As Halong Bay is the first famous destination for tourists, Sapa is considered as the second one. Located in the Northwest of Vietnam, Sapa is the heart of this exclusive piece with many beautiful sights like the highest mountain peak in Vietnam and Indochina or the most beautiful terrace. Entering in any Sapa tours, tourists all have a chance to contemplate the majestic Fansipan Mountain, the glorious terrace rice field, and immerse yourselves into wonderful landscapes.
From Hanoi, it takes you about 8 hours by train or 5-6 hours by bus to Sapa. You will have a night train if you choose the train. It feels like strange for anyone who has never slept on train running.
Homestay in Sapa
What is the best tour for family or couple? It is homestay. There are many homestays of the Ethnic people where you can stay at and experience local daily life.
Phori’s House located in Ta Van village is far from Sapa Town about 10 km. It is a beautiful small house with a tiny stream in front of. In the afternoon, you can walk on any plot and let your eyes go far, and then enjoy the tremendous terrace rice field. The smoking in the distance makes this look like the paradise in the Earth. Phori’s House has the kitchens, so you can go to the local market, use cloth bags available in the kitchen to contain foods; the vegetable is available in the garden too. It also has wine, fresh tea, and coffee, the heater in bathroom, warm-maker blankets made in Germany. All in Phori’s House helps you love the nature more.
It costs 30$/double room/night and 10$/person extra. You can book the whole house for 120$/1 day for up to 14 members. Especially, it does not raise the price in holidays.
Eco-Palms House is located in Lao Chai village, with the view of Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range and the beautiful Muong Hoa valley. Eco-Palms House has 5 bungalows; each of bungalows is the particular house of the ethnic people who live in Sapa. The bungalows are made of natural materials like wood, bamboo, trees…which is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Every bungalow is decorated simply but totally impressed. Tourists can sit together on the chairs in front of the house, drink a warm teacup and catch sight of the picturesque landscapes. Every short space of time beside your family becomes memorable. Especially, the host will prepare 2 sets of the traditional clothes in each of bungalow. Tourists may wear to go to the market like the locals. Another good aspect here is food is highly appraised. The chef will make both traditional and European dishes. It is absolutely convenient for kids or someone who can’t eat traditional foods.
It costs 15-20$/public room/night and 80-100$/double room/night.
Another homestay you should make consideration is Nam Cang Riverside Lodge (Làng Nậm Cang). It is the village of the Red Dzao people, far about 30km from the town center. In front of the bungalow is a wood bridge which is hung over a small river. There are 7 double rooms and 2 rooms for family. These rooms are equipped modernly, conveniently like in the hotel.
What is the best tour for someone who does not like classic tours? The answer is trekking in the mountains and highland villages. As you know Sapa is a highland town where you will make a stop at any spots to take photos. It is your chance to appreciate the imposing nature, and escape from the heat and the city noise.
The first villages you can start are Cat Cat and Shin Chai. They are only far from Sapa town about 2km. They are the home of the Black H’mong and Red Dzao ethnic groups. The villages look like the staged souvenir shops you see in any touristy spots. You will see many kinds of handmade souvenir made of crafts, stones, wires, textile crafts, etc…. All handmade souvenirs are run by the hill-tribe families, small houses. The artwork is gorgeous. Because the locals have to make money for their lives, sometimes they are disturbing you by the invitation; you can decide not to buy. At any trails you pass by, you also keep your eyes on the terrace rice fields, the mountainous tiny flowers or even the unknown trees on the sides. Come to the waterfall in the village, tourists will feel like you are entering Hollywood movies. The stream is strong and impressive. The water is fresh and cool. You can wash your face to feel the fresh water.
Next to the villages, Dragon Mountain is nearby Sapa town, about 3km. Standing on the peak of the mountain, tourists will take a sight of the whole town, Muong Hoa valley, villages in the smoke. The peak is covered by the white clouds, which help you feel like you are in the paradise on the earth.
Down to the Dragon Mountain, you go visit Muong Hoa valley where is one of the most famous destinations for many trekkers. The route to Muong Hoa seems difficult but it is worth trekking. In the heart of the valley is Muong Hoa stream, 15 km length, where is the dating place of local couples. The local also build the wood bridges crossing the stream to strengthen ties with the neighbors. There are also famous stones in the valley. They are the large stones with many strange words and symbols which nobody can explain.
If you stop at Muong Hoa in the spring, you will have a chance to experience many local festivals with multi colors, which helps energize everyone coming here.
Some tips for visiting the local houses in Sapa
- Visiting the villages like Cat Cat, Shin Chai,… tourists mustn’t sit in the center of the house, have to follow the host’s directions.
- If the locals are praying the Worship, you should not attend because they don’t want the strangers to attend their praying.
- When you talk with the local children, you mustn’t put your hands on their heads, or even kiss their heads. The ethnic people believe that this will make their kids nervous, easy to be ill.
- The worst activity when walking around the village is whistling. The local think that you are calling the ghosts and devils.
- Don’t wear the white shirts which have not been dyed yet. It is for the death.