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Sapa is one of the best breathtaking places you definitely have to visit at least once. The majestic mountains, yellow rice paddies and the friendly, generous of the locals that offer you the most unforgettable experience. Therefore, like most of the other mountainous places, hiking is the best way to enjoy completely its beauty. This article will provide you the essential information of Sapa trekking.

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I. BEST DESTINATIONS OF SAPA TREKKING TOURS

1. Sapa trekking trails to the villages of ethnic groups

Except for the beautiful sceneries and favorable weather, the cultural authenticity of numerous ethnic minorities in Sapa is truly a striking feature attracting tourists to visit this mountainous. Among 54 ethnic groups found along Vietnam, there are eight different ethnic groups in Sapa including Hmong, Dao (pronounced Zao or Yao), Tay, Giay (pronounced Zai), Muong, Thai, Hoa (ethnic Chinese) and Xa Pho. Trekking to the villages of ethnic groups will be an amazing exxperience

a. Cat Cat Village – Trekking to the sweeping view over the countryside around Sapa

sapa trekkingSource: mapio.net

This place is pretty close to Sapa Town that some tourists said that it is like a strolling than a hiking. Cat Cat village offers you a stunning view of yellow rice paddies were created into stairs on the hill – a special style of rice fields you will hardly find it outside the Indochina. This old village of the Black H’mong at the foot of Fansipan Mountain is where you can learn more about their ordinary life, culture and architecture. You have the chance to see how the colorful Tho Cam textiles are made, how they craft most of the housewares from nature components.

In Sin Chai Village, local women will spend the time to teach you about textile weaving, dying and you can see them gather into groups near the trails. There are many pleasure flowers in here, such as peach blossoms, plum blossoms, chrysanthemums, gladioluses, pear blossoms and roses. People usually choose this destination when they want the same challenge as hiking Ham Rong Mount but is acceptable for the whole crew. The trip cost half of the day with the distance of 7 km and about 3 – 4 hours walking, mainly on the flat ground.

Reference tour price:

Number of Person 2 3 4 5 6-7 8
Price (US$/person) 20 18 15 12 11 10

Click here for booking

b. Y Linh Ho Village – The unspoiled and beautiful destination of Sapa trekking

sapa trekkingSource: vietnamholidaypackages.net

From Cat Cat Village you can find a suspension bridge that leads you to Y Linh Ho Village uphill. It is a small commune composed by a dozen of small hamlets scattering on the high mountain. Here the Black H’mong lives and builds their house on the tough mountain or steep hill. Therefore, the only way to reach their hamlet is walking. The house is usually built right on the Black H’mong’s farmland, which plans corn and dry rice on the steep hill. There are a lot of pretty signs, streams to cross, mud path to conquer on the way.

The tours to Y Linh Ho are usually ended up on a day for the distance of 12 and 6 hours of walking. Because of this trail offers tougher terrain than Cat Cat village, you should wear a good hiking shoe to reduce the chance of rolling the ankle. There is also a shortcut lead to Y Linh Ho, it is tougher but also more beautiful and fun. Ask your guide for more detail.

You can find more tour information in here

c. Ta Phin Village – Visit the tribal villages of Sapa trekking

sapa trekkingSource: hanoitosapa.net

It is 13 km from Sapa Town to get to Ta Phin Village and some hill-tribe villages near Ta Phin, where the Black H’mong and Red Dzao minority groups live. It is a highland valley surrounded by high mountain peaks with luminous green rice paddies and traditional villages. Most of the tours stay here for 2 – 4 hours but you can spend a whole day without running out of interest. This mountain valley brings an idyllic feel, people are friendly, enthusiastic and pretty camera shy, therefore you should ask them before taking a photo, especially the Red Dzao. You might find some similar faces you met in some cafés or restaurants in Sapa Town.

The Red Dzao is popular due to their expertise in herbal medicine and treatment. Some annoying illness can be cured easily by the herbs they plant in the garden. You can find more about the remedies and even experience the Red Dzao herbal bath treatment, so don’t be shy to ask.

The difficulty rate is easy – medium varies in spots, especially in the caves. The trip usually ends up on a day.

Number of Person 2 3 4 5 6-7 8
Price (US$/person) 35 30 28 25 24 22

Click here for more tour information

d. Giang Ta Chai Village – Sapa trekking to the picturesque in Hoang Lien National Park

sapa trekkingSource: travelofsapa.blogspot.com

Giang Ta Chai is the home of the Red Dzao minority group. They are the second largest hill minority ethnic in Sapa. You can identify them as the people wear black trousers, a long black tunic with embroidered cuffs and lapels.  To arrive in Giang Ta Chai, you have to hike 18 km through the beautiful terraced rice fields, the gorgeous bamboo forests and a stunning waterfall, where there is a suspension bridge lead you to get to the other side of the Muong Hoa Stream. You can explore the daily life of the locals, admire the spectacular natural sceneries or visit the ancient rocks with engraved images, each has a unique pattern.

From Giang Ta Chai, you can choose to take another adventure trekking up to the mountain to discover the Su Pan Village. In addition, this place is one of the best villages for you to stay overnight.

You can find more tour information in here

e. Lao Chai and Ta Van Village

sapa trekkingSource: hanoilasuitehotel.com

Lao Chai is as established Black H’mong minority village which has been inhabited for centuries. Here you have the chance to admire the spectacular mountain sceneries in the stunning view across the biggest valley of Sapa, the hereditary rice terraces, homes and a vibrant community. You also have the chance to learn about the local regular life, the way they create the beautiful handicrafts.

Ta Van Village is the place of Giay ethnic group, which still preserve the rich and traditional culture. They are traditionally fishing for the living, therefore, establishing themselves close to the river. The Giay people mastered fishing with a bamboo stick and cook the fish inside bamboo. At present, besides fishing, they also work in fields planting or harvesting rice.

You can stay with them in a homestay or sleep over right on a local’s house. The trip can be finished during a day for the distance of 12 – 15 km

Number of Person 2 3 4 5 6-7 8
Price (US$/person) 35 30 28 25 24 22

Click here for more tour information

2. Sapa trekking trails to the natural landscapes

a. Muong Hoa Valley

Muong Hoa Valley is one of the most breathtaking destinations and the largest farmland in Sapa. It located 14 km far from Sapa Town and you can follow the Muong Hoa River to hike to the valley. From the highest elevation of the mountain range covered by the endless forest, dozens of streams from underground water and rain flow downhill to distribute water to the farmland which Sapa people have been working and living for decades.

Muong Hoa valley is blooming with a lot of colorful flowers and it is the most beautiful terrace field of Sapa. When the rice fields are full of water, you will have the chance to admire the stunning sceneries like the reflection of the sun on the field surface. In Muong Hoa Valley there are dozens of hamlets of the Red Dzao, the H’mong, and many other minority ethnic groups as Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai, etc. You can learn more about their daily life as well as their experience in making the gorgeous Tho Cam textiles or crafting most of their houseware by themselves. There are very interesting carved ancient stones scatter on the valley with many strange shapes which are proved to have relation with the Dong Son culture, an ancient culture from 2,300 – 3,000 years ago.

To learn more information, please click here

b. Ham Rong Mountain

Ham Rong botanical garden is chosen as the mainstream place by many tourists. It is a great combination of man-made terrain and natural landscape. Only a short walk from Sapa Church, tourists only have to walk a couple of minutes to get there. Ham Rong is one of the most attractive places because of owning many kind f flowers and orchard gardens. The wandering path leads tourist to the wild peach forest, then the orchard gardens with more than 6000 plants belonging to 194 species. Along the path also have a lot of indigenous flowers such as Lily of the Nile, hydrangea, geraniums, ox-eyed daisy and cherry blossom. Many wild fruits like peach, plum and pear can be found around.

On the top of the mountain, the San May peak lies at the height of 1,800 m will be your target to conquer. Usually, the scenery is covered by mist and the echo from some H’mong boy’s bamboo flute make this place like the heaven on earth. On a sunny day, you can see the Fansipan mountain’s peak on the clear sky with the white cloud surrounds.

The best time to visit Ham Rong Mountain is the spring from March to May. At this time, the flowers bloom at its best with the perfume and beauty.

You can find more information about Ham Rong Mount trekking tours in here

c. Silver Falls and Love Waterfalls – The magnificent landscape of Sapa trekking

sapa trekkingSource: sapa.mobi

20 km to the West from Sapa town, on the road to Lai Chau, is the Silver Falls. This is the highest fall in Vietnam with a 300 m drop, create a futuristic sound of the jungle. An ascent to the fall’s top offers you a sweeping view of all the surrounded landscapes. This place is usually visited by monks who come here to pray.

3 km more will lead you to the Love Waterfall and Golden Stream. Love Waterfall looks like a sparkling stream in the light from a far distance. Its name is from a love tragedy fairy tale has been told in this land for decades. We won’t spoil it so you will keep you excited when discovering that place. This area also is known for the cardamom crops, which is high value in medicine and cooking.

Click here for more tour information

d. Sky Gate

sapa trekkingSource: exptravel.info

About 3 km further from Silver Falls is the Tram Ton Pass with the height of approximately 2,000 m above sea level. It is located between the majestic Hoang Lien Son Mountain with a portal in the peak of the pass like the gate of Heaven, that’s why they call it the Sky Gate.

The view from the pass is truly stunning, featuring a panoramic view of rice paddies, roads, the Silver Falls and the charming beauty of Sapa. Beware that the temperature drops so you need to prepare warm clothes.

II. BEST SAPA TREKKING ROUTES

A trekking trip in Sapa usually costs one to three days. You might see some four-day trips or longer but it mostly counts one day of transport so you should read the tour information carefully. The following are some more prominent tour that you should pay attention to

1. Nam Cang Village – Sapa trekking to the Red Dzao village

Source: travelofsapa.blogspot.com

Nam Cang Village lies in a remote and beautiful area where the Red Dzao is the main population. Some tourists said this is the most remote part f Sapa. Featuring interesting adventure and the great chance of discovering deeper the majestic mountain and nature life of local minority ethnic groups. Along the way, you will meet a variety of tribes with different costumes and even language.

On the trail of 35 km from Sapa Town, you will start with a drive through Muong Hoa Valley, freely admire the mountains, rice fields, waterfalls, and tribes. The 3-hour hiking will start from Nam Nhiu Village and move uphill toward high mountains and deep valley before arriving at Nam Than Village – the Blue H’Mong village. The next part is mostly downhill and you will soon get to the Red Dzao Village of Nam Cang. Here you can explore the village, learn about how the local craft stuff like writing papers, embroidery and jewelry and swimming in the river before taking a drive back to Sapa.

The whole trip costs around 9 hours for a crew from 2 – 10 tourists

Number of Person 2 3 4 5 6-7 8
Price (US$/person) 45 42 40 39 35 34

Click here for detailed tour information

2. Cat Cat Village – Y Linh Ho Village – The Sapa Trekking 2 days 1 night

sapa trekkingSource: 365travel.asia

This tour will start from your hotel in Hanoi at 6:30. On the first day you will arrive at Sapa Town at 13:00, having lunch, take the room and prepare for the hiking. At 14:30 you will take a drive to Cat Cat village, then explore the village, trek to Cat Cat Waterfalls and Cat Cat Hydropower Station for 2.5 km in 2 hours. You will get back to Sapa Town at 16:30 and rest at the town.

On the second day, a drive will take you to Y Linh Ho. From here you can hike along Muong Hoa Valley to the Black H’mong village of Lao Chai to explore the daily life of the villagers. Then you will continue to Ta Van Village, the inhabited land of Day minority group. The hike is 9 km long in 3.5 hours. At 11:30, the transfer will pick you from Ta Van Bridge to Sapa Town. You are going to return to Hanoi at 15:30 and arrive in Hanoi at 21:00.

If you don’t want to visit the tribe village, you might visit Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Falls or Ta Phin instead. Remember to ask carefully about the tour detail to avoid unnecessary problem.

Email for booking: mail@viettourists.com.vn

3. Sapa trekking: Xa Xang – Hau Thao – Lao Chai – Ta Van Mong – Giang Ta Chai – Su Pan – Ban Dem

sapa trekkingSource: hmong-family.com

Unlike the trekking tours I mentioned above, this trail is completely walking. About 16- 19 km toward the Southeast from Sapa Town, this trip will bring you to the communes lie at the end of the valley. With the fresh and pristine scenery, you can leave behind all the rush and busy of daily life and blend with nature.

The tour starts at 9:00 and heads toward Xa Xang Village located behind Sapa Town. After that, the tour will continue to Hau Thao Commune for lunch and rest. The crew moves at 13:00, downhill to Giang Ta Chai Village and sleep over in this village. Tourists can enjoy the activities with the locals, hot shower and maybe herbal bath from the Red Dzao if you ask. On the second day, the team leaves the homestay at 9:00 and treks to Ban Dem Village. You can choose to go uphill to watch the Giang Ta Chai Waterfalls before leaving this village. A transfer will pick the tourists back to Sapa Town at 14:00.

You can read more about this tour here

4. Fansipan – The ultimate challenge of Sapa trekking

sapa trekkingSource: tungtranghotel.com

At 9:00, the crew is assembled. Then the crew takes a drive for 15 km to the Park Ranger Station to start the climb to Fansipan Mountain at the height of 2,000 km. throughout this walk, tourist will learn about the cardamom plants and local birds which varying depend on the time you visit. Once the team reaches the height of 2,200 m, they will have a picnic lunch. Then, the team continues to reach the height of 2,800 m and set a camp to rest and cook dinner. There is a sweeping spectacular view along the way.

On the second day, the crew wakes up at 6:30 – 7:00, has a breakfast before undertaking the final ascent to the top of Fansipan Mountain. You can get to the top at around 10:00 – 10:30, celebrating the victory at the height of 3,143 m above sea level. Enjoying the panorama view at the rooftop of Indochina and the thick green of the forest below for about 30 minutes before getting down to the height of 2,800 m to take a lunch at 13:30. After restoring the strength, the team will trek back down to Tram Ton Pass at 2,000 m and take a transfer back to Sapa Town. The trip ends with a relaxing herbal bath from the Red Dzao or foot massage.

The price is about US$ 110/person for a group of 6.

You can learn more about the tour in here

III. HOW TO PREPARE FOR A TREKKING TRIP IN SAPA

Trekking in the mountainous terrain of Sapa is quite dangerous and require a good health. Therefore, you should consider those criteria and check whether or not you can handle a trekking trip.

1. How difficult is a Sapa trekking trip going to be?

A trekking in Sapa usually 12 – 16 km long and requires you to hike 5 – 6 hours per day on the non-flat terrain. Therefore, you will need a good health and have used to with hiking. Most of the trails are not paved, just the dirt road and this makes it turn to a terrible mud road on a rainy day. Of course, this is trekking and no more so you don’t have to own a really healthy strength, play sport regularly and good swimming like trekking to Tu Lan Cave system in Phong Nha Ke Bang. Just make sure you have a good health then everything will be alright. And if you have some problem but you still desire to trek, please tell your guides about your condition so they will find the best route for you.

2. Do I need a tour guide for a Sapa trekking?

sapa trekkingSource: sapa-tours.net

We recommend yes. Because tour guides here are mostly local people. They know every corner, everything in Sapa. The guide can lead you to the deep, unknown location that you can’t arrive with a map. They know the shortcut that makes your trip goes better, faster, more interesting and more fun. If you stay long, they can tell you where to get better dishes and where to rest.

Some people think that trekking alone is the true adventure. But to trekking alone, you have to research about where you are going to go carefully, especially the trails because you will not want to get lost in a no-man land without any idea of your location. The best option is heading toward as many villages on your route as possible as Cat Cat village, Y Linh Ho Village, and Ta Van Village. Make sure you carry enough food and water because there is no supply aid if you get lost. You can ask your hotel for instructions.

3. Best time to proceed a Sapa trekking

If the dry season starts from January to June, then the best time for trekking in Sapa is from March to May. At this time there is no tremor of the season transferring so you can easily plan to visit villages or climb the mountains. The rain season stretches from June to August, so from September to November will be another option for trekking in Sapa. From December, the weather turns really cold, so you might not want to trek during this time.

In our opinion, September will be the best time to trek in Sapa. Because the weather is less rain and especially the rice paddies turn yellow, make it a magnificent scenery.

4. What I should prepare for a Sapa trekking?

sapa trekkingSource: asiatravel.services

Because you are going to move on foot a lot, carry too heavy luggage only make you exhausted. Thus, a medium backpack with enough necessary stuff is the best for you in a trekking. Make sure that you don’t miss any one of those:

  • A good hiking pair of shoes or waterproof boots – Raincoat
  • A small bottle of water
  • Snacks and dry food
  • Anti-insect spray
  • First-aid kit for small wounds and some regular medicine for flu, diarrhea, and fever
  • Camera with backup battery
  • Warm clothes and clothes suitable for weather
  • Hat and warm hat

Why these are important?

Due to the long distance and lack of resting place, you need the clothes which suitable for the weather and remember to bring warm clothes because night in Sapa is chill. The best is clothes with many bags so you can carry as much as you can. The backpack should be reliable, waterproof and have a back belt.

You should research some knowledge about where you are going to go. It will help you explore the destination better and plan for the better route. If you go alone, a map or Sapa travel information handbook is required. Someplace need special paper to enter, make sure that you prepared it perfectly.

You also need to be careful with the sharps on the way. The weather changes dramatically on a day so flu and fever are some illnesses you should prepare for. Snicker – a high energy candy bar is recommended

Snacks, dry food, and canned food are recommended because they can be restored for a long time and can easily eat on the way. If you reach the village, you should visit restaurants or ask for a meal from the local. Some candy to share with the children in the village will help you to get closer to them.

We think you should carry some condom even if you travel alone. Because along with its primary function, it can be used as the transparent bag protects your electronic devices from water, stop bleeding and a life saver helps you swim through the river.

5. Some forbidden actions you should know when going Sapa trekking

  • In the Red Dao’s house, Black H’mong’s house and in Cat Cat Village, Ta Phin Village, you can’t sit on the middle room and you must absolutely follow the instruction of the host. In H’mong culture, the 2 first chair is for their parent. If their parent died, no one can sit on that chair.
  • Sometimes, in Cat Cat Village, Ta Phin Village, and Ta Van Village there is a ritual of evicting devils or worship gods. During that time, you are not allowed to enter the village. If you see a bundle of green leaves hanging on the top of a high pillar, you better not enter.
  • You should not be so loud when being in the village after Sapa trekking
  • Rubbing or kissing children’s head is a bad behavior. Don’t ever do that because the locals believe that act make the children sick.
  • Do not whistle on the village either. Because it is considered as a call for devil come to the village.
  • In H’mong house, there is a big pillar that you can’t lean on or hang clothes on. It is where the spirit of the house lives.
  • Every village has a sacred place, which can be a forest, an elder tree, a big stone, etc. They usually clean, clear and shade but you should not rest at that place.
  • You should not talk while pointing. It is an impolite behavior.
  • Do not wear a white linen top when entering the village. It looks like a funeral.

6. Some must-know tips in Sapa trekking

sapa trekkingSource: trekkingsapa.com

  • Always research and plan your trip before starting Sapa trekking, especially when you go alone. Calculate the distance will help you avoid some dangerous. Follow the weather forecast closely is required
  • When going Sapa trekking, local people may ask you to buy their stuff. If it annoying you, just politely decline. You can ask for the help from your guide. They usually know each other.
  • When Sapa trekking, you better plan somehow that you can arrive at a village to sleep over.
  • Keep tracking with the other to avoid getting lost and help the other through the hard terrain
  • If you have to set camp in the forest, do it early, at a dry, flat land and near the water source. Remember to keep the fire burning all night.
  • You should ask the locals about the terrain, weather and what is forbidden in the village.
  • If the host invites you a drink, you can politely decline.


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