Terraces at Muong Hoa Valley
Terraces at Muong Hoa Valley

Sapa Travel Guide, Lao Cai

Sapa is a district of Lao Cai Province, in the North-West of Vietnam. The district of Sapa is like a huge valley running from north to south for 40km along the foot of the Hoang Lien Mountain Range. The district includes the eponymous capital town and several ethnic villages down the valley and on the mountain slopes.

Muong Hoa Valley, Sapa, VietnamMuong Hoa Valley, Sapa, Vietnam

With most of the terrain on altitude above 1,000m Sapa District has a temperate climate with temperatures ranging from below freezing point to less than 30 Degrees Celsius. There are two seasons in Sapa: the rainy season from late April through November and the dry season from December through March.

Rice terraces at Sapa, Vietnam
Rice terraces at Sapa, Vietnam

 The capital town of the district is also called Sapa which is above 1,500m above sea level and covered in coulds all year round. The French built the town into a hill station accommodating the French colonialists during the hot summer months in the Red River Delta. Most of the French villas were destroyed by Chinese artillery during their 1979 invasion though.

Foggy Muong Hoa Valley, Sapa
Foggy Muong Hoa Valley, Sapa

With the opening of Vietnam’s economy in the early 1990s, the country is back on the map for the travellers. Sapa was among the first tourist attractions in Vietnam that were visited by the adventurers. Since then, there have been massive developments for tourist infrastructure in Sapa Town and down the valley. There are several boutique hotels offering fresh mountain view and there are some eco-friendly resorts built amid the wild mountains of Sapa.

Flooded terraces at Sapa, Vietnam
Flooded terraces at Sapa, Vietnam

Besides, many adventure travellers decide to have their trip to Sapa with overnight stay at the ethnic villages. The conditions at the village are very poor, but homestay provides authentic experiences while assisting the local ethnic people with some extra incomes. This makes it less of a burden on the environment around Sapa Town and engaging the local communities into protecting the natural environment and preserving their traditional culture.

The foot of the Hoang Lien Mountain, Sapa
The foot of the Hoang Lien Mountain

AdventureGreen from the outset takes the principles of responsible travel as the fundamentals for our tour operations. We have organized several private adventures and small group tours to different corners of Sapa. All our tours in Sapa are environmentally and culturally friendly. Our tours visit more the less visited villages and take the less-traveled routes. We tend to use local tour guides, porters, local cooks who come from the ethnic minorities whenever possible. The adventure tours AdventureGreen has in Sapa range from walking tours, hard trekking tours to challenging mountain hiking tours. The tours start from Hanoi with duration from 3 to 6 nights.

Black Hmong Lady in Sapa
Black Hmong Lady in Sapa

 

Sapa Vietnam
Black Hmong Lady in Sapa

Adventure Travel & Ecotourism, Things To Do and Tourist Attractions in in Sapa

1/Cat Cat Village
The village 3km just outside of Sapa Town which takes 2-3 hours on foot. The trip on steep mountain paths involves quite a hike. There is a little Black Hmong community and a refreshing waterfall. The views of the mountains on the trek are breathtaking.

2/Y Linh Ho, Lao Cai, Ta Van Villages
These villages are home to the Blac Hmong and Giay Peoples who inhabit in the Muong Hoa Valley, south of Sapa Town and south of Cat Cat Village. The tour is a hard trekking adventure and requires a full day. The landscape is sensational with views of Mount Fansipan in clouds and breathtaking rice terraces should it be in rice season.

Rice terraces at Ta Van Village, Sapa
Rice terraces at Ta Van Village, Sapa

3/Giang Ta Chai Village
The village home to the Red Dao People is north of Ta Van Village, the path between these 2 villages is through a bamboo forest and past a lovely waterfall. The path is steep and especially slippery when it rains. The trek takes 3 hours.

4/Ban Ho Village
The village is south of Ta Van Village. The trek from Ta Van to Ban Ho goes via Giang Ta Chai Village and a dense forest which takes a whole day. There is a good part of the adventure by a refreshing river amid wilderness. Ban Ho is near a lovely river that you can enjoy a swim after a hard trekking day.

5/Thanh Phu Village
The village is northeast of Ban Ho Village and the trek between these 2 villages takes ¾ of a day. Thanh Phu is also home to a Tay community who live in houses on stilts.

6/Xin Chai Village
The village is just 2km north of Cat Cat Village. The trek from Tram Ton (O Quy Ho Pass) to Xin Chai offers lovely scenery of the Hoang Lien National Park. The trek is a hard one going down mostly to Xin Chai Village and up to Sapa Town. The adventure trip takes a full day.

7/O Quy Ho Pass and The Silver Waterfall
These 2 amazing sites are 8km from Sapa Town, on the way to Lai Chau. The route offers sublime mountainous views. The trip can be done by car, motorbike or mountain bike.

8/Ham Rong Mountain
The mountain is just in the Sapa Town. To get to the mountain, take the route by Sapa Church and turn left. Then it turns to be steep steps leading up to the mountain. The mountain offers splendid views of Sapa and the surrounding mountains. There is a lovely orchid garden and a wonderful ethnic music performance on the mountain top. A visit to Ham Rong takes half a day (3-4 hours).

9/Ta Phin Village
This is home to the Red Dao in Sapa with lovely mountains and rice terraces. There is a cave at Ta Phin but it is not recommended to explore, as there are fatal accidents already. Ta Phin is 12km north of Sapa Town, on the way from Sapa to Lao Cai City.

10/Ban Khoang Village
The village is home to the Red Dao north of Ta Phin Village, less than 1 hour transfer by car from Sapa Town. The trek from Ban Khoang to Ta Phin takes 4 hours and you’ll be amid lovely mountains and valleys and without other tourists around mostly.

11/Ta Giang Phinh Village
The village west of Ban Khoang Village is home to the Black Hmong. By road, Ta Giang Phinh is 10km from Ban Khoang. Rarely should you find tourists on this route while the landscape is so nice!

12/ Mount Fansipan (3,143m above sea level, peak of Vietnam)
Take the route via Tram Ton, you can conquer this amazing mountain on a trekking day, provided you are a fit and an experienced trekker. Else you take the harder route via Xin Chai Village (Sin Chai) which takes 3-4 days depending on how fit you are. It is a challenging adventure and the rewards are several: physical fitness, lovely physical body and strong will and dazzling wild mountains and forests!

How to get to Sapa and how to travel around Sapa

1/From Lao Cai to Sapa
There are 2 roads from Lao Cai to Sapa. The shorter and often used route is Road 4D which goes up all the way and which offers lovely mountain views.

Foggy road from Lao Cai to Sapa
Foggy road from Lao Cai to Sapa

The other road goes via Muong Hum which takes longer time and the road conditions are not so good. In return, the landscape is lovely with rice fields, valleys, sublime mountain views.

2/From Lai Chau to Sapa
This route is spectacular. And you have to climb the O Quy Ho Pass, the highest mountain pass in Vietnam and one which offers sublime mountain views. There is a chance to take jaw-dropping views of the different valleys in Sapa as you make your way from the O Quy Ho Pass to Sapa Town.

The amazing landscape at the O Quy Ho Pass
The amazing landscape at the O Quy Ho Pass