Spoken of in almost reverential terms by people that have traveled there, Sa Pa is often seen as a holy grail of destinations in Vietnam. Part of that is because of the environment—a cool mountain town that has lured visitors with its salubrious air and alpine scenery since the early 20th century, when the French constructed facilities for sick officers to recover—as well as its remoteness, located close to the Chinese border in the country’s extreme north. Most visitors come to Sa Pa for the hiking in the nearby valley peppered with minority-ethnic-group villages, or to climb Mount Fansipan, the country’s tallest peak, which is located just southwest of the town. Conquering the summit once required a two-to-three-day hike, but now can more easily be reached with the help of a cable car (opened in 2016) that gets you most of the way.

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Sapa overview

As a highland town, Sapa not only is a famous resort of Sapa district, Lao Cai but also owns a host of miracles of nature.

Sapa is located in the northwest of Vietnam, at an altitude of 1600 meters, 38 kilometers from Lao Cai city center and 376 kilometers from Hanoi. As a highland town, Sapa not only is a famous resort of Sapa district, Lao Cai but also owns a host of miracles of nature. The mountainous terrain, luxuriant forests and unique local cultures are all the features that create a harmonious, charming and poetic landscape picture of this Northwestern region.

The best time to travel in Sapa

From April to August annually is the peak tourist season of Sapa. During this period, with the mild climate, Sapa, Lao Cai becomes an ideal place for family vacations. If visiting Sapa at this time, you will get the opportunity to admire a stunning Sapa covered with brilliantly-coloured flowers and green fields.

Late August and early September are when terraced fields are lush with ripening rice. This is also the time when a considerable number of tourists go to visit Sapa. It brings the great experience to watch Sapa in a new dress with the yellow color across the hills. You are advised to go to Sapa in the middle or end of September instead of October because many places already finish the harvest in early October.

Between November and March, the weather gets very cold, especially in the northeast when the night falls. Nevertheless, you can admire the sunrise on the high valley in early morning. In recent years, there have been snowfalls in Sapa.

Must-see destinations


Fansipan is 9 kilometers from the Sapa town center to the southwest. To move here, you can catch a taxi to Tram Ton, then go on foot and begin the journey to conquer Fansipan. Note that if you intend to spend only one or two nights in Sapa, Fansipan is not really a good suggestion. To discover Fansipan, you need at least three days.

Sapa Sky Gate and O Quy Ho pass

O Quy Ho is 18 kilometers from the town center to the north. The road to O Quy Ho pass is quite tortuous and narrow; therefore, a motorcycle is considered to be the most feasible transportation.

Muong Hoa Valley

Muong Hoa valley is situated in Hau Thao commune and 8 kilometers from the Sapa town center to the southeast. From Sapa town, you have to go through a high mountain pass to reach the Muong Hoa valley. The highlights of the trip are the ancient alien rock and picturesque terraced fields. Besides, you should not miss Lao Chai and Ta Van.

Thac Bac (Silver Falls)

To come to Thac Bac from Sapa town, you move a distance of 12 kilometers towards Lai Chau province.

Hang Tien (Fairy cave)

To get Hang Tien - the terrestrial Halong Bay, it is suggested to take a boat from Bao Nhai (Bac Ha district) and go through the Trung Do ancient citadel.

Coc San

Going along the small road of one kilometer on the National Highway 4D, you will witness an unspoiled and mysterious scenery. It is rather difficult to enter Coc San, so you should have a partner or hire a guide to travel with you.

The villages such as Ta Phin, Lao Chai and Ta Van have the flat terrain and a taxi can approach here. Ta Phin is located 17 kilometers far from Sapa town to the east and Lao Chai lies next to Muong Hoa stream.

Things to do in Sapa

With each tourist destination of Sapa, you will be involved in different activities. For example, in Ta Phin village, you can have a bath with the herbal medicine - a service offered by the Red Yao, experience the feeling of adventure in O Quy Ho pass and see the ripening rice in Muong Hoa. Besides, if taking a trip to Ta van village, you will get a chance to do trekking, discover the local cuisine and learn more about the regional culture through market meetings and Sapa love market.

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