Pretty Sapa is located in the northern mountains of Vietnam and is made up of a key town in the Muong Hoa Valley. Surrounding Sapa proper, you will find a lot of local villages that are the home of some of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam. This means that this region of the country has a distinct and unique culture making a visit here not to be missed if you are in the region. On the outskirts of the town, you will find jade-hued paddy fields that are cut into the craggy mountainsides, and the air is cooler because the mountains covered in a delicate mist. If you like trekking then this is definitely the place to come because the rugged landscape and cool mountainous atmosphere make it the perfect place in order to go outside and discover. Following are the Top 25 Things To Do In Sapa.
1. Getting out into the local villages
Sapa is generally a collection of small local villages that are dotted around the mountains. This is the place where you should come if you want to get out of the busy noisy cities of Vietnam and experience something a little more rural. You are capable of staying in the local villages in a guesthouse with a local family, which will give you a glimpse of how people have lived here for centuries. The homestay programs here are not for everyone, but for many travelers who want to have the highlight of a trip to Vietnam.
– Sapa: 2-Day Trekking Tour with Minority Village Homestay.
– From Sapa: Sapa Valley Trek with Local Villages Visit (5-hour tour).
2. Visiting Sapa Museum
Sapa does not have so many sightseeing points in the main town, but one of the few it does have is the Sapa Museum.
Therefore, this is the only place to come if you want to find a display of the history and culture of the region which stretches back to the French colonial period. You can also discover galleries that are dedicated to the various ethnic minorities living in this part of Vietnam.
3. Buying some local handicrafts
Sapa is famous for its villages that are made up of local families who are also ethnic minorities in Vietnam.
These families comprise the Phu La, the Dao, the Yay, the H’mong, and each of these ethnic groups is known for making amazing local handicrafts.
When you go on a trip to the villages, you can see how these are made and also choose some traditional weavings or carvings that make souvenirs and great gifts.
4. Going hiking
Sapa began out life as a scenic hill station during the colonial period, and plenty of people came here in the days of old to avoid the heat and to enjoy the landscape.
The cool climate makes this place become the best one to go hiking in Vietnam, and much of Sapa is covered in lush green hills.
In addition to the rolling mountains, you will also find gorgeous glittering waterfalls and stunning valleys that are dotted with craggy caves.
You can take a guided hiking trip to the most beautiful spots around Sa Pa, or you can go alone if you like an adventure.
5. Having a drink at Cafe in the Clouds
One of the wonderful highlights of a trip to Sapa is the opportunity to watch the lush views, and there is no better way to do this than by having a drink in one of the mountain bars.
One of the most famous is “Cafe in the Clouds”, and as the name called, you can spend time here enjoying the mist creeping across the eerie landscape and marvel at the vistas over the emerald green valley below.
You can enjoy many kinds of drinks here as well as basic local and international dishes and this cafe also has Wi-Fi if you need to get online.
6. Attending a H’mong Sewing Class
Thanks to its sewing and weaving, the H’mong indigenous group in Sapa is known.
If you want to witness, then you can visit “Indigo Cat”, which is one of the most famous craft stores in town.
Here you can attend a class where you can learn how to sew your own handicrafts, and you will be taught by members of the local H’mong community.
If you are interested, then you can simply visit the store to buy some of the souvenirs on display which consist of beautiful textiles as well as other delights like local teas and spices.
7. Hike Fan Si Pan
Fan Si Pan is dubbed the roof of Indochina and is located at an altitude of 3,143 meters above sea level.
The mountain is about 9 kilometers from the center of Sapa, and it is able to take a full week to get to the summit. However, if you are feeling strong and have the time, this is an experience of a lifetime, and you will be able to take in gorgeous views over Hoang Lien Son.
If you like, you can also do some shorter treks which will take you partway up the mountain.
One of the standouts of trekking around Fan Si Pan is the opportunity to discover the local flora and fauna such as cute antelopes and monkeys.
8. Dining at Hill Station Signature Restaurant
Because Sapa used to be a well-known hill station during the colonial period, it seems only appropriate to dine at Hill Station Signature Restaurant, which specializes in delicious H’Mong dishes.
This is also a small restaurant with a view, you are able to enjoy vistas across the valley when you try dishes such as pork with lime as well as trout wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in ash. Trying the local corn and rice wine is also why travelers come here.
9. Visit Cat Cat Village
The cute Village named Cat Cat is one of the oldest villages in the Sapa region, and it is also known for being the home of the H’mong ethnic community.
The village is well-known for its traditional industries such as flax and cotton production, and there is a strong tradition of weaving here.
Visiting Cat Cat village, travelers can learn all about these traditional techniques as well as spend time studying the H’mong culture.
10. Discover the barbecue restaurants
In the cold climes, getting to eat barbecue is something wonderful. If you want to look for a high concentration of barbecue stalls in Sapa, you need to go to D Phan Si, where you will find a number of simple stalls set up along the road.
These stalls have many kinds of meat such as chicken, pork, and beef over hot coals, and these are served with vegetables and sometimes rice wraps so that you can roll everything together to make a toothsome kind of spring roll.
11. Walking to Silver Waterfalls
Sapa is well-known for its waterfalls and one of these is Silver Waterfalls. This is a collection of gushing cataracts that tower to a height of some 200 meters.
Located just up the path from Silver Waterfalls is the cute named Love Waterfall, which is a place steeped in local legend.
Locals will tell you that fairies used to bathe in the waters here, and even though it is a long trek to both waterfalls it is more than worth it for the beautiful landscape.
Suggested tour: From Sapa: Waterfalls, Trekking and Tribal Villages Tour
12. Discovering Fairy Cave
Another important attraction in Sapa is Fairy Cave, which is located a little way upstream from the Chay River.
True to its name, the cave is like something in a fairy tale, and the landscape here is reminiscent of Ha Long Bay.
People say that the cave is sacred in Vietnam, and the mountain here is also cut through with babbling streams, which make the ideal place to go swimming at the end of a long trek.
14. Going boating on Sapa Lake
Sapa Lake is one of the key attractions in town and is just a 5-minute walk away from the main church.
The lake lets you enjoy the beauty of Sapa from the water, and this is a popular place to come for local families at the weekends and on vacations.
One of the wonderful standouts of the lake is that you are able to rent a pedal boat for an hour and shoot all over the glassy surface of the water and enjoy the pretty scenery.
15. Visiting Tram Ton Pass
If you would like to admire more of the landscape in Sapa then you have to head for the Sapa, and Lai Chau road which then turns into the Tram Ton Pass.
The pass stands at an elevation of some 1900 meters which makes it the highest pass in all of Vietnam.
You can find a number of lookout points here that have great views over the surrounding area, and you can also combine a trip here with the nearby Silver Waterfall.
16. Shopping at Sapa Market
If you would like to experience traditional shopping in Sapa, come to Sapa Market, which is also conveniently located near the local bus station.
Here you will see a variety of colorful local produces as well as a fresh meat section which is certainly not for the faint of heart.
You will also see some handicrafts here sold by the hill-tribes people who live in the villages around Sapa.
17. Watch the Ta Phin Commune Church Singing
If you are in Sapa during the first few weeks of spring, you can come to Ta Phin Village, where you can watch the annual church singing.
This is actually a traditional wedding, and you will get to witness brides and grooms parading through the village while villagers dance and sing around the pair.
The colorful clothes worn by the young lovers are worth the trip itself, and travelers are welcome to watch the festivities as long as you are respectful of the proceedings at the same time.
18. Walking around Muong Khuong Bird Market
Many towns in Southeast Asia have a local bird market, including Sapa.
If visiting Muong Khuong Bird Market, you will get to watch the different tribes of the region getting together to listen to the birds’ songs.
In Vietnam, Plenty of houses hang a birdcage in front of their home to bring good luck, and people buy and sell birds from the market.
Therefore, you can listen to kinds of birds singing, and witness the market is working busily, especially in the early morning.
19. Discovering Muong Hoa Valley
Muong Hoa valley is one of Sapa’s gems, you will see Suoi Hoa flowing through the valley and running through villages like Han Thao and Tan Van.
You are able to take a tour from Sapa that will lead you through the wonderful valley, and there are even paintings on stones here that are said to date back about 3,000 years.
If walking down to the bottom of the valley, you can also enjoy some river hiking along the Hoa Stream.
Suggested tour: Private Hoang Lien National Park & Tribal Village Trek.
20. Drinking some wine in Ban Pho Village
One of the best villages to visit around Sapa is Ban Pho, which is home to the Bac Ha Mong tribe.
This village is also known for its wine-making occupation, and when you come here, you can learn how the villagers have been making corn wine here for centuries and even get to taste this special wine yourself.
You can also easily visit Ban Pho as part of a day trip from Sapa and as with all the villages in the region, it also has spectacular views over the rice fields.
21. Admiring Sapa Church
Sapa does not have a lot of huge monuments; however, one of the most recognizable buildings in town is Sapa Church, which dates back to the French colonial period.
The church is closed throughout the week and just opens for Mass every Sunday, but you can discover the exterior that is very pretty or venture inside if you come here by chance at the weekend.
22. Going for a walk around Ham Rong Resort
Ham Rong Resort is something of a misnomer. This is not a resort, but more of a simple park area that sits at the foot of Ham Rong Mountain.
Here you can find a cool and peaceful place to go for a walk. In spite of being warned, there are plents of steps that lead you up the mountainside.
If you do not like to discover some of the larger mountains in the region such as Fan Si Pan, this is a good place to go for a walk for some hours and take some photographs across the valley.
23. Taking a cooking class
Vietnam is famous for delicious food in the world, and with that in mind, you may want to cook it yourself.
Hill Station Signature Restaurant will help you carry out your desire; however, you have to book a class a day in advance.
You will then have the opportunity to learn from a H’mong chef who will take you out to the local market so that you discover the traditional ingredients used in Vietnamese cooking.
Classes usually consist of learning how to cook five local dishes which you are able to then eat in the communal dining room at that end of the class and also pair with some local wines.
24. Eating at the Hot Pot Stalls
The weather in Sapa is can be much colder than other regions of Vietnam because of the advanced elevation.
Therefore, if you feel like you need to be warmed up, you may want to take a trip to the well known Hot Pot Stalls of Sapa.
This is considered to be a local delicacy in the town, and this kind of hot pot is called lau in Vietnamese.
The hot pot includes stewed meat that is then cooked with local vegetables such as mushrooms and cabbages that makes for a simple but attractive fare.
25. Touring the rice fields
The key reason why lots of people come to Sapa is to visit the paddy fields, and even if you decide not to stay overnight in a homestay with a local family, a trip out into the countryside is not to be missed. You are able to book a guided tour from Sapa that will take you out onto the well-known stepped rice terraces, and you can watch the views and also get to know how the locals till the fields or harvest the rice. The main reason why many people come to Sapa is to visit the rice fields, and even if you decide not to stay overnight in a homestay with a local family, a trip out into the countryside is not to be missed.
You can book a guided tour from Sapa which will take you out onto the famous stepped rice terraces and you can admire the views and also learn now the locals till the fields and harvest the rice.