The city of Sapa in Northeastern Vietnam is a delightful old frontier town high in the mountainous region of the same name. It has, in recent years, become the center of trekking holidays in the country. Many of Vietnam’s ethnic hill tribes live here including the Hmong, Dao, Giáy, Pho Lu, and Tay. The population of the area is estimated to be around 32,000 of which only 5% are Viet (or Kinh). The area is famous for its terraced hillsides on which the locals cultivate rice. These terraces present a real picture postcard beauty.
The city itself is a quiet place, standing some 5,000 feet above sea level, in the midst of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, which form the start of what eventually becomes the Himalayas. The nearby Fansipan Mountain is the highest peak in Vietnam tours 2017. The thousands of trekkers that visit each year, do liven the town up somewhat. Hotels and bars are being rapidly built and there is no doubt that it is changing. Local people make ethnic clothes, blankets, silver trinkets, embroidered pillow cases and friendship bands which have become popular items with the tourists. The ethnic people have impressive English skills and welcome tourists, but bear in mind that they do not all wish to have their photographs taken.
It is always best to ask first. Many of the locals work as tour guides, proudly showing people the area in which their families have lived for centuries. Sapa and the surrounding area is incredibly beautiful and a worthy addition to any Vietnam tours sitinerary.
There are no flights into Sapa. Fly to Hanoi then make your journey from there. Vietnam Airlines customer service: +84 (0) 20 3263 2062 Vietjet customer service: +84 (0) 1900 1886
Overnight train from Hanoi is by far the best way to get to Sapa. You arrive at Lao Cai on the Chinese border at day break where a fleet of minibuses is waiting to transfer people into the town center. Book your tickets from Hanoi main train station.
Sapa bus station is in the town center by the lake. Bus journeys are available from Hanoi and a new bus route has recently opened up, direct from Halong Bay. Be warned the mountain roads can be extremely dangerous.
Once you are in Sapa, it is qa very small town. Most people simply work from place to place. Bearing in mind this is a trekking center many journeys outside the town are also generally made on foot. Taxis, jeeps, motorbikes and minibuses are available if needed.