Sapa Vietnam Travel Guide

Sapa Travel Guide

If you are looking for a destination that will take you away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Sapa is definitely the best spot to select.  Read this Ultimate Sapa travel guide for everything you need to know about planning your dream trip to Sapa with all detailed information about things to do, where to eat, where to sleep, how to get to Sapa and so on. The article was written by a local guide who has been working in the tourism industry for years and have travelled to Sapa a ton of times. Also, I spend hours writing this Sapa travel guide to provide with such helpful information, all for your perfect Sapa trip. 

Sapa overview

Sapa is located in the northwest region of Vietnam, a 4-hour drive from Hanoi, which is known as a must-see destination that offers a unique travel experience. Sapa is known for its breathtaking scenery of terraced paddy fields, lush green massive mountain ranges and diversity in culture of minority ethnic groups such as Hmong, Dzao, Dzay living in the area. This is an incredibly picturesque town that makes it one of the tourist destinations in the world.

The best time to visit Sapa

Sapa is an ideal place for those who like chilly weather. What makes Sapa unique is that you feel like there are 4 seasons in a day during the summer: warm in the morning, a bit hot during the day, cool in the late afternoon and cold in the late night. During the winter, it’s quite cold the temperature range from 2 degrees Celcius to 15 degrees Celcius, sometimes, it is snowy and freezing cold. The best time to travel and visit Sapa is from May to September and from November to February. The summertime from May to September, which is a great time to see the amazing scenery of the terraced paddy fields as well as to stay away from overheat days in Hanoi.  From Nov to Feb is the best time to experience the low average temperate, sometimes snowy. We rarely see snow in Vietnam so it’s so interesting to see the snowflakes, play and take photos with them. 

How to Get In Sapa?

At this moment, there’s is no airport in the Sapa area but good news. The new airport will be built in a few years in Bao Yen district which is two and a half hours from Sapa. Anyway, there is a long way travelling from the new airport to Sapa town. In my opinion, it’s good for those who take flights from the Central and Southern regions to see Sapa directly instead of travelling via Hanoi. Or Sapa will be the last stop for the Northern Vietnam trip before flying out to other regions of Vietnam. 

By train

If you are travelling to South East Asia for the first time, why don’t you take an overnight train to Sapa from Hanoi, which takes eight and a half-hour? You also need to take a bus ride from the train station in Lao Cai to Sapa for another 45-minutes. Taking a train ride is a great way to save time and money. Because you can save 1-night accommodation and save time by spending a night on the train. 

On the other hand, the train is clean and comfortable and you can also order some food if you want to but you may not sleep well during the night if you are sleeping on the coach which is close to the locomotive

By Bus

If you don’t want to ride on a train, the bus is another excellent option for you to reach Sapa. There are several types of buses that you can choose from. Sleeping buses is an ideal option if you want to lie-down while on the trip as you as save time and money but the bus may arrive early in the morning at around 3.30 am and you need to stay on the bus until 5 am because of your safety. The bus ticket cost around 350,000 to 400,000VND which is equal to $17 to $19. These buses can be booked from a travel agency or directly with the bus company. These are reputable bus companies that you can choose from Sapa Green Bus, Inter Bus Line, Good Morning Bus, Sapa Express,. Minibuses are also another great option that offers door-to-door pickup and drop off services. The journey takes four and a half hours. You may depart from Hanoi at 7.30 am and arrive in Sapa around noon. The return trip is usually from 3.30 pm to 7.30 pm. There is also an earlier option is to leave Sapa around 12.30 pm. These are reputable limousine bus companies to select such as Eco Sapa, Sapa Express

By motorcycle

The motorcycle is another choice of transportation to reach Sapa unless you are willing to take the Northwestern Vietnam loop such as Sapa – Y Ty, Sapa – Sin Ho, Sapa – Ha Giang Loop. It’s good for those who have a long period of time from 10 to 15 days. Motorbike for rent is available in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, check out some of the motorbike rental shops in Hanoi such as Dragon Bike, Rental Bike Vietnam, Happy Zip

How to get around Sapa

Trekking Y Linh Ho

Trekking Y Linh Ho, Sapa


There are quite a few motorbike rental shops that you can choose from in Sapa, the price ranges from $5 to $7 depending on the type of motorbikes or scooters. Make sure that your motorbike is in a good condition. Don’t forget to check tires, backlights and direction lights, horns etc… if they are all working properly. I do recommend hiring a gear motorbikes because of the road condition in Sapa. Scooters are fine if you just want to ride around the town and some nearby villages. Travelling on a motorbike is good for those who want to get a glimpse of Sapa because you can see a bit of everything in a short period of time. 


The best way to get around Sapa is to hike because Sapa is a small town where you can reach its most parts on foot. On the other hand, you can also trek to nearby hill tribe villages which is home to local minority ethnic groups: Hmong, Red Dzao, Dzay and stay overnight in a homestay to experience a day in the life of the local community. You can admire the stunning scenery and elegant rice paddy terraces and meet friendly locals along the way, experience the buffalo trails and paths. If you choose to hike, don’t forget to bring lots of water bottles, walking shoes, a small backpack, some snacks.


You can easily find a taxi around the Sapa town area. There are reputable taxi companies to choose from Mai Linh, Green Sapa, Sapa taxi. You will be charged per trip which ranges from $7 to $9 

Things to do and See in Sapa

Trekking Sapa School Tours

Sapa is an attractive mountain town, bordered by picture-perfect rice terraces and mountains. You can also enjoy the impressive sceneries of nearby hills. There are various gardens that you can see when you visit Sapa.  A day or two would not be enough to discover the magnificent spots as well as the rich culture and tradition of Sapa Vietnam.

Some of the notable places that you need to visit are our Fansipan peak, Cat Cat Village, Lao Chat Village, Ta Van Village, Ta Phin Village, Ban Ho Village, Muong Hoa Valley, Ham Rong Mountain, Bac Ha Market and many more.

Fansipan Peak

This is one of the most popular attractions in Sapa. Fansipan is the highest mountain in Indochina. This is also called the “Roof of Indochina”. An attractive spot if you love fauna and flora as there are several species and varieties found on this mountain. Taking a cable car ride to conquer the roof of Indochina is an incredible experience when you can admire the spectacular views of its amazing terraced rice paddies, flo

Cat Cat village 

Visiting Cat Cat village will give you the opportunity to enjoy a colourful and lively picture. When you visit this village you can able to see images of women sitting on colourful brocades with the designs of birds and flowers. You can also buy some of these fabrics. You can choose this place for you to visit on the second day of your trip in Sapa.

Ta Phin village

Ta Phin Village is just 12 kilometres from Sapa. This is a village that will allow you to experience and see the old customs and traditions of the ethnic minority. When you visit Ta Phin Village you will experience how they are accommodating and welcoming to their visitors. They will offer you to have the chance to taste some of their traditional cuisines. Red Dao herbal bath is a must-try for you to get relaxed.

Ban Ho village

 You can trek from Sapa to Su Pan Village to reach Ban Ho Village. Getting here is somewhat a challenge because you need to trek your way to reach the village. It can be more difficult to reach the area during raining season. On the other hand, when you opt to visit this place during summertime, it will allow you to enjoy the magnificent view of the waterfalls, rice terraces, wooden houses and other attractive plants.

Ham Rong Mountain 

Ham Rong Mountain is another attractive spot that is located in Sapa Townlet. The visitors can have the chance to climb the San May or Cloud Yard to experience the impressive panorama or view of Sapa town. You can also visit the exquisite orchid gardens with nice and colourful flowers. Additionally, there are also several stones and caves found in this destination.

Ta Van village

Tan Van Village is a miniature village that is located in a picture-perfect valley of the Muong Hoa. This is the best destination if you want to experience the unique nightlife in Sapa. In this area, you can find a spectacular spot that is worth as backdrop of your trip.

Sapa Ancient Rock Field 

Sapa Ancient Rock Field is another impressive location to visit in Sapa. This is a very interesting site to visit because you can find a large array of ancient rocks engraved with prehistoric images. This is an excellent site if you want to learn more about the old architecture as well as the lifestyle of the Sapa people during the early centuries. This is also one of the most interesting places in Vietnam for the most archaeologist

If you don’t know what to do and where to go, don’t forget to check out our Sapa tours

Where to sleep in Sapa

There’s a ton of accommodation choices in Sapa from budget to luxury: homestays, guest houses, hotels and resorts which suits all travellers taste and budget. 

Accommodation in Sapa town

If you want to have a comfortable stay, especially for a family with kids and those who booked a guided tour, staying in Sapa town is a great choice because you could explore Sapa town on your own and enjoy lively weekend activities such as dancing performances, shopping at Sapa market. On the other hand, all guided tours depart from the town so it’s really convenient if you want to book a guided tour. 

See a list of accommodation in Sapa town

Budget hotels and guest houses

Heart of Sapa hotel

Chapa Dew boutique hotel

Sapa Ruby hotel

Black H’Mong View hotel

Standard hotels

Sapa Unique hotel

Sapa Elegance hotel

Sapa Centre hotel

Mid-range accommodation 

Freesia hotel

Amazing Sapa hotel

Cat Cat view resort and Spa

My Boutique hotel and Spa

Luxury and high-end accommodation


Pao Sapa

Silk Path Grand

Victoria Sapa

Accommodation outside Sapa town

If you want to be away from the bustle and hustle of Sapa town, then staying in the remote villages around the Sapa town area is a great choice. There are numerous homestays which are located in local villages such as Lao Chai, Ta Van, Ta Phin, Hau Thao 

Staying overnight in a homestay with a local family is a great way to experience local living: food, culture, day-to-day activities and more. 

Here is a list of good homestays below

Ta Van village

Ta Van Dzay homestay

Ta Van Heaven homestay

Lao Chai village 

Lao Chai bamboo stay

Sapa homestay view 

Ta Phin village 

May Kim Ta Phin homestay

Ta Phin homestay

Where to eat and drink

When it comes to places to eat. you don’t have to worry because there are several hotels and restaurants found in downtown Sapa. You can also try out some local foods at the local eateries. Make sure to have a reservation for the hotel early.  

Good restaurants in Sapa

Red Dzao

Little Sapa

Yummy Restaurant

Anise Sapa

Chapa Restaurant

Sapa Lotus

Good local eateries in Sapa

  • Pho Ga Quyen (Quyen chicken noodle soup)
  • Thang Co A Quynh
  • Sang Meo Restaurant
  • BBQ hawker stalls around the Sapa church

Suggested Sapa itinerary

Day 1: Night train to Lao Cai – Fansipan Cable Car – Cat Cat village
After a night train to Sapa, take a short drive for about 45-minute to Sapa town. Get to your accommodation to Sapa, have breakfast and walk to the cable car station to take a ride to the peak of Fansipan. 

It may take you a couple of hours for travelling to Fansipan back and forth so all together half day.

Have lunch in Sapa town,

In the afternoon, walk to and around Cat Cat village.

Spend the night in Sapa town. Don’t forget to check out Sapa at nights to some nearby tourist spots in walking distance such as Sapa church, the lake, the market. 

Day 2: Trekking Y Linh Ho  – Lao Chai – Ta Van Village
Trek through Muong Hoa village to Y Linh ho. Enjoy the scenic view along the way to reach Lao Chai village

Have lunch in Lao Chai before taking a short walk to Ta Van village in the afternoon. Spend a hour to check out Ta Van village then back to Sapa town. Spend a night in Sapa. 

Day 3: Visit Sapa market and Back to Hanoi

Checking out the local markets which is away from Sapa town is a great local experience to be recommend for visitors. See the market date as follows

  • Coc Ly market on Tuesday
  • Cao Son market on Wednesday
  • Lung Khau Nhin market on Thursday
  • Can Cau market on Saturday.
  • Bac Ha market on Sunday

Spend the morning in one of these markets above and back to Sapa around 1pm, have lunch, take a rest. Then take a bus back to Hanoi, departing from Sapa at around 3.30pm. You will arrive back in Hanoi around 8.30pm

Try to get some Sapa travel tips and Sapa insider guide information before you arrive.

Sapa is undeniably one of the top tourist destinations in Vietnam. This is an excellent place for you to appreciate nature more. I hope this Sapa travel guide helps you some ways to plan a perfect trip to Sapa. 

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