attractions. This will allow you to better prepare for travel and accommodation, as well as plan your activities.

What to do, what to do in Sapa?

Hiking in nature

When you first arrive in Sapa, you can start your journey to explore the city with simple activities such as walking around the city center. You can visit the ancient stone church or simply stroll around to explore the surrounding scenery.

Sapa is known for its breathtaking mountain scenery, colorful ethnic minorities, and tranquil atmosphere, offering a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

To explore Sapa in detail, hiking is the best way to explore the wonderful landscapes of Sapa rice terraces and meet many ethnic minorities living in the majestic mountains.

Several itineraries can be suggested, from a simple, easy stroll to a more sporty hike lasting several days and nights at local homes in remote villages. Local tour companies will be able to organize a walking tour according to your wishes and level of walking.

Sleeping in a boarding house

When traveling to Sapa, don't miss the opportunity to stay one night at a local homestay. This unique experience will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and discover local traditions, customs, and dishes in an unmissable way.

Families of the H'Mong, Dao, Tay, and Giay ethnic groups famous for their legendary hospitality will warmly welcome you to their traditional homes. Preparing dinner with your family and sharing meals will be memorable moments during your Sapa trek. Sleeping with the locals will definitely be a must-do activity.

Explore the roof of Indochina: Road to Fansipan peak

Exploring Fansipan is a unique experience for nature and adventure lovers. This is a tour that will allow you to explore the highest peak in Indochina, Mount Fanxipan. Located about 9 kilometers from Sapa town in northern Vietnam, this 3,143-meter peak offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Muong Hoa Valley and surrounding mountains.

The journey to the top of Fanxipan can be done by cable car for those who prefer a quicker experience or by hiking if you are more adventurous. The trip usually lasts two days and one night and takes you through scenic mountain trails, traditional tribal villages, and breathtaking scenery.

Once you reach the top, you can admire the sunrise over the mountains, which will give you an unforgettable view of the dazzling rays of light illuminating the distant peaks. You will also feel like you are in the clouds, as the mountains below will be covered in fog.

Exploring Fansipan is an experience not to be missed if you want to explore the natural beauty of this part of Vietnam and experience an unforgettable adventure in the Northern Mountains.

What to do around Sapa?

From Sapa, you can discover what makes the Northern mountains so charming, which are the terraced fields and the artisans who create this beauty (best shown in September, during the harvest season). There are about 30 ethnic minorities scattered outside Sapa and Laos Of course, Cai.

We provide here what to do in Sapa, our favorite destination, but you should know that there are countless possible destinations from Sapa.

Ta Phin village

Ta Phin village is rich in treasures that you must visit at least once. To get there, you have to cross some very beautiful terraced fields, the most beautiful in the region. When you arrive at the village of the Red Dao ethnic minority, Ta Phin... 

After a night staying at the local people's house, you can walk around the village and discover their craft of weaving brocade, a type of fabric or carpet woven with silk blends delicately with gold or silver thread. These products are mainly exported to Hanoi and the Chinese border, but they can also be found in Vietnam and around the world.

Ta Van Village

Located about ten kilometers from Sapa, in a landscape of majestic terraced rice fields, Ta Van village is a very popular destination for hikers who often stop overnight in a house of the Mong, Dao, or Giay people, equipped with a bathroom with a hot shower, mattresses, and mosquito nets. 

After a fun evening with your hosts, you'll have the opportunity to return to Sapa or continue your trek through some of the most breathtaking landscapes of northern Vietnam

Cat Cat village

Cat Cat village is located in the picturesque Muong Hoa valley, only 3 km from Sapa town. As a Hmong village, it is easily accessible and is an ideal choice for travelers who don't want to walk much. However, as the most visited place in Sapa Valley, Cat Cat village may lack a bit of authenticity compared to surrounding villages.

Explore the traditional ethnic market in Bac Ha

Although Bac Ha is about 100 km from Sapa, the drive is definitely worth it. Following the winding road through the hills and valleys, you can admire the breathtaking scenery, with rolling terraced fields and traditional villages nestled in the mountains.

The Bac Ha region has many interesting ethnic markets. And Bac Ha Market is the largest and most impressive market in the region. This market is open and first-come, so there is no formal entry. Ethnic minorities in the region, such as Red Dao, Black Dao, Nhung, Tay or Hoa H'Mong, have to walk or motorbike for hours to reach Bac Ha before dawn to sell their products.

You can find all kinds of foods, clothes or very colorful fabrics there. It is a true festival of color and a unique moment of human encounters and ethnic mixing. To fully appreciate the colors of traditional costumes, allowing you to distinguish the different ethnic groups present, you must arrive very early. After 10 a.m., the market loses its excitement. During holidays, such as Tet, you should check room availability before coming to Sapa.

Bac Ha Market is traditionally divided into two separate parts. The first section is dedicated to local ethnic minorities, where you can find fabrics, clothing accessories and jewelry for women. However, these items are generally loose and heavy, so they are not suitable for tourists wanting to buy souvenirs. This is where the villagers exchange their products. 

The second section is for souvenirs and handicraft items for tourists, from bracelets and hats to wooden sculptures. It's worth noting that Bac Ha Market is only open on Sundays, so it's important to plan your visit accordingly.

How to move to Sapa

Note that the train does not go all the way to Sapa but stops at the nearest station in Lao Cai province. From there, you have to take a second means of transportation to Sapa (by car, taxi or motorcycle).

Hanoi to Lao Cai by train

Two night trains connecting Hanoi with Lao Cai (SP1 and SP3) operate daily, with additional services during peak times. The carriages provided are of two types: carriages operated by Vietnam Railways and premium carriages operated by private companies. The stations are located in Hanoi and Lao Cai, respectively, with specific running times for each train. Different classes come in various price ranges, with a guide price of around $32.

Station address:

  • Hanoi Station: 120 Le Duan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
  • Lao Cai Station: Khanh Yen. New Town, Lao Cai

To buy train tickets online in Vietnam, you should visit the official website of Vietnam Railways at

After the train, there are several options to get to Sapa from Lao Cai: bus, hotel bus, taxi or motorbike taxi.

Hanoi - Sapa by passenger bus or sleeper bus

The bus is the fastest way to get from Hanoi to Sapa, taking 4 to 6 hours thanks to the new highway. Buses operate all day and you can choose sleeper buses departing from My Dinh, Gia Lam, and Giap Bat bus stations.

The most famous brands are Sao Viet, Ha Son Hai Van, Hung Thanh, Queen Cafe, and Fansipan Express Bus. The car is fully equipped with clean blankets, electric ports, USB ports, wifi and free drinking water.

By private car

You can consider booking a car by contacting a travel company for assistance in planning to explore Sapa. These agents offer complete packages, including round-trip transportation, which is very convenient and recommended.

Below is all the information you need to get to Sapa from Hanoi, located in northern Vietnam. If you plan to travel to Sapa from the south (Ho Chi Minh City) or the central region (Da Nang), you first need to travel to Hanoi. Then you can follow the instructions provided before to get to Sapa.

Where should I stay when traveling to Sapa?

In Sapa, you have many accommodation options, from budget to luxury accommodation. It is important to choose carefully to ensure an enjoyable experience during your visit. To do this, please refer to reputable hotel booking sites such as Booking, Agoda, etc.

Don't forget to consider the opinions of other travelers about the facility you're interested in, and don't hesitate to contact the hotel of your choice directly to ensure every detail. Among all the options available, here are three good places to consider in Sapa:

Topas ecological area

  • Address: Thanh Kim, Sa Pa, Lao Cai

Located in the heart of the majestic Sapa Mountains, this eco-friendly boutique hotel offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks. Convenient location near many hiking trails. The spacious and comfortable rooms are designed in a traditional style with modern touches, while the enthusiastic and friendly staff are on hand to make your stay unforgettable.

ALIANA Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa

  • Address: No. 30 Hoang Lien, Sa Pa Street, Lao Cai

This boutique hotel is located in the heart of Sapa and offers modern, stylish rooms with stunning views of the surrounding peaks. It also features a spa, restaurant and outdoor swimming pool with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

Eco Palms House

  • Address: Lao Chai Village, Sapa, Lao Cai

The property is located in a peaceful setting, surrounded by gardens and terraced fields. Rooms are built from wood and natural materials, and the hotel also has an organic restaurant and spa. The hotel is sustainably managed and uses solar energy to provide electricity and hot water.

What should you pay attention to for your trip to be successful?

When taking photos, you should take them discreetly so as not to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the market. It is important to avoid shooting or pointing the camera at a person for long periods of time as this may disturb those present. Also, don't ask permission to take photos because language barriers can make things complicated.

People are still shy, especially women. There is no violence or theft when you visit Sapa, courtesy is essential and remains the guarantor of the peaceful atmosphere of the market. The dress code should be modest and simple, but altitude and weather will often force you to wear clothing that allows your skin to breathe in preparation for rain or cool breezes (coat, scarf, gloves). Clear shoes are strongly recommended.

Above are some shares from HoaBinh Tourist about things to know when traveling to Sapa. Hopefully this article will help you understand more about this land. For any information you need advice on, please contact us via hotline 0939.311.911 - 0913.311.911 for 24/7 support.


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