Things To Do in Sapa Vietnam With Victoria Voyages

Sapa Vietnam! When someone mentions Sapa what first comes to mind are the beautiful images of rich green terraced rice fields. The second thing that comes to mind is the colourful ethnic minorities and their villages.    What could be more beautiful than trekking through verdant terraced rice fields and visiting the local ethnic minorities whilst learning about their traditional way of life? When you visit Sapa you will experience the beautiful scenery from the jungle, lush forested mountains to rural terraces where the ethnic minorities still farm in their traditional ways.

Visiting Sapa is one of the top things to do in Vietnam and trekking is one of the top things to do in Sapa, and it should be on everyone’s travel list. Even if you are not an experienced trekker there are tours to suit every level of fitness. When hiking in Vietnam it is important that you take with you sunscreen, mosquito repellent and plenty of water.

We share with you a unique way to travel to Sapa – taking you back in time, a nostalgic journey, reminiscent of the golden age of travel.  We travelled with Victoria Voyages to Sapa. Come with us as we trek through the lush terraced rice fields and visit Sapa’s local market and stay in luxury at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa.

Check out our YouTube video on our 2 days in Sapa in Vietnam.

 

Let the journey begin.

Things to do in Sapa Vietnam - ethnic tribe visits

Trekking through the rice fields with local ethnic minorities

 

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Where is Sapa

Sapa, also written as Sa Pa, is located in North West Vietnam high in the misty Hoàng Liên Son Mountains. There are 58 provinces in Vietnam and Sapa is located in Lao Cai province. Hanoi to Sapa is 316km.

Sapa is the capital of Sa Pa district within the Lao Cai province.  Sapa overlooks the Muong Hoa Valley where wet-rice agriculture traditions have been going on for years.  Overlooking Sapa is Vietnam’s highest peak Mt. Fansipan towering over the town at 3143m. Sapa’s elevation is 1500m. Mount Fansipan is at the eastern point of the Himalayas. You can trek to the top but it is only for serious trekkers and a guide is highly recommended.  Sapa’s weather can change in a minute.  In fact, Sapa boasts of 4 seasons in one day. There is a cable car system to Mount Fansipan.

Sapa is located close by to 2 border crossings into China. Muong Khuong mainly used for the transportation of goods between Vietnam and China and the more popular tourist border crossing Lao Cai.

How To Travel from Hanoi to Sapa by Train

The Victoria Express – Relive The Golden Age of Travel

Victoria Express Train to Sapa and Return

The Golden Years of Travel – take the Victoria Express to Sapa

Hanoi Railway Station is located 10 minutes from the city centre and 1 hour from Noi Bai International Airport Hanoi.

The Victoria Express Train Schedule

Departs Hanoi at 10 pm every night except Saturday night arriving into Lao Cai at 6.10 am.

Departs Lao Cai at 9.40 pm every night except Saturday night arriving into Hanoi 5.30 am.

Our Experience on Board The Victoria Express

Interior of the Victoria Express train to Sapa - things to do in Sapa

4 shared berths on the Victoria Express Train

Our journey commenced when we were collected by private shuttle from our hotel and transported to Hanoi Railway Station at 120 Le Duan Street, Cua Nam Ward, Hoan Kiem District of Hanoi. On arrival, our bags were whisked away and we were led to the Victoria Express Lounge on the 2nd floor of the station to relax till it was time for boarding.  You can purchase drinks and snacks in the lounge whilst you are waiting.  The Lounge is open between 8 pm and 9.30 pm every night except Saturday night for the Victoria Express departure.

There are two types of sleeper cabins available which accommodates 48 passengers in total.  The Victoria Express has 2 carriages which are part of the local railway network to Sapa. There are:

  • 13 cabins (4 shared berths that can be converted to 2 private berths at an extra cost)
  • restroom facilities – two in each carriage
  • free Wi-Fi onboard – you can experience low signal strength in some areas throughout the journey
  • complimentary slippers
  • amenity kit which includes earplugs and toothbrush
  • complimentary water
  • air-conditioning
  • individual reading lights
  • luggage storage
  • the train is equipped with cameras and security staff

We experienced both types of cabins.  On our journey to Sapa, we shared a 4 berth cabin with 2 French gentlemen and on our return journey, we experienced the 2 berth cabin.

Pro-Tip

If there are only two of you travelling we would recommend the 2 berth cabin. There is an extra cost for the 2 berth cabin, check the latest prices here.

When it was our time to board our bags were transported to the train and we were shown to our cabin.  Just before departure, we had a briefing on the amenities onboard, the location of the bathrooms and how to locate the crew during the night.  Our order for coffee, tea or juice was taken which is served prior to arriving with fresh croissants.

As the train pulled out of the station, everyone settled in for the night, some in their cabins and some in the corridor enjoying the evening lights of bustling Hanoi as we passed through.  We used the train’s free Wi-Fi to check any messages on our phones before settling into our bunk beds.

The warm richly wood-panelled features inside the cabins created a ‘feeling of the golden age of luxury travel’.  The beds were firm and comfortable.  As with any train travel in Vietnam, the old narrow-gauge railway tracks can create a swaying movement and the clickety-clack of the carriages echo throughout the night.  As dawn breaks and you awake from your slumbers, the views from the misty countryside are unforgettable.  Coffee and fresh warm buttery croissants are served just before you arrive into Lao Cai.

On arrival, we were transported by shuttle bus to Sapa around an hour’s drive away.  The scenery as you climb higher and higher up into the mountains is breathtaking.  A snippet of what you will expect when you arrive in Sapa 38 km away.

Where to stay in Sapa

Luxury accommodation at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

Luxury accommodation at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

As part of the Victoria Voyages experience accommodation is at their luxurious Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa.

Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa: Xuan Vien Street, Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam

You can read our review of our stay at the Victoria Sapa Resort and Spa here.

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We highly recommend having a well-deserved foot or body massage following your trekking experience.

Enjoy a spa treatment at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

A relaxing massage or foot massage after a trek is the perfect end to your day

Half-Day Trek To The Village of  Ta Giang Phin

Our Sapa Tour was organised by the Victoria Sapa Resort and Spa.

The journey to the beginning of the trek takes around 1 hour by shuttle bus.  The journey is spectacular. Breathtaking countryside views,  local villages with small children playing on the roadside, paddy fields of rice and fields of colourful lillies grown for commercial sales flowing down the hillsides. We passed by small waterfalls and glanced up at towering mountains.  The journey is slow through winding roads and steep passes. In driveways, bright yellow corn can be seen drying in the heat of the day.

The local children were on school holidays and we came across many of them in charge of the buffalos walking them along village paths to their next fields for ploughing.  The lush green terraced rice field paddies glistened in the afternoon sun. We were mesmerised! There were photo opportunities to be had every second of the way.

Buddha Mountain in Sapa

The view of Buddha Finger Mountain towering over the rice fields

Our trek started but all too soon we stopped to admire the views over the terraced rice fields and our gaze lifted to the Buddhas Finger Mountain (or the official name of Ngu Chi Son Mountain) that towers over this part of Sapa.

Ladies of the H'Mong Tribe

Ladies of the H’Mong Tribe

Three ladies from the White H’mong group joined us as we ambled down the rough dusty road through breathtaking scenery, one woman carrying her baby on her back.  They were just as curious of us as we were of them.  Our guide Mao explained to us that there are 8 different ethnic minorities in Sapa. The H’mong, Dao, Tay, Giay, Muong, Thai, Hoa and Xa Pho.

Each minority are distinguished by their traditional dress.

Drying hemp - things to do in Sapa

Hemp stalks drying in the sun

As we passed by one of the houses along the dusty road we noticed a woman on her front verandah working with what at first seemed like straw.  Mao checks with the woman whether we can come and visit.  She is working with hemp, which can be confused with the marijuana variety, the leaf shape is similar. Hemp is grown locally and produces a high-quality natural fibre to create fabric.  This process is widespread across Asia and dates back to 800 BC.  There are about 8 steps to produce the fibre which is spun.

Hands dyed blue from using natural indigo plant dye

Hands are stained blue from the use of natural blue dye from the indigo plant

We noticed that the woman’s hands were stained in blue dye.  Mao explained that once the fabric is produced it is dyed a blue colour. The dye is a natural dye found in the leaves of the indigo plant.  The longer the fabric lies in the dye the darker the fabric becomes.  The H’mong group are famous for their fabric.  Each ethnic minority purchases the fabric from the H’Mong for their clothing and embroiders the fabric in their traditional colours and patterns.

Each of the traditional woman’s outfits that we saw in Sapa were colourfully embroidered in unique patterns and designs.

Home for the buffalos

Home for the buffalos

We continued down the path until we reached one of the women’s homes and we were asked if we would like to go in and see how they lived and cooked.  To the right of the house was a ramshackle building that looked like it would collapse at any moment, Mao explained it was to house their buffalo.  A buffalo is worth a couple of thousand dollars and the more buffalo a family has the wealthier they are.  They are more valuable than motorcycles which can be purchased for a couple of hundred dollars.

Inside the home - the kitchen

The Kitchen

A stone corn grinder was located outside the front door and as we entered into the dark small space of the family home we noticed corn husks hanging along the back wall.  A small iron cooking pot was placed in the middle of the dirt floor with smouldering embers underneath.  The kitchen to the left housed the families cooking equipment and crockery. The father who was not well was sitting in front of the TV smoking a traditional bamboo pipe and their young son was watching a local TV show.

Above the TV on the wooden landing is where all the family sleep together.  The landing on the opposite side above the stove is where the family dry and store their corn and place their rice.  Corn and rice is their staple diet. We said goodbye to the ladies and headed further downhill to the village of Ta Giang Phin.

Children playing hopscotch

Children playing hopscotch

Children playing a Vietnamese version of hopscotch giggled and ran after us shouting hello in their own dialect.

Mao our guide explaining rice growing techniques

Our guide Mao explaining rice-growing techniques

For miles and miles ahead of us lie terraced verdant green rice fields and gently rolling hills.  Mao explained that the rough bamboo fencing in the middle of the fields demarcated each families rice field.  They grow enough to feed themselves each year with very little leftover to sell. Mao also explained their age-old traditional irrigation methods.

Once we arrived in the village we were surprised to see only one small shop selling a few bottles of soft drinks, local household items and a small amount of fresh produce.

During our time with Mao we learnt about her life as a child and as a teenager.  She explained to us about the traditional marriage within their minorities and the move in recent years to allow different groups to intermarry.  We were surprised to find out that it has only been in the last 12 or so years that electricity had come to the small villages.  Over the years we had heard of various methods of human trafficking but had not spoken to anyone with direct connections until we chatted with Mao.  It is terrifying for all concerned on the ways that human trafficking takes place. Just a few short hours in Mao’s company taught us a great deal about the way of life in this region.

We thank Mao for her time and for being so open in sharing her life with us.

What to do in Sapa

Wander Sapa Town

Sapa Tourist Map

Sapa Town Map

It has only been since the 1990s that Sapa town has started to attract trekkers and visitors.  In the 1920s the French used Sapa as a Hill Station to escape the heat of the Hanoi summers. We can attest to that, having visited in the summer with 100% humidity during the day. The French built over 200 villas which were destroyed by Chinese in 1979, with only 10 of the villas still remaining.

During the 1940s, unfortunately, Sapa was heavily bombed and there was very little left of the town.

Sapa Church - meeting point

The Stone Sapa Church in the centre of Sapa – a meeting point for all

Sapa Town is dominated by its large square and the stone Sapa Church that seems to attract many visitors and a great opportunity to take a selfie or two.

Leading away from the Church you wander down steps into what seems to be a huge amphitheatre.

Sapa Square

Sapa Town Square

Over the last few years, the Square has become home during the day for local ethnic minority women dressed in their traditional clothing selling their local handicrafts to make money for their families.  Increasingly, you will notice that there are small children also dressed in traditional clothing asking for money or selling small items.

To Travel Too does not encourage this type of exploitation of children, but it is increasing in Sapa and we would like to bring it to your attention as a visitor.

Sapa’s Market

Sapa Market

Sapa Market

Sapa’s market is open daily from 6 am to 2 pm.

local transport around Sapa

The cheap electric cars – perfect for a ride to the local Sapa market

If you are staying at the Victoria Sapa Resort or in town you can use the small electric cars that can be found near the Church.  We paid 20,000 VND (around USD.90) for one to take us privately to the market, it is cheaper if you wait till the vehicle is full.

To Travel Too Tip

Take one of the electric cars to the market and wander home via the back streets and around Sapa Lake.

The market sells the usual household products, traditional souvenirs, faux products etc.  Inside there are local meat stalls, fish and chicken, as well as flowers, tofu, rice, grains, breads and cakes, eggs, spices and herbs.

We recommend that you head to the back of the covered market place where you will find the local ethnic minorities selling their fruits and vegetables.  This is where the action is.

Market lady with cheeky smile

Local lady in market with the cheeky smile – she is 76 years of age

When you visit upstairs wander to the rear of the building and you will see ladies sewing their handicrafts.  Most of them were on their mobile phones.  We wandered past one small stall and noticed that the lady was actually sewing and not on her mobile phone.  She turned out to be 76 years of age, a tiny local woman with beautiful skin and a small knowledge of English that we could converse with her. She impressed us so much with her chatter about life and her cheeky smile that we purchased some small goods from her.  The minute we did all the ladies who were on their mobile phones came to life and started to pester us to buy from them. If you visit please head to her stall it will be a memorable experience.

Tours Available

The Victoria Sapa Resort can organise many types of half-day and full-day tours for you click here for information.

Sapa Trekking Tours

Sapa Countryside - things to do in Sapa

Terraced rice fields and streams

You can choose from half-day walks that include 3-4 hours of walking of full-day tours that include between 4 – 8 hours walking.  Lunch is provided on full-day tours in a local village home or as a picnic at a scenic spot. All tours include an English Speaking Guide, transportation, water and entrance fees.

Silver Waterfall and Heaven’s Gate – 1/2 day. A 30-minute drive to the Silver Waterfall followed by the drive to Heaven’s Gate the highest stretch of road in Vietnam. Can you just imagine the views? This tour includes 1 hour of driving and 1.5 hours of walking.

Taphin Red Dao Hill Tribe Village – 1/2 day. The tour takes you from the hotel to the village of Taphin where two ethnic minority groups the Black H’Mong and Red Dao live together but still maintain their own traditions and values.  Visit some of their homes to learn about their way of life, how their traditional clothing differs and see examples of their beautiful handicraft. The tour includes 1 hour of driving and 1.5 hours of walking.

Hoang Lien National Park – 1/2 day. Travel with your guide to Cat Cat Village.  You will then travel to see a waterfall and pass by the Hydroelectric station. After a short break hike through terraced rice fields and the lush rain forest of the Hoang Lien National Park. At the Y Linh Ho Village of the Black H’Mong, you can gain insights into their local life before returning back to Sapa. The tour includes 15 minutes of driving and 3 hours walking.

H’Mong Culture and Walk Through Fields – 1/2 day.  Travel with your guide to the Muong Hoa Valley and begin to walk through the paddy fields, the largest in Sapa.  During May and September, you will see the locals planting and harvesting the rice. The walk takes you from Lao Chai, a Black H’Mong village to the Giay Village of Tavan, a visit to a local church before you return to Sapa by car. The tour includes 1 hour of driving and 2 hours of walking.

Hidden Sapa – 1/2 day. Travel with your guide to the valley of O Quy Ho. On a clear day, you will see the majestic Mount Fansipan as you wind your way down the valley. You will also trek through oolong tea farms before heading through rice fields, pass buffalos grazing and working farmers. Along the ancient stone pathways, you can learn about the migration of the Black H’Mong people, their cultures, lifestyles and their languages. The tour includes 1 hour of driving and 2.5 hours of walking.

Mountain, Rice Fields and Waterfalls – Hard Trek 1 Day. Walk downhill towards Cat Cat Village and visit the waterfall and Hydroelectric station along the way. After a short break walk through rice fields and along the river arriving at Y Linh Ho the village of the Black H’Mong people where you will have lunch by the river.  After lunch trek through the Muong Hoa Valley visiting Lao Chai and Tavan along the way before returning by car. The tour includes 30 minutes of driving and 5 hours of walking.

Minorities, Rice Fields and Waterfall – 1 Day. Leave Sapa for a 12 km walk crossing the Muong Hoa River to the Black H’Mong village of Lao Chai and onto the Giay village of Tavan.  You will cross a suspension bridge, view a collection of rock carvings depicting the local people, stilt houses and patterns.  Lunch is at a local home before walking through a bamboo forest to Giang Ta Chai home to the Red Dao people.  After a short break at the waterfall, you start climbing uphill before your car whisks you back to Sapa. This tour includes 1 hour of driving, 4 hours of walking and 1-hour for lunch.

Hidden Trail to Red Dao Village – 1 Day. Travel by car to Mong San Village where you trek takes you along a dirt track through rice paddies and villages.  After a picnic for lunch, you start your trek downhill to Taphin, the village of the Red Dao and Black H’Mong people who live together harmoniously.  In the afternoon you trek back to the main road before heading back to Sapa by car. This tour includes 1 hour of driving and 4 hours of walking.

From H’Mong Villages to Taphin- 1 Day. Walk from Sapa town with your guide past beautiful gardens and lush green forests to the Black H’Mong village of Matra, a small village off the beaten path.  Continue along through rice terraced fields to a local school. After lunch, you will arrive at the village of Taphin where the two ethnic minorities the Black H’Mong and the Red Dao live side by side.  During the day you will visit caves and local homes before returning back to Sapa by car. This tour includes 30 minutes of driving and 4 hours of walking.

Mountain View to Riverside – 1 Day. You will start your day with a drive down the Muong Hoa Valley (which means Flower Valley) and visit a local home and school.  Here you will learn more about the two ethnic minorities the Black H’Mong and the Red Dao before having lunch in a local restaurant.  After lunch, you will hike to the village of Tavan before returning back to Sapa by car.  This tour includes 30 minutes of driving and 4 hours of walking.

Heaven’s Gate to Sapa Valley – 1 Day. You will start your tour by driving to the Silver Waterfall where you will take a short walk. Back in the car you will then enjoy the scenery along the way to Heaven’s Gate, one of the highest stretches of road in Vietnam. You will walk downhill through Hoang Lien National Park and after lunch continue trekking to the village of Sin Chai the home of  the Black H’Mong group.  In the afternoon you return to Sapa by car.  This tour includes 1 hour of driving and 4 hours of walking.

From Den Thiang Mountain Range to the Muong Hoa Valley – 1 Day. You will start your tour by driving along the National Road 4D towards the North West to reach the start of your trek. Your trek takes you uphill on a rocky path for 2 hours following a narrow valley which runs between two high mountains.  Along the way you will pass through the villages of the Black H’Mong people – Sau Chau and Sa Seng. After lunch you trek for an hour up Den Thiang Mountain to reach the H’Mong village of Hang Da.  The village overlooks the Muong Hoa Valley at sits at an altitude of 1800m above sea level. Here you will have time to visit some of the local village homes before you visit another Black H’Mong village Thao Hong Den. The next hour takes you downhill to the Pho Village and the centre of the Hau Thao Commune before heading back to Sapa by car. This tour includes 1 hour of driving and 4 hours of walking.

Village in the Ta Giang Phin

Ta Giang Phin locality – small village home along the trekking path

Sapa Off The Beaten Path – 1 Day. Your guide will collect you from the hotel and the drive will take you along National Road 4C towards O Ouy Ho Village. After driving through thick forests and passing several waterfalls you will arrive at the Red Dao village of Ban Khoang. The villagers not only produce rice here but some are also cardamom farmers. After visiting the village you trek for 10km to the Ta Giang Phin valley where the Black H’Mong live. After lunch continue trekking through terraced rice fields and along the bank of the river before returning back to Sapa by car. This tour includes 2 hours of driving and 4 hours of walking.

Markets (Things to do in Sapa besides Trekking)

children in the market

Happy children giggling at having their photo taken in the market

The Markets of the Sapa area are held weekly in different locations.  The local ethnic minorities come from their villages to town to sell their products and handicrafts.  It is also a time for the groups to converse with one another.  In the colourful and vibrant Sapa market we enjoyed the experience of seeing the ethnic minorities together in their traditional dress.  The market was alive with exotic aromas from their herbs and spices, fresh fruit and vegetables and flowers.

Can Cau Market – Saturdays only.  Can Cau Market is 20 km from the village of Bac Ha, where you will return for lunch.  You will spend the morning at the market and in the afternoon you will have time to explore the village of Trung Do, home of the Tay people and enjoy a cup of tea with them.  A cruise along the Chay River is included before your return back to Sapa by car.  This tour includes 6 hours of driving, 1.5-hour boat cruise and 30 minutes of walking. If the water level is too low for the boat cruise a buffalo cart ride will be substituted.

Bac Ha Market – Sundays only. Head out from your hotel by car to the village of Bac Ha.  Spend the morning exploring the market and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant nearby.  In the afternoon you will visit the Tay village of Trung Do where you will notice that the homes are on stilts. Enjoy a cup of tea with the locals before cruising down the Chay River.  You return back by car.  This tour includes 5 hours of driving, 1.5-hour boat cruise and 30 minutes of walking.  If the river levels are low you will enjoy a buffalo cart ride instead.

Cao Son Market – Wednesdays only. Enjoy the market in the morning where you will see local products on sale, clothing and even livestock.  After the market, you will visit either a Tay village or a H’Mong village before having lunch at Muong Khuong and returning back to your hotel. This tour includes 6 hours of driving and1 hour of walking.

Ladies in the market

Market day

Muong Hum Market – Sundays only. Travel by car to the Y Ty border with China.  Local ethnic minorities sell their products, clothing, livestock and homemade products.  You can expect to see villagers from the Ha Nhi, The Phu La, The Tu Di, Black Dao, Giay, Red H’Mong and Black H’Mong ethnic groups. Lunch will be at a local restaurant before heading to the Muong Vi caves and returning by car. This tour includes 5 hours of driving and 1 hour of walking.

Coc Ly Market – Tuesdays only. – The last 30km on your drive to Coc Ly markets will be on a rough road.  The local ethnic minorities of the Flower H’Mong, Black Dao and Tay come down to Coc Ly to sell their goods. After visiting the market you will sail down the Chay River. Lunch is on the side of the river bank or in a local village home. On your return you visit the Tay village of the Trung Do group where you can enjoy a cup of tea with them and learn about their life before returning back to Sapa. This tour includes 5 hours of driving, 1.5 hours of cruising and 30 minutes of walking.

Lung Khau Market – Thursdays only. Drive to Muong Khuong and then towards the Lung Khau market where the ethnic minorities Flower H’Mong, Tu Di, Tay and Giay sell their produce.  After exploring the market you visit a Black Dao village before returning to Muong Khuong for lunch at a local restaurant.  You return to Sapa by car. This tour includes 5 hours of driving and 30 minutes of walking.

Treks & Homestays

Rice paddy fields - things to do in Sapa

Terraced rice fields as far as the eye can see

Most of the treks start with a vehicle transfer with your English Guide.  During the trek, you will only have to carry a small daypack with your personal belongings.  Porters from the Black H’Mong tribe will carry the rest of your luggage in special watertight bags.  Some of the treks overnight at the Victoria Homestay, a H’Mong home nestled in the terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley.  After a long day of trekking your H’Mong host family will cook you a special home-cooked meal.  In the morning you will awake to mist rolling in from the mountains whilst enjoying a locally home-cooked breakfast.

Homestay facilities – the Victoria Homestay Experience is comprised of the entire first floor of the home, set up with 2 double beds and 4 single beds, accommodating up to 8 people in a traditional H’Mong wooden house.  Accommodations are simplistic, rustic and authentic with touches of Victoria hospitality found in the bed runners made from locally woven textiles, bamboo and rattan furniture and comfortable beds and bedding.

Your accommodation includes:

  • bedside lamps
  • mosquito nets
  • towels
  • bathroom and shower amenity kit
  • slippers
  • in winter months extra blankets upon request

Muong Hoa Valley Hard Trek and Victoria Homestay 1 Night 2 Days. Begin your day driving to Cat Cat village.  At the waterfall, your trek commences through the rain forests of the Hoang Lien National Park.  At Y Linh Ho village inhabited by the Black H’Mong you enjoy lunch. After lunch trek towards Muong Ha valley passing through the Black H’Mong village of Lao Chai towards the Giay village of Tavan where you will spend the night at the Victoria Homestay.  5 hours walking on day 1.

Day 2 – You head towards the village of Giang Ta home to the Red Dao people.  Along the way, you can take a short break at the waterfall before enjoying lunch at a scenic spot. After lunch, your trek takes you to the village of Su Pan where you will return to Sapa by car. Day 2 – 3 hours walking and 1 hour of driving.

NB This is a hard trek which is suitable for experienced trekkers.

Muong Hoa Valley Medium Trek and Victoria Homestay 1 Night 2 Days. Your trek starts with a drive to the Cat Cat village. Stop along the way to enjoy the waterfall and then you trek down a dirt trail, along a narrow riverbank to the Black H’Mong village of  Y Linh Ho.  Lunch will be served by the river.  After lunch trek towards the Muong Hoa Valley and arrive at the Victoria Homestay for the night. 4 hours walking on Day 1.

Day 2. Continue trekking along the Hoang Lien Mountain range with spectacular views of the Muong Hoa Valley home to the largest rice terraces in the area. Descend to the valley floor passing through the Black H’Mong village of Lao Chai. You will have lunch at the Giay village of Tavan where you can spend some time exploring.  After lunch, you have the opportunity to explore the valley on foot or swim in the local river before returning to Sapa by car. Day 2 – 3 hours walking.

Hidden Trail to a Red Dao Village 1 Night 2 Days. Travel by car to Mong en Village where you will begin walking uphill through the mountains enjoying the spectacular views.  After lunch your trek continues downhill to the village of Taphin home to the Red Dao and Black H’Mong ethnic minorities.  You can visit a local home and chat about their unique way of life, two groups living side by side.  Enjoy dinner and overnight in the village. Day 1 – 1 hour driving and 4 hours walking.

Day 2 – After breakfast start trekking towards Sapa passing through several minority groups along the way.  Lunch is at Matra home to the Black H’Mong villages. Return to Sapa. Day 2 – 4 hours walking.

Fansipan Treks

Mount Fansipan Things to do in Sapa

Mount Fansipan

Conquer Mount Fansipan – Indochina’s highest peak where you will enjoy spectacular scenery as you navigate narrow little paths as the forest closes in around you.

Your tour helpers will allow you to focus on your trek and the views and porters from the Black H’Mong group will assist in carrying your personal belongings.  At night sleep in 2-3 man tents.

The teams work hard to maximise your chances of reaching the top, other essential factors including your own strength, fitness and determination will play a major part. Climbing Mount Fansipan is not an easy trek and weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly.

The treks include:

  • English Speaking Guides
  • Black H’Mong porters to carry food and luggage
  • all transportation
  • all indicated meals
  • drinking water
  • sleeping bag and mattresses
  • waterproof bag for luggage
  • tents if needed
  • entrance fees and permits
  • accommodation in local homes or tents

Fansipan One Day Trek. A early departure at 6 am for the 15 km drive to the Ranger’s Station at a height of 2,000m above sea level. You will see 2024 floral varieties and 327 fauna species in the mountains.  The challenging ascent and descent will take approximately 8 – 9 hours. Arrive at the summit around midday and celebrate the victory with a picnic lunch with spectacular views.  The descent will take approximately 3 – 4 hours depending on your fitness level. Arrive back at the starting point to return to Sapa by car. 10 – 12 hours of walking.

Fansipan  2 Day Trek – Tram Ton Route. You start your day 2 trek by driving 30 minutes to the Silver Waterfall and then onto Heaven’s Gate the highest stretch of road in Vietnam. You will start your easy trek through the forested mountains with a stop for lunch at a scenic location. After lunch, you trek downhill towards your evening campsite which is located 2800m above sea level.  Day 1 –  30 minutes driving and 6 hours of trekking.

Day 2 – After breakfast, your climb to the top of Mount Fansipan begins. After arriving at the summit where you celebrate your success you trek down through rainforests to your campsite for lunch. After lunch return to Sapa after trekking through Hoang Lien National Park. Day 2 – 30 minutes driving and 7.5 hours walking.

Fansipan 3 Day Trek Sin Chai Route. Drive from Sapa to the Silver Waterfall and Heavens Gate, the highest stretch of road in Vietnam. Here you will start your relatively easy trek through the forested mountains with a stop for lunch at a scenic spot. In the afternoon you descend towards the campsite en route enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Sapa countryside. Arrive at your campsite late afternoon where you will have time to relax before dinner. Day 1 – 30 minutes driving and 6 hours of trekking.

Day 2 – After breakfast climb to Mount Fansipan where you celebrate your success before trekking back to your campsite for lunch. After lunch your trek takes you down steep stone steps in the Hoang Lien National Park to your campsite 2200 m above sea level.  Camp for the night. Day 2 – 8 hours of trekking.

Day 3 –  After breakfast being trekking downhill for 2 hours through protected forests. After lunch continue to the Black H’Mong village of Sin Chai, enjoy a break here before returning to Sapa by car.

Mountain Biking Tours of Sapa:

Biking through terraced rice fields - things to do in Sapa

Biking through terraced rice fields

The hotel organises the tours with a local guide and the use of high-quality mountain bikes with a helmet provided. Drinking water is provided.  The tours include all entrance fees and permits.

Explore a Dao Village – 1 Day.  This is a cycling tour through the town of Sapa and then a small trail to visit the H’mong and Dao villages of Matra and Suoi Ho. You then cycle to the village of Taphin where you will enjoy a home-hosted lunch. After lunch you cycle to the Red Dao Village of Trunh Chai and learn more about the local way of life before heading back to Sapa by bus.

Waterfall and Day Village – 1 Day. A cycle tour that takes you to the biggest waterfall in Sapa the Silver Waterfall before heading to the highest stretch of road in Vietnam known as Heaven’s Gate.  Lunch is nearby before you cycle to the Dao village of Taphin.

Amazing Roads – 1 Day. The first part of the tour is similar to the Waterfall and Day Village where you visit Silver Waterfall and Heaven’s Gate. You then cycle downhill to the Binh Lu Commune where you have lunch and visit the local market. There is an option to cycle for a further 1 hour and a 1 hour walk to visit a remote village of the Dao people. You then return to Sapa by car.

Downhill into Sapa – 1 Day. Cycle down into the Sapa valley and enjoy the scenic landscapes of rolling hillsm green valleys and rice paddy fields. You visit the Black H’mong village of Su Pan before cycling downhill to the Tay village of ban Ho where lunch will be served. Time is available to explore and the village and even to enjoy a cooling swim in the river. After lunch you walk to the Red Dao village of Nam Toong to visit the local school and one of the local homes. You return to Sapa by car.

Muong Hoa Valley – 1/2 Day. Cycle downhill to villages outside of Sapa to Lao Chai. From there you cycle a dirt path past terraced rice fields and ethnic villages of the Black H’Mong and Giay. At the village of Tavan a car will return you to Sapa.

Red Dao Village of Taphin – 1/2 day. Cycle from Sapa to the village of Taphin where you can spend some time exploring the village to learn about the Red Dao and Black H’Mong.  A car will return you to Sapa.

Where to Eat in Sapa

Ta Van Restaurant at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa – Xuan Vien Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam

Ta Van Restaurant offers all-day dining with stunning views of Mount Fansipan.  The menu consists of Western and Asian dishes. On Saturday nights you can watch a local dance performance by either the Hmong or Thai ethnic group.

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Things to do in Sapa Vietnam

 

 

 

Things to do in Sapa Vietnam

 

Things to do in Sapa Vietnam

Do You Need a Visa For Vietnam:

You will need to check if you require a Visa for Vietnam.  We have recently published an article on how to obtain a Visa for Vietnam – you can read it here.

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Read More About Vietnam and Sapa


 

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Our thanks go to the team from TMG, Victoria Voyages, Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa, Victoria Express Train and Mao our trekking guide for looking after us so well.  Our journey to Sapa was sponsored by TMG and their partners.

 

 

20 Comments

  • Great article with so much valuable information. Thank you To Travel Too! 🙂

  • Wow, the Victoria Express looks so beautiful and comfortable from inside. I would like to experience the train journey from Hanoi to Sapa. Ta Giang Phin is a serene place where you really seem to have a lot of fun. Sapa Market looks bright. I would love to experience Sapa tour with Victoria Voyages.

    • Hi Shreya
      Thanks for your comments. Hope you can get the opportunity to visit Sapa with Victoria Voyages one day – it truly is a remarkable adventure.
      Cheers Jane ane Duncan

  • Jenny says:

    I am a hiker and I had never thought of Vietnam as a trekking destination. What a great post with so much information about the different trails. I am planning a trip to South East Asia next year and it seems that Sapa has it all for me. The rice fields (that I have somehow missed in Bali) I dream about seeing, great hikes, beautiful mountain and beautiful culture.

    • Hi Jenny
      Thanks for your comments. If you loved the rice fields that are in Bali you will certainly love Sapa. Hope you can visit one day.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • sherianne says:

    I hadn’t heard of Sapa but you got my attention at rice fields and colorful villages. I would love to learn the techniques of the rice fields and wander the markets and square. A homestay would be a great way to immersed in the culture yet the tour sounds like they did a great job. The sleeper train is such a great way to travel and the hotel/spa also looks very nice.

  • Susanna says:

    I’ve seen photos of Sapa on Instagram, but I loved reading about the local culture and seeing your intimate photos of daily life. I would love to go trekking with a local guide and it’s great there are options for all levels. The market looks great as well, I always love picking up a handcrafted item when I travel. There are so many amazing things to do in Sapa Vietnam, I can’t wait to visit.

    • Hi Susanna
      Thanks for your comments.You will fall in love with Sapa. Hope you can visit.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

    • Blairvillanueva says:

      Like the Philippines and the rest of many Asian countries, Vietnam is one of the best place to travel (not to mentioned it is cheap to travel). Their culture isn’t far from us, including how gorgeous their agricultural place. Their plantation is superb, and hope their government should give them more support.

  • Medha says:

    Sapa looks gorgeous, and I would love to trek in those rich green rice fields myself! I love train journeys and the one onboard Victoria Express from Hanoi to Sapa is right up my alley, it’s the perfect way to get from one city to another. The Sapa market also looks like a great place to explore, apart from the rice fields.

    • Hi Medha
      Thanks for your comments. This was definitely a unique train journey – reliving the golden age of travel. Sapa is such a beautiful part of Vietnam we hope you can visit one day.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • Thanks much for all the details. I’m hoping to visit as many eastern countries as possible in 2021-22. Definitely Vietnam is in the list too and ofcourse the main reason is the rice terraces! They are just so fascinating and I really see it in person.
    Whoa! Victoria Express Train looks so luxurious. I’d love to travel in this & get pampared. 2 berth cabin? That sounds so romantic!!! Perfect for honeymoon!
    As a babywearing momma, I’m rather fascinated by the traditional babywearing technique, the lady is using! I’d want to learn it from them!
    Indigo dyed hemp? I have some major shopping to do in Sapa!!!!

  • Kristy Bullard says:

    I would love to take a train through Vietnam! Your train ride looks wonderful. Hiking in Vietnam sounds like a great adventure, and there seems to be plenty of hiking trails in Sapa. I would also love to see the mountains and rice fields in person.

  • ERIC FIAT says:

    dear reader ! I have been a Victoria Hotels and Resorts rep in France …some years ago ..and I must say that those intineraries about Sa Pa is excellent and full of dedicated informations. Bravo to Travel too ! Eric

    • Hi Eric
      Thank you so much for your comments. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Victoria Sapa Resort and we hope to give our readers as much information as possible to make their vacation the best ever.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

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