2023 | Sapa Vietnam - Travel guide - All you need to know

Sapa, located in the northwest of Vietnam near the border with China, is at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level, 38 kilometers from Lao Cai province and 376 kilometers from the Hanoi capital.

This is a famous place for both local and international visitors long time ago with many wonders of nature. The stunning of the mountains combine with cloudy, the blue of the forest, beautify of rice fields, and the unique culture of the ethnic people all create a harmonious, charming, and romantic painting of Sapa. This is also the convergence of ethnic minorities living for generations. Have you come to admire and experience this exciting land yet?
>>> Read more: Sapa tours with best price and itinerary

1. The best time to visit Sapa - Vietnam

Sapa is located in the high mountains. The weather is quite cold and very convenient for travel all the year. But the best time to travel to Sapa is from September to November or from March to May. At this time, Sapa weather is pleasant, sunny and dry in the daytime, and quite cold in the evening.
April – May is the season of pouring water. The terraced fields seem to run to the horizon. This is also the time for photographers to get the best photos.
September – October is the season of ripe rice. Sapa is like wearing a shiny and sparkling yellow shirt. It will be best if you go in the middle or the end of September. October, many places have been harvested.
December to February is very cold. Snow and ice may appear. This is also the blooming season of peach blossoms, rhododendrons.


ripe terraced rice season sapa

Ripe terraced rice season Sapa

2. Hanoi to Sapa – How to get to Sapa

Currently, Sapa has no airport, so there are no flights to Sapa. Bus and train are popular.
By Train: Formerly, the train is very popular, which is the best way to get to Sapa. There are 2 types of train SP (faster) LC (slower) departure from Hanoi railway station in the evening from 19h – 22h and arrive in Lao Cai early in the morning (5:00 -7:00 am)
There is plenty type of tickets for you can choose such as soft seat, hard seat, soft sleep, hard sleep… the price from 180.000vnd (hard seat) to 560.000vnd (soft sleep) all departure from Hanoi railway station.


how to get to sapa

Our client takes the overnight train to Sapa.

By Bus:
Nowadays the bus is very convenient, and it goes on the new highway, it takes only 4 hours to get to Lao Cai, instead of 8 hours like the train. There are many bus companies offering bus service and limousine cars. Price from 180.000vnd to 400.000vnd/person/way. You should choose reputable addresses to book bus tickets to avoid scams. Please feel free to contact us to get the best quality and price.
By Motorbike:
This is a suitable choice for people who like to adventure. You can reach Sapa at the cost of less than 150.000vnd for gasoline for a distance of nearly 400km. You can explore by yourself, stop and take photos at any time you want. However, it requires good health, persistence, a great experience for the driver.


3. Ethnic minorities in Sapa

Sa Pa is home to six ethnic groups: Viet, Mong, Dao Do, Tay, Day, Xa-dep. Although they have a cultural influence on each other, each ethnic group still retains its own cultural identity and the customs that have been maintained for many generations. They still keep and preserve their customs, traditions, language, and festivals.

ethnic minorities in sapa 1

Ethnic minorities in Sapa

4. What we can do in Sapa

4.1. Trekking to hill tribal village

Visit Sapa. You can see many ethnic people with a variety of cultures, costumes, and languages. Trekking to visit their village is one of the best ways to experience and learn the daily lives of ethnic people. One of the best ways to trek is Cat Cat, Ta Van, Ta Phin, or Sin Chai village.

sapa trekking tour 

Visitors trekking at Sapa

4.2. Rent motorbike and driver around

This is a great experience. You can rent for a day, and the price is around 10USD for a good motorbike. On the way have many things to see and do not forget to bring your camera. However, the road in Sapa town is quite steep and dangerous. If you have never ridden before, this is not a place to learn.
rent motorbike sapa

Drive motorbike at Sapa - photo internet

4.3. Stay in homestay and communicate with different ethnic tribes

Stay in a homestay with local people is always one of the best experiences. You can stay in the villages with an incredible setting in nature. The villages are often located among the terraced rice fields perched on the mountain slope. On the way get there you can pass by many different villages, occupied by various tribes. You will have a chance to interact with local people here and understand more about their culture.

homestay in sapa 

Our client stays in a homestay with local people.

4.4. Conquer Fansipan - Roof of Indochina

Fansipan is an elevation of 3,143 meters above sea level and in Hoang Lien Son range mountain center. You can contact a tour company to the organizer or join a group with a local guide to conquer Fansipan. Another option if you do not have much time, you can take a cable car to reach the top of Fansipan in 20 minutes.

conquer fansipan 

Conquer Fansipan - photo internet

4.5. Silver waterfall – or Love waterfall (Thác Bạc)

Located about 12km from Sapa town, Silver Waterfall possesses the wild and idyllic beauty of the mountains and forests with the rushing water pouring down the waterfall, splashing white bubbles like silver rain, that is why local people call " Thac Bac" mean Silver Waterfall.

silver water fall 

Silver waterfall- photo

4.6. Heaven Gate – Cổng Trời

If you are looking for a panorama view in Sapa, you should not miss Heaven Gate. This place is located more than 10km from Sapa town to the North, from above you can see the vast mountains and hills, with fresh air. Do not forget to bring light clothes.

4.7. Visit Sapa stone church

Sapa stone church, built-in 1895, is considered as the most ancient architectural from French colonial. The church has been embellished and preserved, becoming an indispensable image when referring to the misty Sapa town.


4.8. Muong Hoa Valley

Muong Hoa valley is located in Hau Thao commune, about 10km southeast of Sapa town center. This is the place where the Black H'Mong, Red Dao, Giay ethnic groups are living.
You should not miss this place if you like to get the magnificent beauty of terraced fields of ripe golden rice. Like a beautiful picture woven by the talented hands of nature.

4.9. Ham Rong Mountain

Ham Rong Vietnamese meaning "Jaws of a dragon." From the bottom up to the peak, it seems like a dragon is jaw baring its fangs. It is 1800m high above sea level and covers 148 ha, look like a big garden. This is a beautiful place to visit with many flowers, trees also have an orchid garden. The entrance fee is 70.000vnd/ adult and 20.000vnd for children.

5. What to eat in Sapa

5.1. Thang Co

This is the traditional food of H'Mong people. Previously this amazing food was only available at markets or traditional festivals, but now it is widely sold and most restaurants in Sapa. It is cooked from horse meat, horse viscera, horse bone, and 27 different spices such as cinnamon, anise, aromatic leaves, etc.
The best time to eat Thang co is on cold rainy days or winter. When the weather is cold, sitting around Thang Co hot pot, evaporating, adding a little corn wine, the wild vegetable will be perfect.

5.2. Cap Nach Pork

This is a specialty Sapa and Northwest of Vietnam. The pork in the mountains is very firm and without fat; therefore, their meat is much better than regular pork meat.
The pieces of pork are soft, fragrant, and sweet, not greasy. The golden, crispy skin is seasoned carefully, richly, and sipped with a bit of wine will make you "fall in love" with this dish right from the bite.

5.3. Barbecue in Sapa

Barbecue in Sapa is exceptional and completely different from the grilled food in other places. Because it is marinated and grilled with wild vegetables, spices are only available here. It seems Sapa any ingredient can become a grilled food, from vegetables, eggs, meat, fish, birds, etc.

5.4. Try Salmon hot pot

Salmon raises a lot in Thac Bac, Ban Khoang, and Seo My Ty areas by natural water sources, so the fish is fragrant and greasy. It can make much different food such as salmon salad, salmon porridge and the most famous is salmon hotpot.

5.5. Seven-color sticky rice

Walking around Sapa, you will quickly see vendors selling unique 7-color sticky rice. This sticky rice comes from the Nung Din people, has seven colors. Each color has a different meaning.

6. Where to stay in Sapa

Sapa is one of the most destinations in the North of Vietnam. There are many options for visitors, from luxury hotels, resorts with high-class standards to 3 stars hotels, guest houses, homestay, etc.
However, in our opinion, homestay is one of the best choices. The price is a very suitable and great experience – you will stay with local people, explore daily life, interact, and learn more about their culture.
Here is some suggestion from Go Viet Trip: Topas Ecolodge, Silkpath resort- 5 stars, Victoria Sapa Resort- 4 stars, Chau Long Hotel- 4 stars, Sapa valley view hotel - 3 stars, Sapa relax hotel & Spa.
Besides that, there are many homestays in different villages. Please feel free to contact us to get the best homestay and prices in Sapa.

7. How much time should I spend in Sapa?

That is a very common question, and many clients ask Go Viet Trip. Because located from Hanoi to Sapa is quite far and takes quite a long time to get there, plus there are so many things to do there, we would like to suggest you stay at least 2 days still 4 days to enjoy the full experience in Sapa.

7.1. Tips for visitors

The weather in Sapa is a pretty cool and cold event in summer in the evening. The temperature is quite low, you should bring a light jacket, especially in winter do not forget to bring warm clothes.
Visiting Sapa, you have to walk and trekking quite a lot, so wear comfortable trekking shoes.
Should not arbitrarily take pictures of ethnic people, especially women and children. If they know you take pictures, they will ask you to pay for the photo or buy some things.
Do not use discriminatory words such as "ethnicity", but call it the Mong, the Dao, etc.
Here it is a small town and not too many ATMs. You should bring some cash.
We hope that this article will help you understand more about Sapa if you need any more help. Please feel free to contact Go Viet Trip: Email:
Email: or hotline +84968667589. We are guarantee about quality and prices. Get a full refund if you do not feel happy with our services.

Author Hoan Nguyen

He has over 10 years of experience working in the tourism sector and operator. He has traveled to many places in Vietnam and around the world.


author hoan
My name is Hoan and I come from Hanoi, with more than 10 years working in the tourism industry (both as a tour guide then tour operator). I am very proud to say that I can give you the best advice for your trip to beautiful Vietnam.

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