Sapa - All you need to know
Having visited many places in the world, I found no place like Sapa, Vietnam. Located in the northeast of Vietnam, the small and quiet town offers spectacular views of plunging valleys, soaring mountains and cascading paddy fields. Sapa is also the home to many ethnic minorities who can be easily spotted in their traditional colourful gowns.
When to go to Sapa
It depends on what you want to see
Feb to May: this time of the year is when Sapa is filled with flower blossom. The weather is cooling and pleasant.
June to August: rice crops have been planted and you will get to see the green paddy fields running on hillsides. This time of the year is dry although it can be quite hot.
September to November: this is when the rice crops are ripe and it's the BEST time to visit. The golden colour of paddy fields cascading on the hill will blow your mind away.
Thing to do in Sapa
Sapa is probably the most popular trekking base in Vietnam. Hikers can explore the countryside of beautiful rice terraces and small tribal villages. Here are some villages that you can trek to:
Ta Phin Village: the home to H'mong and Red Zao ethnicities
Ta Van village: the home to Zay tribe
There are some other villages such as Y Linh Ho, Ma Tra etc. and you can arrange trekking for one or a few days to discover the villages.
Note: There is a lot of litter in the real villages unfortunately, which ruins the scenery but it'll be made up for by the view and the experience with the local.
Also, please do NOT buy from the children or buy anything for them (they will just sell back the stuff you buy for them to the store) because it discourages them from going to school. The local authority is aware of this so you will see announcements near villages asking tourists not to buy from the children. I thought I should emphasize this.
Fansipan mountain - the roof of the Indochina
Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia at a height of more than 3000m above sea level, is located in Sapa. In 2016, a cable car was constructed to connect Sapa town centre to a station near the summit. Since then, the number of visitors has rocketed as the journey that previously took a couple of days and required climbing skills and fitness now takes only 15 mins on the cable car and 600 steps from the station to the top of the mountain.
The view from Mount Fansipan is fantastic. On clear days, you will get to see the magnificent view of the mountain range, the forests and villages from above. On a foggy day, you won't get to see much but being surrounded by the clouds and being able to touch them is quite an experience. I recommend that you get to the Mount Fansipan by noon as the sun is hottest at noon so the sky will be clearest.
Interested in getting to the peak? Here is all you need to know to get there how to get to Fansipan
I would recommend you spend at least 1 day to explore Sapa town. It is small but there are quite a few things to do.
Mount Ham Rong (meaning dragon's mouth) : the entrance to Ham Rong is in Sapa centre. The climb to the summit and the gardens is fairly easy and you will be fascinated by the flowers, zodiac statues and the fruit trees. Standing on the peak of Ham Rong Mountain, you can take a panoramic view of Sapa, Muong Hoa valley, Sa Pa and some villages.
Sapa Cathedral is in the heart of Sapa town. Built in 1895 by the French, the stone church is an imprint of colonial French architecture
Cat Cat village: located 2km from sapa town and is where H'mong tribe resides. It's notable that Cat Cat today is a commercial village and is NOT a true representation of tribal villages with local people. It's a very pretty and well maintained village. There are a lot of good spots for photoshoot in the village so it's worth having visit.