Sapa lies in the very north west of Vietnam near the Chinese border. Along with Halong Bay it is the “other” major excursion from Hanoi. Time permitting you can do a circuit around the northwest highlands which takes in Mai Chau, Son La, Dien Bien Phu, Lai Chau and finally Sapa before heading back to Hanoi. This would take at least a week by private vehicle and longer on local buses. During the wet season roads can be treacherous with landslides common. The best time to visit is from March to May and from September to mid-December.

In reality the vast majority of visitors arrive in Sapa from Hanoi via Mai Chau and don’t go on to discover the spectacular scenery of the Tonkinese Alps where Montagnard hill tribes have lived for centuries.

In Sapa these local people have quickly adapted to the incursion of tourism and it’s a common sight to see local women from the hill tribes pursuing foreigners down the main street bartering over colourful clothing and souvenirs. You might find this over the top in Sapa and would benefit from a trip out into the more remote villages where tourism hasn’t had such a nasty social impact. The Montagnards aren’t complaining though as many of them have grown relatively wealthy on the back of the new found cash economy.

Things to Do and See in Sapa

Sapa is such a colourful town thanks to the H’mong and Dzao

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the local hill tribes who head into the town’s market every day to trade their produce. There’s a main market every Saturday when the place is packed but there’s a lower key one every other day during the week. These people will have undergone no formal education but the arrival of foreigners has made them well aware of the value of money and many of the youngsters have picked up a basic level of English. They sell clothing and handicrafts which are popular with tourists.

Read the exciting story of some Dutch travellers who visited the Sapa Valley which they describe at Adventure Travel Tales & Tips. Many visitors sign up for trekking expeditions out to local villages and beyond. All hotels and travel agencies in town offer half day visits to Cat Cat just 3km outside of Sapa and full day hikes to Ta Phin village which lies 10km outside town. Spectacular scenery abounds on all treks in the area. Overnight stays in minority villages such as Sin Chai are also popular options.

For stunning scenery you must get out to the Tram Ton Pass 15km from Sapa. At 1900m is the highest in Vietnam and connects Sapa to Lai Chau. All around you are surrounded by almost vertical rice terraces and stunning mountain peaks with regular mists hovering on them. The 100m high Thac Bac waterfall on the same route is spectacular.


For the seriously fit there is a hike to the top of Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest peak at 3143m. This isn’t a climb to be taken lightly with potentially treacherous conditions when the weather turns bad. From Sapa to the peak is only about 20km yet experienced hikers take three or four days to complete it carrying all their own equipment as there is no accommodation en route. Taking a local guide and even porters is highly recommended. If you are up to such a challenge the rewards are breathtaking.

When to Go to Sapa

The dry season is from January to June with March to May the best time to visit. Temperatures in January and February are regularly around 0ºC. The rainy season falls in June and August. September marks the end of the rainy season which is a good time to visit then by mid-December temperatures start to fall significantly making this September to mid-December period the best time to be there.

Getting to Sapa

Sapa is 380km from Hanoi and various options exist to get there. The most popular is to sign up for one of the overnight trips which includes a train journey to Lao Cai followed by minibus transfer up to Sapa. Many such trips are on offer in the travel agencies and hotels of Hanoi but from personal experience we have no hesitation in recommending Handspan Adventure Travel.


Sapa is a mountainous town in Northen Vietnam where you write poem, have your cameras on for most of your time, cheer over a community wine pot, learn to appreciate indigenous culture or just to escape Hanoi heat and city noise.

Being one of the most attractive tourism destinations of the country, Sapa is a precious gift that Mother Nature dedicates to Vietnam.

Location and history

350km far north-west from Hanoi, Sapa, the capital of Sapa District in Lao Cai Province, lies at the altitude of 1600m. With the temperature ranging from the lowest of -1oC to the highest of 29oC, Sapa’s climate is moderate and drizzly in summer while chill and foggy in winter.

Sapa (or Chapa- the “sandy place”) first appeared in Vietnam national map in the late 1880s when the French disembarked in highland Tonkin. The first permanent French civilian resident arrived in Sapa in 1909, and by 1920, there were a number of villas being built in this area by prosperous professionals. Going through many ups and downs, nowadays, Sapa is the prominent holiday destination, favored by both locals and foreign tourists.

Sapa - fairy home of ethnic minorities

There is nowhere in Vietnam can tourists easily meet the local ethnic minorities like in Sapa. The district is the home of a great diversity of ethnic people, including five main groups of Hmong, Yao, Tay, Zay and Xa Pho. They do not live in center area but in hamlets scattering on the valleys throughout Sapa District. Actually, not until the 20th

Location Tours Sapa
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Located in the heart of the town of Sapa, Sapa Stone church built in 1895 is considered an ancient architectural imprint integrity of the French left. Cathedral was embellished and preserved, become an indispensable image referring to the town of Sapa misty.
Cathedral had several names due to the habit of the people and tourists as ancient rock Sapa Church, Church of Our Lady of Rosary, Church of stone, ... The church was built in the French colonial period, early 20th century . According to some records, the church has been selected with the facade facing east, ie towards the sunrise. Someone explained that it was the direction of God to welcome the light source. In the bell tower, which is the bottom of the poet, is turned toward the West, there is the meaning of Christ's birthplace. The church was built from hewn stone, Gothic architecture of Rome. The site links to each stone is a mixture of sand, lime and molasses. Cross section of the wing wall is designed textured to make people see sense as stalactites are flowing down, increases natural beauty. Previously, the roof is made of lime straw, has renewed and roofing tiles. The total area of ​​the site has more than 6000m2 poet.
Sapa is the stone church imprint of French architecture left most integrity. This church is located in the center of the tourist town of Sapa. In front is a large stadium. Every day, the ethnic concentration in this crowded sale, barter.

This is where the 7th weekly call your praise melodious voice of the young couple in love markets is full of ethnic culture and breath northwestern mountains. Old cathedral, also known as ice or cathedral church of Our Lady of the Rosary is located in the heart of Sapa town, was built by the French from the early 20th century Before placing the first building stone for this project , the French architect carefully selected to build the terrain.

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary is located on a prime location in the rear as Ham Rong Mountain shielding, the front is wide area, flat, can develop many cultural facilities catering for activists Assembly, standing at the four sides can be observed relics, along with two other structures built by the French as well as villa owners Bridge (now the Hoang Lien hotel) and the former District Commissioner (now the headquarters of the Tourist Information Centre Lao Cai) forming a symmetrical triangle with distinct architectural style of the French.
Selecting the direction of the church has an important spiritual significance for Catholics: First relics returned to the East, as the sun rises, direction lights welcome God. End church (bell tower area) is in the west, where the birth of Christ.
The shape and architecture of the Cathedral, built in the shape of the cross Gotic Roman architecture. Architecture is reflected in the roof, bell tower, arches ... are created for building pyramids soaring elegant strokes. The whole church is built of hewn stone (walls, floors, steeple, church yard, the surrounding embankments) are linked together by a mixture of sand, lime and molasses. Part of the wall right wing cross was textured like stalactites flowing down augment natural beauty monuments. Tiled roofs, ceilings with lime straw (now reset). Especially in the steeple ceiling (near the bell) is a mixture of lime, straw, iron, not repaired before.

With a total area of ​​church premises over 6000 m2, Sa Pa church has space for the placement of zones include: Park church, rectory Spirit, houses of priest, breeders, the angel , the front yard, the fence, the Sacred Garden. Townhouse building land alongside the church including 5 time zones.

Zone includes 7 large church over 500 m2, 20 m high bell tower section, in high bell tower 1.5 meters, molded in 1932, weighs 500 kg, resonates in almost 1km radius. Currently, on the surface of the bell-clear was the cast recording, some people donate money bell ... The bell wooden shelving Pomu remains after restoration.

Rosary Cathedral between downtown Sapa is the meeting point of many international traveler sapa every opportunity to come here. But through some restoration and renovation by the war and the destruction of nature fierce but the church retains the charm and soul of religious structures

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