Sapa in Vietnam is located at the northern region at the head of a deep valley of magnificent rice terraces that are still worked today as they have been for centuries. The stunning scenery is spectacular. Enticing ribbons of green, lush valleys and white-water rivers rushing among rice fields, lush green mountains stretching into the distance as far as the eye can see. And to crown it all is the highest peak in the region, Mount Fansipan, a ragged ridge line high above town.
The big reason to visit Sapa is to join in a 1-day or overnight trek to the local ethnic villages dotted around the countryside. But even a visit to the town itself is worthwhile.
Anytime is good to visit Sapa for the trek to the local ethnic community villages, walking along terraced rice fields, but for the absolute best time is September and October when the rice terraces are at their most greenest or in April and May when the weather is fine and the skies clear.
Getting to Sapa is easiest with the overnight trains that depart Hanoi in the evening and arrive next morning in Lao Cai for the short transfer to Sapa town. There are also coach services now on the new highway with the journey time around 6 hours.
THINGS TO DO IN SAPA
Summit Mount Fansipan
Conquer the 3,143m summit of Mount Fansipanhad on the 6 km cable car journey in just 15 minutes. On a clear day, the views from the ‘Roof of Indochina’ are unmatched.
Visit an ethnic minority market
The most famous and visually striking market in the area is Bac Ha, three hours from town. Every Sunday this sleepy little town bursts into life as hundreds of traders from the Dzao, Han, Xa Fang, Tay and Thai tribes descend on the market, decked out in their finest traditional garb. However no matter what day you visit Sapa for your trek, there will be a local market or village to visit.
Go trekking in the hills
Sapa offers some of Vietnam’s best trekking. If you can rise early and beat the crowds, Cat Cat and Ta Phin are two of the most popular options for day treks without a guide. Further into the landscape, overnight treks will allow you enough time to wander through the rice terraces, bathe in waterfalls and sleep in a traditional family home and experience community life and farming firsthand.