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Sapa Tours | Top 8 Sapa Day Trips & Excursions

The hill town of Sapa is just 38km (24 miles) from Lao Cai by way of a winding, metalled road which climbs slowly into the hills. Developed in 1922 as a hill station– those universal retreats constructed by European colonial administrations all over the east to escape from the heat and humidity of the plains Sapa lies in an attractive valley at an elevation of 1,600m (5,200ft) and is pleasantly cool during the hot season. Should you visit during the winter months, however, bring warm clothing, as rain and drizzle are prevalent and temperatures regularly fall to freezing point at night. While a visit to Sapa makes a refreshing change from the plains at any time of year, the best months are September- November, and March-May.

Besides the beautiful scenery and cool climate, this small market town affords the visitor a chance to enjoy temperate fruits such as plums, peaches, and apples, as well as to meet with the local hill peoples, among whom the most numerous are the colorfully dressed Hmong and Dao.

Fansipan itself is an attraction of the Sapa area as well as Northern Vietnam. The peak is a part of the Hoang Lien mountain range, which is under the protection of Hoang Lien National Park. The trip offers you an opportunity to explore the beautiful nature and challenge yourself.

On the 6-day North Vietnam tour, see the best highlights of Hanoi, explore the World Heritage site of Halong Bay on a private junk cruise, visit the hill tribe villages in the picturesque; Sapa. Discover the hidden treasures of Northern Vietnam on this astonishing journey.

Located about 350 km northwest of Hanoi and lies at the altitude of 1600m, Sapa is a small beautiful highland in Northern Vietnam. This small town is considered as one of the most worthwhile destinations for any visit. Vast terraced rice fields, ethnic minorities and a variety of hiking trails have the lure for a culturally authentic and breathtaking experience. And if you want to conquer the most challenging trekking trail in Indochina, you shouldn’t miss it.

Situated in the heart of the province, the Bac Ha market no doubt is the most colorful and largest market in Lao Cai province. Each Sunday morning, the ethnic Vietnamese who live in surroundings gather to trade and sell all kinds of products such as food, handicrafts, tools, animals,… - it is also the time that the locals can eat and chat together as well. If tourists want to gain a local perspective on the rural living of ethnic minorities, the Bac Ha market will definitely highlight your vacation in Vietnam.

This is a very special market, which takes place only on Tuesday. Coc Ly is a  small market where you can meet several ethnic minorities such as Flower Hmong, Black Zao, Phu La, Nung, and Tay. The trip offers you a one-way boat ride along Chay River and a short walk to Trung Do village of Tay minority.

Although Can Cau is not a big market in the area, it is very beautiful, animated and colorful. The market is open only on Saturday. You will meet there several ethnic minorities such as Flower Hmong, Black Zao, Phu La as well as Chinese people. Another highlight is the boat trip along Chay River and a short walk to a Tay village.

On this Sapa tour, you will trek along Muong Hoa River sneaking through the valley nearby Sapa town, which is surrounded by huge rice paddy terraces. On the way, you will learn more about how is the rice cultivating, from when the seed sowed to harvested, until being served as cooked rice on your dinner table. The night you spend in Ta Van village, the unique village in Sapa area where Giay minority live will be an excellent experience.

Be immersed in the stunning scenery of Sapa Valley during this 4-day Sapa tour from Hanoi. Gain a great perspective on the living of ethnic minorities and admire the riveting collection of rock carvings. Enjoy the scenic hiking trail through the picturesque villages along with having a bird view of Sapa while visiting Ham Rong National park. This journey brings you the true experience of the northern mountainous area in Vietnam.


5 Best Things to Do & See in Sapa Tours

Conquer Mount Fansipan

The “rooftop of Indochina” with a height of 3143m is an absolute must on a Sapa tour. Fansipan offers adventurers a trekking journey of challenges and danger from rough terrains and inhospitable weather. But your efforts will be rewarded by an amazing panoramic view of Hoang Lien Son mountain as well as natural beauty along the adventure.

conquer mount fansipan on sapa tours

Provided that conquering Fansipan is an impossible activity, you still set your feet at the peak of the mountain thanks to Fansipan Cable Car. Spend some hours at a cabin, enjoy the scenic beauties along the route, then you reach the top of Mount Fansipan.

Visit Sapa Villages

No books, museums, or TV programs can help you obtain more interesting things about the locals’ lifestyle, culture, tradition, and customs than a day strolling around their villages. You will be impressed by the unique architecture of wooden houses, the images of children rejoicing with their friends on the streets, farmers working on rice fields with smiles whenever seeing tourists, and caring women, at the same time, weaving fabrics at their home and lulling their children. Experience a simple but happy life of the Sapa people in pristine nature will leave you with unforgettable memories.

visit local village in sapa tour packages

In addition, the locals are also willing to help you become a farmer or a weaver as you wish. Their work looks easy but in fact, it requires a lot of skills and elaborateness. Cat Cat, Ta Van, and Y Linh Ho are villages you hardly miss during your Sapa tour.

Drive around Sapa

The motorcycle is the best choice to travel to different destinations in Sapa without wasting your time and energy. Every stop during your excursion brings you wonderful explorations. The first one should be the marvelous Muong Hoa valley filled with immense rice fields of yellow ripe rice or sometimes colorful flowers. Silver Waterfall is the next stop where you can admire a white giant dragon heading down from the cliff.

drive around in sapa day tours

In addition, you can start your Sapa eco-tour by paying a visit to Hoang Lien Son national park with diverse distinctive flora and faunas. Ending your travel is a visit to the magnificent Stone Church built by the French in 1895. Remember to carry a camera to take wonderful photos for your Sapa tour collection.

Explore Local Markets

Your Sapa tour is not perfect unless you visit its local markets. They are held to meet the requirement of trade and sell products of the Sapa people. Handicraft arts, beautiful brocade pieces, local specialties, and other products. Furthermore, a lot of traditional games and activities are also organized which makes your travel be full of excitement and discoveries. You can also buy some products as gifts for people you love on one side and support the local economy on another side. Names of recommendation are Sapa Love Market and Muong Khuong Market.

visit local market in sapa day trips

Taste Traditional Cuisine in Sapa

Your energetic day of discoveries and activities needs to provide power with mouthwatering dishes with distinctive tastes only found in Sapa. A hot bowl of Thang Co made of horse meat, organ and bones will warm you up on a cold night in Sapa. Additionally, salmon hotpot, bamboo sticky rice, black chicken, grilled egg, and chestnut are also worth your try. For those who are fond of liquor, Tao Meo and Ban Pho will show you that Vietnamese liquor can be considered one of the best drinks in the world.  All of them can be seen in markets and restaurants in the town.

local foods in sapa tours from hanoi

Top 7 Impressive Festivals in Sapa

Being a mountainous town with many ethnic tribes, Sapa enchants tourists worldwide with both the pristine, spectacular and poetic natural beauty and the rich, diversified, and unique culture and customs of locals. It is said that to fully understand the culture of any country, you have to come to its holidays and festivals. Let’s discover the top 7 impressive festivals in Sapa to know more about this compelling land with Viet Vision Travel.

Long Tong Festival

Long Tong Festival or “ going to the field” festival is a religious activity of the Tay ethnic group to pray for good weather, lush trees, harvests, and prosperous life. It’s held on the 5th or 15th of the 1st lunar month in the fields near the village. Long Tong festival reflects the desire to have good crops, and health, as well as many children and grandchildren. The ceremony includes solemn rituals, such as staging a procession for the Water, worshipping ceremonies to the Village Deity, the Stream Deity, and the Mountain Deity, and worshipping the con tree (Cloth-ball tree).

long tong festival in sapa tour

Visitors can take part in a ton of traditional games at the festival such as nem con (a game in which boys and girls throw cloth balls), tug-of-war, playing cockfights with banana flowers, and buffalo fights by asparagus. Boys and girls come to the festival to folk dance, sing love songs, and make friends.

Tet Nhay Festival in Ta Van village

Tet Nhay Festival of the Dao group in Ta Van Sapa is a combination of various traditional art forms like singing and dancing. This festival is organized annually on the first day of a year with the aim of giving thanks to ancestors and preparing to make New Year’s wishes. It often takes place at the house of the village’s leader. Take a Sa Pa tour on the days of the festival to sing, dance, cook, eat and play games continuously with locals there.

Gau Tao Festival Of Mong People Festival

Gau Tao festival or Spring mountain festival is organized on the 3rd to 5th of the first lunar month after the Lunar New Year celebration. The name “ Gau Tao” or “San Sai” of this festival means “waking in the open air” or “wandering on the mountaintop”. As one of the most exciting festivals in Sapa, it impresses tourists with colorful costumes and many entertaining games such as gun shooting, giao duyen singing, kungfu, pan-pipe playing, dancing, etc. Participating in this festival, visitors also will absolutely be mesmerized by a lot of traditional religious customs like blessing heaven for a child, fortune, or a prosperous and happy life.

gau tao festival in sapa tours

Nao Cong Festival

On dragon day lunar June every year, ethnic groups of the Hmong, Dao, and Giay in Muong Hoa gather together at one of the three Temples which is located by the suspension bridge across to Ta Van Giay village to join in the Nao Cong Festival. Each family has to assign a representative often a man to take part in the festival. Like other festivals, there are three main parts of this event: the god worship ritual, the announcement of general regulations of the regions and the last one are dining party.

Nhan Song & Nao Song Festival

Nhan Song is a special festival of the Red Dao ethnic group in Giang Ta Chai (Ta Van – Sapa). They used to organize festivals every month in mystery forests, however, now they just carry out the festival when forests be destroyed and horses damage gardens. They offer a pig to God in the festival, hoping this God will support for villagers. This custom is to pray to God to give goodness and protect forests and harvest.
Nhan Song is a famous festival of the Red Dao ethnic group in Giang Ta Chai.

In the past, it was held on good days of the first lunar month every year but since 1950, this festival is only organized in the years when the forest has been destroyed to raise awareness of people towards deforestation. The festivals are held in the forbidden forest where people worship the God of Land and the offering is usually a pig. During the festival, the wizard carries out the ritual and reads the regulations about deforestation for people to obey.

Nao Song is the ceremony of the Mong people in Seo My Ty, Den Thang, Ta Van, and Lao Chai with the similar aim of protecting the forest and some extensions over the Nhan Song ceremony. Take your Sapa tour on the dragon day of lunar January to join in this special event.

Quet Lang Festival Of Xa Pho

Quet Lang Festival is an important festival of Xa Pho ethnic group in Sapa. It is often organized in February of the lunar calendar to pray for a safe, healthy, and wealthy New Year for villagers and cattle. When coming to join the festival, each person takes along a bowl of rice, a chicken, money, two bars of incense, and a bottle of wine. During the festival, some agile and strong men will be assigned to slaughter goats, dogs, pigs, and chickens to make the offering to ghosts. After that, the wizard will do the house-cleaning ceremony with a wooden sword and a small branch of peach leaves. When the ceremony finishes, all people feast together, all foods must be eaten and the remainder cannot bring home. Notably, for 3 days, strangers are not allowed to come to the village because locals want to prevent bad things come to their village in New Year.

quet lang festival in sapa tour packages

Festival Of Giay People

Held annually on the Dragon Date in the lunar calendar like the Nao Cong festival, Roong Pooc festival of Giay people is the harmony between nature and humans, which makes each individual in the community respect the value of history, admire nature, and adore the man. It is celebrated to pray for bumper crops, peace, wealth, and nice weather. In the past, this festival belongs to Giay people but over years, it becomes the festival of Muong Hoa valley and attracts many domestic and foreign tourists. By joining this festival, visitors can soak up a colorful atmosphere and many exciting folk games like singing, and dancing, especially the plowing competition of the boys.

Best Time to Visit Sapa

Weather in Sapa

Located in a subtropical area, the climate of Sapa is temperate which is cool throughout the year with an average annual temperature of about 15ºC. Summer in Sapa is not as hot as in the coastal area (around 13ºC - 15ºC at night and 20ºC - 25ºC in the daytime). Winter is often cloudy and very cold, temperatures sometimes below 0 ° C with occasional snowfalls.

The rain season in Sapa lasts from June to September while the rest of the year is often dry and moderate. Especially, Sapa has four seasons in a day. Morning of spring, summer at noon, afternoon with autumn, and night filled with winter will make you change your outfits all day long.

Spring in Sapa – The Best Time for a Sapa Tour of Trekking & Sightseeing

March to May is the time Sapa wakes up after a long winter and wears a new outfit of lush greenery and light yellow sunshine. The perfect weather of sunny daytime with a low chance of rain and cool nights will give an ideal occasion for trekking as well as sightseeing in Sapa. Moreover, the cherry blossoms of pink and white cover all gardens and fields opening an awesome paradise for visitors. At this time, Sapa is less busy and crowded than other periods so you can enjoy your vacation at its most amazing and comfortable.

sapa trekking in spring

Summer in Sapa – Still a Wonderful Sapa Tour despite Rain Season

Summer with rains and hot weather in Sapa begins from June to September. However, the hot temperature of Sapa only reaches 25oC which is still cooler than tropical summer. Rain occurs at least once a day but lasts only 1 – 2 hours. Most of the day, you can behold the beautiful nature of lush rice fields and sceneries filled with garish sunlight. Although rains make it difficult to hike and trek during your Sapa tour, you can rent a motorbike to discover life in the local villages.

sapa tours from hanoi in summer

Autumn in Sapa – A Peaceful Sapa Tour is Awaiting for Your Coming

When rains disappear and winds bring cool air, it is autumn in Sapa. In two months from October to November, the weather is still affected by the heat of the previous summer but quickly blown by breezes from the North. In this season, you will see a hustling and bustling harvest season in Sapa. Farmers work hard in the golden terraces to harvest the crop before the first cold air of winter reaches this land. Hiking is recommended to experience forests of yellow leaves and colorful flowers showing their beauty before long sleep in the winter.

sapa tours in autumn

Winter in Sapa – A Sapa Tour of White and Cold

Winter dominates Sapa between December and February. Temperature can drop under 0oC and snow often appears in Sapa. Every destination from villages and terraces to forests and mountains is covered under a white blanket. Although it is not the best time to visit Sapa, some tourists still wish to experience how winter is in a tropical country. Outdoor activities are limited by disadvantageous weather but strolling around the town and enjoying the snow is an ideal choice. Gathering around a fire, tasting delicious specialties, and drinking hot wine will warm you up on chilly nights. Furthermore, February is the time the locals celebrate the New Year Festival which is an astonishing chance to discover the culture of Sapa.

sapa day tour in winter

Sapa Travel Guide

Sapa General Information

Location: Northern Vietnam, Lao Cai Province
Population: Over 61,000 (2018)
Language: Vietnamese and languages of ethnic minorities
Currency: Vietnam Dong (VND)
Natural Condition: A mostly mountainous area

map for sapa day trip

People, Nature & Culture in Sapa

People

Most Sapa people are ethnic minorities having a simple and peaceful life attached to nature. Every day, men go hunting in the forests; working on terraces while women stay at home, raise children and weave colorful fabrics. Once a week, they often gather at markets in the center of Sapa for trading goods and buying necessities. Recently, tourism has brought new things to this land from resorts, restaurants, hotels, and homestays to roads and technology. Besides, more and more people have migrated to Sapa, settled down there, and set up businesses.

local people in sapa tours

Therefore, the locals now get used to the appearances of tourists as well as the civilization of society. They, nonetheless, preserve their traditional and cultural values on one side but popularize them for profit. You will be surprised when children in Sapa can communicate with you in English. None teaches them but they learn it themselves to keep up with the rapid transformations in Sapa.

Nature

Tourism can partly change the lifestyle of the locals but never does to the nature in Sapa. The town on the clouds is the way tourists name this dreamland. Sapa is a rustic village with houses made of wood and straw, storage filled with yellow corns, and giant wooden wheels along a river using the streams to spin for creating the force serving the milling. It is majestic Mount Fansipan – the rooftop of Indochina with a height of 3143m. It is also bumpy roads lying on towering cliffs covered by immense tropical forests. Paying a visit to Sapa will show you that paradise is not far away in this exotic destination.

Culture

Sapa’s culture is imbued with the identities of ethnic minorities. It attracts visitors for the unique festivals, colorful handmade clothes, mouthwatering cuisine with special mountainous ingredients, and natural seasoning. Exploring every village brings you distinctive experiences of tradition and practices. Provided that you do not have enough time to do that, pay a visit to a local market and it will be beyond your expectations. The market is filled with handicraft arts, traditional games, and colorful clothes. You will feel a little bit tired when choosing gifts to bring home after your Sapa tour because of a wide range of styles and designs.

How to Get to Sapa

By Bus

Departure: My Dinh Station (No. 20 Pham Hung St); Gia Lam Station (No. 132 Ngo Gia Kham St)
Travel time: 5 - 7 hours
Ticket price: VND 200,000 – VND 400,000 (around $10 - $20)

Suggested Companies

Sapa Express
Address: No.12 Ly Thai To St, Hoan Kiem District
Tel: (+84) 24 668 21555 - (+84) 98 489 0055

Ecosapa Travel
Address: No. 5 Muong Hoa St, Sapa
Tel: (+84) 913 551 369 – (+84) 167 555 6666

By Train

A lot of night trains from Hanoi to Sapa are beside tourists. You can check travel information and buy tickets at Hanoi Station.

Departure: Hanoi Station (No. 120, Le Duan St, Hoan Kiem District)
Arrival: Lao Cai Station
Travel time: 6-7 hours
Ticket price: $40 to $90

Suggested Trains: Orient Express Train, Victoria Express Train, Fansipan Express Train,…

Transportation in Sapa

Motorcycle

Besides walking to explore Sapa, you can hire a motorbike to drive around the town. Every hotel has this service. It takes you about VND 100,000 – VND 120,000 (about $5) to rent a motorcycle for a day. Besides, you can easily catch a motor taxi on the streets.

Taxi

Taxi Fansipan: (+84) 203 62 62 62
Taxi Xanh Sapa: (+84) 203 63 63 63

Bicycle

Most of the hotels also provide this service with a fee of full-day rental of about $5.

Where to Stay in Sapa

As a famous destination, there are a lot of hotels and homestays with different prices.

Eco Palms House

Eco Palms House is truly an ideal place for those who want to enjoy a safe and peaceful vacation away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Eco Palms House is located in Lao Chai village with views of Hoang Lien Son Range and picturesque Muong Hoa valley. Most of the rooms have a terrace or balcony, a private bathroom with slippers, and free toiletries to make guests feel comfortable.

Sapa Clay House

Located on Ta Van village, Sapa Clay House is a wonderful resort. The rooms of bamboo and warm clay create a cozy and comfortable atmosphere with views of dreaming Sapa.

Sapa Capsule Hotel

The hotel is about 500m away from the stone church, the shopping center, and restaurants in Sapa center. From here, it is very convenient to go to Lao Chai or Ta Van villages. Staying at the hotel helps you immerse yourself in peaceful and relaxing moments.

Mobile & Internet Access in Sapa

In Sapa center, the mobile connection is quite fast. However, in some mountainous and remote areas, the connection may be lost. You can easily find the agencies of popular Vietnamese mobile operators such as Viettel, Vinaphone, or Mobifone for services and SIM card purchases. Internet access and Wi-Fi connection are available in hotels, restaurants, and cafés.

Useful Information for a Perfect Sapa Tour

  • Carry with you insect repellant, rain jacket, warm clothes, high-quality shoes, band-aids, earplugs, camera, snacks, water, toilet paper, and medication for your trekking in Sapa
  • Be careful with fire in the forests
  • Remember to ask the price before buying or eating anything
  • Not all ethnic people in Sapa are friendly and hospitable, keep your distance from them for your safe
  • Roads in Sapa are difficult to drive or even dangerous. If you are not confident in your ability to drive, the motorcycle should be removed from your Sapa tour.
  • Make sure that someone knows where you go and when you come back. In case unexpected things happen, you can receive support from them.

With that useful information above, we hope that you have some ideas for your Sapa tours. Please feel free to contact our experts if you are preparing for your holiday in Sapa or any destination in Vietnam. We offer a variety of choices of Vietnam vacation and tours and are willing to tailor any types of Vietnam day tours that satisfy your needs.