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Sapa

Sapa overview

Located in the northwest of Vietnam, Lao Cai province, Sapa – “the town of fog and cloud” is known for its charming, picturesque scenery. The area overlooks terraced rice fields and verdant valleys with long mountainous ranges lying side by side. Let Vietnam Travels take you to the most beautiful destinations here!

Sapa Overview

Sapa Overview

Sapa’s charm can also be seen in its cultural wealth of different ethnic minorities. As soon as you reach Sapa, you will understand why Sapa is considered one of the most stunning destinations across the country.

Sapa’s history

Originally, Sapa was the residential area of Black H’mong, the name “Sapa” is said to come from the two words “Sa Pả” in the H'Mong language. The area first appeared on Vietnam’s map in 1903 and was later developed as a resort station under Colonial French rule.

The small town became Little Chapa based on the translation version of the H'Mong language. Sapa has long been devoid of tourism-related activities; instead, only the local population has contributed to construction and economic growth. In 1991, new visitors flooded into Sapa as soon as Vietnam opened the door to economic integration and tourism.

Although Sapa has seen significant transformation since that time, the locals' traditional culture has been carefully preserved.

Sapa’s ethnicity

In addition to its exceptional natural beauty, this region is famous for having the highest concentration of ethnic groups in Vietnam. From the information in 2018, Sapa is home to over 82,000 residents. It is one of the very few areas in Vietnam where the majority of the population is H'Mong people (51.6%).

Working scene of H'mong people in Sapa

Working scene of H'mong people in Sapa

Other ethnic groups like Yao (24.0%), Kinh (17.91%), Tay (4.4%), Day (1.36%), and Xa Pho (1%) can also be found in the town. While many ethnic groups live in Sapa town and earn their living by offering various types of travel services and unique souvenirs, a significant portion of ethnic groups are farmers who go across the area to work and survive.

A memorable experience that will stay in your mind throughout and long after your trip is engrossing yourself in the colorful lives of local people. You can see many older women make souvenirs for tourists manually, including floral blankets and clothing of various ethnicities. It can be very rewarding to have a small conversation with the residents here, you will be amazed by their excellent English-speaking skills.

Khen dancing, a cultural value of the H'mong

Khen dancing, a cultural value of the H'mong

Moreover, make sure to participate in the pipe-singing performances of local people. This is a style of romantic duet singing between a man and a woman. Pipe-singing is so named because the couple uses a bamboo pipe to perform their songs. Gathering around the fire, singing, and dancing in colorful ethnic costumes will be a memorable experience across the journey.

Sapa’s weather

There are four distinct seasons in the town, and the daily high is 15.4 °C. However, Sapa is also famous for its seasonal weather, as citizens claim that tourists can experience “four seasons in one day” when coming to Sapa in April. Getting up early in the morning in a chilly winter, immersing yourself in springtime when the sun has risen, experiencing summertime when the afternoon comes, and finally living through the cold at night.

The terraces in the open water season

The terraces in the open water season

The best time to visit this mountainous area is in the spring, which lasts from March to May and is when the wildflowers are at their brightest. Hill tribes exhibit their distinctive culture at multiple festivals in the springtime. In winter, Sapa’s weather is extremely cold and humid with no clouds, thick fog, and snow, and the temperature drops to under 0° occasionally.

When going at that time, there are fewer things to do, however, in a tropical country like Vietnam, admiring the beauty of hills and mountains covered in white layers of snow can be considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Sapa’s travel tips

To make the most of your time in Sapa, make sure to prepare all of those things before your trips.

Identification: When traveling around Vietnam, especially in Sapa, most of the hotels here will have ID check requirements. However, you can replace it with your passport or driver's license if anything bad happens. Moreover, if you have the intention to hire transportation, a driving license is a must.

Travel map or online map: A map is an essential tool for you to avoid wasting time getting lost around the area. Google Maps can also be used if you have a smartphone. Bear in mind that Sapa is a mountainous area, so sometimes the signal may be weak, therefore, you should download your offline map to use it as a reference.

Clothing: As mentioned before, Sapa is the place where you can experience “four seasons in a day”. Therefore, bringing suitable clothes is an important thing to consider. Our recommendation is to bring light but warm clothes, and you may want to bring some accessories like hats or gloves.

Shoes: If you plan to have a wonderful time wandering around Sapa on foot, then a comfortable pair of shoes may be the best choice for you.

How to get to Sapa?

Sapa is close to the Chinese border; therefore, no airport can be found in this area. However, if you consider Hanoi as the starting point, there are two main ways for tourists to consider it based on your budget and interests.

By train: The 315km Hanoi to Lao Cai journey often lasts for about 8 hours when you go by train. The last destination of the train is Lao Cai Railway Station. Many minibuses will be waiting outside the station to transport you the remaining distance to Sapa from there.

There are overnight train services that provide soft beds for customers. Prices vary depending on the type of seat and the time of year you travel. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during the Vietnamese holiday season, like the Tet holiday or 2–9.

By bus: Although it is less pleasant, taking the bus from Hanoi to Sapa is a faster and more convenient option. From Hanoi, it takes about 6 hours to go to Sapa. Numerous brands offer daily bus services from Hanoi to Sapa. Sao Viet, Interbuslines, Sapa Express, and Good Morning Sapa are a few of the most famous operators. It’s best to book your ride in advance to get a better idea of bus schedules, prices, and departure & arrival destinations.

Sapa’s exceptional cuisines

There is a diverse selection of restaurants on Sapa that can offer its famous cuisine. If you do not know what to eat, here are our suggestions.

Thang Co: Thang Co is a traditional cuisine of the Hmong ethnic group in Sapa, and it is said to have first appeared more than 200 years ago. It is known as a weird but beautiful delicacy with a very strong smell. Thang Co is known as the soup cooked and steamed in a large pan.

Thang Co

Thang Co

The ingredients of this cuisine include more than 20 botanical herbs (cardamom, citronella, ginger, star anise, cinnamon twig,...) blended with the meat, bones, and internal organs of the horse, hog, and buffalo. Thang Co was only cooked and served for festive occasions before; however, due to the increase in tourism, nowadays, you can find the steaming pot of Thang Co everywhere in Sapa.

Men: One of the Hmong people's most common dishes is called Men Men. The H'Mong people live in high mountainous areas where the weather is harsh and rice cannot be grown, making corn their primary food source. To utilize and consume what they have grown, H’mong people make Men Men dishes by steaming the mashed corn.

Tao Meo wine: The Hmong people created the Tao Meo wine, which is well-known in Sapa and northwest Vietnam. It is made from Assam apples, a fruit that naturally grows on Hoang Lien Son Mountain. Although it's usually used to create wine, you can buy fresh Assam apples during the harvest season.

Tao Meo wine

Tao Meo wine

Sapa’s famous tourist attractions

Fansipan Peak: Fansipan, “the roof of Indochina,” is a tourist destination that you do not want to miss when coming to Sapa. It is estimated to be 3,143 meters high and is located in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. “Hoang Lien Son” is the name that originated from the Hoang Lien tree, a unique medicinal herb that can only be found in this mountain range.

Snow falls at Fansipan peak

Snow falls at Fansipan Peak

The adventurous journey to Fansipan Peak presents hikers of all skill levels with a totally memorable experience with breathtaking views of verdant valleys and majestic mountains.

Bac Ha market: Bac Ha is the largest ethnic market in Vietnam's northwestern area. This is a terrific location for local people to interact and exchange their handicrafts and colorful ethnic clothes. This place offers visitors an amazing opportunity to learn about Sapa's rich cultural diversity.

Cat Cat village: Cat Cat is Sapa's most ancient town, with traditional wooden houses, flowing streams, and friendly, passionate locals. By spending time within the village, you can gain an understanding of the Hmong people's lifestyles and cultural practices while also immersing yourself in the warm welcome of the whole community.

Cat Cat Village

Cat Cat Village

Above is some information related to Sapa. For more information or if you want to book Sapa tours, you can contact us via our website, fan page, or phone. We are always available and willing to provide the most enjoyable experience for our tourists.

Tours in Sapa

 9 Days/8 Nights

 Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, Da Nang, Hoian

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From Rs. 42,588
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From Rs. 45,084
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From Rs. 33,688
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 Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay

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22% Sapa tour from Hanoi

 2 Days/1 Night

 Hanoi, Sapa, Cat Cat village, Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai, Ta Van

Sapa tour from Hanoi

From Rs. 8,484/Rs. 10,813
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Hotels in Sapa

Sunny Mountain Hotel

Situated in the heart of Sapa town, this strategic location provides everyone easy accessibility to numerous and variety of restaurants, souvenir shop ...

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Topas Ecolodge

Topas Ecolodge is situated on a beautiful hilltop deep in the mountains of Hoang Lien National Park - 45 minutes outside Sapa town and 40 minutes driv ...

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Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

Victoria Sapa Resort is located in one of the most beautiful and unspoiled locations of Northern Vietnam. The Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa is m ...

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BB Hotel

BB Sapa Hotel is located in the heart of town close to Center Park that is well suited for domestic and international leisure travellers to experience ...

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Amazing Hotel Sapa

Nestled in the heart of highland town and conveniently located within the proximity of Sapa’s shopping, restaurants and local attractions, the A ...

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Silk Path Grand Resort and Spa

Perched on it own picturesque hill overlooking the marvelous Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range, Silk Path Grand Resort & Spa Sapa is an exceptional bl ...

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Chau Long Sapa Hotel

Designed as a red-stone castle, Chau Long Sapa Hotel – New wing & Old wing, is ideally located at the quiet side street, in the heart of Sap ...

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Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa

Set on the edge of a mountain, far enough away from Sapa’s busy town center, yet only a 5-minute walk from the central Catholic stone church, Ai ...

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Sapa Freesia Hotel

Located in Sa Pa, Freesia Hotel is just 350 m from Sa Pa Lake and offers comfortable rooms with air conditioning. Featuring an indoor pool, the hotel ...

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Eden Boutique Hotel & Spa

Eden Boutique Hotel & Spa is ideally located on the newly developed Thac Bac Street; only a 3 minute walk from the heart of Sapa Town. This locati ...

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Restaurants in Sapa

The Hill Station Signature Restaurant

The Hill Station Signature Restaurant

037 Fansipan St., Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

The Hill Station reflects the link to the French colonial period of Sapa’s past and induces thoughts of a more exotic, vibrant and romantic past. This is the only restaurant in Sapa specialising in authentic ethnic food of the area served in a unique and inviting atmosphere. The culinary tradition of the ethnic groups around Sapa is based on the fantastic natural ingredients, presented in simple dishes with clear flavours and unique taste combinations.

Red Dzao

Red Dzao

4b Thac Bac Street , Sapa Town

The Red Dzao Restaurant is located in the heart of Sapa. It is named after an ethnic minority group living in Sapa (Dao Do). The restaurant is designed as a stilt house. Visitors can not only taste the special regional dishes but also have a great chance to enjoy the sounds of flutes and horns performed by the local girls and boys. The restaurant offers a range of interesting Vietnamese and European meals at very affordable prices.

Lotus Sapa

Lotus Sapa

34 Cau May street - Sapa town - Lao Cai province

With a French – Vietnamese architectural style as well as a modern heating system, the restaurant will make visitors quite comfortable even in the cold weather of Sapa. The restaurant offers European - Asian – Vietnamese cuisine especially specialties of Sapa which give customers an unforgettable impression of the area. Visitors may also have a chance to see the minority people of some typical groups such as H’Mong, Tay, Dzay,etc, weaving multi-coloured fabric.

Sapa Natureview Hotel & Restaurant

Sapa Natureview Hotel & Restaurant

61 Fansipan, Sapa Town, Sapa

This recently expanded place stands out for great service and superb valley views from the windows. Come for decent Vietnamese and European food, good-value set meals and just maybe Sapa's best fruit smoothies. Anyone unconvinced by the merits of bean curd should try the grilled tofu with lemongrass and prepare to be converted.

Viet Emotion

Viet Emotion

27 Cau May, Sapa Town, Sapa

This intimate bistro is recognisable by its colourful exterior lanterns. The menu rambles from pizza, pasta and steaks to Vietnamese with a couple of Sapa specialities, such as herbal-medicine hotpot for two (with lemongrass and mountain mushrooms). There's also a a branch at 17 Ɖ Xuan Vien.

“FEEL” VIETNAMExperience the real Vietnam

Experience the real Vietnam

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