If you’re travelling all the way up to Sapa, you’re likely thinking of going trekking. This is, after all, one of the most scenic regions of Northern Vietnam, and if there is one thing the frontier town of Sapa is known for, it’s rice terraces with sweeping mountain vistas. Sapa offers a wide range of trekking spots from easy to hard level. Tourists can choose the most suitable route depending on their skills and abilities. Tourists can spend a few hours walking to Ham Rong (Dragon Jaw) Mountain, wandering through tribal villages along the mountain sides such as Cat Cat or Lao Chai, Ta Van Village to Muong Hoa Valley, trekking to the Ta Phin Village, Bac (Silver) Waterfall or three days conquering Fansipan. On the way, you will see H’Mong and Dao villages where you can feel the hospitality of local ethnic people and discover many interesting facts about their ordinary life as well as culture and architecture.
Many adventurous travelers to Vietnam dream of conquer Mount Fansipan. Mount Fansipan belongs to Hoang Lien Son mountain range, about 9 km southwest of Sapa town. There are three popular routes to Fansipan, with the starting point is Tram Ton pass, Cat Cat ethnic village or Sin Chai. Sin Chai route is said to be the most beautiful but the most dangerous also. Almost all tourists choose Tram Ton pass as the starting point of the climb because it is the easiest way. The topography of Fansipan is varied. Muong Hoa Valley, at the lowest altitude (950 to 1000m), is created by a narrow strip of land at the base on the east side of the mountain. It can be climbed in a steep and fairly strenuous hike. It often takes two or three days to fulfill a conquest of Fansipan. Tourists who are fit and have mountain climbing experience will enjoy this attraction the most, as the peak is accessible all year round. Technical climbing skills are not necessary, but endurance is a must. Hiking shoes, raincoat, flashlight, medical bag, water, sleeping bag, camp, and some sweet candies (help raising blood sugar level, and enhancing breathing when climbing too high) are indispensable things. Tips to avoid high-altitude sickness are chewing hard candies, breathing through a face mask and drink plenty of water. If you decide to make the trip, be sure to book with an experienced local operator.
Hikers and adventure lovers will never be disappointed when choosing Sapa trekking tours. As a trekking tour ussually takes 3 to 4 days or more, it's harder day after day, sometime one has to crawl up the steps, climbing through the hills and mountains. Far more fun, however, is to leave the town and visit the people in their villages, trekking through the rice terraces with the opportunity to spend a night at a home-stay. Evening time is ideal for camping in the mountains, burn a fire and play, listen to music of ethnic groups. When tired they go to sleeping bag to keep warm, convenient and keeps insects away. The home-stay is definitely not for the traveler who cannot live without their modern conveniences but it offers an excellent opportunity for those who want to experience a more gentle way of life.
If long treks and climbing is not really your thing, cycling to markets and villages is a good choice for those who want to experience Sapa in a new creative way. Renting a mountain bike gives you the option to venture out a bit further from Sapa town. In combination with sightseeing, mountain biking also gives you health benefits and brings you wonderful experiences. Cycling in mountainous terrain is suitable for people with generally good health and skilled cyclists. Sapa is a great place for exploring on two wheels, but be warned, the roads and paths are pretty steep. To enjoy your adventurous biking tour, you should travel with an experienced tour guide and always follow the mountain biking safety tips.
The Dao people in Sapa have been famous for their secret herbal bath therapy. After long days of sleeping on the train and bus, trekking through forest and mountains, you can totally relax and enjoy soaking in the herbal bath. Medicinal herbs that can only be found in mountainous areas are carefully selected, mixed in an unique way for specific kind of illness, typically about 12-14 herbs for each remedy and then boiled in 3 or 4 hours to extract essence. Herbal bath will help reducing stress, tiredness, bringing peace of mind, releasing muscles, and totally relaxing all over the body.