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.
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.
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.
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 maps.me. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.