Tips For Visiting Sapa
You are very excited about the Sapa trip but don’t know what should prepare when traveling in Sapa? Hoping that our tips for visiting sapa will help you to have a fun trip.
Table of Contents
You want to explore this mountainous area with many Vietnamese ethnic minorities and want to learn more about their daily life? If so, this post is for you. Hoping these tips will help you to have a wonderful trip to Sapa.
1. When is the best time to visit Sapa?
Thanks to its high altitude, Sapa is an ideal location for a summer retreat during the overheated summer time and the scarcely populated town also has pretty fresh air. The climate of Sapa is highly seasonal, with a subtropical climate in the summer and a temperate climate during the winter. The average temperature for Sapa town is 15.4ºC, with a maximum of 29.4ºC and a minimum of 1ºC. The warmest months are July and August, and the coldest months are December and January. While trips can be enjoyed year-round, the winters in Sapa get cold, with some fog and drizzle, and snowfalls in some years on the highest peak.
Tourists are welcome to Sapa all the year round with different taste of seasons and exciting outdoors
The four seasons are distinctly felt in Sa Pa when Nature changes her costume. Spring is bright with pear, peach, apricot, and plum flowers. Summer comes blooming with pancies, dahlias, sunflowers, and numerous temperate fruits. Autumn is the time for perfume mushrooms, wood ears, and plenty of specious medicinal plants… The sky is vividly brightened with golden sun-rays and playful white clouds which seem to land on the ground, over the heads of people, or on the tops of trees. In winter, fog filled the space, making the landscapes look more mysterious and attractive.
Sapa also experiences a marked wet season from May to September, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in July and August. The weather is notorious for changing frequently and quickly. Visitors to Sapa in summer can feel the climate of four seasons in one day. In the morning and afternoon, it is cool like the weather of spring and autumn. At noon, it is as sunny and cloudless as the weather of summer. And it is cold in the evening. With no advance warning of a thunderstorm short and heavy rains may come at noon on any summer day. Subsequently, a rainbow appears, transforming Sapa into a magic land, which for years has been a constant source of poetic inspiration, lights up the whole region.
For the most pleasant weather, the best time to visit Sapa is March and May or mid-September to early December.
In April and May, the ethnic people grow rice on terraced fields. When being seen from afar, the terraced rice fields look like a picture of nature with heart-catching beauty keeping tourists to stay for admiration for a while. This picture however has its color changed seasonally, shows its most charming beauty when the new crop begins and when the field is lush with ripening rice.
In September and October when autumn ends, tourists can feel prosperity all over the area as rice in all terraced fields is ripe, giving the gold color. During the time, the terraced rice fields look like golden silk scarves flying over in the wind above green mountain slopes, making the mountainous landscape amazingly beautiful.
From late December to February, Sapa has a harsh winter with temperature sometimes drops to below zero degrees, and tree branches and grass are covered with ice. Sa Pa on icy days always attracts many tourists and photographers and strangely all the most beautiful pictures about Sapa are taken in wintertime. Some recent years, snowfalls at the end of December which is a great time for a Christmas holiday and New Year vacation. Traveling to Sapa at this time, visitors may contemplate beauty-spot as breath-taking as in the picture described in the Snow Queen fairy tale of Andersen.
2. What kind of transportation to choose in Sapa?
Some reliable taxi companies in Lao Cai are listed below with their own phone numbers.
- Mai Linh Taxi: (+84) 203 833388
Taxi companies in Sapa:
- Taxi Fansipan: (+84) 203 626262
- Taxi Xanh Sapa: (+84) 203 636363
In terms of transportation around Sapa town, a taxi is not recommended.
The average price for Lao Cai Train Station - Sapa or Sapa - Lao Cai Train Station is around 350.000VND (15,62 USD) each way.
Trekking in Sapa
Sapa is among the best places all over the country for trekking. Depending on their trekking skills and ability, tourists can choose the trekking route which is most suitable, as Sapa offers a wide range of trekking spots from easy to hard level. Treks are easy to arrange once you arrive in Sapa, so don’t bother making bookings in advance. Most of the guides are local and they speak great English, so know that you’re giving back to the local community when you book a trekking guide.
The average price for short-term motorbike rental is about 120.000VND (~5,5 USD) /day. If you rent the motorbike overnight, the price will be higher.
- Sapa Tourist Information Center: 2 Fansipan Street (+84 214 3871 975)
- Mr. Chung: 33 Muong Hoa Street (+84 916 053009)
- Ms. Ly: (+84 915 190874)
The average price for short-term bicycle rental is about 10 USD for a full day (8:00 – 17:00) and 6 USD for a half-day rental (8:00 – 12:30 or 13:00 – 17:00).
- Sapa Ethnic Travel: 4 Hoang Dieu Street (Tel: +84 0214 377 3388 / +84 979 110 111 )
- Hoang Ha Hotel: +84 918 324 535
- Xe om (Motorbike taxi)
- Nearby hotels, you can easily find this service with the driver hanging a sign that reads “XE OM” in front of the motorcycle.
- Ask the price clearly to reach an agreement before sitting down on the pillion. You should ask the receptionist for bargaining the price.
3. Where to go shopping in Sapa?
As a tourist attraction in the northwest mountains of Vietnam, Sapa is an ideal destination for those who are looking for unique shopping experiences in an area of picturesque hilly nature and rich ethnic cultures. Strolling around Sapa town’s placid streets, you will soon find some souvenir shops here and there. They all could make good presents for you to bring home.
Trekking & Shopping
- Indigo Cat
Indigo Cat is a lovely, authentic H’Mong handicrafts shop at 46 Phan Xi Pang Street in Sapa Town just below the Cat Cat View Hotel. It is owned by an H’Mong woman named Pang. She said that her shop was the only H’Mong owned boutique in Sapa. All items are made by herself and her family members. Many of these handmade items cannot be found in other places. Indigo Cat shop offers a wonderful selection of interesting local crafts including bags, clothing, pillows, and belts. She even offers embroidery classes so that you can try your hand at learning the local craft. You might gain a deeper appreciation for the amount of work that goes into the garments the women are wearing, and next time you buy something from free people, know the difference. Highly recommend that if you visit Sapa, take a visit to Indigo Cat.
Lady Pang at her shop Indigo Cat
- Ethnic minority fair markets
What is more interesting is that you save your time trekking down the hills and discover traditional markets of local ethnic minorities like Sapa market, Bac Ha market, Coc Ly market. Here you will have a chance to buy souvenirs from the local hill tribes themselves. They trek surprisingly long distances to gather here and sell you their hand – made nice items, the most impressive of which are colorful clothes made of local fabrics.
- Local street vendors
From Sapa Town, about a 5-minute walk to the Main Square, you will find many hill tribe vendors with crafts ranging from bags, wallets, and pillow covers.
Sapa town is also famous for the night market which offers different delicious dishes, most of which are grilled or roasted ones. Visiting Sapa without trying a dish of baked or grilled meat, beef, fish, and vegetables is a great pity. There are many other delicious dishes to be explored in Sapa. If you have a chance, do make a cuisine trip along with the Sapa night market and enjoy the moments.
4. What to eat in Sapa?
Thang Co is the traditional food of H'Mong people and it has been cooked for hundreds of years. Thang Co is a type of soup that is made of horsemeat, horse’s viscera, and horse’s bone. You might feel a little bit panic-stricken when hearing about the ingredients but that feeling will be blown away once you taste it. Cooking this dish not only requires time but also the skill of cooks. The seasonings comprised of 12 spices from cardamom, ginger, citronella, anise to cinnamon twig.
The locals stew horsemeat with these 12 spices in a big pot within a couple of hours. To elevate the flavor of Thang Co soup, they serve it with fresh vegetables and a special red hot pepper name Muong Khuong.
Where to eat:
- Thang Co A Quynh: 15 Thach Son Street, Sapa Town
Sapa Cap Nach Pork
Cap Nach pork is a specialty of this mountainous region. The ways to make this dish is diverse. The locals usually roast a whole pig directly on charcoal so that the skin covering the pork is very brittle while the pork inside is very delicious and fleshy. Others stir-fry the pork with little or no water and herbs. No matter how you cook it, make sure the pork is soft with a hint of spicy.
Where to eat:
- Anh Dung Restaurant: 69 Xuan Vien Street, Sapa Town
- Hoang Minh Restaurant: 23-24 Sapa food court (the corner of Xuan Vien Street and Fansipan Street)
Salmon Sour Hotpot
Sapa has extremely cool weather all year round and the water here is pretty cold that is suitable for salmon to exist. It's explained why salmon sour hot pot is a familiar food to local people. The food has a timeless quality. No matter when you enjoy this hot pot, your eyes will littery light up talking about the dish.
The real star of the hot bot is its broth. It's a combination of several vegetable types and freshly caught salmon. Unlike other fish, salmon brings to diners an elegant and delicate flavor. Nestle up to a restaurant on Sapa hill road and make an order of salmon sour hot pot, your heartbeat is just a little bit faster.
Where to eat:
- Hoa Dao Restaurant: 48 Le Van Tam Street, Sapa Town
- Lotus Sapa: 34 Cau May Street, Sapa Town
Grilled skewers (Sapa BBQ)
This is the most famous delicacy of Sapa since tourists all come to enjoy the hot and tasty barbecue with many different local ingredients in the middle of the typical cool weather of Sapa. There is a countless number of grilled dishes here that you could not have enough room for the stomach to try all. From the very simple food like potatoes, cassava, eggs, chicken wings, etc. to other more complicated dishes with the typical Northwest flavors like the Rolled beef with Meo spinach, stream fish, or bamboo pipe rice… With special local marinated spices & ingredients, Sapa BBQ has a unique taste that differs from any other BBQ. Barbecue stalls in Sapa are located everywhere in the street, in front of the old stoned church, in the alleys, markets, or even at the famous Silver waterfall… Set up with some of the grilling equipment and a few tables & chairs for customers, these stalls are considered mini roadside BBQ restaurants.
For some suggestions of the best restaurant in Sapa
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Image Sources: Internet