Backpacking Tourism Experiences in Sapa

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Sapa
Sapa

Sapa is a province of the mountainous Northwest region of Lao Cai with an extremely famous place name – Phan Xi Pang Mountain, Fansipan is dubbed “the Roof of Indochina”- Wikipedia. It lies at an altitude of 1600m above sea level, Sa Pa has the temperate and subtropical climate, the weather in Sapa is cool around a year. There are four seasons can be seen in a day.  The morning is the spring, at midday, the weather is like the summer, usually with light sunshine, cool climate, the afternoon is cloudy and the dew falls down to make it feel cool as autumn and the night is the cold of winter. Let’s find out some information about traveling in Sapa.

  • Experience: Backpacking tourism Y Tý
  • Experience: Backpacking tourism in Sapa Bắc Hà
  • Blooming peach blossom seduce travelers
  • Coaches to Sapa, Lào Cai
  • Rent a motorbike in Sa Pa
  • Rent a motorbike in Bắc Hà
  • Experience: Backpacking tourism Mù Cang Chải

    Sapa tower
    Sapa tower

When should we go to Sapa?

Ripe rice season in Sapa in September every year
Ripe rice season in Sapa in September every year

Sa Pa’s annual average air temperature is 15°C. In summer, the town does not suffer from the harsh sunshine like the coastal plains, it is just 13°C – 15°C at night and 20°C – 25°C at the day. The winter is often Cloud-covered

and cold, temperatures sometimes below 0 ° C, sometimes it’s snowfall. The average annual rainfall ranges from 1,800 to 2,200 mm, most concentrated between May and August. Reading this information, you probably also have the answer to the question “When we should go to Sapa? “.  

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We suggest to you as follows:

  • Spring is the season that throughout the mountainous Northwest appears the peach blossom, plum blossom, Sapa is not an exception.
  • The ripe yellow terraced fields attract any visitors which often appear between September and October.
  • From May to August is the rainy season, this time, Sapa seems to be most vibrant because of flowers blooming.
  • From the end of December to the New Year’s Day, Sapa is very cold due to the movement of the North in winter, if you are interested in feeling the cold numbness as well (if lucky) watching snow ice in Sapa you should come here this time.
Snow falls in Sa Pa winter 2013
Snow falls in Sa Pa winter 2013

Transportation in Sapa

From Hanoi to Sapa

Sapa is about 40 km from Lao Cai city and about 370 km from northwest of Hanoi. If you combine Sapa trip with some other roads such as Mu Cang Chai, Moc Chau, Ha Giang … You should bring a motorcycle from Hanoi to be able to enclose the road into a circle. If you only come to Sapa you can buy a train ticket Hanoi-Lao Cai or take a car to Sapa from Hanoi.

Move around Sapa

To explore Sapa you can rent a motorbike
To explore Sapa you can rent a motorbike

Sapa town is small, but the tourist destinations are quite far, from 2 to 20 km. If you have experience in riding motorcycles or you are carsick,  you can rent a motorbike in Sapa town for convenient exploration of this place. This option is also an appropriate way for you to go into the village, stop to take pictures or do whatever you like. Conversely, if you can not ride a motorbike, you can rent a 16-seater car from a travel agency to take you to these locations. It may be a good idea to invite some other groups in the same hotel to rent a car to these locations, the cost will be reduced to a maximum.

Hotel and motel in Sapa

There are many hotels and guest houses in Sapa
There are many hotels and guest houses in Sapa

There are two tendencies in traveling, one is to choose a nice, clean, comfortable, good quality hotel, two is just to choose a place to rest because all day enjoy the scenic, so no need for a nice hotel. In Sapa, with hundreds of the hotel and the motel from affordable prices to 5-star resorts can satisfy and meet the both two criteria above. If you go backpacking, you should choose budget hotels with the price of 200 000 VND – 300 000 VND for 2-3 people, if you decide to go to the resort you should choose higher quality hostels or if you have the conditions, you should choose the resort.

Always book your room before peak season
Always book your room before peak season

In peak seasons, booking a hotel is nearly impossible because the number of visitors arriving here is extremely large, at this time the hotels usually do not make room for you by phone, a good way in this season is booking hotel room through Traveloka, this is one of the prestigious and good quality online, so you will not be under the hotel price pressure after coming up Sapa because all you have paid off online already. Please have look at full list of hotels and motels in Sapa.

Top best quality and cheap price hotels in Sapa

You pay attention here is the reference room price apply for the normal occasion weekend (from Friday to Sunday, not big holidays such as New Year, Lunar New Year, 30 April, 2 September …) The actual price will depend on the time you arrive and even is cheaper than this price. All the hotels below have averaged 7.5 points or more, the number of people rated on the rating system of Traveloka, this is one of the reputable booking networks so you can assure.

The 5 best hotels in Sapa

  • Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

Room rates range from 2.500.000 – 3.500.000 VND

  • Topas Ecolodge Resort Sapa

Room rates range from 2,000,000 – 3,500,000 VND

  • Chau Long Sapa Hotel

Room rates range from 2,000,000 VND

  • Sapa Paradise View Hotel

Room rates range from 2,000,000 VND

  • Bamboo Sapa Hotel

Room rates range from 1,000,000 VND – 2,000,000 VND

5 most popular hotels in Sapa

  • Sapa Luxury Hotel

Room rates range from 550,000 VND – 1,200,000 VND

  • Sapa Elegance Hotel

Room rates range from 600,000 VND – 1,000,000 VND

  • Sapa Elite Hotel

Room rates range from 700,000 VND – 1,300,000 VND

  • Bamboo Sapa Hotel

Room rates range from 1,000,000 VND – 2,000,000 VND

  • Sapa Eden Hotel

Room rates range from 1,000,000 VND – 2,000,000 VND

5 cheapest hotels in Sapa

  • Sapa Lodge Hotel

Room rates range from 600,000 VND

  • Sapa House Hotel

Room rates range from 1,000,000 VND

  • Stone Garden Homestay

Room rates range from 300,000 VND – 600,000 VND

  • Thai Binh Sapa Hotel

Room rates range from 500,000 VND

See more photos and quality reviews of Thai Binh Sapa Hotel

  • Sapa Unique Hotel

Room rates range from 600.00 – 1.000.000 VND

Travel expenses in Sapa

Please provide some detailed information, the system will automatically calculate the relative cost of your trip. The information is for reference only and may fluctuate depending on the reality.

Your membership *

Note: This form only applies to groups of two or more people.

You select the vehicle to move Sapa *

  • Car beds
  • Train

Attention:

– Train ticket prices refer to the use of train tickets SP soft seat air conditioner.

– The fare includes the cost of the bus up to Sapa

Select the time away

  • 2 days 3 nights
  • 3 days 4 nights

What form do you want to stay in?

  • Hotel
  • Cheap hotel
  • Resort
  • Number of nights sleeping hotel

You choose the vehicle of transport around Sapa

  • Rent Motorcycles
  • Motorbike

Select menu

  • Menu 1 – 120,000 VND / 1 person
  • Menu 2 – 160,000 VND / 1 person
  • Menu 3 – 200,000 VND / 1 person

Note: This information is for reference only and may be subject to change

TOTAL COSTS

Cost per member

Tourist spots in Sapa

How long will you spend exploring Sapa
How long will you spend exploring Sapa

In addition to the roof of the Indo-China is Fansipan peak at an altitude of 3134 m, visitors to Sa Pa will be merged with the pulse of the land and people here contemplated the beautiful scenery, enjoy the cuisine of the peoples in this region and during the stay, visitors can’t but go to the famous tourist spots of Sa Pa to discover and understand more about Sapa and Sa Pa people.

Cau May

Cau May is located about 17 km from the center of Sapa town
Cau May is located about 17 km from the center of Sapa town

Cau May is made of May and Song (creepers in the forest) about 17 km southeast of Sa Pa town, from the main road, visitors follow the new road, it’s slightly sloping and has many turns, but the road to Ta Van has been expanded very conveniently

Silver waterfall

Silver waterfall is nearly 2000 m high
Silver waterfall is nearly 2000 m high

The silver waterfall is more than 200 m high is upstream of the Muong Hoa stream with the height of 1800 m at the foot of O Quy Ho. Standing on the top of Ham Rong Mountain in the center of Sa Pa town, you can see the white Silver waterfall on clear days and this is also the source of the name of the waterfall. From the high ravine, the water rumbled down, the white foam blossomed like flowers, so people called the Silver Waterfall.

Cat Cat village

The Cat Cat village
The Cat Cat village

Cat Cat village is a Mong ethnic village located 2 km from Sa Pa town (Lao Cai province, Vietnam). This is a tourist attraction of Sa Pa tourism in particular and Lao Cai in general. Cat Cat village was formed in the middle of the 19th century by a group of ethnic minority people clustered by the secret method (based on the mountainside and gathering together, the roofs separated by several dozens of meters and live, Cultivation on the hillside of the settlement). Near the habitat, they also grow rice, maize on the terraces fields completely manual method. They know how to cultivate, breed, and retain good traditional handicrafts such as cotton growing, linen and weaving. This place deserves to be considered as a cultural tourist destination, as well as an ecotourism for tourists and satellite tourism community of Sa Pa.

Sky Gate

The top of O Quy Ho from Sky Gate
The top of O Quy Ho from Sky Gate

Located at the border of Sa Pa district bordering Lai Chau, it has beautiful views on Fansipan and overlooks the valley of Ong Ho lake, in the deep which is the only path road to Binh Lu.

Muong Hoa valley

Muong Hoa valley panoramas
Muong Hoa valley panoramas

The longest and most beautiful valley of Sa Pa with rich villages, the terraced fields spread along the Muong Hoa stream.

Ancient rocks

One of the ancient slabs in Sapa
One of the ancient slabs in Sapa

Hundreds of sandstone were carved figures, strange characters that have not yet identified the source and meaning. Along with this ancient site, recent excavations have shown that people have lived in the Sa Pa for centuries.

Sapa Rock Church

Sapa Rock Church
Sapa Rock Church

Built in 1935 by Ramond Don’ s donations. In 1945 France was bombed. Only the bell tower is still standing. the front yard is the place where ethnic minority people trade, talk and rest.

Abandoned monastery

Ta Phin ancient monastery
Ta Phin ancient monastery

It is the convent for women but has been abandoned since it was not finished. Upcoming this monastery and the surrounding green fields will be located in a new resort in Sa Pa. There are red mosses endemic that Sa Pa has only.

Ham Rong mountain

Mount Ham Rong look from afar
Mount Ham Rong look from afar

The low mountain range on the back of Sa Pa town is shaped like a dragon mouth. Just 15 minutes to climb to the top of the mountain, there are the ancient peach garden, orchid gardens, gardens of thousands of exotic stone tower as high as the forest called Thach Lam. From here look down Sa Pa town and the whole immense scenery of Hoang Lien Son.

Ta Phin cave

Inside the cave
Inside the cave

The broadest and most mysterious cave in Sa Pa is located just next to Ta Phin village of the Dao ethnic group, where there is a beautiful brocade embroidering work, the green pine forest covered the vast slopes.

Ta Phin brocade village

Dao women in Ta Phin with brocade weaving
Dao women in Ta Phin with brocade weaving

Ta Phin brocade village is about 17km east of Sa Pa town. This place has beautiful natural scenery, the culture imbued with national identity and especially attractive to tourists by the famous brocade village.

What should we eat when coming to Sapa?

Salmon is raised in cool climates such as Sapa, Mu Cang Chai
Salmon is raised in cool climates such as Sapa, Mu Cang Chai

Among the many impression that visitors leave the beautiful town in the clouds can not forget – it is grilled salmon, pork fillet steak, smoked pork, fresh mushrooms fried meat … and especially the dishes made from green vegetables is the food any visitor who comes to this land once to enjoy also extremely admired for fresh flavor, sweet fragrance of each type.

Enjoy the grill in the cold weather of Sapa
Enjoy the grill in the cold weather of Sapa

Among the many interesting things to sip and enjoying the food of visitors during the long days here, barbecue in Sapa is becoming a very unique “brand” that can not be confused with other localities. Many tourists said that “If you come to Sapa without enjoying the barbecue, it is not really discovered all the unique, rich and poetic of Sapa culinary culture.” It is not only in Sapa where has the barbecue, but perhaps because of the cool climate and the poetic natural of land and sky, barbecue in Sapa always bring the taste a taste very distinct, not in any other locality. It seems that the land, the sky, and the mountains are high here, this barbecue is rustic, ordinary also penetrated the essence of heaven and earth, make people enjoy excited, about the delicious sweet flavor, fragrance of each dish separately

The special festivals of the peoples of Sapa

H'mong Festival festival in Sapa
H’mong Festival festival in Sapa

With 6 ethnic groups living together, there are dozens of festivals of H’mong, Dao, Tay, Giay, Xa Pho each year in Sapa. Each festival has its own unique colorful features. If you are lucky to come to Sapa at the time of the festivals held, you can spend some time visiting to learn more about life as well customs of the people here.

Some of Sapa sightseeing schedule for you

If you are carsick you can choose to take the train, however, time will be longer than the car 

Schedule 2 days 3 nights

Day 1: Hanoi – Lao Cai – Sapa

  • In the early morning take the bus from Lao Cai – Sapa, early check in to store belongings
  • – Prepare some snacks and climb Ham Rong. From here you can enjoy panoramic view of Sapa Town and view to Fansipan Mountain
  • Lunch at noon in the town center
  • Afternoon rent motorcycles to visit Muong Hoa valley, ancient rocks Sapa, Cau May, Giang Ta Chai village, Ta Van village.
  • – Evening stroll through Sapa’s night market and enjoy specialty barbecue

Day 2: Sapa – Ong Ho Ho – Sapa – Lao Cai – Hanoi

  • Wake up early, rent a motorbike to visit Silver Falls, Love Falls. Ride the motor to the peak of O Quy Ho Pass, one of the four great peaks of the Northern Pass between the two provinces of Lao Cai and Lai Chau.
  • You can take pre-prepared meals to eat at any time
  • Afternoon visit Cat Cat, Cat Cat Waterfall
  • Return motorbike, bath medicine leaves of the Dao
  • 4.30 pm take the bus back to Lao Cai City to take a train or car back to Hanoi

Schedule 3 days 4 nights

Day 1: Lao Cai – Sapa

  • In the early morning take the bus from Lao Cai – Sapa, early check in to store belongings
  • Take a stroll around the town, visit Sapa market
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon walk from town to Cat Cat village, explore the culture of the people here
  • Enjoy the barbecue.

Day 2: Sapa – O Ho Ho – Sapa

  • Rent motorbike to visit Silver Falls, Love Waterfall. Ride to the top of the O Quy Ho Pass, one of the four peaks of the Northern Pass between the two provinces of Lao Cai and Lai Chau.
  • Have lunch on the road
  • Afternoon to visit Muong Hoa valley, Cau May, ancient rocky Sapa, Ta Van village, Giang Ta Chai village.
  • Evening walk around the town

Day 3: Sapa – Lao Cai – Hanoi

  • Rent motorbikes to visit Ta Phin village, popular tourist route
  • Visiting Ta Phin ancient monastery
  • Afternoon return the motorbike, Dao drug bath
  • 4.30 pm take the bus back to Lao Cai City to take a train or car back to Hanoi

Some taboos of upland people

Some taboos of upland people
Some taboos of upland people

Each ethnic minority village in Lao Cai has a forbidden forest, worship supernatural forces. Places of worship can be at the base of a large tree, a large stone in the forest. The forbidden forest is the communal forest of the whole village. People volunteer to protect the forest, no one is free to cut, defecate, boys and girls are not allowed to go to that.

When visiting the house

Before visiting the house of ethnic groups, visitors should observe closely, if you see in front of the door, at the top of the stairs plug or hang a green leaf, branch of thorns or plug Fox’s eyes weaving. It is a sign of abstinence, the family does not want strangers to enter their house.

The Ha Nhi Den house has two doors, so visitors should arrive at the first door. If you want to enter the second door, you must agree with the host family. The decoration of the place of worship of ancestors of each ethnic group is different, but they share the same concept: Ancestor worship is the most sacred place. Guests are not allowed to place caps, hats, belongings and other belongings there, to touch their worship objects. When sitting, do not turn away from the altar.

When cooking the Giay put pots, pans, pots on the stove, do not put pots and pans in the direction of the crossbar (it is the lying direction of the dead) and put them in the direction of the roof. In the Mong, Dao, … When putting wood in the kitchen, do not put the tops in front, because of the fear of the daughter of the host will breech birth. When sitting near the kitchen, visitors do not turn their backs and stomp their feet into the kitchen. In the house of the people, the door and the main pillar is also the sacred site of the god of the door. So do not sit on the door or hang a hat and lean back on the pole. In the areas of Thai, Tay, Khang, La Ha, Phu La abstains not bring green leaves, branches of green trees, vegetables in the main door.

The abstinents do not whistle in the house, as it is a ghostly and storm signal.

When you come to the village

Annual worshipping ritual and driving away evil spirits of ethnic minorities such as Tay, Thai, Giay, Laos, Bo y, Xa Pho are usually held in February or June or July of the lunar calendar. When performing the ritual, people here often left some special signs to forbid strangers like forcing the bunches of green leaves on the way to the village or weaving Fox’s eyes then forcing the jaws of the pig or the buffalo. Nobody goes to work and no strangers go to the village. If a stranger accidentally carries a burden, wearing hats, umbrella, bag, backpack in the village, they will be fined by paying enough to re-worship the village. if you are in an emergency case and you need to meet someone in the village right now, you have to remove the hats, backpacks, gong … all furniture must be portable. So you may not penalize

Communication

If guests want to be friendly or closer to erase the sense of the language disagreement with the local, the guest should actively greet when visiting their house, on the road with a sincere attitude and honestly smile. When guests leave, they can shake hands, don’t need to say goodbye but always smile. Never rub your hands on the Mong and Dao’s kid, because they think the soul of people resides in the head if strangers touch their kid’s head, the soul fears then they go way, finally, their kids will be sick or ill.

When eating

Each ethnic has a different conception about seating position, so it is important to note that never sit in some special places such as the row of chair nearly Ancestor altar, it is placed for only dozens and greatest guests this rule applies for Giay and Dao ethnic. With Mong people, when their parents died, the head of the table (near the altar) is always empty with their opinion that it is for the soul of parents. The Thai, Tay, Muong, which is adjacent to the window, placed two small cups for the ancestor’s guests, do not sit there.

Before eating, it is important to persevere to hear the performing ancestor rituals bless the good things. Guests do not pour wine before, do not pick up food first, when finished absolutely no cup, bowl down the tray.

When sleeping

Each house of the ethnic minority in Lao Cai has a sleeping place reserved for guests, so it is necessary to follow the layout of the owner, not lay foot in the direction of the altar. In some areas of the Mong, Dao, Thai, La Ha, Khang abstains from white bed nets in their house.

Some notes when traveling Sapa

  • Some essential personal belongings you should carry with you when traveling Sapa: a windbreaker and a thin scarf (because the weather of Sapa is still cool in the summer), hat or umbrella to cover the small rain or dew, a small flashlight for using in the evening or entering the cave.

You can refer to the article What to bring when traveling.

  • Bring more than one type of ID (ID card, passport or one photocopy) and a driver’s license if you would like to rent a motorbike to explore Sapa because you will need 1 copy for your rental car, 1 for your hotel reservation.
  • Pre-book hotel online if you intend to go in peak season, the advantage of this is that you can reserve for a long period of time may be months, avoid closing to the coming day but can not put or have to book high prices.
  • Similar to the hotel booking, you should also book train tickets or bus tickets to Sapa early to avoid the out of ticket, for train tickets should be bought at Tran Quy Cap station or be bought through travel companies, for tickets passenger cars should be reserved approximately 1 day with weekdays and 10 days with the holidays.
  • In Sapa, Begging for a purchase, if you do not intend to buy souvenirs, do not watch then don’t buy because people will cling forever. Never give money for kids here although they follow you  

Accommodations: You can book this hostel on Traveloka Enjoy Sapa Hostel . You can walk to visit places such as Sapa market, Sapa lake, church and Thuy Hoa park. Price is 805,000 VND, include tax.

Other accommodations can be found here
For more useful and tips to travel in Vietnam, here is my recommendation  https://blog.traveloka.com/vn. This blog collects thousands of compact & detailed reviews from travelers who have many traveling experiences in Vietnam.