Sapa, The Only Hill-Station in Vietnam
Famous for its enormous peaks and lush green rice terraces, Sapa is a gorgeous and only hill station in Vietnam.
- Vietnam Overview
- Vietnam Chapter 1 – Sapa
- Vietnam Chapter 2 – Halong Bay
- Vietnam Chapter 3 – Cat Ba Island
- Vietnam Chapter 4 – Hoi An
- Vietnam Chapter 5 – Da Nang and Ba Na Hills
Located in the northern mountains of Vietnam, Sapa is also famous for its ethnic minorities which distinguishes it from other parts of the country.
The main town of Muong Hoa Valley, Sapa is determined to enthrall you with the most mesmerizing views. Its unique culture, spectacular views, overlooking beautiful valleys make it a must-visit place while in Vietnam.
Small gorgeous town, beautiful towering peaks, and fresh mountain air will delight you with its aura.
Things to do in Sapa
If you are a stroller, trekker, or just coming for relaxation, Sapa has a lot to offer to each one of you.
Fan Si Pan
Fan Si Pan is the highest mountain in Indochina Peninsula and is located at a height of 3,143 meters above sea level. This is one of the best examples of how a government can utilize its resources to enhance the tourism experience.
There are 2 options to reach the Fan Si Pan summit:
- Hiking – The route to climb Fansipan is very steep and demanding but will reward you with the comprehensive views. The trek can be done in 2-3 days and there are many tour operators who can guide you to reach the summit. The bonus part of trekking is that you get to see the diverse range of Flora and Fauna which Sapa has to offer.
- Cable Car – Alternatively, you can choose the cable car and enjoy the breathtaking beauty. This cable car holds the Guinness World record for being the longest non-stop cable car in the world, so, you can imagine how wonderful the ride would be!
Note: The cable car will take you to the mountaintop i.e. Fansipan station from where you must take a funicular(monorail) to Muong Hoa station and further a small trek to reach the summit. The price is approximately 70,000 VND for the cable car and 14,000 for the monorail.
Once you reach the summit, you will be awestruck by the impressive and mesmerizing landscapes of Hoang Lien Son Range and Muong Hoa valley. You can also delve into the architecture and stories of various temples and spiritual landmarks nested on the top of the mountain.
Sapa Valley is a huge valley of interconnected villages and hiking between them is a must-have experience.
Beautiful and gorgeous sceneries can be witnessed while trekking to the nearby villages. The Cat Cat village is specifically famous for hiking which can astonish you with its picturesque and peaceful aura.
Tour operators are available who can guide you in hiking the perfect spots in Sapa. Another option is to go with the local ethnic people which is a perfect way as you will get a chance to understand their culture, customs, and way of life. Alternatively, you can choose to be an adventurous soul and trek by yourself.
Explore Town on Foot
One of the best ways to explore Sapa is on foot. This small town comes alive in the evening when the streets are lighted, cafes kickoff the music, food stalls are commenced, and the lake is ignited with colorful hues.
Sapa Lake is 5 minutes’ walk from the center of the town, offers great views of mountains surrounding Sapa. You can take a pleasant stroll around the lake or rent a pedal boat and enjoy the evening.
Experience the less-touristy side of the town and explore the local shops. Located opposite to the bus stand, the night market has many stalls selling handmade handicrafts, souvenirs, traditional clothes, and food items.
As we all know that Vietnam is known for its exquisite barbequed food, but Sapa’s chilling weather adds a welcoming treat to that like a cherry on the cake. There are many street vendors serving delicious barbequed meat like chicken, pork, beef, tofu, and much more.
Not just the street vendors, there are many restaurants serving great local and international cuisine which one can enjoy in the cold climes of Sapa.
Sapa is well connected to Hanoi by roads and by rail.
You can take a comfortable overnight train to Sapa which takes approximately 8-10 hours but please note that the train will drop you at Lao Cai city from where you again must take a shuttle to reach Sapa.
Alternatively, you can take a bus which takes 6 hours from Hanoi and is available in a varied range from budget to luxury. We took the “Sao Viet” operator’s bus and it was an ultra-luxury sleeper bus with facilities like Massage Chair, TV, etc. at a price of approximately 4,50,000 VND i.e. 1400 INR approximately and a pick-up directly from the airport.
Various accommodation options from homestays to budget hotels to luxury hotels are available for your stay. Many hotels are available in the main town of Sapa i.e. near to the bus stop.
If you are going to nearby villages for trekking, then you can stay in homestays and guesthouses with local families and learn about their cultures and customs.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to experience the lush green mountains and rice-paddies is July & August, but this is also the rainiest season and hence trekking can be difficult at this time.
The average temperature of Sapa is between 15 to 30 degrees Celsius and hence making it a favorable place to visit the whole round the year.
I visited Sapa in the month of January and the weather was very pleasant and made it enjoyable.
Not many people there know English and you can experience issues while communicating with the local street vendors or some hotel staff. Google Translator was our helping partner through the trip to Vietnam.
So, this was my experience at the only hill station in Vietnam. Please let me know in the comments if you liked this article and please share it with your friends who are planning a trip to Vietnam.
Keep traveling and keep sharing experience!
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