Sapa in Vietnam is a highland frontier town, and also the famous shelter for everybody to rest and relax in Sapa District, Lao Cai Province, about 380km northwest of Hanoi. Lots of magic things of nature, with the eye-catching landscape of forested hill, lush forest, poetic valley, etc., create the harmonious and attractive picture of the Northwest right in Sapa.
The destination has an area of 24,02km2 and is positioned at the height of 1500 – 1650 on the slope of Lo Suay Tong Mountain. From the town, it’s easy to see Ngoi Dum Valley in the east and Muong Hoa Valley in the south. Sapa was first discovered by the French armies in 1898 when the French colonial government decided to process the investigation of ethnic population in the highlands. Since then, the French did research about the local terrace and built lots of colonial buildings and castles there. Up to now, the face of Sapa is renewed with lots of modern hotels and restaurants for tourism. The number of tourists traveling to Sapa also increases much as they all appreciate the Western style and cold vibe there. In 2014, Sapa was ranked as the 9th in the top of 10 terraced rice destinations of the world. Find hereunder the list of best places to see when you come to Sapa in Vietnam.
Best Places to See in Sapa
The town of Sapa has an elevation of 1500m above the sea level. It owns lots of precious attractions to see, from the Cau May heritage to the Heaven Gate, Fansipan Mountain, etc. And remarkably, the town is dotted with many colonial houses and buildings. You will love the classical Western sights. Amongst these places of interest, Fansipan Mountain with the height of 3134m as the Roof of Indochina peninsula is the biggest magnet attracting adventurers to the pretty town. People love the feeling of conquering the Mountain and witness its rich biology. Sapa is the kingdom of fruit and flower with hundreds of kinds, especially is the undying flower that lives forever as time passes.
Muong Hoa Valley, Terraced Rice Fields, and HillTribe Villages
Muong Hoa Valey has 196 rocks with the extraordinary carvings of the ancient ethnic groups that remain unexplained scientifically. Whenever talking about Muong Hoa, people cannot help praising for the marvelous landscape. Here, you find the impeccable picture of the flowery valley, the spacious and stunning terraced rice fields, and of course, the picture is dotted with some traditional hill-tribe villages.
The most special villages to explore should be Ta Van Village, Cat Cat Village, Giang Ta Chai Village, etc. The villages of Hmong, Dzao, Tay, and Giay ethnic people make the attraction unique, cultural, and appealing. And if you arrive there on festive time, don’t be reluctant to participate in the colorful festivals! Certainly, this place of interest is perfect for activities of trekking and homestay, which allows you fully explore the scenery and culture there.
Weekly markets in and around Sapa
Every day in Sapa, there is a market with several stalls for you to go. For ages, the ethnic people have been gathering and forming the markets as follow:
- Sapa market: every day
- Ban Phiet market: Monday
- Coc Ly market: Tuesday
- Lung Khau Nhin market: Thursday
- Can Cau Market: Saturday
- Muong Hum market / Muong Khuong market / Bac Ha market: Sunday
Note: Bac Ha Weekend Market on Sunday is the largest market in the Town and is one of the most exciting experiences that tourists appreciate for the sense of authenticity.
About the general characteristics of these ethnic markets, they feature the gatherings of the ethnic people who come to do business, find partners, have fun together, buy identical items of the highlanders, and enjoy local specialties of food & drink. The markets are the fantastic opportunities for the ethnic people to have a date, express their affection to each other by singing or playing the wind instrument. When meeting people who dress the ethnic costumes and sell their home-made wine, handicraft, and local specialties, many tourists are keen on buying and taking pictures of them.
When the night falls, the market areas are dotted with several stalls set up by the Hmong or Dzao people, for instance. Then, they sit together, talking and singing during the night. If finding the ideal partners, they will exchange a memorabilia and also promise to meet each other in the next market turn. This cultural activity has long existed and preserved in Sapa.
Waterfalls in Sapa
Bac Waterfall (or Silver Waterfall)
It is the stunning attraction in Sapa that wins the visitors’ interest in the height of 200m, the waterfall pours its water, which looks similar to the silver line. If standing on the summit of Ham Rong Mountain in the center of Sapa Town, you can see the silver and clear image of Bac Waterfall, especially during the bright days. When you are standing at the bottom of the gushing and powerful waterfall, all sadness is vaporized.
Cat Cat Waterfall (or Tien Sa Waterfall)
With the beautiful name, this waterfall becomes the interesting ecotourism site in Sapa that the nature lovers want to see. The scenery of Cat Cat Waterfall remains fresh and green, which is ideal for photographing and sightseeing. Get yourself immersed in nature right in this fairy site.
How to Get to Sapa
Sapa is positioned on the high mountain without airport, so there are only two options to visit Sapa by road:
- Take an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai and then to Sapa around 8 hours one way. There are lots of tourist trains running the route from Hanoi. To ensure you can reach this destination during peak time, it is best to book the train ticket for Hanoi – Lao Cai and vice versa beforehand. Due to your liking, select day train (ticket is around USD$10-$20 /person/way) or the night train (ticket is around USD$35-$180/person/way).
- Drive a private car in highway within 5 hours or use the bus service within 6 hours. The car transportation seems to be faster, friendlier and easier for most tourists. There are buses running every day at 6:30AM or 10:00PM from Hanoi to Sapa (without stopping in Lao Cai).
The Best Time to Visit Sapa in Vietnam
- December – February: The harsh winter time – ideal for sightseeing with few tourists.
- March – May: The warm and dry weather – ideal for trekking and playing outdoor activities.
- June – September: The rainy season, but crowded with many tourists – ideal for people watching.
- October – November: The cool weather – ideal for photo taking and trekking.
Generally speaking, the temperature in Sapa remains stably cool with high humidity. Therefore, tourists should always bring warm clothes if traveling to Sapa and taking it as the summer retreat because it gets very cold at night.
After all, the most crowded time in Sapa is the summer from June to August. But if you want to see a tranquil Sapa for the rejuvenating vacation, it’s better to travel in the two periods: March-May and September-November. Please note that September is the harvest season in Sapa when the terraced rice fields of the town are covered by the yellow carpets while the ambiance is fragrant with the new rice. So, based on the self’s preference, travel in the months that you like most! Check last updated Sapa tour packages with Indochina Charm Travel before getting the camera charged in full and head towards Sapa! Every single step you walk creates the wonderful photo opportunity.
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