Sapa is a bustling market town, but visitors often rave about the surrounding rice terraces and conical mountains with mist rolling in, rather than the town itself. The mountain rice terraces were carved by the Hmong Tribe many years ago and remain well - preserved and in use even to this day. Many people use Sapa as a base camp to trek to several surrounding villages that still practice a traditional, tribal way of life. Sapa is also close Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam and a very popular trekking destination.Trekkers and those who prefer to be out in nature instead of beating the city streets will find their emerald-green haven in Sa Pa. Located in northern Vietnam, Sa Pa is known as the trekking mecca of the country. Cool weather, sprawling tiered rice paddies, hiking trails, and village culture are the highlights of a few days spent deep within Vietnam’s Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Spend a night in a local homestay for a truly authentic experience.

THINGS TO DO IN SAPA

SIGHTSEEING

Cat Cat Village: The charmingly named Cat Cat Village is one of the oldest villages in the Sapa region and it is also known for being the home of the H’mong ethnic group. The village is famous for its traditional industries such as flax and cotton production and there is a strong tradition of weaving here. When travelers visit, they can learn all about these traditional techniques as well as spend time studying the H’mong culture.

Silver Waterfalls: Sapa is famous for its waterfalls and one of these is Silver Waterfalls. This is a collection of gushing cataracts that tower to a height of some 200 meters. Located just up the path from Silver Waterfalls is the beautifully named Love Waterfall which is a place that is steeped in local legend. Locals will tell you that fairies used to bathe in the waters here and although it is a long trek to both waterfalls it is more than worth it for the pretty scenery.

Tram Ton Pass: If you want to see more of the scenery in Sapa then you need to head for the Sapa and Lai Chau road which then turns into the Tram Ton Pass. The pass stands at an elevation of some 1900 meters which makes it the highest pass in all of Vietnam. You will find a number of lookout points here which have amazing views over the surrounding area and you can also combine a trip here with the nearby Silver Waterfall.

Fansipan Mountain: Fansipan is the largest mountain in the Indochina region (Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos). Fansipan has a varied topography suitable for trekking. There are a number of tour operators which take groups of people on organized treks. Fansipan also has indigenous flora and fauna which offers you an exciting opportunity to learn about it. Recently, cable car services have been installed to reach the summit of the mountain, which makes it easier for those who do not want to trek to experience the breathtaking view from the summit.

Bac Ha Market: The region of Bac Ha is a mix of activities on Saturday evenings when the weekly market comes to life, and this celebration of Vietnamese culture continues on Sunday as well. From intricately designed handmade traditional clothing to delicious local cuisine, all the essentials of this vibrant culture find a place here. You can interact with the locals and learn about their culture and lifestyle, which is a mesmerising experience in its own right. Popular items that you can buy from here include different textiles, saddles for horses, bags, cushions, figurines and other handcrafted items. Bac Ha is also famous for Tam Hoa plums.

Ham Rong Flower Garden: Calling all anthophiles! Swarmed with bright-coloured flowers in the dewy air and sweet fragrances up your nostrils, the Ham Rong Flower Garden is a worthy visit. If you’re tired of trudging uneven grounds – not to worry – the garden is nicely paved and stairs are provided. The steps may be a bit steep but it is a relatively easy climb. Not to forget, the top overlooks the Sapa Town and Sapa Lake. If you happen to visit Sapa Town or the church, then make a visit to the Ham Rong Flower Garden which is within the vicinity!

Fairy Cave: Fairy Cave or Hang Tiên. This is a lesser-known and non-touristy spot locating on the bank of Chay River, just outside of Bac Ha District – Sapa. Fairy Cave, which is surrounded by mountains and forests, boasts a broad system of limestone formations with stalactites and stalagmites of all shapes and sizes. It is called “The tiny version of Halong Bay” by the localpeople thanks to its harmonious combination of limestone cliffs and water. To get to the Fairy Cave, the best way is to take a boat trip on Chay River to also contemplate the majestic landscape in Sapa.

Muong Hoa Train: Just opened in 2018, Muong Hoa Rail Route which connects Sapa and Fansipan Station has risen to be one of the things to try in Sapa. The trains and the station are designed in European style with impressive architecture. Riding Muong Hoa train, you’ll have chance to enjoy the views of the beautiful Muong Hoa Valley below.



SHOPPING:

  • Sapa main market: Sapa has a number of different markets but the main one, organized every Sunday at the main square, must be the most must-visit attraction in Sapa. From early morning, streets in the downtown Sapa are full with Red Dao and H'mong heading to the market. They stay here until late afternoon to buy and sell goods, socialize and unwind with each other after hard-working days. In order to visit Sapa main market, you just need to walk through Sapa stone church for a few minutes, turn right and you will immediately see this bustling area. Outside the market are groceries, fresh produce, flowers and ethnic fabrics. And inside the market are lots of mountain fruits such as plum, peach, pear and apricot. Additionally, on the right side, there are trinkets, which is a kind of ethnic silver jewelry, forest honey, medical herbs, ganoderma and notosingeng. And if you are a foodie, you should try some traditional food here like horse soup, steamed corn wheat or corn wine.
  • Coc Ly market: Approximately 35 km southwest of Bac Ha, Coc Ly market is a small market held every Tuesday. Thus, it attracts lots of traders from Bac Ha as well as other parts of Lao Cai city coming and bringing anything they have including vegetables, horses, buffaloes or chickens. They dress up colorfully and stay at the market from early in the morning till 1pm in the afternoon. If you stroll around this market, you may hear some unexpected conversations from local people, see beautiful items and daily local life.
  • Muong Hum market: Another amazing market that opens on every Sunday is Muong Hum market. It is around 3-hour drive from Lao Cai station. In this market, there are Flower Hmong, Red Dao, Black Hmong, Blue Hmong, Tu Di, Ha Nhi and Giay tribes. They colorful clothes and hold various cultural festivals. Tourists coming here will receive a very warm welcome from local people with a family meal and a cup of heartwarming wine. This place is famous for pig entrails served with mint leaves or horse meat fried with onion. And local wine is used at anytime they eat both of these dishes.
  • Brocade: You should choose decorating brocades or cloth with brocade textures like bag, scarfs, bag-packs skirts, shirts and blanket. There are some very good stores on the Cầu Mây Street that sell brocades such as Mrs. Nguyễn Lăng Vân’s, Hue Silk, Sapa Brocade Store or Sapa Orchid Brocade Store. At a small corner on the second floor of the Sapa market, brocades are also sold with different textures that represent Mông’s ethic culture.
  • Souvenirs: You can buy some accessories made of gold, silver or arts and crafts from shops on Cầu Mây Street, Mường Hoa and Fansipan at Viet Silver, Mường Hoa Shop, Sapa Silver or Woodcarving Shop. Vietnamese traditional medicine: Apart from liquorice, lotus seed, False Gingseng and other kinds of tonics, camellia, honey and Lingzhi can also be bought in Sapa oriental medicine stores.

CUISINE:

Thang Co (Thắng cổ): Thang Co is the traditional food of Hmoong people and it has been cooked for hundreds years. Thang Co is a type of soup which is made of horsemeat, horse’s viscera and horse’s bone. You might feel a little bit panic-stricken when hearing about the ingredients but that feeling will be blown away once you taste it. Cooking this dish not only requires time but also the skill of cooks. The locals stew horsemeat with these 12 spices in a big pot within a couple of hours. To elevate the flavor of Thang Co soup, they serve it with fresh vegetable and a special red hot pepper name Muong Khuong.

Sapa Cap Nach Pork: Cap Nach pork is a specialty of this mountainous region. The ways to make this dish is diverse. The locals usually roast a whole pig directly on charcoal so that the skin covering the pork is very brittle while the pork inside is very delicious and fleshy. Others stir-fry thie pork with little or no water and herbs. No matter how does you cook it, make sure the pork is soft with a hint of spicy.

Bamboo Sticky Rice: Bamboo sticky rice in Sapa is an abnormal version of rice. Different from others, it is absolutely cooked in bamboo sections. Local people spend spend hours on collecting the bamboo then cleaning and chopping them into small sections at about 30 centimeters in length. The locals mix rice with a little bit of salt then they stuff up bamboo with salty rice. Don't forget the water used to cook this dish. It's brought from the streams which is fresh and a little bit sweet. A biggest secret here is that you need to resolve the bamboo sections while grilling.

Salmon Sour Hotpot: salmon sour hot pot is a familiar food to local people. The food has a timeless quality. No matter when you enjoy this hot pot, your eyes will littery light up talking about the dish. The real star of the hot bot is its broth. It's a combination of several vegetable types and freshly caught salmon. Unlike other fish, salmon brings to diners an elegant and delicate flavor. Nestle up to a restaurant on Sapa hillroad and make an order of salmon sour hot pot, your heat beat is just a little bit faster.

Tao Meo wine - a local whiskey of H’moong: Tao Meo wine is a popular and original wine of H’moong people. It is made from fruits of Tao Meo tree - a kind of tree grows naturally on Hoang Lien Son Mountain. It blooms at the end of spring in autumn so you can buy the fresh Tao Meo fruit from August to October. It serves up an amazing natural wine flavor for those who are seeking something unique in the mountainous region. Tao Meo wine comes perfect with unbelivebly good brook fish.

Grilled Fish: This simple dish is incredibly delicious, and it is a pity if you travel to Sapa without trying the grilled fish. Sapa has many kinds of fishes, and their flavors are different from other fishes. The goby fish, bighead carp, etc. are usually found in the stream of Sapa. Almost of them are not so big, just as big as your fingers. When completing the catching fish process, you just need to make a fire to grill the fishes or cook them with some kinds of species to have an attractive dish. The sweetness and freshness of this dish are irresistible to any diners.

NIGHTLIFE:

  • Night Festival: Sapa is attracting tourists not only because of the poetic, beautiful but pristine beauty, delicious cuisine, green terraced fields, etc but also the impressive festivals. During the year, Sapa has many festivals including night festivals such as the Mid-Fall Night Festival. If you visit Sapa at the Mid-Fall Festival that starts on 2 September, you can take part in a variety of activities such as handicraft art and photo exhibitions, beverage and food events, theater and dance performances and sporting competitions, etc.
  • Sightseeing And Street Wandering: Sapa has a mysterious and gorgeous beauty. Therefore, it will be a pity if you travel to Sapa without wandering along the romantic streets that are lit with colorful lights. Sometimes, you can catch the moments of some lovers hand in hands walking, cuddling, talking and kissing on the popular streets of Sapa. If you go to Sapa with your family, friends or even your lover, do not forget to create memorable moments at night.
  • Love market: Your best nightlife in Sapa will be missed something if you do not visit the love market on Saturday evening. In this occasion, local people hold a lot of interesting activities such as dancing, singing or playing leaf-horns. Girls will wear colorful clothes along with silver ornaments while boys wear traditional costumes. They come to the love market to find another half for getting married. It is said that Sapa love market is where love begins. So, visiting this place, you may have a chance to witness this. Then, you candiscover more about ethnic minorities’ life as well as culture.
  • Coffee and bars: If you want to play all night long, the ideal place you should go to are Vietnamese pubs and bars. In these places, people hold a lot of fun activities to chill themselves. There can be singers and dancers at the bars who can raise the atmosphere up. There can be stages where people can go up and demonstrate their talents. Music is played along the open time and normaly, the majority of bars in Sapa will not close until 1 am in the morning, which offers tourists and foreigner travellers enough time to immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere.

TRANSPORTATION:

  • Bus: Bus is the most recommended option as being the only transport company that provides direct transfer from Sapa to Halong and vice versa.This 42-seat luxury bed car is well-appointed with all necessary amenities such as air conditioner, LCD screen, free WIFI, blankets, bottles of water, and free cold towels. Therefore, passengers will always feel comfortable with this extremely convenient journey.
  • Train and Bus: Traveling by train is an ideal choice for those who get sick of a bus ride and look for a good night’s sleep. However, this is the most time-consuming transfer option. From Sapa town center, you need to take a bus or a taxi to Lao Cai train station to catch a train to Hanoi.
  • Taxi and Private Transfer: The fastest and most comfortable yet most expensive way to transfer from Sapa to Halong Bay is by a private taxi.