Located in the most remote northwestern mountain areas of Vietnam, Sapa has long been a fascinating tourist hot spot thanks to its breath-taking sceneries filled with rugged rice terraces, lush vegetation, steep valleys, gorgeous mountain peaks, and passes. Sapa is also famous for its local ethnicities and unique cultural diversity. An ideal itinerary to travel from Hanoi to Sapa is within 3 nights 4 days or longer if you wish to enjoy the rice terraces and peaceful atmosphere of this northern authentic town. Below are the top experiences you must not miss while traveling from Hanoi to Sapa
Reach the Fansipan Mount while in Sapa
Fanxipan Mount is by far one of the most famous checkpoints of Sapa. You need to be lucky enough to reach Sapa on a sunny day to enjoy the picturesque viewpoint of Sapa’s mountains, clouds and villages downhills from over 3000 meters above. Taking a cable car up and down the Fanxipan costs 600.000 VND or about 30 USD per person per ride. The cable car does not take you to the mount, but to the last station where you need to climb 600 stairs to reach the peak. Hiking from land to the mountain top will take an average climber at least 1 to 2 days as you must be ready to camp and spend the night on the mountain.
Get a panoramic shot of Sapa from Ham Rong Park
Whilst Fansipan offers a splendid view of Sapa down your feet, you may want to take a more close-up look of Sapa from Ham Rong Mountain Park. The name Ham Rong derives from the mountain shaped like a dragon’s jaw heading towards the sky. Passing through the 148 ha area, you will come across several stunning viewpoints including several Cong Troi (Heaven Gates) and the San May (Cloud Yard).
Stay and trek with the locals at their homestays in local villages
Regardless of living in a far remote area, local people at Sapa speak English incredibly well due to a rising demand from the tourism industry. Expect to receive lots of invitations and offers on the way by locals to stay at their home-stays and join daily trekking tours, priced ranging from 20 USD per day. Staying with the locals for the experience is highly affordable and recommended. It is also possible to do the trekking yourself through villages famous for rice terraces sceneries. Some of the most popular villages for trekking include Cat Cat, Ta Phin and Ta Van.
Groove through the hills and local villages by motorbike
Besides trekking, one of the best way to discover different corners of Sapa is by motorbike. You will get much easier and faster access to many hidden sights including Muong Hoa Valley, Sapa Ancient Rock Field, and Heaven Gate. O Quy Ho Mountain pass offers the most spectacular and dangerous driving tracks within Sapa. Once having conquered the 2000-high top of O Quy Ho, you will be rewarding with a breath-taking view.
Wander to hunt stunning waterfalls
Three of the most famous waterfalls spread throughout different areas of Sapa are Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall), Thac Tinh Yeu (Love Waterfall) and Coc San.
Learn the history of local ethnicities
While Ta Van and Ta Phin villages offer top-notch landscape sights, Cat Cat village is home to the outdoor museum of local ethnic groups. From here you can learn a lot from seeing the actual shaman house, local houses and authentic textile and handmade products made by the H’mong people.
How to get from Hanoi to Sapa
Taking the overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa is the most common, comfortable and safest way, compared to taking a bus or motorbike, and a lot cheaper than renting a car with a private driver.
The journey takes around 8 hours and costs approximately the same as traveling by bus. Reserve your train cabin in advance is highly recommended as tickets are likely to sell out fast during the summer season, harvest season in autumn, holidays and weekends.