Sapa Lao Cai is a mountainous district of Lao Cai province in the northwest region of Vietnam. Located at 1500 meters (4921 feet) above sea level in Vietnam’s remote northwest mountains, Sapa is famous for both its fine, rugged scenery and also its rich cultural diversity. Sapa district covers an area of 677 square kilometres, offering a wide range of activities and tours. Options include jungle treks, hiking, trekking homestay tours, road cycling, mountain climbs, biking holidays, ethnic market visit…
Sapa district contains 1 township and 17 communes including Sapa town, Hau Thao, Ban Phung, Ta Phin, Nam Sai, Thanh Phu, Sa Pa, Lao Cai, Trung Chai, San Sa Ho, Thanh Kim, Ban Ho, Su Pan, Suoi Thau, Ta Van, Ban Khoang, Ta Giang Phinh, and Nam Cang.
Sapa and its surrounding region is host to many hill tribes, as well as rice terraces, lush vegetation, and Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam. Great views of the area can be had (weather permitting) from the nearby hills. One of these has been built up into a tourist attraction (“Ham Rong Resort”) with various gardens (orchid, European), ethnic minority dance performance areas, viewpoints, and restaurants. It’s a short walk south from the central square and then up some stairs.
If you got time then it’s worth going to the “Sa Pa Culture Museum” where you can learn about the history of Sa Pa and the costumes & traditions of the Ethnic groups of Sa Pa. The museum is located behind the Tourist Office.
It’s also worth to check some of the colonial buildings left by the French colonialists such as the church,the square and Town Hall building. While walking in the mountains you will encounter many hill tribes such as the Red Dao tribe.
Getting to Sapa
The best way to get to Sapa is to take the overnight train from Hanoi. There are several night trains each day from and to Hanoi. Most of the night trains depart from Hanoi train station at about 20.00 and arrive Lao Cai train station at about 5.00 am. There are 220 Volt / 50 Hz power outlets in the soft seat coaches. Upon your arrival at Lao Cai train station, Lao Cai city you can either rent a car or take Lao Cai local bus to get to Sapa townlet, Sapa district.
Rent a car from Hanoi is a great way to get to Sapa. It takes about 6 hours to reach Lao Cai city, and two more hours to get to Sapa town.
When to go
As the district is mostly mountainous, it experiences a dry cold climate from October to March, while the tropical monsoon is rainy season which lasts from April to September. The annual average temperature is 23 °C (73 °F). The temperature generally ranges between18 °C (64 °F) and 28 °C (82 °F).
In winter, the weather in Sapa is invariably cold, wet and foggy. If you choose to visit Sapa Vietnam in winter, bring along warm clothing or prepare to be cold and miserable, as many hotels do not have efficient heating in their rooms. During that time, the more upscale hotels that do have heating fill up quickly, so make reservations in advance if you can afford not to freeze.
It rains very often during the month of August, especially in the mornings – though this is also the time when scenery is at its greenest and most beautiful.
What to do
Trekking is the best way to discover the mountainous district of Sapa. Hiking offers the chance to explore Sapa tropical forest, luxuriant mountains, remote hill tribe villages, terraced paddy fields. Whether it is a single day hike or multi day treks we have something to suit everybody. Maybe you just want to trek through remote hill tribe villages or maybe you really want to get away from the crowds we can customize an trekking itinerary for you.
Sign-up for a trekking trip that enables you to stay overnight at one of the villages. The homestay experience is not uncomfortable (some homestays have hot water showers, while some don’t. Red Dao homestays may have herbal baths. Bring a sweater, as the villages can be very chilly at night and there are no heat sources of any kind except for the cooking fire in the kitchen. Thick blankets will be provided when you sleep. If you want to go to Fansipan mountain, you will need a proper guide and several licenses. It is ilegal to trek the mountain alone and there is people controling the entrance.
We can combine most Vietnam treks in Sapa with other activities such as road cycling, mountain bike tours, mountain climbs, caving, educational, community travel. If you need further information or you can’t see what you are looking for please contact us we will be happy to help.
Cycling is another great way to discover Sapa Vietnam. The less-traveled district of Sapa has sealed, paved cycle routes, single dirt tracks, mountain trails offering fantastic bike rides for enthusiastic road cyclists and mountain bikers. We have a range of road cycling tours and mountain bike tours around Sapa Lao Cai and the north west region of Vietnam, providing options for both those who want some mountain challenges and those who prefer long flat rides.
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