Sapa Vietnam


Sapa is 400 km (9 hour drive by car) north-west of Hanoi. This cloud-covered town is located at 1550 m above the sea level, cool all year round. There are many magnificent mountains including the peak of Indochina - Fansipan of 3143m elevation. 

The area is home to 7 ethnic groups with unique cultures, lifestyles and languages; all wearing their traditional attires, working on evergreen terraces. Hill tribes gather for the weekend market for trade and for meeting with lovers.  Sapa is a good place for relaxing, for culturally touring, and/or for trekking and should not be missed on your trip to Vietnam.



Sapa Vietnam
Sapa Town from above


The area was built into a hill station for the French colonialists to get away from the heat of Hanoi in the summer. There used to be many French-styled villas in town. But most of them were destroyed during the border clash with China in 1979.

Nowadays Sapa attracts thousands of tourists from all of Vietnam and abroad thanks to the cool and fresh climate, the sublime nature beauty and the colorful hill tribe cultures.

Sapa Tourist Attractions
The Sapa weekend market held on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Ethnic groups from different villages would flock to town for trading and for meeting with lovers. The whole town of Sapa would be colored by their traditional colorful costumes.

There used to be a love market in town on Saturday night until late 1990s. Since more and more tourists travel to Sapa for witnessing the love market, it's not in session as it was once.

Black H'Mong in Sapa
Black Hmong Ladies sun-bathing in Sapa Town


Cat Cat Village is about 1 km from Sapa town. It's located at the bottom of the Muong Hoa Valley and near the stunning Cat Cat Waterfall. Cat Cat is home to the Black H'Mong who accounts for over 50% of Sapa population. To visit village, you walk through Sapa Market down the valley. Once you walk out of the crowd, you'll be stunned by the nature's beauty with high mountains of over 3000 m and the green rice terraces dropping nearly 1000 below. The sun shines across and there are H'Mong houses scattered in the valley. The walking tour of the whole loop would take you about 2 hours.

Sapa Town
A sunny day in Sapa Town with blue sky


Lao Chai and Ta Van Villages are home to the Giay People and Black H'Mong People. They are at the bottom of the Sapa Valley and offer breathtaking scenery of rice terraces dissected by the running water of the mountain streams. To visit these 02 villages, you'll need to hire a jeep or a motorbike and travel past the stadium and Sapa market gate. You'll follow this main road for 8 km, then you'll see a path down the valley to the right where you'll get off and start the walking trip of Lao Chai and Ta Van Villages. The whole tour takes about 1.5 hour.

Sapa Terraces
Terraces out of Sapa Town

Ta Phin Village is 12 km from Sapa Town and it's home to the Red Zao People. The village nestles itself on the mountain slopes and offers unreal mountain views. You can take a motorbike/jeep from Sapa to the village and enjoy a walking tour around chit-chatting with the local young girls selling handicrafts. Very likely you'll be invited to visit their home. The tour takes about 1-1.5 hour.

The Silver Waterfall and the Gateway to Heaven: these 02 sites located about 15 km from Sapa Town on the road from Sapa to Lai Chau province. The Gateway to Heaven is Tram Ton Pass between Sapa and Binh Lu town which offers stunning panoramic view of the Fansipan and the deep valley below. The trip takes 2 hours by jeep or motorbike. Make sure the camera has enough memory for this route.

Ham Rong Mountain is just right in the center of Sapa Town. The mountain offers a panoramic view of Sapa and its surroundings including Fansipan - the Peak of Indochina. Accessing the mountain, you'll go alongside the church from the town center to the end of the road and turn left for the asending path. There are steps which will guide you through the fresh orchid gardens and flower gardens to the top. There's also an ethnic house on the mountain with ethnic music and performances played by the local girls and boys.

Mount Fansipan (3143 km elevation) is the Peak of Indochina. You can join Private Vietnam Tours on an adventure of a life time conquering this summit in 4 days. Our staff including H'Mong boys will help us with logistics for the tour. Mountain camps as accommodation, untouched junges on the way to the top, hotly cooked meals accompanied by sounds of jungles are hightlights of the adventure.

Travel and Tours

Sapa Rice Terraces
In Ning Ho Village of the Black Hmong in Sapa

Sapa is ideal for sightseeing relaxing tours, nature tours, cuture tours, adventure tours such as trekking, hiking, mountain biking or white-water rafting...

From Hanoi, you can join Private Vietnam Tours on a relaxing tour, discovery tour or adventure tour for 3-8 days.

There are many hotels in Sapa Town ranging from simple guest houses to a luxurious 4 star hotel.

Staying overnight with a local ethnic family in their simple house is an option. Conditions are limited and poor, but the experience is unmatched.

For those doing adventure tours like mountain climbing or hiking or trekking, you can bring along or check with us for mountain camps. This is also an exotic experience that many miss going wild in Sapa.

Getting there and away
Sapa can be accessed by road or by train (to Lao Cai) from Hanoi. The journey by road would take 9-11 hours depending on how many stops on the scenic roads you'd like to take. There are clean and simple places on the way for breaking the long journey and having lunch. The roads are fairly good and offer stunning fresh scenery.

There are nightly trains between Hanoi and Lao Cai. The train trip is 8-9 hours. The train conditions range from standard to good and very good: hard seats without air-conditioning, soft seats with air-conditioning, soft sleepers with air-conditioning.

For sleeper carriages, there are 4-shared or twin-shared compartments. For these carriages the train company provide 1 tiny bottle of water and 01 bread for the cool journey. Lock your compartment carefully before dozing off! Security on the train is fairly good, but always use your common sense while traveling!

Getting around
On foot: Sapa Town can easily be explored on foot. There's only one main road running the full length of the town with a lake at an end. it's safe to stroll in town at night.

There are many buffalo paths which range from easy to steep, slippery and, no doubt, hard for the visitors to do exercise.

Xe Om (motorbike taxi): There are many Russian-Minsk Xe Oms with driver on near the main church in the center of the town. Prices should be negotiated being setting off. Check their brakes carefully, too!