Sapa Trekking : Vietnam Complete Travel Guide

Sapa has become one of the alluring destinations in Vietnam. The spectacular backdrop of beautiful green terrace rice paddies, the lush green valley of mountains that laying side by side, the small village of Hmong had been loved for most if not all the adventure seekers. Sapa travel guide will allow you to go off the road and hike through misty mountains and rice terrace. Spend a night in local homestay, learn about their culture, soaking in homemade local food and happy water!


Sapa Travel Guide & Things To Do

Sapa Lake

The serene lake located in the city centre of Sapa surrounded by a park. The lake is where locals go out and about, exercise, running, the kids playing around, watching the golden hours of sunset, admire the reflection of the town on the water. You can spend a nice walk with friends in a peaceful lake or spend some ‘me’ time alone there

Sapa Lake Vietnam Travel Guide
Sapa Lake Vietnam Travel Guide


Sapa Church

An ancient symbol of Sapa, a catholic church built with a stone bell tower is one of Sapa’s top sightseeing. People also known as ‘The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary’ located in the heart of Sapa misty town, where the Hmong gathering and doing traditional practices

Sapa Church Vietnam


Sun Plaza

A French architectural style building located in a prime location right in the middle of the intersection, definitely a photo spot for both tourists and locals. Listed Sun Plaza on your  Sapa travel guide list for the iconic photo  op!

Sun Plaza Sapa Vietnam


Explore Sapa Town

The mountains were wrapped with clouds and our friend got a little injured from the trekking. We changed the adventure plan to Food Tour and a nice Massage Therapy instead. The visibility was quite low, the weather was cold and humid but the town still crowded with people

I had Vietnamese Lavender oil massage in Sapa that done by Hmong.. As told by the receptionist, the Hmong girls usually go to Sapa Town to find some jobs during school break or on holidays. I was surprised at how young the girl was! maybe the youngest massage therapist that I ever met

Sapa Vietnam Travel Guide
Sapa Vietnam Travel Guide

Sapa Travel Guide

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What To Eat in Sapa

Being favored by nature, Sapa also known for a diversity of food. After trekking in the mountain and made our way back safely to Sapa town. We spent sometimes exploring the special cuisine from ‘Salmon Hotpot’ to Xoi Bay Mau (Seven-color Sticky Rice)

A seven-colors sticky rice included red, magenta, pink, light blue, green, light green, and yellow. The locals use many kinds of natural forest leaves to color them. The dish is usually served in Tet Holiday (Lunar New Year) believe that it will bring good luck

Other special dishes are Stewed horse meat & Organs, Cap nach pork, Evil chicken (Ga Ac), Com lam (Bamboo sticky rice), Smoked buffalo meat, Khang gai (Smoked meat), Barbecue, and Grilled fish

I list some of my favorite below ;

  • Nhà hàng Ô Quý Hồ
  • Nhà hàng Khám Phá Việt
Salmon Hot Pot in Sapa Vietnam
Local Food in Sapa Vietnam


Sapa Cafe Hopping

One of the coolest city in Vietnam. The town was lovely, the cafe has been built and decorated in a unique Vietnamese style. Lets take a sip and enjoy the mountain view of Sapa Vietnam

I list some of my favorite below ;

  • Cộng Cafe
  • KAFA Cafe
  • Le Petit Gecko
  • Le Gecko Café
  • The Wild Beast
Cafe in Sapa Vietnam
Cafe in Sapa Vietnam


Trekking in Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa Trekking Day 1

Highlight : Y Linh Ho and Lao Chai Village of Hmong – 12km

It was raining before our trek, the mountain are wrapped around with clouds, mist, and muddy terrains. The dark green color of rice paddies, the wet brown floor, the grey sky covered half of the visibility was our scenery that day

 

The Hmong old women following us from Sapa town helping us professionally from slippery terrains. The 65years old Hmong lady walking firmly not even out of breath when ascending the hill. They used to walk like this every day, from villages to villages, and through the forest, since the day the path had not been developed

 

It was fascinating to hear their story as we walked together (mostly she helped me not to fall) throughout the trek. The wooden basket on their back contained some handmade products to sale after the trek (buying or not, its all up to your will)

Sapa Vietnam Trekking Travel Guide


We trekked from Sapa town to Y Linh Ho Village, Bamboo Forest and had lunch by the river at Lao Chai Village, walking through rice paddies and animal farming, stopped by local clothing shop to learn about a traditional wavering process

Besides the beautiful scenery (even with the clouds), we had a chance to visit ‘Hmong Local Guide’s House’ to explore how they live and what their culture is. Many parts of the house are reserved for worshipping – there’s a space for ancestors and house spirit in the middle of the house, or even in the kitchen and the doors!

Sapa Vietnam Trekking Travel Guide
Sapa Vietnam Trekking Travel Guide


Stay at Local Homestay

Ta Van Village of Dzay

One of the best way to learn about the ethic minorities is to spend time with them.  Add the ‘stay at local homestay’ into your Sapa travel guide – it was all worth it

We had been spoiled by a nice comfy bed, delicious homemade local food, drinking game with beers and Sapa homemade fruit wine (aka happy water!). The kids entertained us by singing and dancing around the fireplace

Homestay in Sapa Vietnam Trekking
Homemade Food in Sapa Vietnam Trekking


Staying away from Sapa tourist hub. Local homestay is a simple comfort to keep your feet on the ground. Even though the host cannot speak much English, but when we raise the glass, they understand (kidding! but true..). The Hmong guide join us supper and did all the heavy lifting in the translation part

A nice cozy bar in Ta Van village ‘The Wild Beast‘ treat ourselves with Vietnamese craft beer and cocktails. A nice scenery from the open air window with Mountain View, we enjoy the drinks, nice wooden decoration and definitely the view

Sapa Vietnam Trekking Travel Guide


Sapa Trekking Day 2

Giang Ta Chai and Su Pan Village of Hmong – 8km

The second day trekking started from Ta Van village to Giang Ta Chai and Su Pan village overlook the wide landscape of rice paddies, we handled the muddy terrain better than yesterday! The last highlight was the waterfall, there was not much water since it’s a dry season

Sapa in winter is not as glistening as in spring, but still a favorite time to visit for most people

Waterfall in Sapa Vietnam Trekking
Sapa Vietnam Trekking Travel Guide
Sapa Vietnam Trekking Travel Guide


Learn About Hmong Hill Tribes

Take a glimpse of Hmong rich culture, go further away from Sapa town to local places, trekking through the mountains, visit their home, spend sometimes or a night with them

There are six ethnic minority groups ; The Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay, Xa Pho and a subgroup of Phu La. The sub-group of Hmong in Vietnam named after the predominant elements of their traditional dress (flower, green, red, stripped, black, …)

Hmong people living in Sapa are Black Hmong as their costumes are all in black, sometimes are called Sapa Hmong, not like Black Hmong in other area they dress differently

Sapa Vietnam Trekking Travel Guide

Sapa Travel Guide

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The Women of Black Hmong

Famous for their traditional cloth wear that made from hemp. It can take up to a year to make a new outfit. Start from growing hemp, harvest and dry it, peel the skin and make it curly and softer.

Following by the wavering process and dying with indigo that can take up to six months, finished up by beautiful decorating (embroidery, stitching and batik)

The new clothes usually worn in New Year Festival, the long standing traditional process of making a new clothes from scratch that had been passed on from generations to generations made the Hmong proud of their origin when they’re wearing them

Sapa Vietnam Travel Guide
Sapa Vietnam Travel Guide


How To Pack To Sapa Trekking

It was raining the day before our trek, the terrain quite muddy and slippery. Sapa was floating in clouds, cold and humid. But I have to admit that it was one of the most fun trek by far

You will have to carry your own backpack throughout the trek. So, keep it light! and don’t forget to prepare for all conditions

What To Bring To Sapa Trekking

  • windbreaker (or light to medium weight jacket)
  • x days changes of clothes
  • warm jacket and winter wear (in cold season)
  • towel
  • hiking shoes, boots (something with good grip)
  • medicine
  • sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses or scarf
  • phone, camera, chargers
  • cash
Sapa Vietnam Trekking Travel Guide


Best Time To Visit Sapa

Being affected by mountain terrains and located in the high attitude, Sapa has distinctly sub-tropical climate, it’s possible that you might have a chance to experience four seasons in one day

Sapa average temperature is around 15oC with the highest at 33oC in Apr and the lowest can be zero in Jan

Mar-May: Spring, Best weather, warm and dry. Landscape looks greener than other seasons

Jun -Aug: Summer, Hot and rainy. Rice fields are growing, best season for waterfall

Sep-Nov: Autumn, Cold and dry. The harvest season, breathtaking golden rice field

Dec-Feb: Winter, Cold and freezing. Rice field are gone

Sapa Vietnam Trekking Travel Guide
Sapa Vietnam Trekking Travel Guide


How To Visit Sapa

From Ha Giang To Sapa

I took a minivan that took almost 7hrs, the minivan departure at 7.30PM from Ha Giang town to Sapa Bus Station at 2AM

There is a private transfer available from the bus station to any hotels in Sapa (*inform the hotel in advance of your arrival time will definitely be helpful)

Traveling in Sapa

We mostly walk and using local taxi that you can easily find around town

From Sapa To Hanoi

We took a sleeper bus that took around 7hrs (will cost around 18USD), the bus departure at 10PM from Sapa Bus Station to Hanoi at 5AM

Sapa Vietnam Travel Guide

Traveling to Sapa

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Where To Stay in Sapa

We stayed at Lustig Hostel for 3nights, the hostel was absolutely clean, spacey, and good vibes

On the trek we stayed at local lodge in Ta Van Village, the whole lodge had only us, local homemade food and drinking game were remarkable !

Sapa is home for a beautiful getaway homestay, that will give you more authentic experience and local culture than staying in the hotel. Most of the homestay during the trekking own by ethic minorities. This is just something you shouldn’t miss during your Sapa experience

Book Hotel in Sapa

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