Ruta 8
Sapa Vietnam rice fields

3 days in Sapa

Located in the north of Vietnam, about 40 km from the border with China, Sapa has a mild climate during the summer and lower temperatures in the winter due to its high altitude. If you are looking to combine some outdoor activities with nature, Sapa must be in your itinerary.

Trekking among rice terraces, taking in beautiful views of mountains & valleys and learning more about the costumes and life of the local ethnic minorities predominant in the region are some of the things to do in the area.
  • DAY 1

    Explore in & around Sapa

    A great way to get a glimpse into the local life is strolling around the local market. There you get to see the variety of green vegetables they grow in the area, locals slurping Pho and even be shocked to spot a dog’s head in the meat section (be aware Vegetarians & Vegans).

    This is a good place to get souvenirs, embroidered textiles and handicrafts made by local ethnic minorities. Make sure you don´t miss the second floor of the main building, which is the most interesting section for buying something to bring back home.

    On the way to the market, coming from Notre Dame church in the town you will see Sapa Lake which was used as a watering hole for buffalos in the past.

    Sapa Market
    Opening hours: 6am to 6pm
  • Ham Rong Mountain

    Right behind Notre Dame church there is a path towards a hill, where from the top you can get good views of Sapa and the surrounding area.

    View to Sapa from Ham Rong Mountain

    TIP: When you get the map at the entrance, try to reach the viewing point number 21. This will take you to the top of the hill to get the best view of the town.

    Ticket-price: 70,000 VND/person
  • Walk to Cat Cat Village

    Located southwest from Sapa, Cat Cat village is nestled at the bottom of Muong Hoa valley and was mainly inhabited by Dzao and H’Mong ethnic groups in the past. It´s a good spot to take some pictures, especially from the bridge and the stream that cuts through the village. Also, if you fancy shopping there are several stalls selling textiles and handicrafts made by the local community.

    From the place where we stayed, we made our way walking down through a bamboo forest and rice fields using It took us about an hour to get there and the trekking was the best part of it for us as the village only seems to be set up for tourists to see.

    To get back to Sapa you can grab a motorbike taxi which would cost about 50.000 VND/person.

    Catcat village Sapa Catcat village Sapa
    Village entrance-fee: 70,000 VND/person
  • DAY 2

    Muong Hoa valley and/or Fansipan mountain

    Fansipan is the highest mountain in Vietnam and right next to Sapa. It’s one of the main reasons people visit the town and many people describe the view from the top as mind blowing -if you are lucky enough to have good weather. There are two ways to get to the top, either climb up to the 3,150mts summit or take the cable car.

    Funicular Sapa Sunworld Sapa Budhist Temple

    Now, if you don’t have time to climb Fansipan mountain or the weather is not great, you can opt for taking a Funicular to the first stop. The 5 minute ride is pleasant, and you can have great views from there. There is also a well-maintained Chinese Buddhist temple there to check out.

    Funicular ticket-price: 50,000 VND/person – Muong Hoa valley
    Cable car ticket-price Fansipan: 700,000 VND/person returning
  • DAY 3

    Hiking to Ta Phin Village
    with a tour guide

    This was one of the highlights of our trip to Sapa that should be top of your list. The walk is about 12km long and if you choose a similar track, you will get to see lots of terraced rice fields, small communities along the way and get your shoes dirty!

    We passed by Matcha village and got an insight into the lives of many locals from our tour guide, including the opportunity to see locals making tofu which intrigued us all.

    Woman growing cabbage

    The views of the rice fields were stunning, and we wish we could have stayed longer when we reached Ta Phin as the views from there were spectacular too.

    I was personally amazed to see the different types of activities people dedicate their time to, such as; making pots, fabric dying and the variety of produce in the village. Experiencing all that gave us the feel of a much more authentic experience, especially when comparing to Cat Cat village.

    Hiking to Taphin village Hiking to Taphin village
    Taphin village hiking muddy track

    Although the tour guide was enthusiastic, spoke very good English and shared lots of interesting information we wouldn´t have learned if we´d went on our own, the drawback was that we had to rush towards the end to meet the driver who was already waiting to pick us up in Ta Phin.

    Hiking to Taphin village

    We also passed some tourists reaching Ta Phin village without a guide, something you could consider in case you are travelling on a limited budget or want to go at your own pace and take your own route.

    This same village is famous for the Herbal baths, prepared with 13 different types of herbs and supposed to do wonders for your skin. Unfortunately, we didn´t manage to experience that. Price: 150.000 VND/person for 20 mins.

    Tour with tour guide: 600,000 VND/person
    (tour guide, lunch, village entrance fee and pick up van included).
    We were in a group of 6 people in total.

    TIP: If you do any trekking around Sapa it’s very likely that some ladies will be accompanying you along the way. The reason is to convince you to buy handcrafts and textiles from them.
What we didn´t like about Sapa: There´s no perfect tourist destination and Sapa is no exception. Speaking to locals and to our tour guide we learned that some ethnic groups still keep some old traditions such as marriage at very young age (our tour guide got married when she was 14).
Also, it´s common to see kids begging in the street.

Having said that, in Cat Cat village the local authorities were campaigning to tourists to not give them money. Hopefully, these kids will be able to complete their education to pursue a better future.

Where to eat

Sapa Classic Vegan

Công Cà phê

Where to stay

Mintu House