Sapa; a magical place surrounded by fog covered hills in the morning, the greenest of green rolling hills and rice paddies, Vietnam’s highest mountain and landscapes that will catch your eye each time. Sapa was one of the best places I’ve been to on my 3 week Vietnam trip. If you want to learn more about Sapa and where to stay, check out my “Sapa Travel Guide” first! 🙂
This is a guide of everything you should try to do and see while you’re visiting this majestic place! I suggest you give yourself some time here, so it’s not a rushed trip.
Experience The Culture In Cat Cat Village
Sapa has a wide variety of cultural and minority tribal communities. There are around 8 tribes that practice their own cultures. Check out Cat Cat village to get a peek of their traditional lifestyle. This village was formed in the 19th century. They grow their own food and make their own traditional crafts such as fabric weaving and gold and silver jewelry. When you go there today you can purchase some of these handmade crafts. You can also go on some trails, see some waterfalls, experience traditional dances and much more!
Make A Stop At “Cafe In The Clouds”
When you pull up to this cafe, it looks whatever from the front of the building, but once you get inside and see all the windows and open patio you can’t take your eyes off the beautiful sights right in front of you. Chill for a local Vietnamese lunch, have a beer and enjoy the fascinating views!
The best places you find are usually from googling or from exploring on your own! Travelling for 4 months, I really loved being at the back of the scooter. It gives you more freedom and it’s a great way to find hidden gems and explore everything on your own without tour guides. Jamie and I found the cutest coffee shop on top of the mountain, we couldn’t find the name of the place when we were there. It was this cute purple building, close to Cat Cat Village I believe. So keep your eyes peeled when you go here! We were the only people there!
Climb The Tallest Mountain in Vietnam
Fansipan has an elevation of 3,143 m. It’s the tallest mountain in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Challenge yourself and climb Fansipan! It’s doable to climb in a day. It roughly takes about 10-12 hours. Most guide treks give you a 2-3 day hiking tour, those who can take their time and who need a bit of extra help. Always pack and dress appropriately! The longer trek might be more fun since you’re taking your time and meeting people as you go.
Cable Car Route To Fansipan
If you have a short time frame in Sapa you can do this. I suggest you don’t make your visit too short because it’s magical and you need to spend some time here to actually explore. If you’re unable to hike or just don’t feel like doing a crazy hike, I suggest you take a cable car up to Fansipan and just sit back and enjoy the views. Also, fun fact, The Sunworld Fansipan cable car has been recognized by the Guinness Worlds Records as the longest non-stop 3 wire cable car system in the world. It costs roughly around $40 each CAD.
Check Out The Famous Rice Terraces At Muong Hoa Valley
Sapa is known for all their amazing green rice paddies, so don’t forget to add this to your list of things to see! The tribes here are dependent on rice cultivation so rice paddies are everywhere. Trek along the rice paddies and enjoy the peaceful views.
Yes, this is always on any travel guide, however Sapa is just very unique and different. You have to buy some sort of souvenir when visiting here. Buy some clothing, traditional crafts that they hand make etc.
Check Out The Town
Not only are the mountains gorgeous, but even the busy town is stunning with the mountain backdrop. The buildings are cool too! Get some food, walk around, check out some shops and enjoy the slower pace. I’ve never been to Nepal, but some of the streets reminded me of pictures of Nepal in such a good way.
Eat, Eat, Eat
Eat some local Vietnamese food and you won’t be disappointed. Dine at hot pot stalls or even barbecue restaurants. Sapa is pretty much chilly all year around, so locals love eating hot foods to keep them warm. Hot pot consists of meat stew, which is cooked in veggies. YUM! Or if you’re like me, eat all the local pho.
Boating On Sapa Lake
Nothing like renting a paddle boat to get more scenic views. Located in the centre of Sapa town. Get off your feet and enjoy an hour or so of wandering around the lake.
Who doesn’t love waterfalls? There are a couple to check out. The silver and love waterfalls are the two I’ve heard of. I didn’t see them myself, but they do look stunning! Dress warm, it might be chilly!
Tram Ton Pass
Located on the top road from Sapa to Lai Chau province on the Northern side of Fansipan and around 15 kilometres from Sapa. At 1900m in height, this is Vietnam’s highest mountain pass. Day trips are always fun! Drive around and stop when you want for pictures or for a snack break with the most stunning views!
Have A Spa Day
The best way to recover from all the walking and feel more energized is to treat yourself! After a deep tissue massage have a soothing herbal bath! Sounds amazing right?
Sleep In A Homestay
This was my very first homestay experience and it was a pretty damn good one. I didn’t know what to expect, because it was sorta like a hostel experience. They had an open floor which had beds all over the room, closed off with curtains. Jamie and I got a room to ourselves, which wasn’t closed off completely to the ceiling. There were 2 shared bathrooms, which I’m not a fan of, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. It’s a great way to meet people, the owners had a “family” dinner each night where we could attend to and pay a couple dollars each. Sitting around the table with people staying there was interesting. Got to hear stories from other travellers and just meet new people from around the world! We stayed at “Trek King Kong House” It also had breakfast included and was basically in the middle of nowhere surrounded by hills, mountains and rice paddies.
Holy Rosary Church
This church was built in 1895 by the French, which reflects Roman Gothic architecture. It’s been preserved and now is a tourist spot!