Vietnam is a truly beautiful country with a lot of history. Although it will always be remembered for the Vietnam War and the fall of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, it is now known for its busy cities, Buddhist Pagodas, fantastic beaches and its rivers. While some tourists may prefer the busier cities such as Hanoi, the country’s capital city, there are also some stunning, smaller towns that are most certainly worth a visit.
One of these towns is Sapa. The town of Sapa can be found in Northwest of Vietnam amongst the Hoang Lien Son mountains in the Lao Cai Province. This mountain range includes Fan Si Pan which is the highest peak in the country. The town is very quiet and is well known for being occupied mainly by tribes of 5 different ethnic groups – the Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay and Xa Pho. Tourists from all over the world are attracted to the quiet, mountain time due to its tribal roots as well its hiking opportunities and rice paddies.
How to get to Sapa
In regards to travel, the closest airport to Sapa is Dienbienphu Airport which is situated just over 84 miles away. Other options include Noi Bai International Airport which is around 147 miles from Sapa and Tho Xuan Airport which is about 192 miles away from the mountain town. Being hidden away in the mountains, travel is slightly more difficult compared to other parts of the country so your best option would be flying into Dienbienphu Airport since it is the closest. However, perhaps the most convenient and most popular way of travelling to Sapa is getting on the train from Hanoi.
Hanoi to Sapa
The train journey from Hanoi to Sapa is rather lengthy and will take around 8 hours however the journey is definitely worth it. It’s important to note that the train does not take you directly into Sapa but will drop you off at Lao Cai Railway Station. From here, you will be able to get on a shuttle bus that will take you directly to the town. It is advised to book your train tickets in advance as the transportation is very popular during the summer months and on the weekends. Although prices often go up and down depending on the time of year, tickets usually start at around £13 for the lower classes and go up to around £73 if you book one of the higher classes. This is likely to be the best mode of transport to get to Sapa and won’t cost you loads of money for a taxi fare!
What to Pack for Sapa
It’s important to pack appropriately for your trip to Sapa. Firstly, it’s very important to pack a good pair of walking boots as you will most certainly need it. As previously mentioned, Sapa lies in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range and so you should expect to be doing a lot of uphill walking when navigating the area – you want to be able to do this in as much comfort as possible. Also, you’ll want to pack some other clothes suitable for your terrain such as hiking trousers and a raincoat or hiking jacket. While the town has some great summer weather, it also has cold, snowy winters so it’s good to be prepared for whatever the time of year is during your visit.
Where to Stay in Sapa
Before you arrive in Sapa you are, of course, going to need a place to stay. One particular hotel is the Sapaphoto Hotel which is only 0.5 miles from the centre of the town. The hotel is very affordable, costing £17 a night, and offers free wifi and storage for your luggage and also has daily housekeeping. The hotel is a short, 3 minute walk to the Sapa Market and only a 7 minute walk to Sapa Lake.
Even closer to the town centre, at 0.2 miles away, is the Ruby Boutique Hotel which costs £76 a night. The Ruby Boutique Hotel offers free wifi and has daily housekeeping. In addition to this, the hotel also has spa services and a steam room that you can use to relax after a long day hiking in the mountains.
There are plenty of things to do and explore in Sapa! For example, perhaps you would enjoy visiting the famous Sapa Market. The Sapa Market is filled with less tourists than other highlights and sights of the town so this is a perfect choice for those interested in immersing themselves in the culture of the area. You are sure to find some of the finest fresh and vibrant produce from the surrounding areas and may be able to purchase some handmade crafts as a souvenir.
Sapa Motorbike Tour
Excursion website Get Your Guide has an excellent Motorbike Tour that you can book for £80.49 per person. You will be able to take in the amazing views of the mountain ranges and rice fields while riding on a Honda Wave 110cc or Yamaha Nouvo motorbike. The tour includes a knowledgeable tour guide who will be able to tell you all about the Sapa as well as the smaller villages you will encounter during your drive. In addition to this, you will be picked up from your hotel before the tour and be brought to Thac Bac Waterfall, also known as the Silver Waterfall. You will be able to take in the views here before beginning the tour. Click the link to book for yourself.
So, to conclude, Sapa most certainly should be a bucket list destination. Although at first glance it may appear to be a quiet mountain town, it’s so much more than that! Sapa is a town steeped in Vietnamese culture with the usual hustle and bustle of the bigger cities. It has something for everything from market trips to hiking trips up the mountains. It truly is well worth a visit!