Explore the culture of Sapa in Vietnam

If you’re visiting Vietnam and want to see as much of the culture as possible you should make time for to a trip to Sapa in northern Vietnam. Located in the mountainous Lao Cai province about 350km northwest of Hanoi, Sapa is a great travel tip and gives you a great chance to see Vietnam’s colourful ethnic minorities and explore some of its most spectacular scenery. For a visit in summer try to go midweek, because the town can be very busy at weekends.
It is also a perfect place for any independent traveller. If you want to know about more places, subscribing to the newsletter of Don’t worry Just travel is a good idea! Please register your email address on the right side.
Sapa is a remote and rather quiet town in the mountains of North Vietnam. It offers you cultural experiences and has numerous hiking possibilities. Read on!

For your travel planning

There are several options for travelling to Sapa Vietnam depending on where you start from. Most visitors travel from Hanoi. It’s possible to get there by road, but the route goes through the mountains and is badly maintained in places. This makes for a long and tiring journey. It’s much better to go by train to Lao Cai then do the final one hour leg to Sapa by bus. The ideal way to do it is to travel overnight and pay a little extra for a soft sleeper; the sleeper cars have air conditioning, so you’ll arrive in Lao Cai relaxed and fresh. If you book the train at your hotel or travel agent you can also arrange a place on a minibus shuttle to Sapa.
If you plan to travel from China your best option is to get a train from Kunming City to the border town of Hekou; there are two trains each day. In Hekou go through the customs point at the border, and from there it’s only a five minute walk to Lao Cai where you can get a seat on a bus to Sapa.

Sapa is a remote and rather quiet town in the mountains of North Vietnam. It offers you cultural experiences and has numerous hiking possibilities. Read on!

On arrival in Sapa you’ll find a bustling town that you can easily spend a couple of days exploring. How far you venture is up to you. Many people enjoy touring the old French buildings and wandering through the many markets, catering for both Vietnamese tastes and the Hmong, Tày, Dao and Giay tribespeople who make up much of the local population. The town is small enough to see on foot, or for around 2 USD a local will take you round on a motorcycle. Away from the friendly chaos of the markets Sapa has a very relaxed atmosphere and the locals are welcoming.
You have a range of accommodation options in Sapa. There are several hotels in the town, most of them new and reasonably priced. There are also many private houses. If you want to experience Vietnamese life close up an excellent option is a homestay room in one of the surrounding villages. A night’s stay, a meal and breakfast is usually less than 20 USD.

Sapa is a remote and rather quiet town in the mountains of North Vietnam. It offers you cultural experiences and has numerous hiking possibilities. Read on!

If you enjoy hiking and trekking you’ll find many routes around Sapa. Any hotel can advise you on good choices and, if necessary, help you arrange transport or a local guide. Be aware that many of the treks are over rough terrain, so make sure you have strong shoes or boots. Take water, too. Also be prepared for the weather. It can be cool around Sapa and unless you’re there in summer rain is likely. If you need warm clothing to cope with the weather you’ll find good, cheap shops beside the Catholic church.
Sapa is very different from Hanoi and Saigon. The pace of life is different and you’ll see a much more authentic Vietnamese culture. It’s also very affordable, and there’s plenty to do once you’re there. A trip is easy to plan and most Hanoi hotels will be able to help you organise it.


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10 responses to “Explore the culture of Sapa in Vietnam”

  1. Sapa is the best place in Vietnam for hikers and trekkers or for those who love stunning landscapes. Beautiful scenery and hill tribe people have colorful and unique culture. I’ve been to Sapa many times but Sapa never fails to amaze me. I love taking my dirt bike to conquer all the buffalo trails of the mountainous Hoang Lien Son range. Love it!

    And guess what Charles? They’ve already built a cable car system to take people to the top of Fancipan. And there í s a brand new highway connecting Hanoi and Lao Cai. It is now easier to go to Sapa than ever. Of course it gives more chance for people who wanna do Sapa. but the town is now crazily crowded. At the weekend if you don’t book a room then enjoy sleeping outside. haha

    1. Thanks for all your comments, Pham.

  2. Interesting place Sapa – it was founded in 1920 as a Base for the French Armed Forces. Some nice treks from there including Cat Cat where you can buy all manner of cottage crafts, and Heaven’s Gate for some stunning views. Well worth a couple of days if you are meandering through Vietnam.

    1. Hello Phil,
      Thank you for your comment. Sounds interesting. 🙂

  3. Harry

    As long as its clean, I will lay my head anywhere for 20 USD a night 🙂 Looks good value for money. Thanks for the heads up on cheap accommodation.

    1. Hello Harry,
      You’re welcome and thanks for the comment.

  4. Natalya Kupres

    I couldn’t help but notice ” A night’s stay, a meal and breakfast is usually less than 20 USD.” Is this confirmed? I love travelling Sapa seems to be an affordable vacation, I hear their foods are amazing. Will definitely note this down for when next I decide to go for a vacation, Sapa is on top 5 vacation spots

    1. Dear Natalya,
      Thank you for your comment.
      If you are not too picky it is possible. You have to go to a guesthouse or hotel run by locals.

  5. Thank you Michelle. You’re welcome!

  6. Michelle23

    Thank you for posting about Sapa. This is very useful for me as I will be there in March next year. Looking forward to trekking through the Hoang Lien Mountains