Sapa, Vietnam – Overview
Sapa, a frontier township lying at the height of about 1600m above the sea level and located in Lao Cai province which offers a numerous of hidden values that visitors are always eager to discover. The town is about 340km from Hanoi endowed by the breath-taking and magnificent nature of the highland landform. At the same time, Sapa is blessed with a very distinctly sub-tropical climate that hardly can you experience in any other places in Vietnam and this beautiful place is dominated by the Hoang Lien Son mountain range which grants it with a plentiful of impressive landscapes.
Besides, Sapa is also a home to a great diversity of several ethnic minority groups having settled down and lived there since 15th century. Taking a walk along the village definitely, promises you majestic experiences.
Things to do in Sapa
As a mountainous picturesque town with the great combination of so many spectacular sceneries, a trekking around Sapa town won’t let you down. Numerous routes for trekking are available there, you can simply wander along the street, visiting some tribal villages or even taking a challenge to head up to Fansipan, the highest peak of Indochina and the last part of Himalaya range. There are several ways leading to Fansipan mount; however, the trek is not very easy due to the rough terrain and unpredictable weather which might cause some difficulties to tourists. Other options available that you should consider taking are to pay a visit to Cat Cat village, only 3km from Sapa town’s central or further locations such as Ta Phin village; Ham Rong mountain; Love waterfall or spend time walking around and admiring the wonderful scenery of terraced rice fields in Shin Chai village; etc. Notwithstanding, when it comes to a long trek or an overnight stay, it will be better to rely on a tour guide whose geographical knowledge and experience will help you out a lot.
The thing that you cannot miss when traveling to Sapa is to emerge yourselves into the ethnic minorities’ culture. Sapa is a concentration of several ethnic groups, each of which represents differently unique traditions and characteristics waiting for your explorations. Furthermore, that will be a great experience for travelers to have an opportunity to share rooms with a local family who are parts of the ethnic minority community in this northern area. The chance to stay in a local resident’s house offers you valuable time that will definitely embrace into your mind for ages, spending time with local people, tasting some traditional dish, learning to make their conventional clothes and discovering their authentic and daily lives.
If you have a sweet tooth, Sapa’s cuisine will not disappoint you. Roaming around a few restaurants in town or along the street, you can try out a numerous type of food, especially street food such as grilled dish or well-known dishes such as local pork, winter veggies, and Thang Co are unique specialties that you have to consider to taste once you visit Sapa. Cau May street is a recommended spot in the region for a good meal where locates several good restaurants for example Gerbera or Delta. If you want to buy family and friends some souvenirs, you can totally reach some ethnic group markets around the town or other alternative large markets in the area, for instance, Can Cau, Bac Ha, Ly Coc market. Exclusively, on every Sunday in Bac Ha market
Best time to visit Sapa
The period from September to mid-December and from March to May are two recommended time to have a trip to Sapa.Though Sapa is granted with a unique climate and a pretty favorable weather, there is still the inconvenient period of time that travelers should avoid, especially in the rainy season from June to September when the road leading to Sapa is quite dangerous to drive. Summer time is also a high season for domestic visitors, therefore, you may expect to see more Kinh people than other ethnic groups which probably prevent you from gaining the authentic and original experience.
How to get to Sapa
Currently, due to the development of transportation, there are so many ways available to travel to Sapa. If you are a risk-taker, hiring a motorbike to get there and experience, combining with discovering Mai Chau on the way to Sapa is not a bad choice. Nevertheless, the best method to reach there is getting a passenger car or a train which will take you around 5 to 6 hours to approach the town, either way, are fair enough. For the train option, you will have to catch another car after heading to Lao Cai station because the train obviously cannot run to the town’s center.