Sapa Travel Guide

Sapa Travel Guide - Things you have to know 

By Custom Vietnam Travel | Updated 1/5/2019

Sapa is not a new name with travellers in Vietnam, it is a quiet mountain town and home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples such as Hmong, Dao (Yao), Giay, Pho Lu and Lay Live. Just 6 hours by train or 4 hours by bus from Hanoi, you can travel during the day or on an overnight sleeper if you need to save time.


Visitors can easily catch pictures of the ethnic minority people working on sloping terraces or making traditional handmade crafts in front of their houses. Furthermore, it is also home to a rich variety of plants, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects, many only found in the Hoang Lien Mountains around Sapa in north-western Vietnam.

Let's explore Sapa with our experts today to see the things you have to know before travelling Sapa by reading Sapa travel guide below.

1.   When is the best time to visit Sapa

Cat Cat village​ - Sapa

The appropriate time to travel to Sapa is from September to November or from March to May. At this time, Sapa weather is stable, sunny days, cold nights.

April to May, is the time when ethnic minorities transplant rice on terraced fields. And this is also the blooming season of many beautiful flowers. The scene of rice transplantation is very beautiful, the photo hunters likes to go in this season and the ripe rice season.

Green rice fields in Sapa during April - May

September - October is the season of ripe rice, then all the viewing angles of Sapa are glowing. Around this time, Sapa seemed to put on a new color - yellow on all the hills. But you should go in the middle or late September, to October many places have been harvested.














Sapa-Breathtaking Beauty Of Rice Fields.


December to February is very cold, can appear ice and occasionally snow. This is also the bloom season of peach blossom.

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 Lovely picture of children are playing on peach tree

2. How to get to Sapa
Sapa town is 38km from Lao Cai city and 376km from Hanoi. To travel to Sapa you can choose a train or a car.

Bus: there are variety bus companies provide the bus service from Hanoi to Sapa, it is really easy to book online. I have recommended some bus companies below, there are really good service, you might consider:

Sapa Express bus: Ticket price 250,000 VND.
Viet Bus: Ticket price 250,000 VND.
Sao Viet coach: Ticket price 250,000 VND.

Example of Sapa express bus to Sapa

Go by train

The train has many types of chairs such as soft chairs, air-conditioned beds ... The train runs at 9 or 10 pm to arrive early the next morning.
• Sapa is a tourist attraction, so train ticket agents and travel agencies "hug" most of the beautiful seats, especially on weekends and peak purchases, and customers buy at regular 
stations. only buy hard chairs. To have a satisfactory seat on the train, you can book through intermediaries (train ticket agents and travel companies), the fee is usually 8 - 10%.

• Train tickets from Hanoi to Lao Cai are easy to buy, but it is harder to buy tickets from Lao Cai to Hanoi, it is best to prepare in advance.

Sapaly Express Train

Train schedule:

The train departs from Hanoi Railway Station at 10pm and arrives at Lao Cai Station at 6:30 am the next morning.
The train departs from Lao Cai station at 9:05 pm and arrives at Hanoi station at 5:30 am the next morning. Ships depart daily except Saturday.

3. How to get around in Sapa

• Option 1: Come to Sapa to rent a motorbike, about 120,000 - 180,000 VND / bike/ day, not including gasoline to drive to visit places. Note that the calculation of the date in Sapa is only calculated in 1 day (6h00-18h00), so the morning and afternoon rentals are applied a price.

Guests must return the bike at 6:00, late may be 8:00 pm.

• Option 2: You negotiate with a motorbike taxi driver, asking for transportation to some famous tourist destinations, usually about 200,000 - 250,000 VND for 4-5 places near each other.

4. The best attractions must visit in Sapa

Cat Cat Village - Indigenous beauty

Nestled in a beautiful valley, just about 2 miles (3 kilometres) from the centre of Sapa. Cat Cat village is very easy walking distance from any hotels in downtown Sapa.

The way to Cat Cat Village

This village was organized in the 19th century after various ethnic black H’Mong and Dzao families came together from other mountainous areas in northern Vietnam. They started living next to each other along the mountainside, cultivating rice and corn surrounding their home and developing animal husbandry using the traditional methods.


They work and share everything together, as well as weaving fabric and creating traditional handicrafts such as cotton cultivation, woven fabrics which still have been keeping until now as well-know their traditional culture.

Ban Pho Village - Lovely little village

Ban Pho village is an upland commune of Bac Ha district, Lao Cai. It takes you about 15 minutes from Bac Ha town you can catch the Taxi or Xe Om (10 minutes) but most travellers want to trek here. It is absolutely great and you can slowly walk and see around, talking with the local people, take interesting pictures to belong with you on the way.

Ban Pho Village

Travelling on winding roads clinging to the slopes of Hoang Lien Son mountain range, you will see the verdant valley of corn and tender rice coloured beneath and immense plum forest in both sides, tourists will meet Ban Pho Village. It is home to Mong Hoa ethnic minority, who use “Quan Hoa” language – a kind of language in ethnic minority alongside the northern frontier – in their daily life.

Ta Phin Village - Colourful Ethnic Group

Ta Phin is a small village, located about 15 km to the west of Sapa town, in northern Vietnam. The village is surrounded by mountains and has spectacular rice terraces.

Locals in the Ta Phin community village 

It is home to ethnic populations of approximately 1000 Red Dao, 150 Black Hmong and few people from the King ethnic group. In all, here are 13 hamlets and 20 or more small communes scattered throughout these hamlets. You can trek throughout the countryside and enjoy the picturesque landscape of spectacular rice fields, mountains, streams and hills tribe houses. Traveling to and from Red Dao and Black Hmong communes you will have a chance to learn the difference between the traditional tribal cultures.

Muong Hoa Valley - A Hidden Pearl Behind The Mist

Muong Hoa Valley is one of the most famous destinations for breathtaking scenery and is the largest farmland for rice growing in Sapa. The distance from Sapa Town is 14 kilometres. Going to visit Muong Hoa Valley, you can trek along Muong Hoa River sneaking through the valley nearby Sapa town.


This valley lies between two high ranges of mountains running in the parallel south-east of Sapa town. The beautiful valley is home to the residence of many ethnic groups; such as H'mong, Zao, Zay minority groups; which contains great natural beauty alluring tourists from all over the world.

The beautiful rice terraces all along the way in Muong Hoa Valley

Love waterfall - love at the first sight

Love Waterfall is situated in the San Sa Ho Commune, Sapa District, Lao Cai Province, about 14 kilometers from Sapa Town to the Southwest. From far a far distance, the waterfall looks like a twinkling pyramid under the sun.


With a height of about 100 meter compared to sea level, Love Waterfall is the starting point of climbing travel itinerary conquering Fansipan peak and rush noisily into the Gold Stream like a never-ending song. Under the waterfall, the Gold Stream runs along with green grass plots and bamboo clusters, creating a poetic image.

A wonderful love waterfall picture 

Silver waterfall - the most beautiful waterfalls in Vietnam

Lying beside National Highway No 4D, about 12 km from Sapa Town centre. It is created by sources of pure water from the Lo Sui Tong mountain peak. Many people said that, from the distance, the Silver waterfall looks like a white dragon looking down from the high sky.


Taking a wiser eye-sight, you can see a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and the last forests belonging to Hoang Lien National Park. The waterfalls are from the height of more than 100 meters. Standing at the foot of Silver Waterfall, between the vast heaven and earth and the majestic mountains from afar, tourists can imagine how small they are at the middle of majestic nature.

A wonderful silver waterfall picture 

Fansipan Mountain - The Roof of Indochina 

Fansipan is part of the Hoang Lien Son Mountain range and is often referred to as the rooftop of the Indochina peninsula, watching over the terraced rice fields and ethnic villages from a height of 10,312 feet (3,143 meters). The mountain is located in the southwest of Sapa town, Sa Pa district, Lao Cai province. When it comes to Sapa, Fansipan is an exciting attraction in Sapa for tourists since the mountain hides much strange impression to explore and discover. 

Views from the top of Fansipan

5. The best Sapa cuisines visitors should eat before leaving

Tourists travel to Sapa to see firsthand the beautiful scenery of clouds, mountains, forests, terraced fields but also do not miss the opportunity to taste all the great culinary specialties of the mountain town. The list of Sapa and Lao Cai specialties is very long, we only introduces some of the most special dishes as follows:

Fresh Vegetables

On the cold climate, Sapa is the land of temperate-style vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, red radish, cabbage cat (Cai Meo), coriander and coriander. Vegetables grown in Sapa when eating have a special delicious, soft and attractive. The most famous vegetables in Sapa include: Boiled cabbage cat (Cai Meo) with sesame salt, stir-fried coriander with garlic, chicken hotpot served with vegetables ...

Locals are selling cabbage in Sapa 


Unlike salmon, imported sturgeon is quite fat, cold water fish raised in Sa Pa firm meat, hunting fiber, no fat. In the cold of Sapa, a hot pot of salmon / hot sturgeon eat with fresh vegetables, diners do not remember for a lifetime is strange. Salmon or sturgeon can also be sliced ​​very thinly to mix salad, grilled ...

A hot pot of salmon in Sapa

Pig plug 

This is a native Mongolia breed raised in a free way, sometimes the people grab a pig in their armpits and bring it to the market, so it is called an armpit pig. An adult "stealing weighs only 4-5 kg. Pigs are cleaned, marinated and left to roast or roast.


The meat is thin, from the outside to the inside there is only one layer of crispy crust, then a layer of lean meat
is very soft, sweet, less than 2 cm thick; and the innermost bone, usually very small and soft, 
is edible if not the shinbone. Stealing armpits meat sipping with Sapa apple cider, drinking overnight is not boring.

BBQ restaurant in Sapa

Thang Co

For ethnic minorities, Thang Co often cooks all kinds of buffalos, cows, and pigs. Thang tries to have 27 different spices, such as cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and aromatic leaves. The second of the winning treats. It is hard to describe the special flavor, both sweet and greasy, both rich and fragrant of this specialty. Nothing is more interesting than sitting by the pan trying to seething, eating and drinking a cup of corn wine, feeling warmer in the cold air, freezing mountain wind.

Thang Co - A Famous dish in Sapa

6. Some useful tips

• Do not buy drugs or Ganoderma, ventricles along the way to Ham Rong because it is mainly from China - not as good as ads and high prices.

• Souvenirs can be purchased at the night market near the foot of the Stone Church, but be careful to bargain.

• The eye-catching brocade colors are usually Chinese.

• If you intend to drive by yourself to dust, remember to buy Sapa travel map for convenience, available at tourist offices or at the ticket counter to Ham Rong Mountain. Note that the roads in Sapa are steep and steep, only suitable for hard riders.

• For tours of Sapa, you can ask at the hotel front desk. If you bought a night tour at the village, ask the hotel if the room rate is reduced that day?

• Traveling to Sapa, you should avoid wearing high heels, tight pants, instead should wear sports shoes, wide pants and hats ...

• If it is not winter, it is not necessary to wear too warm during the day (because the temperature is not too low at that time and you walk quite a lot, so it is very hot). Only pay attention to wear warm at night.

• Even if you decide to go to the bush, you should hire a guide to go with you. They are experienced, will lead visitors along very interesting routes.

• After a walking tour of places, to save energy, you should hire a motorbike taxi or a car when you go home.

• When traveling from Lao Cai to Sapa is a very high segment of the road, you should use earplugs to prevent tinnitus.

• Sapa specialties such as barbeque, salmon, sturgeon, black chicken, blue rice, braid, Apple wine, vegetable hotpot, grilled stream fish, ... you do not need to go to luxurious restaurants. If you want to enjoy it, take a step into the small streets, where many eateries for locals will be much cheaper.

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