Sapa is probably one of the most underrated places in Vietnam. Most travellers do not allow themselves enough time to venture up North, which is a huge shame in our opinion because Northern Vietnam is home to some of the most jaw dropping views in the world! Here is our ultimate guide to Sapa.
There are honestly very few places in the world that have you at a loss for words, and this town is one of them. With endless rice terraces that put Bali to shame, a rich culture and history, along with the cooler temperatures, Sapa is definitely a place we strongly suggest you take the time to visit on your Vietnam tour!
Ultimate Guide To Sapa
Things to Do
Trekking is a must if you are in Sapa! You will find a wide variety of companies who offer trekking services in town. If you’re short on time you can book one here from Hanoi. We recommend a company called Sapa Sisters in Sapa its self. All the tour guides through Sapa Sisters speak English which is helpful, and they are there to guide you and teach out about the villages and history of Sapa. The cost to trek with them is between $25-$40 USD depending on how many days and which trek you choose!
If you are not keen on booking with a company, you will definitely run into a number of local village woman on the street who will approach you to see if you are interested in a trek. While they may be cheaper, they generally do not speak English as well as a typical tour.
Prior to arriving in Sapa, we had been given dozens of recommendations on who to book with. Since we were there for a few days, we went with both a company and also on our own. The first day we actually started the trek on our own using a map we were given at the hotel. Whilst we were walking, we were approached by Lilly. Lilly was the perfect person for us, we paid her 200,000 VND to help guide us for the afternoon. The cost was $9, versus the normal $25-$30 cost for the afternoon.
Depending on the tour you choose, you should normally expect to pay about $25 for the trek, this will include meals!
Although it was cheaper, we only had her for a few hours and definitely don’t think we got the full trekking experience that we did with a proper guide and a full day!
When looking for the perfect trek also note that most of them vary depending on what you want to see and time. Some treks can last up to two days and one night, where you even get the chance to stay over night with your guide in their home. We had heard of many people doing this and some who raved about it!
Cat Cat Village
If you are looking to spend a fun afternoon our exploring a local village, than Cat Cat Village is a fantastic place to go! It is about a 25-30 minute walk outside of town, down into the valley and rice terraces. Using maps you can easily navigate how to find it! Entrance fee is 25,000 VND ($1), per person. You must pay the fee to actually enter the village once you get to the front gate. Once inside you will walk past many locals selling unique trinkets, food, and drinks. There are beautiful gardens inside to explore and a waterfall as well!
Rent a Motorbike
As always, we strongly suggest that you only rent a motorbike if you are experienced. This couldn’t be more true especially in Sapa! The roads here are steep, as it is a town located at the top of a mountain. There are also many twists and turns, so beware! However, if you are comfortable, probably the BEST thing you can do is rent a bike for the day and get lost. There are so many gorgeous view points and lookouts! You will be speechless we guarantee it!
Ha Giang Loop
The Ha Giang Loop is the most breathtaking motorbike loops in Vietnam! It is located off of the town Ha Giang, which is actually about a 5 hours drive away from Sapa. Many backpackers go from Sa Pa to Ha Giang to ride this loop. The town of Ha Giang has a similar vibe to Sapa, but it is much smaller and more off the beaten track. Typically, travellers will head there, drop their bags at a local homestay, or hostel and rent a bike. The loop takes about 3-4 days.
You can ride and stop at various local home stays along the way! The views are unbelievable! It is important to note again, if you are not familiar with riding a bike, we do not recommend you do this! Especially during raining season, the roads are very slippery, muddy and twisty! Only do this ride if you are confident in your biking ability!
Ultimate Guide To Sapa
Where to Eat
Fansipan Terrace Cafe and Homestay
This restaurant has probably the best view in all of Sapa. We ate here several times and every time we were blown away by the scenery! The menu is also very extensive and they have a great selection of sweets!
A popular chain restaurant in Sapa. We ate here frequently for both lunch and dinner. A bit more pricy, but a decent selection of choices. It was also a great cafe for us to work during the day and enjoy coffee, whilst watching the world go by outside!
This family run restaurant was located right across the street from our hotel! We ate here almost everyday because it was affordable and the portions were a good size. The family that runs it is also super friendly! Be wary if you visit though, many of the items they have on the menu, they don’t actually make to order! This is often times typical for Asian restaurants, but not something you are accustomed to in Western culture.
Ultimate Guide To Sapa
Where to Stay
If you want to find the best views in all of Sapa, you definitely need to spend a night at the Topas Ecolodge. Situated atop the deep mountain ranges of Hoang Lien National Park, this ecolodge is a sight to behold. Certified as a ‘Unique Lodge’ by National Geographic, the Topas Ecolodge was the perfect place to stay in Sapa. With 33 rustic mountain bungalows tucked within the mountainside, each room features spectacular panorama views of the valley and rice terraces below. For those looking to visit the North of Vietnam, we highly recommend that you book a few nights at this incredible place. You can read more about it here.
This hotel was our home base for the week after our stay at the ecolodge. We wanted to spend some time more central to town and we felt right at home here. The rooms were spacious and it was extremely affordable! The staff was also super friendly and helpful when we needed advice, or guidance on where to eat!