Must-do Activities in Sapa
Sapa is one of the extremely famous places in Northern Vietnam. Coming to Sapa, you not only experience the fresh air, and peaceful life but also experience a lot of great things here. The top activities below will definitely help you have a perfect trip.
1. Admire rice terraces
Rice terraces in Sapa are slopes in hilly or mountainous areas, one after another, from the foot to nearly the top of the mountains. The terraced rice fields look like a picture and the color changes seasonally.
Admiring rice terraces in Sapa
2. Visit hill tribe villages
These villages are located in different areas of Sapa and possess wild and unique beauty. Coming here, you can also see ethnic girls/boys locals working in some villages, and the beautiful scenery in each village. The people also in these hill tribe villages play a very important role in the culture and specialties of Sapa, making Sapa more and more popular and visited by tourists.
Visit hill trible village in Sapa
3. Take selfies at Sapa Glass Bridge
From the bridge, you can see the 360o panorama view of Sapa. A lot of people, especially young people, come here for taking selfies. It can be a little bit scary the first time you touch the bridge. However, when you get used to it, you will find it a lot of fun. October to December is the best time to visit this bridge if you want to hunt for the cloud. You will feel like diving in the cloud see on this bridge.
Take selfíe at Sapa Glass Bridge
4. Conquer Fansipan Mount
Sapa visitors want to conquer Indochina's roof. Indochina's tallest mountain, Fansipan, is above 3000m. Fansipan may be climbed by cable car or hiking. Because you will become a genuine climber if you choose the conventional route, you must mentally prepare to face any barriers. The second method to climb Fansipan Mount is via cable car. After that, ascend Fansipan Mountain via the safe road with over 1,000 steps. You'll see Sapa's landscape from the mountaintop. Vietnam's most picturesque landscape.
Conquer Fansipan Mount
5. Go trekking
One of the best ways to explore Sapa is by trekking. It is cheap but gives you the best experience with Sapa. On the trek, you can explore nature as well as the majestic beauty of the green fields, mountains, and waterfalls. You can either trek to Ham Rong mountain which is only about 3 km from the center of Sapa town or chooses Fansipan mount which is about 3,143m above the sea.
Trekking in Sapa
6. Take a cycling tour
If you do not want to trek, but still love to see the hill tribe villages, take cycling tours to these local villages. Lao Chai village, Sin Chai village, and Ta Phin village are the most visited villages by cyclists in Sapa. The road here is not too hard to cycle and you can enjoy the fresh air and the simple tranquillity of Sapa. Cycling to these villages, tourists will pass the terraced fields, waterfalls, and majestic mountains, see the customs and cultural beauty of ethnic minorities in the mountains. It is best to avoid the rainy season from September to April next year as the road can be slippery and sometimes landslide happens.
7. Try a motorbike ride
On the way, you can stop at some places for taking photos, chatting with local people, taking beautiful pictures of the minority villages. Something to note if you drive a motorbike by yourself, carefully check the brake, horn & gasoline carefully before driving.
8. Have a cup of coffee
Coffee is a world-famous drink in Sapa, Sapa weather is lowest than in any other part of Vietnam. Drinking coffee in the cold weather in Sapa is something you should never miss. Café in the Clouds, Nature View and Sapa O’Chau Café are among the best coffee shops in Sapa. Most of the coffee shops in Sapa overlook the beautiful mountains of terraced rice fields, where you may be able to get the best selfies pictures.
Have a cup of coffee in Sapa
9. Hunt clouds
A lot of people come to Sapa for hunting clouds, which can not be done in any other city in Vietnam. The feeling that you stand on the top of the mountain, embracing clouds and heaven, enjoying among a sea of clouds is difficult to describe, it is a magical experience. Not only see the sea of the clouds, admiring the clouds fall but also you can touch them, and feel the clouds rolling through your hair. The best time to hunt the clouds is in spring when the weather is quite cool, the sunshine is gentle, and you can see more clouds than any other season.
Cloud hunting in Ham Rong
10. Wander around the town
Many tourists come to Sapa for trekking to the hidden villages or Fansipan Mount, and they forget about Sapa Town, which is a mistake. There is no need to go off the beaten track, you still can see a lot of beautiful natural spots in Sapa town like Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo Forest, and Ta Phin Cave. Sapa has changed a lot since it was identified in 1901. The detached wooden mansions and villas along with old and new villas with red roofs bring Sapa a new look.
Wandering Sapa town
11. Eat barbecue dishes
You may not know that Sapa has the most delicious barbecue dishes in Vietnam as local people use many special local marinated spices & ingredients. Sapa people grill different kinds of food, from the simplest ones to other more complicated dishes.
Enjoying Barbecue food in Sapa
12. Try Sapa Mountain Climbing Train
Sapa Mountain Climbing Train was put into operation in March 2018. The train departs from MGallery Hotel in Sapa and ends at the Mount Fansipan cable car station the Sapa mountain climbing railway line is the longest mountain-climbing railway line in the country. It helps to shorten the time from Sapa town to Mount Fansipan cable car station. With only four to six minutes on the train, you will be able to see amusing Sapa, the Muong Hoa Valley rolling out below, all forested mountains tiered rice paddies, and a blue sky buffered by a thick white cloud.
Sapa Mountain Climbing Train
13. Shop at Sapa tribal markets
Having fun and eating is not enough for a memorable trip. If you come to Sapa without exploring the Tribal Markets, you will really regret it. There are many tribal markets that you can refer to in Sapa. You can shop for everything at tribal markets. Not only shopping but you can also explore a lot of local cultures here. Tribal markets are truly one of the most amazing experiences for visitors.
Shopping at the local market
14. Explore the waterfalls
Not only famous for having Fansipan as the highest mountain in Indochina, but Sapa also attracts tourists through the majestic natural waterfalls. Some waterfalls that you should not miss when traveling in Sapa must mention are Silver Falls and Love Waterfall. Two waterfalls are about 12 km from the center of town and we can easily get there through the road from Sapa to Lai Chau. These natural waterfalls existed long ago. The water was clean and cool.
Exploring the waterfalls in Sapa
15. Taste 'Thang Co' Hot pot (Horse meat hot pot)
Thang Co hot pot is the traditional dish of the H’Mong people in the mountains of Ha Giang. In the past, indigenous people processed this dish from an entire horse and didn’t throw anything. Then, they put beef into the dish making this a unique food. The way local people make the dish is very simple. They wash the meat and organs of animals clearly, marinate them with spices, then put them in a pot of broth with horse bones, viscera, blood, etc.
Thang Co Sapa
16. Check-in at Sapa Church
Sapa Church known as the Stone Church or the Holy Rosary Church is right in the center of Sapa town. It was built by the Frech in the early 20th century but is quite well maintained. Coming to the church, you can see Roman gothic architecture with roofs, arches, and bell towers, or lovely stained glass windows in a modern style that depicts the life of Christ inside the church.
Sapa Church on a sunny day
17. Drop by Sapa Love Market
The Sapa love market takes place on Saturday evenings. It is the place where the young people in Sapa find a partner to get married. Every Saturday, the young Red Dzao hill tribe comes to Sapa to sing songs, and attract the other sex. The girls dress up in colorful costumes and silver ornaments and hang little bells on their outfits. They look for guys dressing in traditional clothes of the same colors. They stand in groups, singing and dancing their traditional dances during day time. When the night comes, the girl sings the songs in the dark. Then the boy finds them and if they match, they would disappear into the forest for three days. Some of them got married after that. Interestingly, the market is not for buying or selling, it is for dating, and expressing affection.
18. Buy local handicrafts
When visiting Sapa, do not forget to bring home some handicrafts from local people. They can be hats, traditional jewelry, necklaces, bracelets…You can easily find them everywhere in Sapa. Children from the age of 5 to women with their kids, make their own products, trek a long distance to tourist attractions, and sell their products.
19. Drink local wine
You may not know that the men in Sapa are not as industrious as women and they seem to prefer spending most of their time drinking or sleeping. The reason is that the wine in Sapa is very attractive to them. Therefore, try drinking local wine when you are here. Only once, you will not get addicted to them. San Lung wine is the most popular wine in Sapa. It is made from the water stream, rice, and herbs, then turns into a specialty of the Red Dao in Sapa.
20. Join a cooking class
A lot of people skip the cooking class in Sapa, which is a regret. Joining cooking class in Sapa, you will be able to taste the unique and well-preserved cuisine of the ethnic group of the area, learn the best dishes from local people here such as smoked buffalo with local pickled vegetables, traditional homemade tofu served, chicken with wild ginger, ash baked trout wrapped in banana leaf, traditional H’ mong style black pudding, and much more.
21. Get homestay experience
Staying at a homestay run by a local family in Sapa is among the best things to do in Sapa for sure. This experience will bring you a refreshing change from a usual and boring hotel. You will be staying close to nature, immersing yourself fully in the local culture. While staying at a homestay in Sapa, you will be able to help local families with the farm work, learn how to cook their specialties and donate some money which is a small amount of money but means a lot to them.
22. Visit night markets
A lot of people may think that Sapa at night is peaceful also quiet, and everything is deepened in their sleep. However, it is not true. Sapa is more beautiful, glamorous, and charming at night. The ethnic minorities come from every tribe of Sapa to the night market at the stone Catholic church to trade, exchange goods, and communicate with each other. Many things are sold in this market from souvenirs to, honey, rice wine, vegetables, bathroom medicine of the red Dao, candle wax, oil, cardamom.
23. Attend an H’mong sewing class
The Hmong group in Sapa is known for its sewing and weaving. Their weaving technique is so unique and famous, therefore, learning how to sew and make the products in H’mong sewing class is highly recommended. You can head to Indigo Cat where the class takes place. An experienced local H’Mong person will teach you how to sew step by step from picking the leaves, putting these leaves in the barrels, taking them out, adding the lime, to the final product.
H’ mong sewing class in Sapa
24. Tour to O Quy Ho Pass
O Quy Ho Pass is something you should never miss if you love taking adventures on challenging routes of Vietnam. It is among the 5 most daunting passes in Vietnam’s northwestern region, besides Ma Pi Leng in Ha Giang province, Khau Pha in Yen Bai, and Pha Din between Son La, Dien Bien province, and Ngoan Muc Pass in Ninh Thuan. The pass is 50 km long, and the top is at an altitude of nearly 2.000 m. It is truly a challenge for long-distance drivers, as the road can be very dangerous with risky limitless hairpin curves.
O Quy Ho pass
25. Savor Salmon Hot pot
You may eat salad, soup, porridge, smoked, grilled, or steamed fish eggs from salmon, but have you tried salmon hot pot? It is one of the best dishes in Sapa. Salmon in Sapa is different from what it is in other countries, it is strong, not too fat. It is great when you enjoy salmon hot pot in the cold weather of Sapa. This dish is often served with special wild vegetables in Sapa like watercress or pumpkin buds.
26. Have fun at local bars
Surely, when heading to Sapa, the mountainous area in northern Vietnam, tourists will not expect too much about bars or clubs. However, there are still some for you to join. Local Sapa bars are mostly for backpackers who look for a chill-out place at night after a long trekking day or a place to release stress, have fun with friends. Most of the Sapa bar has live music, a good ambiance, and a fine menu of food and drinks.
Have fun at local bars
27. Visit Ham Rong flower garden
Ham Rong flower garden is a mini-Sapa where you can see an overview of natural beauty, culture, and local people in Sapa. Ham Rong flower garden is the first place in your journey to conquer Ham Rong’s peak, and you will need to go through hundreds of stone steps to get there. Along the way to the garden, you can see a multitude of different flowers of Sapa. It is the sprawling colors of azaleas, orchids, roses…
28. Relax with a foot massage
Sapa attracts tourists with a beautiful trekking trail where you can find golden rice fields, and ethnic people, however, trekking in Sapa can hurt your foot. After a long day of trekking, there is no better place for you to relax than a spa. Foot massage in Sapa is at a very reasonable price, starting from 4 USD for about 15 minutes of massages. Foot massage is believed to have many benefits to your health, treating osteoarthritis pain, increasing blood circulation, removing toxins in the body through the pores. It is also good for digestion that helps your body sleep well.
29. Get a yoga treatment
Another interesting thing to do in Sapa is getting a yoga treatment. Sapa is a peaceful place, making it a perfect place for yoga. Not only you can enjoy the cozy atmosphere here in Sapa, but also the scenery is breathtaking, the local people are friendly. Doing Sapa yoga in a place overlooking the mountains, the green field terraces, and the small villages is really great.
Get a yoga treatment in Sapa
30. Enjoy Red Dao herbal bath
Your trip to Sapa is incomplete without at least one time enjoying the Red Dao herbal bath. Herbal bathing is believed to be good for your skin, bones, and joints. The herbal is stored and passed on from generation to generation among Red Dao women in each family. They are honeysuckle, star fruit, fennel, fig leaf, camphor, royal hacienda, apple bar, and tan quy.
Enjoy Red Dao herbal bath in Sapa
Sapa is truly a great destination. Every people who have ever visited Sapa wishes to return again. Sapa from time to time will have different characteristics that are worth experiencing. Therefore, don't wait to see more activities and reward yourself with the most comfortable holiday!