Sapa travel guide: how to get to Sapa, hotel tips, weather, warnings, trekking tips and other travel advices
Some tips for travelling Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam:
1. How to get there
Nowaday, visiting Sapa is no longer difficult because the transport systems has been upgraded and improved a lots compared to the past. To go to Sapa, tourists can travel by several different paths, such as: the train and the sleeper bus or express bus from Hanoi capital.
* By express bus
The Noi Bai – Lao Cai highway was completed in 2014. It has been open to traffic and becomes the shortest route for tourists to Lao Cai to reach Sapa. The Sapa Express bus, Hanoi – Lao Cai – Sapa departs daily at 7 a.m. It takes about 5 or 6 hours of driving from Hanoi to Sapa. Depending on traffic and weather. You will enjoy the view of the Vietnamese countryside along the road. Most travel agencies in Hanoi can arrange the ticket, costing about USD16/person/way (410,000 - 450,000 VND) or you can book throught some transport agents directly, such as:
- Hung Thanh travel: +84 4 3633 7575
- Vietbus: +84 4 3627 27 27
- Sapa Express +84 4668 21555
* By train
Most visitors choose to get from Hanoi to Sapa by overnight train although it takes their 8 hours to get Sapa. The final 34 kilometers to Sapa is travelled by minibus or private transfer. Train from Hanoi leave from station B, which is reached by crossing the tracks a few hundred meters north of the main station – onto Nguyen Khuyen – then turning left onto Tran Quy Cap. Agents for the private carriages will provide you with a voucher for your journey, which you will need to exchange for a ticket at the operator’s desk in the station.
Make sure you’re there in plenty of time. You can choose to travel by train on day or night, but almost visitors choose to travel by train at night. The night trains often departs at between 8pm and 10pm, and you can catch a good sleep before getting woked up by the beautiful mountain scenery at dawn. The day trains takes longer time to travel as it makes more stop, but you might love the countryside which exuding brilliantly in the sunshine. Names of train from Hanoi to Lao Cai is LC1 (22:00pm), LC3 (6:10am), LC4 (9:15am), SP1 (21:10pm), SP3 (21:00pm), SP3 (21:50pm), SP4 (21:00pm). Ticket for night train is $35-180/person/way and ticket for day train is $10-20/person/way. Private operators included: Victoria Express, Sapaly Express, Fanxipan Express, Livitrans, Hara, Orient Express... You can directly book ticket through hotline: +84 4 38 770 298
Or if you have any questions please contact us at +84 4 3923 1508 or hotline: +84 983 730 882 - +84 987 415 474 . Vietnam Charm Travel welcome you!
2. When to go
The best time to travel to Sapa is from March – May and end of September – November:
- In March – May: In this time, you will feel the the fresh air of nature, cool weather, dry night, in the morning, the weather is cloudy, you will see the cloud will go front of you and this make you feels like you are in paradise. This is rice cultivation time of local people, you will see the image of farming of Sapa residents. The weather in March – May is not rainy, so you can go everywhere in Sapa in order to enjoy this beauty.
- In the end of September – November: You will see the gorgeous Sapa because in this time is Autumn – every is so great such as Warm and sunny, cold dry air,… You can walk with your friends, your family, your love,… to view Muong Hoa valley, rice terraces or going to Ta Phin ward.
When you travel to Sapa in the end of November, the winter is coming, the weather is cooler not too cold, if you walk to the town, you will feel the town is floating on a cloud, you have to be close to see the face of people or everything around. But the air in the end of November at Sapa is so clear, it is suitable for visitors always live with noise and dust.
Actually, you can visit Sapa anytime when you want because this is one of popular Vietnam destinations. But the best time to travel to Sapa we mentioned is the time you will see all of the most beautiful sightseeings of Sapa, the weather in this time is also good, especially for people prefer taking photos, they will have got many great pictures.
3. Where to stay
Sapa has a hundred of hotels and resorts from hostels with a cheap price to luxury resorts on the high hill. We will recommend for you those hotel which own nice view and the best services. However, a lot of hotels and resorts are being built now, view of some hotels is limited by height of those hotels. You should check the hotel before.
The number of tourists is more and more increasing, making the price more competitive. However, the price will be quickly changed depending on the season and the number of tourists. Sometime hotel price can be doubled in holidays and at the weekend. You should booked hotel before you visit here.
You should also check heating system of the hotel, because if the system is old version making exhaust system is not good, you may be inconvenient when sleeping.
* Hotels with the reasonable price
- Pinochio hotel: 15 Muong Hoa Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3871 876
- Queen hotel: 9 Muong Hoa Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 091 210 99 29
- Than Thien (Friendly) hotel: 11 Muong Hoa Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3872606 or 0984353577
- Hoang Ha hotel: 8 Thac Bac Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3 872 105 or 0977 065 279
- Thien Ngan hotel: 21 Cau May Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3873 225
* Hotel with medium price
- Cat Cat View hotel: 46 Phan Xi Pang Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3871946
- Casablanca hotel: 26 Dong Loi Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3872 667
- Sapa Eden hotel: 64 Phan Xi Pang Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3873 663
- Sapa Luxury hotel: 36 Phan Xi Pang Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3872 771
- Cat Cat hotel: 42 Phan Xi Pang Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3502 681
* The hotel has an impressive view
- Chau Long Hotel: 24 Dong Loi Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3871 245
- Holiday Sapa hotel: 16 Muong Hoa Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3873 874
- Sapa Panorama hotel: 10 Hoang Dieu Str, Sapa town, Lao Cai - 0214 3771 535
* Hotels with high price
- Topas Eco Lodge: Sapa town, Lao Cai - 04 3715 1005
Located under the slopes of the valley, this high- quality hotel has 25 bungalows with thatched roofs and stone floors. Waiters in the hotel are ethnic minorities.
Sapa is among the best places all over the country for trekking. Depending on their trekking skills and ability, tourists can choose the trekking route which is most suitable, as Sapa offers a wide range of trekking spots from easy to hard level. Treks are easy to arrange once you arrive in Sapa, so don’t bother making bookings in advance. Most of the guides are local and they speak great English, so know that you’re giving back to the local community when you book a trekking guide.
The average price for short- term motorbike rental is about 120.000VND (~5,5 USD) /day. If you rent the motorbike overnight, the price will be higher.
- Mr. Chung: 33 Muong Hoa Street (+84 916 053009)
- Ms. Ly: (+84 915 190874)
The average price for short- term bicycle rental is about 10USD for full day (8:00 – 17:00) and 6 USD for half day (8:00 – 12:30 or 13:00 – 17:00).
- Sapa Ethnic Travel: 4 Hoang Dieu Street (Tel: +84 203 508 399 / +84 979 110 111
- Hoang Ha Hotel: +84 918 324 535
* Xe om (Motorbike taxi)
- Nearby hotels, you can easily find this service with the driver hanging a sign reads “XE OM” in front of the motorcycle.
- Ask the price clearly to reach an agreement before sitting down on the pillion. You should ask the receptionist for bargaining the price.
As a tourist attraction in the northwest mountains of Vietnam, Sapa is an ideal destination for those who are looking for unique shopping experiences in an area of picturesque hilly nature and rich ethnic cultures. Strolling around Sapa town’s placid streets, you will soon find some souvenir shops here and there. They all could make good presents for you to bring home.
* Indigo Cat
Indigo Cat is a lovely, authentic H’Mong handicrafts shop at 46 Phan Xi Pang Street in Sapa Town just below the Cat Cat View Hotel. It is owned by an H’Mong woman named Pang. She said that her shop was the only H’Mong owned boutique in Sapa. All items are made by herself and her family members. Many of these handmade items cannot be found in other places. Indigo Cat shop offers a wonderful selection of interesting local crafts including bags, clothing, pillows and belts. She even offers embroidery classes so that you can try your hand at learning the local craft. You might gain a deeper appreciation for the amount of work that goes into the garments the women are wearing, and next time you buy something from free people, know the difference. Highly recommend that if you visit Sapa, take a visit to Indigo Cat.
* Ethnic minority fair markets
What is more interesting is that you save your time trekking down the hills and discover traditional markets of local ethnic minorities like Sapa market, Bac Ha market, Coc Ly market. Here you will have a chance to buy souvenirs from the local hilltribes themselves. They trek surprisingly long distances to gather here and sell you their hand – made nice items, most impressive of which are colorful clothes made of local fabrics.
* Local street vendors
From Sapa Town, about a 5 minute walk to the main square, you will find many the hill tribe vendors with crafts ranging from bags, wallets and pillow covers.
Sapa town is also famous for the night market which offers different delicious dishes, most of which are grilled or roasted ones. Visiting Sapa without trying a dish of baked or grilled meat, beef, fish, and vegetables is a great pity. There are many other delicious dishes to be explored in Sapa. If you have chance, do make a cuisine trip along Sapa night market and enjoy the moments.
6. What to bring in your Sapa trip
You may choose travelling to Sapa by night trains, whose cabins are with small berths and limited space, so it will be more convenient to bring with you light & small lugguage with necessary things. Take a notice that the weather in Sapa is quite cold and changeable, bring warm coat or sweater, rain coat in case of raining. Also, trekking is an interesting activities to visit remote local ethnic villages, so remember to arm with you good trekking shoes.Moreover, trips to Sapa, you trek to remote & poor villages, you can bring pens or notebooks to give local children as small gifts, that could be a great support to their education process and encourage them better in learning.
Those are some travel tips to Sapa - Bac Ha market tour, we hope that they are useful for your travel plan to visit Sapa - Bac Ha region.If you are in need of the service of Sapa Tours or Sapa - Bac Ha Tours, overnight train tickets Hanoi - Lao Cai - Hanoi, private car rental with driver Hanoi - Sapa - Hanoi, feel free to drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or viber us at +84 983 730 882 or +84 987 415 474. We are happy to be your best travel partner for your Vietnam tours. We wish you an enjoyable vacation in Sapa, Vietnam
It can be too much of an adventure trying to get there as individual traveller. Arrange the trip with a reputable tour operator to ensure smooth, risk free travel.
Traveling on week days is both easier and cheaper than weekends (lower hotel costs, more relaxed travel schemes)
Always make sure you have return tickets in hand.
Get to Hanoi and Lao Cai at least 30 minutes before departure – but be ready for a sudden or late departure without any explaination.
Make sure there is something to define the person who picks you up (i.e, his name, cell number and so on)
Say “no” very firmly when someone offers you something you do not want to buy. If you show the slightest interest, they may well follow you all the way up the road, until they find anther likely target.
Expect to bargain everything down to about half the original price asked. And expect most products to be Chinese instead of being authentically local.