The best helpful guidances for self-catering Sapa trip
Sapa District is very well-known with Sapa Townlet, a beautiful and romantic resort, and also the most famous trekking destination in Vietnam. It settles nearby Hoang Lien Son range, which contains Fansipan peak, rising 3.143 meters above level sea, making it the highest point in both Vietnam and South East Asia. Coming to Sapa, you will be overwhelmed with a range of majestic and stunning sights that Mother nature awards to Sapa. Therefore, Whatsup Vietnam will facilitate you to discover this fabulous place in the most detailed way.
I. When should you visit Sapa?
Sapa has an invaluable resource, which is a cool and fresh climate with many diverse nuances. Located at the height of 1.500 – 1.800 meters above the sea level, the average temperature of the area is about 15-18oC. From May to August, Sapa has a lot of heavy rains around the town. At the end of the year, when winter comes, the temperature in Sapa can drop below 0 degrees, sometimes with snow. Thus, the best time to travel to Sapa is from September to November or from March to May.
From March to May, Sapa wakes up from its winter sleep and displays a romantic and poetic beauty than ever before. And the wonderful thing is that on the same day, you will experience all 4 seasons. In the morning there will be fog and light sunshine just like spring, golden sunshine at noon like in the middle of summer, the afternoon breeze flares like autumn and there are also cold winter nights. At that time, people of ethnic minority grow rice on terraced fields. Viewed from afar, these terraced rice fields look like an image of nature with a heart-rending beauty that keeps tourists staying contemplated for a while.
From September to November, at this time, the terraced fields all over Sapa hills and mountains all turned yellow. When exploring Sapa in September, visitors will admire an immense picture of the magnificent, beautiful rice season of the Northwest mountains which are built by the cooperation of both Nature and human. Standing at the top of the wind, visitors will both enjoy the beautiful scenery and the cool breeze blended with the fragrance of ripen rice. The weather in September is favourable, convenient and extremely ideal for picnic and trekking activities outside the town.
II. How to get to Sapa?
Sapa is 376 kilometers away from Hanoi capital and the road doesn’t facilitate bikers. Therefore, buses, limousines or trains are preferred to ensure you have a safety trip.
- Bus and limousine: you can book ticket for both communal transportation at website http:/vexere.com/. the range for bus’s ticket price is 200.000 – 250.000 VNĐ, while limousine’s one is a little bit higher from 300.000 – 500.000 VNĐ. Some reliable buses and limousines that you can refer include: Sao Viet, Bac Ha, Vietbus, Sapa Express, Sapa Luxury Van,…
- Train: You should determine the departure time to book ticket early to get the most suitable seat with good price. Depending on demand and hobby that you can freely choose your seat: woof seat, woof seat with air-conditioner, soft seat, soft seat with air-conditioner, or bed compartment with the price from 650.000 – 1.650.000 VNĐ. Visit website: http/vetausapa.com/ to find out more.
Even though you choose what kind of vehicles, it takes at least 6-8 hours to get there. Hence, make sure you eat some food before taking off to have the best preparation for the trip.
III. Where to stay in Sapa?
Sapa is a small town but the number of hotels, motels or homestays is not inferior to some big tourist cities. Thus, it's not difficult to choose an overnight accommodation. The important thing is how to choose an affordable and accommodation with a nice view of mountains. You can choose one of the accomodations we recommend below.
1. Silk Path Grand Resort:
Address: Doi Quan 6, Group 10, Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam
Price: from 130$ including breakfast
This 5-star hotel provides everything you need for a luxury stay in Sapa. From the moment you walk into the entrance hall, you will be wowed, by everything from the opulent chandelier to the intricate marble designs. Rooms continue this wow factor, with high ceilings, traditional style furnishings, and high-end rugs placed over polished parquet floors. There is an indoor pool for guests to enjoy, as well as a beautiful spa. An onsite restaurant boasts a terrace for under the stars dining, too. There is a babysitting service and kids’ club to keep children entertained, meaning it’s a family-friendly option. Location-wise, it’s just a ten-minute walk to the town center and sights like Sapa Stone Church.
2. Amazing Sapa Hotel
Address: 44 Ngu Chi Son street. Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam
Price: from 70$ including breakfast
Amazing Hotel Sapa presents 81 tastefully appointed guest rooms and suites with breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains and terraced rice fields. All guest rooms feature modern facilities with distinctive contemporary décor and a touch of local art pieces, making it a private and exclusive heaven for business and leisure travelers. Each room has these facilities that you can enjoy such as complimentary in-room wired and wireless internet access, cable & satellite TV, personal safe, coffee & tea making facilities, bathroom, toiletries, hairdryer, bathrobe & bedroom slippers and kettle.
3. Sapa Capsule Hotel
Address: 1A So Than street, Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam
Price: 200.000 - 400.000 VNĐ/day
Located right at a privileged location on So Than Street - the center of Sapa town, overlooking Mount Fansipan and taking just a few minutes to walk to the Stone church. The hotel was designed with a model of special garden view, interwoven design with natural flowers, absolute seclusion and tranquility will give visitors an airy and comfortable space.
4. Little View Homestay
Address: 45 Cau May Street, Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam
Price: 400.000 VNĐ/day
Situated on the old road to Sapa town-Cau May, Little View Homestay Sapa is an ideal place to visit famous tourists at Sapa, such as the Ham Rong Mountain, Fansipa Cable Car, ancient rocky beaches, Silver Falls-Love Waterfall Little View Sapa.
This Sapa Homestay has 15 rooms named for the ethnic minorities of Sapa, including Mong, Dao, Tay, Giay, Xa Pho.... The rooms are designed in the cultural style according to ethnic minorities' culture in Sapa with brocade motifs on blankets, pillows, decorations. You can choose Duluxe Double or King Room to enjoy the view of the mountains.
IV. What to eat in Sapa?
1. Thang Co (horse meat soup)
Known as a horrifying food because of its very unpleasant scent, Thang Co still has been favored by many travellers, and even some of them are very addictted to its “unique” smell. Thang co is an traditional dish for the people of H'mong in Sapa that was originally produced over 200 years ago.
Thang Co is a type of soup which is made of horsemeat, horse’s viscera and horse’s bone. You might feel a little bit panic-stricken on hearing about the ingredients but that feeling will fly away once you taste it. Cooking this dish not only requires time but also the skill of cooks. The seasonings comprise of 12 spices from cardamom, ginger, citronella, anise and cinnamon twig.
We recommend a restaurant to try thang co in Sapa:
A Quynh Restaurant
Address: 15 Thach Son Street, Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam
Hours: 7 AM – 10:30 PM
Contact: (+84) 214 3871 555
Moment Romantic Restaurant
Address: 26 Muong Hoa Street, Sapa Town
Hours: 6:30 AM – 10 PM
Contact: (+84) 902 021 002
2. Com Lam (bamboo sticky rice)
Sapa sticky bamboo is an abnormal rice version. It is totally cooked in bamboo pieces, separated from others. Local people spend hours gathering and washing the bamboo and slicing the bamboo into small sections of 30 centimeters in length. The inhabitants combine rice with salt and then put salty rice to bamboo. Don't forget the water used to cook this dish. It's brought from the streams which is fresh and a little bit sweet. A big secret here is that during grilling process you need to patch the bamboo sections.
In Sapa, Com Lam is enjoyed with salted roasted sesame, grilled pork, or chicken skewers. The combination of the smell and taste of the ingredients make travelers want to take com lam home with them.
We recommend these restaurants to try com lam in Sapa:
Sapa Grilling Area
Address: Cau May Street, Sapa Town
Opening: in the evening.
Bon Mua Restaurant
Address: 9 Thac Bac Street, Sapa Town
Hours: 6:30 AM – 11 PM
Contact: (+84) 214 3771 125
3. Grilled fish
This simple dish is incredibly delicious, and it is a pity if you travel to Sapa without trying the grilled fish. Sapa has many kinds of fishes, and their flavors are different from other fishes. The goby fish, bighead carp, etc. are usually found in the stream of Sapa. Almost of them are not so big, just as big as your fingers. When completing the catching fish process, you just need to make a fire to grill the fishes or cook them with some kinds of species to have an attractive dish. The sweetness and freshness of this dish are irresistible to any diners.
We recommend a restaurant to try grilled fish:
Hoang Minh restaurant
Address: number 23-24 Sapa food court (the corner of Xuan Vien st and Thac Bac st)
Opening: 9.00 am- 10.00 pm
4. Five-color sticky rice
Tay is one of the most popular ethnic minority in Sapa. Coming to Sapa, you will have a chance to discover their culture through their custom, their cuisine and their daily life. As for the cuisine, the five-color sticky rice is one of the most must-have traditional dishes to be served on the occasion of New Year, May 5, ceremonies or when welcoming the guests. In fact, it is called “the five-color sticky rice” because it is made of the five different kinds of sticky rice with five distinctive colors, including red, yellow, blue, black and white. The five colors represent the five elements. To be specific, yellow is the color of the earth, green is the color of the wood, red is the color of the fire, white is the color of the metal and black is the color of the water. Depending on each region, people can mix these colors or use another color instead of the five basic colors. However, the predominant colors must be red, yellow and green. You can easily find this dish on any streets in Sapa.
5. Thit Trau Gac Bep (dried buffalo meat)
“Thit trau gac bep” literally means buffalo meat hanging in the kitchen. This dish originated from the need to preserve food for the rainy season. The Black Thai people of Sapa marinate and then dry the buffalo meat in order to have food through the entire rainy season. The meat hangs from their kitchens for about eight months to a year. The buffalo meat is then lowered down to be grilled, stewed, and cooked into many dishes.
The smoke from the oven gives the beef a distinct smell. Inside, the meat is dark brown, but the meat inside is bright red. It's normally flavored with salt, pepper, garlic, and ginger. The first bite may be a little rough, but after that, you'll taste the sweetness.
We recommend these restaurants to try thit trau gac bep in Sapa:
Sapa Grilling Area
Address: Cau May Street, Sapa Town
Opening: in the evening
Address: 25 Cau May Street, Sapa Town
Opening: 9 AM – 10 PM
Contact: (+84) 214 387 1556
VI. Places you shoud not miss in Sapa
Dubbed the city in the fog, Sapa is endowed by nature with its unique scenery and amazing weather. Besides natural landscapes, Sapa also has many interesting tourist destinations. Among those places, it is certainly impossible not to mention the Sapa stone church, the main religious activity of the parishioners and also an image symbol of this tourist land. Visitors can rent a motobike from 100.000 – 150.000VND/day (6 a.m to 6 p.m) or tramcars with higher cost.
1. Bac Ha Weekend Market
Address: Na Co street, Bac Ha district, Sapa, Vietnam
You can find local markets everywhere in Sapa, but weekend markets are certainly unique things in the region. It is a perfect opportunity to contemplate the busy trading of the villagers and the special products in Sapa. And Bac Ha weekend market is the largest in the Northwest, which has kept attracting visiotors when they come to this highland.
Many tribes from different ethnic groups come to the Bac Ha market on the last day of the week to sell their products. As a result, it is possible to see their specialties, such as vegetables, farm tools, wines and so on. You can also see exotic birds, water buffalo and especially black pigs. One of the best factors on the market is that customers can first try the products before they decide to buy them. Therefore, feel free to try some wine at Bac Ha weekend market.
2. Love Waterfalls
Address: San Xa Ho town, Sapa, Vietnam
Price: 30.000 VND
Far about 14km from Sapa town to the southwest, Love Waterfall is situated in San Sa Ho commune, Sapa district, Lao Cai province. It is one of the indispensable highlights in the journey of discovering Sapa travel. Love Waterfall Sapa is also the starting point of climbing travel itinerary conquering Fansipan peak. With a height of nearly 100 meters, Love waterfalls really is an example of poetic scenery.
Before setting foot on here, tourists will have a chance to discover the beauty of the primitive forests surrounded by taciturn mossy old canopy of bamboo. The lush immense bamboo forest is flickered with red, yellow and white of azalea flowers. The spectacular scenery like the artistic painting has bought Love Waterfall to become one of appealing tourist attractions in Sapa alluring the great number of both domestic and international tourists..
3. Sapa Stone Church
Address: Tue Tinh street, Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa Stone Church was built in the 30s of the 20th century. This church was designed and built by the hand of French architects. This work is one of the few French imprints that still exists to this day in Sapa tourism. Because it was built a long time ago, Sapa stone church is a place to witness historical events of the nation as well as the land of Sapa. Due to the effects of war at the same time, this place has been restored many times but still retains relatively intact the inherent architectural guidelines.
For a long time, Sapa stone church has been a traditional cultural spot of the ethnic minorities here. If coming here on Saturday every week, visitors will have the opportunity to witness the unique Love Market or prayer activities taking place on weekends with H'mong hymn songs performed by the ethnic children.
Who has the opportunity to come to Sapa one times is unlikely to forget the image of the stone church hidden in the dense fog full of typical mountain here. Taking a picture to commemorate the stone church is something most visitors do when coming to Sapa. It seems that this place has become a brand, a symbol of the indispensable image of this famous tourist land.
4. Fansipan Peak
Address: Phan Xi Pang street, Sapa, Vietnam
For those people who are in love with climbing and trekking, conquering Fansipan peak is amazing experience that travellers should not miss.
Known as Indochina’s roof with 3.143 meters height, Fansipan Peak expedition surely fulfill your amazing trip in Sapa.
Even if you don't need climbing equipment, you'll have to go trekking for the whole day with basic essentials and rest in simple accommodation. If you're lucky, you can encounter a lot of mountain scenes and wildlife on the way. The spectacular view of the top will be the best natural reward for any traveler after a long and difficult trek.
If you are not that much of a trekker but still want to expose your eyes to the view from top of Indochina, there is now cable car available. The 2-3 days trip would change into a 15 minutes ride up to the summit. However, using cable car will just give you a superficial experience with tons of other tourists instead of the clear, peaceful views from the summit at sunrise hour, which especially given to trekkers.
5. Ta Van Village
Address: Ta Van commune, Sapa, Vietnam
Price: 75.000 VND/person
Contrary to bustle and hustle of central Sapa, Ta Van village is much more peaceful and poetic. If you are a person looking for quiet place, this is definitely the most suitable one for you.
Although Ta Van Village is a remote village, the road is not only small but also narrow, but nowadays it is not hard for the tourist to trek to here anymore since it’s has gone through an upgrade in the last few years.
To enjoy the fresh air and meeting the locals as well as experience their daily works, so although you trekked a long distance from Sapa town to Ta Van village, then all your tiredness will disappear because all spectacular landscapes and activities of the locals at here will make you forget everything to explore about one of the ethnic villages in Sapa the northern Vietnam. You are surprised not only about the simple and plain beauty of the locals but also even their traditional houses in their village, it is very special and different from the remote villages around Vietnam.
6. O Quy Ho Pass
Address: National Highway 4D crossing Hoang Lien Son range, Sapa, Vietnam
This pass has a height of 2,000m above sea level, a length of more than 50km and is known as "one of the four great passes" in Northern Vietnam. At altitude of 2000m, there is a place where young people often come here to live virtual and give birth to photos that are heavenly gates.
O Quy Ho pass runs along the slopes of Hoang Lien Son mountain range. More especially, the road is smoked with the majestic and impressive mountain scenery. If you travel from Sapa to Lai Chau on clear and sunny days, you can see the small villages in the far distance, the undulating mountains and watch the arrogant beauty of Fansipan peak in the cloudy sky; and in the cold winter days, O Quy Ho brings her incredible beauty, with snow covering all white trees and roads.
7. Cat Cat Village
Address: Muong Hoa valley, San Sa Ho commune, Sapa, Vietnam
Cat Cat village is located 2km from the center of Sapa town, so to go from the town center to here, visitors can walk or ride a motorbike. Coming to the village here, visitors can start the journey to explore and experience the lives of people on both sides of the road with small houses built on the side of Hoang Lien Son mountain.
Not only bringing the distinctive beauty of the majestic nature, but Cat Cat village is also the place where the typical customs and habits of the Mong ethnic people are still intactly preserved.
In addition to the traditional customs and traditions of the ethnic minorities, this place also possesses a unique beauty of nature, thus Cat Cat village has been an attractive tourist destination in Sapa since its establishment. The deeper you go into the village, the more surprised you are at the majesty of nature. If the Hoang Lien Son mountain range gives you a sense of admiration for the beauty of heaven, terraced fields here will bring you admiration for the creativity of highland people. They know how to overcome the disadvantages of the terrain to create fields capable of farming at the same time as a magnificent picture, a wild beauty on the majestic natural space of mountainous hills , etc.. and this is also an endless source of inspiration for photographers and visitors whenever coming to Sapa where the ground meets the sky.
VII. Kindly note something when traveling to Sapa
- Whether it's summer or fall, you should bring a thin jacket to wear when riding a motorbike on the road, or walking in the evening.
- There are some ATMs of Argibank and BIDV on Cau May Street (town center), so you don’t need to bring a lot of cash.
- When you have a detailed travel schedule to explore Sapa, you should book a hotel in advance, especially on the weekends.
Written by: Hieu La