Sapa is a highland district of Lao Cai Province in northwest Vietnam, which contains many wonders of nature as well as delicious local cuisine. It is famous for breathtaking natural scenery, the locals’ hospitality and cultural diversity. The majestic natural landscape of Sapa is the combination of people’s creativity along with the mountain ranges, wide green forests, terraced fields. Also, Sapa is considered as Dalat of North Vietnam. Visiting Sapa, you can contemplate magnificent mountain views and have many unique experiences with the ethnic minorities’ lives. If you’re still wondering about what is worth doing in this place or confused because of fragmented information, this is what you need. In order to help you have the best and unforgettable experiences in Sapa, this article will suggest you the best things to do when visiting Sapa. So now let’s explore Sapa with us!
1. Visit Ham Rong Mountain
Ham Rong Mountain is right next to Sapa town , about 3km so that visitors can visit the mountain on foot. Also, you can get there by taking a xe om – motorcycle taxi from the town center, which costs only about VND 40,000. Ham Rong Mountain has become an attractive eco-tourism site of Sapa, including 3 main areas: Ham Rong Flower Garden, Thach Lam Stone Garden and finally Ham Rong Mountain, where you can see a panoramic view of Sapa from above. Standing on the top of Ham Rong Mountain, you can enjoy the whole panoramic view of Sapa: Muong Hoa valley, Sapa and Ta Phin village.
- Location: Ham Rong Mount, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province
- Price: VND 70,000 per adult; VND 30,000 per child
- Opening hours: 7AM – 6PM every day
2. Conquer Fansipan peak – The roof of Indochina
Fansipan is the highest mountain of the Indochinese Peninsula (3,143 m), located in the heart of Hoang Lien Son range. You can go there by tour companies or have your own trekking journey with the guidance of local people like Mong Dao people, which takes about 7-8 hours, usually from Love waterfall in San Ho communes. On the way to the top of the mountain, visitors will discover various kinds of fauna and flora. There are many plants used as precious medicine, or valuable kinds of woods and even birds, bears, monkeys, chamois, birds …
Another way for you to reach the mountain peak is to choose cable car. Fansipan cable car was operated in 2016, which has helped ten thousand visitors set foot on Fansipan peak and admire the view from the highest roof Indochina. What is more, Fansipan cable car The longest non-stop three-rope cable car: 6292,5m. The time to reach Fansipan peak is now shortened from 2 days to only 15 minutes. The price for a round trip ticket cable car to Fansipan peak is VND 600,000 per adult and VND 400,000 per child under 1,3m. You can book ticket Here.
- Location: Fansipan Mountain, Hoang Lien Son range, 7km from Sapa Town
Tips for traveling to Fansipan:
- Bring a comfortable pair of shoes and raincoat
- Water and snacks are necessary for a trekking trip
- If you go trekking by yourself, you should be careful and certain about the road in order not to get lost
- Wear warm clothes
3. Enjoy Roman Gothic architecture of Sapa stone church
Sapa stone church located right in the heart of Sapa town, which is very convenient for tourists to visit. Built in 1895, this cathedral is considered to be one of the most ancient architectural vestiges of the French left. The church has been embellished and preserved, becoming an indispensable symbol when referring to the misty Sapa town. The church is built mainly from stone with Roman gothic architecture, which gives it simple but elegant charm.
Due to the influence of the war, Sapa church was heavily damaged and deserted in many years due to lack of management. After the re-establishment of Lao Cai Province in October 1991, the Sapa ancient stone church was authorized by the authorities to repair, restore in 1995 for Catholic to celebrate, pray and visitors to explore the small unique Roman relics of this place.
- Location: Ham Rong Street, Sapa town, Lao Cai Province
- Price: Free
- Opening hours: 6AM – 8PM everyday
4. Go trekking to Cat Cat village
From the center of Sapa town, follow the road towards Fansipan mountain about 2km, tourists will come to Cat Cat. Located at the foot of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, Cat Cat is an ideal eco-tourism destination for visitors who want to explore the cultural life of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam. Cat Cat is inhabited by the H’mong ethnic group from the 19th century. In the early 20th century the French chose this place as a resort for senior officials. At Cat Cat center – there is a convergence of 3 streams: Vang stream, Silver stream, and Tien Sa stream. The two bridges A Lu bridge and Si bridge attract a lot of visitors to visit and take photos everyday.
Coming to Cat Cat, visitors also have the opportunity to experience and discover the customs as well as beauty of religious beliefs of the local people by staying at the locals’ home or joining in the traditional dances with the gorgeous Mong girls and enjoy the specialties such as corn wine, thang co…
- Location: San Sa Ho commune, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province
- Price: VND 70,000
- Opening hours: 5AM – 10PM everyday
Note: When staying at the locals’ house, you should follow their custom, always ask for their allowance before doing something because the house is a spiritually important object to their belief.
5. Take a trip to Silver waterfall
Waterfall has long been famous as a land of Sapa. This waterfall is about 200 meters high, located at the foot of O Quy pass, about 12 km from Sapa town. After about 30 minutes traveling by motorbike or bus, visitors can visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sapa. Almost all visitors visiting Sapa town, Lao Cai do not miss the chance to get to the Silver Waterfall. .Standing at the foot of the Silver Waterfall, we can see the sparkling water flowing down as well as the majestic mountain scenery from afar, which creates extremely wild and mysterious feeling. All of them make tourists feel so small with wonders of nature.
- Location: San Sa Ho commune, Sapa Town, Lao Cai Province
- Price: VND 25,000/person
- Opening hours: 7AM – 7PM every day
6. Visit Hoang A Tuong castle
Another destination for tourists when coming to Sapa is this isolated castle located in Bac Ha commune. It was built in 1914 and completed in 1921. Its owner is Hoang Yen Chao, who was called “king” because he owned a very large area. Before 1945, Bac Ha was a semi-feudal-colony society including the ruling class and the ruled class. With the support of French colonial, Hoang Yen Chao and his son – Hoang A Tuong cruelly exploited the local people, occupied almost all their land, forced them to pay tax and tribute. They also held a monopoly in consuming and trading goods, medicine, food to French stations and the henchmen.
The palace was built in Asia – Europe style, consisting of 2 stories with 36 rooms. Moreover, according to feng shui theory, it is laid in an ideal location: on a large hill to the southeast. The total area of the house is up to 4,000m². This mansion is being preserved, preserved so that visitors can have more understanding of the social history of this mountainous area in the past.
- Location: Na Hoi Tho Hamlet, Bac Ha District, Lao Cai Province
- Price: VND 25,000/person
- Opening hours: 8AM – 5PM every day
7. Contemplate terraced fields
Those who come to Sapa are also delighted, admiring the beauty of the terraced fields. The terraced fields are considered as giant stairways leading up to the paradise become a tourist attraction in Sapa. Sapa terraced fields have existed for hundreds of years and are created by ethnic minorities. The best terraced fields belong to the Ha Nhi people, the Mong people, the Dao people … who live on the high Hoang Lien Son mountains all year round.
Terraced fields, large or small, are “carved” so skillfully and look so nice and easy to cultivate. There are hundreds of hectares of terraced fields in Ta Van, Lao Chai, Ta Phin … like huge landscape paintings with soft and charming curving lines of the “local painters”.
If you travel to Sapa in April, when the rainy season begins, the terraced fields of Sapa are sparkling like the mirrors reflecting the deep blue sky, creating a beautiful charm between mountains and forests. On the other hand, if you visit Sapa in September, which is the harvest season, you will be amazed by the spectacular view of these fields. Moreover, terraced fields in Sapa stretch from Tu Le to Khau Phan pass, Mu Cang Chai town, so you can easily find them.
Sapa terraces are creating a unique tourism product for Vietnam, especially after the travel magazine Travel and Leisure (USA) voted as one of the 7 best terraced fields in Asia and the world.
8. Try the local food in Sapa
Besides spectacular sceneries, there is an amazing local cuisine in this mountainous town. All dishes here has a special taste. If you are visiting Sapa, don’t forget to try these dishes and I promise you’ll not forget their amazing taste.
Cap nach pork – The most favorite dish of tourists
If you have the opportunity to visit some highland markets in Sapa, you will certainly see the locals selling the pigs that are not very big, just about 4-10kg, and portable. Therefore, they have the name “Cap Nach”. Additionally, Cap Nach pigs are not fed by the locals and they have to find their own food in the forests such as wild vegetables in the garden, in the forest, maize, sweet potato and cassava. Those pigs adapt to the environment from early age so they have good resistance and very healthy.
Cap Nach porg can be cook in many ways: steam, fried, roasted. Local people think that the best dish is steamed Cap Nach pork steamed with saltand green peppers. You can easily find different dishes of this pork in a typical restaurant in Sapa
Anh Dung restaurant
- Location: 69 Xuan Vien Street, Sapa town
- Opening hours: 8AM – 10:30PM
Hoang Minh restaurant
- Location: number 23-24 Sapa food court (at the corner of Xuan Vien Street and Fansipan Street)
- Opening hours: 9AM – 10PM
Thang Co – Special hourse soup of local people
Thang Co is a popular dish of Mong ethinic in the northern mountainous region of Sapa, made from hourse meat, vicera and bone. This soup helps the locals keep warm considerably, especially on the coldest days of the winter. It may seem strange and does not look catching, This is a protein food but only so can warm the heart of the market, especially on cold winter days, even the taste makes many visitors afraid. However, people who go to Sapa without trying this dish will not learn about the real and unique mountainous cuisine. You can find this dish in highland markets in Sapa, and even in restaurants.
Thang Co A Quynh restaurant
- Locations: 15 Thach Son Street,
- Opening hours: 7AM – 10PM
Com Lam – Sticky rice cooked in bamboo
The food is so simple but gives in the heart of the tourists travelling to Sapa unforgettable flavors. The aromatic sticky rice with bamboo has contributed to the sweetness of the rice .
If anyone once enjoyed the Lam rice would certainly be surprised by the simple, modest taste of the dish but contains a lot of creativeness of the locals.
Khu Do Nuong (BBQ area)
- Location: Cau May Street
- Opening hours: 4PM – 10PM
Sapa Salmon – A fresh and tasty dish of Sapa
Salmon has long been regarded as a high-end and expensive food because of its amazing nutritional value and especially its freshwater and cool climate. Sapa is a delicious salmon or salmon fish, you do not forget to enjoy if you have the opportunity to come here.
With a cool climate all year round and a cold winter even with snow, Sapa salmon meat is firm, fat-free, suitable for a variety of dishes such as grilled, sashimi, steamed … The most outstanding dish is salmon hot pot and salmon salad. Almost all restaurants in Sapa have salmon dishes but you should choose salmon specialty shops to choose fresh fish and processing also.
Kham Pha Viet restaurant
- Location: 15 Thach Son Street
- Opening hours: 6.30AM – 10PM
Hoa Dao restaurant
- Location: 48 Le Van Tam Street
- Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM
- Location: 34 Cau May Street
- Opening hours: 9AM – 10:30PM
9. Discover Sapa love market
Traveling to Sapa, every visitor desires to see not only beautiful sceneries but also the unique culture of local people here. Sapa love market is a very special cultural characteristic of the Mong and Dao ethnic people, which is the meeting and emotional exchange place of men and women in the northwestern villages, attracting tourists Sapa every year to come and explore. Visitors to Sapa will understand that although it has the name Love Market, but no one comes here to buy or sell love. It turns out that locals people take advantage of this market to meet their partner and express their love.
Sapa love market takes place from Saturday night to the next Sunday morning every week. At the Saturday night, many local girls dress up beautifully and join in some activities like singing, dancing, playing games with other boys to know more about each other. When they have found the right one, they will give their partner one special thing such as a wooden comb or a silver bracelet and promise to meet each other the next morning. A lot of couples have become wives and husbands from this love market.
- Location: Sapa square
- Opening hours: From 7PM Saturday to 11AM Sunday
10. Explore Ta Phin village
This place has beautiful natural scenery, cultural characteristics of the ethnic minority of the Red Dao. At Ta Phin village, you can visit the nearby Ta Phin Cave. Ta Phin Cave has a unique charm for anyone who enjoys exploring, harmonizing with nature in the Northwest mountains. In the cave, there are many interesting stalactites with different shapes, and even lush fields and forests. Coming to Ta Phin village, tourists will learn more about the customs, habits, and lifestyle of the ethnic community here. The cultural activities of Mong people have been restored and arranged into performances for tourists such as wedding ceremony, festivals, village worship ceremonies and especially the Gao Tao festival.
- Location: Ta Phin Commune
- Opening hours: 8AM – 10PM
11. Visit Sapa Museum
Located in the town of Sapa, free of charge all day of the week during working hours, the Sapa Museum is an interesting place for visitors to learn about Sapa tradition and history. From the center of the town, you can walk, or use bike or motorbike to the Museum. The museum is a moderate bungalow, founded in 2007. Coming to the museum, you will see the many relics or pictures reproducing the life, culture, religious activities and also the ancient costumes of the H’Mong, Giay, Xa Pho, Ha Nhi and Red Dao ethnic. You will also find a lot of handcrafted artwork with bold traditional features which are as reminders of a great time in the history of the ethnic minority.
- Location: Thac Bac Street
- Opening hours: 7:30AM – 11AM; 1:30PM – 5PM everyday
12. Experience a local homestay
Staying in a local house when you visit Sapa has a lot of benefits. Besides saving a great sum of money, you can even get more understanding of the locals’ culture, customs by joining in their activities. It is also a great chance for you to enjoy amazing local cuisine as well as share some stories with the host.
13. Take a trip to Sky gate
This is an ideal place for visitors to admire the wild beauty of the Northwest mountains and forests, as well as the spectacular natural scenery of Hoang Lien Son range. The sky gate is about 18 km from the town of Sapa, the road is winding with bends. You can take a taxi or rent motorbike to get to Sky gate.
Standing in the middle of Sapa’s Sky gate, you can see the vast valleys below with green terraced fields, the road Phong Tho (Lai Chau) – Sapa (Lao Cai), far away is Thac Bac – one of the 10 most beautiful waterfalls in Lao Cai. You will certainly have a lot of memorable experience when visiting Sky gate in Sapa.
Location: O Quy Ho pass
14. Have a trip to Muong Hoa valley
Muong Hoa valley is located in Hau Thao commune, 8 km from Sapa town in the Southeast. From Sapa town, passing a mountain pass, tourists will come to Muong Hoa valley. What is special in this valley is the ancient rock with various carvings, lies between the grass and the terraced fields of the ethnic minority. Hundreds of sandstone carved figures, strange characters so far have not been identified the source and meaning. Today, the ancient carvings were ranked national monuments, a unique heritage of the ancient Vietnamese. In Muong Hoa valley, there is a beautiful small stream stretching for about 15 km, through Lao Chai, Ta Van, Hao Thao and Ban Ho.
Location: Muong Hoa, Thau Hao Commune
15. Go trekking to Love waterfall
Love waterfall is a famous waterfall located in San Tu Ho commune, 14 km from the center of Sapa town to the southwest. This is one of the starting points of the journey to conquer Fansipan.
To reach the falls, visitors have to get through the deep lush green forest. Additionally, if you visit the waterfall in March, you can contemplate the amazing view because the road leading to the falls becomes more beautiful with the bright red of azaleas. All blend to create a charming natural painting. After 20 minutes moving through the forest and follow the red soil, visitors will encounter the Golden stream, and finally, Love waterfall.
Love Falls is nearly 100m high. The waterfalls originate from Phan Si Pang peak and flowes down through high, sloping mountains and forests. With the vast space and beautiful scenery, Waterfall is a really great tourist destination.
- Location: San Ho Commune
- Opening hours: 7AM – 6PM
- Price: VND 35,000 – VND 45,000
16. Explore Coc San
Coc San is a unique system of waterfalls and caves with different sizes. The road to Cang San is very zigzag, dark and covered by rocks, the beauty of Coc San still has completely natural and wild scenery. You will be amazed by how superb nature here is.
The air in Coc San is so fresh and cool which makes visitors feel good and comfortable. On summer days, many people come to Coc San for sightseeing and relax in the fresh atmosphere. Most of them are young people who desire to explore the natural charm of Coc San
Location: Bat Xat Commune, Lao Cai Province, 7km from Sapa town center