Visiting Sapa: Tips for Planning Your Trip

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Located at the height of 1600m above sea level in Vietnam’s remote northwest mountains, Sapa in Lao Cai Province is famous for not only its stunning sceneries but also friendly local people and cultural diversities. It contains hidden wonders of natural landscapes and overlooks bright green rice fields in Muong Hoa valley. The epic scenery is often filled with thick mist rolling across the mountain peaks, but even when it is cloudy, the town can easily be spotted by the colorful clothes of hill-tribe dwellers. Sapa is definitely a precious gift that Mother Nature dedicates to Vietnam.

In this article, we will give you some awesome traveling tips to Sapa.

Sunrise in Sapa (Photo: Igor Kononykhin)                                                                                                                                          

HOW TO GET TO SAPA:

Sapa is accessible by road only, therefore, there are  two ways for you to choose.

  1. By train

You can take an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai station near Sa Pa, which takes approximately 8-9 hours.  After that, you need to take a bus or taxi from the train station to your accommodation.

Train often departs at between 8:00pm and 10:00pm, and you can relax or catch a good sleep after a long flight and don’t have to pay night hotel renting. Traveling by train would also offer tourists unique experiences of Vietnamese railway.

There are also day trains but they are not as comfortable as night trains and even take longer time as they have to stop more to receive customers.

  1. By bus

There are daily buses departing from Hanoi at 6:30am or 10:00pm. One-way trip takes from  6 to  7 hours.

Traveling by bus is fast because it carries passengers directly to Sapa without stopping in Lao Cai like the train.

Note: More information about the train or bus schedule

Photo: Hanoisapatrain.com

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The weather in Sapa is cool all around the year with the temperature of approximately from 5°C to 20°C.The best time to visit this mountainous town is from March to May or from September to November. At these times, the weather is relatively stable with sunshine in the morning and pleasant temperature at night.

The spring season in Sapa is from March to May. This is the most perfect time for anyone who loves adventurous experience, for example trekking. In the spring, you can freely explore the local area and get access to remote hill tribes to have a specific insight into their distinctive traditions and lifestyles. You can also have a chance to observe new buds start sprouting on the trees and enjoy cherry blossoms ornamenting the town.

Photo: https://vietaunews.wordpress.com

If you want to enjoy the beauty of Sapa’s terraces to the fullest, the best time to visit is between September and October. The majestic beauty of the Silver cascade and its breathtaking landscapes of Muong Hoa Valley will surely astonish you. Exploring the magnificent Muong Hoa valley, especially during rice season, you will be able to enjoy the spectacular terraces which are a great combination of different shades of green and yellow colors.

Photo: Konstantin Krismer

WHERE TO STAY

It is highly recommended that you should try a real homestay with ethnic minorities to explore their lifestyles as well as their traditional customs. These homestays feature breathtaking views of the lush green mountains and rivers. People there are also really kind and hospitable. This will be a memorable experience and also the most cost-saving way to travel.

Photo: Gemmaclarke

If you want to participate in some outdoor activities, especially trekking, you can also contact hill tribe agencies in Sapa. For example, Sapa O’Chau Travel Social Enterprise which is the only organization owned by the ethnic minority people of Sapa. It collaborates with all ethnic minorities in Sapa, which are Black Hmong, Red Dao, Tay, Giay and Xa Pho to find professional trekking guides in Sapa. Depending on your available time, your needs or interests, they will draw up itineraries that satisfy your requirements. It can be half a day, full day or multiple days tours. Their trekking and homestay services also help fund their school and education projects.

PLACE TO VISIT

With its breathtaking hill stations, Lonely Planet Magazine voted Sapa as one of the 10 tourist attractive destinations for trekking. Also, Sapa has just been listed in the top 10 most attractive destinations in Vietnam on TripAdvisor Website. Sapa is definitely an ideal destination for people who love nature and stunning sceneries. Here are five destinations in Sapa that should not be missed out in your bucket list.

  1. Mount Fansipan – The roof of Indochina

The summit of Mount Fansipan is considered a massive roof of Indochina with the height of 3.143 meters. Standing at the top of Fansipan becomes a burning desire for all enthusiastic travelers who like adventures with risks and challenges. Reaching the top and standing among majestic green forest must be an unforgettable experience in your life, because climbing up to the top of Fansipan is not only a journey to conquer the highest mountain in Indochina, but it is also a journey to overcome and win over yourself.

Photo: vietnamtravel.pro
  1. Sky Gate – Ride to the heaven

Out of Sapa town center, towards the North about 18km is the windy road to the Sky Gate named Tram Ton. And the top of this road is Heaven’s Gate. Standing at the port of heaven, you can see a panoramic view of the great valley below. The bottom lies many upland fields and the road of Phong Tho (Lai Chau) – Sapa (Lao Cai). Far away is Thac Bac Waterfall – one of the ten most beautiful waterfalls in Lao Cai. Heaven’s gate attracts many tourists due to its beauty and spectacular scenery. At the Heaven’s Gate, you will be interested in the glorious top’s Fansipan image (was honored as “Asian Heritage Garden Sapa”).

View from the Heaven Gate in Sapa (Photo: http://blog.i-likelocal.com)
  1. Muong Hoa Valley – Beautiful terraced fields

You will be astonished by its breathtaking landscapes of Muong Hoa Valley. Leave all of your tiredness and worries behind and grace the overview from above, you will feel light-headed and peaceful in your mind. The Sapa’s terraced fields are also in the top seven most beautiful and grandiose terraced fields in Asia and the world, voted by Travel and Leisure Magazine (USA ).

Photo: http://lasiestaresorts.com
  1. Ham Rong Mountain – The scenery hidden in the fog

Located adjacently to Sapa town centre, Ham Rong is home to numerous kinds of flowers and orchard gardens. Stone paths leads tourists to the wild peach forest, and then orchid gardens with more than 6000 orchid plants of 194 kinds. The scenery hides itself in the fog, plus echo sounds from bamboo flutes of Mong boys turning this place into a heaven on earth. Ham Rong (Dragon Jaw) Mountain, a great combination of manmade and natural landscapes, is an attractive tourist area in the center of Sapa town.

Photo: https://www.otofun.net
  1. Sapa Cathedral – Unique ancient architect

In the town of Sapa itself, there are attractive French colonial sites worth visiting, especially Gothic church. Sa Pa Stone Church has been nominated by the Vietnam Records Book Centre (VietKings) as one of the top five over 100-year-old churches in Vietnam. It is introduced as a unique and attractive spiritual tourism destination. Located in the downtown Sa Pa, with Ham Rong Mountain behind, this Roman Gothic architecture church was built with distinct pyramid rooftop, belfry, and arches. The Stone church is also a sacred place of the locals, which holds a lot of religious events in Sapa. Especially at Christmas, the church will become more beautiful with colorful decorations and ornaments. If you visit Sapa on this occasion , make sure to check this out.

Photo: https://sapahostels.com

We hope that this post will give you some useful information to plan your trip to Sapa. Thank you for reading. Hope you have a nice trip to Sapa.

Trang Nguyen


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