Sights & Activities in Sapa

The easiest trek in town is to follow the steps up to the Sapa radio tower (admission 15,000) for killer views of the valley.

Montagnards from surrounding villages don their best clothes and go to the Sapa market most days. Saturday is the busiest day, and town is choking with tourists as the evening “love market” is a big magnet for organized tour groups from Hanoi, lf you’d rather enjoy Sapa at a more sedate pace, avoid the Sat market.

>> Sapa trekking tours

>> Bac Ha Market Travel Guide

Trekkking to local villages

The love market is speed dating minority style. Tribal teenagers trek into town to find a mate. It’s all very coy, but unlike many of the more remote love markets in the region, it has become very commercial in recent. These days there are more camera – toting tourists than love-sick Montagnards, as a smattering of opportunist prostitutes on the scene. Trekking to local village is quite easy to undertake day hikes through the valleys around Sapa without the assistance of a guide. However, for overnight stays in villages and longer treks into the mountains, it is advisable to hook up with I guide. Where possible we suggest the use of minority guides, as this offers a means of making a living. There are endless for trekking. Pick up a decent map your course. The villages and the surrounding landscape are now part of Hoang Lien National Park.

Bac Ha market
Bac Ha market

The nearest village within walking distance is Cat Cat (admission 5000d), 3km south Like everywhere in this area, it’s a steep and very beautiful hike down; if you’re too exhausted or unfit to hike back up, there are plenty of xe om ready and willing to cart you back to your hotel.

Another popular hike is to Ta Phin village (admission 5000d), home to Red Dzao and about 10 km from Sapa. Most people take a xe om to a starting point about 8km from Sapa, and then make a 14km loop through the area, passing through Black H’mong and Red Dzao villages. Most hotels offer guided day and half-day treks; depending on the number of people and what, if any, vehicles are needed, expect to pay somewhere between US$10 and US$30.

Ta Phin village
Ta Phin village

There are also community-based tours to the nearby H’mong village of Sin Chai with an overnight in the village to learn about textiles or music and dance. Other popular communities to visit include the Giay village of Ta Van and the Black H’mong village of Matra.

Sapa Adventure

Fansipan Surrounding Sapa are the Hoang Lien Mountains, nicknamed the Tonkinese Alps by the French. These mountains include Fansipan, which at 3143m is Vietnam’s highest peak. The summit towers above Sapa, although it is often obscured by clouds and is occasionally dusted with snow. The peak is accessible all year to those in good shape and properly equipped, but don’t underestimate the challenge. It is very wet, and can be perilously slippery and generally cold, So you must be prepared. Do not attempt an ascent if the weather is terrible in Sapa, as limited visibility on Fansipan could be treacherous.

Fansipan
Fansipan

The summit of Fansipan is 19 km from Sapa and can be reached only on foot. The terrain is rough and adverse weather is frequent. Despite the short distance, the round trip usually takes three days; some very fit and Experienced hikers do it in two days, but this is rare. After the first morning you won’t see any villages: just the forest, striking mountain vistas and perhaps some local wildlife such as donkeys, mountain goats and birds.

No ropes or technical climbing skills are deeded, just endurance. There are no mountain huts or other facilities along the way (yet).So you need to be self – sufficient. This is means taking a sleeping bag, waterproof tent, food, stove, raincoat or poncho, compass and other miscellaneous survival gear. Hiring a reputable guide is vital and unless you are a seriously experienced mountaineer, finding porters who will carry your gear is also strongly recommended.

Weather-wise the best time for making the ascent is from mid-October to mid-December, and again in March, when wildflowers are in bloom.

Tram Ton Pass. The incredible road between Sapa and Lai Chau crosses the Tram Ton Pass on the northern side of Fansipan, 15km from Sapa. At 1900m this is the highest mountain pass in Vietnam. Even if you are not planning to carry on around the northwest, it is well worth coming up here to experience the incredible , views from the top of this pass. Descend by mountain bike before returning by truck or rent a motorbike to make the short hop to the new Tarn Duong (Binh Lu). This is a seriously spectacular ride.

Sapa
Sapa

On the Sapa side of the mountain the weather is often cold, foggy and generally miserable. Drop down a few hundred meters below the pass on the Lai Chau side and it will often be sunny and warm. Ferocious winds come ripping over the pass, which is not surprising given the temperature differences – Sapa is the coldest place in Vietnam while Lai Chau is the warmest. Tram Ton Pass is the dividing line between two great weather fronts – who says you can’t see air?

Alongside the road, about 5km towards Sapa, is Thac Bac (the Silver Waterfall). With a height of 100m, it’s a big one, and the loop track (admission 3000d) is steep and scenic.