Travel to Sa Pa, Vietnam
Sapa is a small mountain town in Lao Cai province. It is located about 350 km northwest of Hanoi, close to the Chinese border. Several ethnic groups are living in these peaceful mountains surrounded by brilliant green terraced rice fields. Sa Pa is the favorite of many travelers thanks to its extraordinary landscapes.
Hiking enthusiasts would enjoy the comfortable climate and the sunny days at the end of March. Unfortunately, you will see brown rice fields filled with water while waiting for planting. If you travel to Sa Pa in June, you will be immersed in the freshness of the green rice fields. However, the rainy season and the heat during the day do not allow you to easily have a trek. September is the best season for travelling to Sa Pa because you could see the beautiful green rice fields, but it might be the most crowded period.
Travel to Sa Pa – Things to do
3 day 2 nights is the best way to discover Sa Pa: one day to hike, one day to discover the mountains and the small isolated villages by yourself. During your travel to Sa Pa, do not miss the city and its fabulous night market.
Travel to Sa Pa – Places to visit
Terraced rice fields . This is the main attraction of travelers to Sa Pa, reachable during a guided trek. They are often known to be the most beautiful in the world.
April-May: during the rainy season, local people water their fields at full to prepare a new crop.
June-July: the fields are fully-grown paddy rice, which make the area completely green.
September-October: the rice is ripe, giving a gold color to the fields.
Villages of Sa Pa’s ethnic groups
- Cat Cat Hmong Village: is located in a beautiful valley 3km from the town of Sa Pa. It is relatively touristic, so do not hesitate to continue to hike to Y Linh Ho, a much less frequented trail.
- Giay village of Ta Van: is located about 8km from the town. Do not miss the path between the Hmong village and the Giay village, which is one of the most beautiful in the area!
- Red Dao village of Ta Phin: is located 12km from Sa Pa, but a one-day hike can be sufficient to reach it.
There are many others to discover, which is making your travel to Sa Pa and its surroundings unbelievable.
NB: you should pay admission fees to enter most of the villages
Muong Hoa Valley. One of the most famous destinations for breath-taking landscapes. Along through the mountains you could find strange carved stones. Discovered in 1923, the signification remains too vague.
Fansipan Mountain . This is the highest mountain in Vietnam (3,143m). Different ways lead to the summit, which is achievable within 1 to 3 days’ hike. However, the Fansipan Mountain is reachable thanks to the Fansipan Legend Cable Car (15-minute travel), which is the largest cable car and which has the largest vertical drop in the world. It costs $15 by person (for a round trip)
Travel to Sa Pa – Activities
Having a 5-hour hike
. As we have done during our travel to Sa Pa, choose to be guided by a lovely Hmong woman. She will take you through the mountains to have the best point of view. Ask your host to get a fixed price. You do not have to be a trained hiker, but it could sometimes be physically challenging. Do not hesitate to ask for an easier way.
Price: VND 500,000 ($USD 20) for 2 people.
Renting a motorbike.
Lose yourself through the roads of the mountains. There is only one road, so it is impossible to get lost! We believe that it is the best way to visit because you are completely autonomous: you can stop whenever you want.
Price: VND 170,000 ($7) for renting a motorbike for a day
Travel to Sa Pa – Where to eat?
Little Sapa . Thanks to a large menu, you would be able to find what makes you happy at an affordable price (among the lowest in Sapa town). You could try the Sapa special mushroom-tomato sauce.
Address: 5 Dong Loi, Sa Pa, Lao Cai province, Vietnam
Operating hours: 8AM-15PM, 17PM-10PM, daily
Price: from VND 40,000 ($1.5) for one meal
A Quynh Restaurant . A favorite among locals that serves Northwest specialties. You could try thang co, a dish made from meat and organs of horse, beef, buffalo and pork.
Address: 15 Thach Son, Sa Pa, Lao Cai province, Vietnam
Operating hours: 9AM-10:30PM, daily
Price: $2 - $3 for one meal
Antique Sapa. One of the most valuable Set Menus you could find in Sa Pa with generous portions and meals that will make you fall in love with local food.
Adress: 22A Phan Xi Pang, Sa Pa, Lao Cai province, Vietnam
Operating hours: 8AM-10PM
Price: $5-$10 for one meal
Nature View Restaurant . Dine with a breath-taking view of the hilly surroundings. Enjoy the Vietnamese-Western fusion cuisine to take some time to yourself. This is one of the most expensive restaurants in Sa Pa, but totally worth it.
Address: 51 Fansipan Street, Sa Pa, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam
Operating hours: 7:30AM-6:30PM, daily
Price: $10-$30 for one meal
Travel to Sa Pa – Where to stay?
The city of Sa Pa has become a very crowded place and has lost its charming side, according to some people. During your travel to Sa Pa, choose to live a real experience with ethnic groups and sleep in homestays located outside the city centre. Hosts are usually open to sharing cultures and experiences. They often offer a family Vietnamese diner.
The Little Hmong House.
This is a traditional house of Black Hmong ethnicity, located 12km far from Sapa’s night market. It includes 2 bungalows that could host 20 guests. The family offers you succulent Vietnamese cuisine and perfectly organizes you your trip in Sa Pa.
Price: around 10$ for a night for 2 people in a double room with garden view (a little bit more expensive for enjoying mountain view)
Eco Palms House
. It is located in a Black Hmong Village, Lao Chai with the best views of the Hoang Lien Son Mountain and the Muong Hoa Valley in Sa Pa. The family is very friendly and do its best to make your stay comfortable and memorable.
Price: around 50$ for a night for 3 people in a bungalow.
For mid-range budget ($$): The Grand Blue Hotel Very nice hotel which is located 2.3km from Fansipan Legend Cable Car Station, but also close to nightlife and all the amenities in Sa Pa. You could enjoy a very friendly and helpful staff. Prices start at $30 for a basic double-bed room (view on the mountains from $36).
For high budget ($$$):
Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa
You could enjoy outstanding view on the mountains, away from the noisy city centre and an excellent service. Special mention for the restaurant that offers delicious dishes. Prices start at $80 for a night in a double-bed room.