Best things to do in Sapa Vietnam – In the northwest of Vietnam, Sapa is a picturesque little town with no shortage of beautiful landscapes and even more beautiful people. While trekking is the number one activity, the other little adventures on offer you should not miss out on. Here is a list of the best things to do in Sapa Vietnam.
Sapa is located in the northern mountains of Vietnam. It is the main town in the Muong Hoa Valley. Surrounding Sapa, you’ll find a selection of local villages that are home to some of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities. On the outskirts of the town, you will find jade hued rice paddies cut into the craggy hillsides, and the air is cooler as the mountains are covered in a delicate fog.
This is the place to come if you like trekking, as the rugged landscape and mountain air make this the perfect place to get out and explore. It is not the only thing you can do there, although trekking is the number one reason why travelers make the trip from Hanoi to Sapa. From tasting native horse meat stew to riding a cable car to the highest peak in Vietnam. This guide will show you ten of the best things to do in Sapa Vietnam.
Explore the town on foot
A walk around the town of Sapa is an absolute must. This shouldn’t put you off exploring the many things that make Sapa what it is, even though it is a little touristy.
As these are within walking distance of each other, you can tick the Sapa Market, Notre Dame Cathedral, Cat Cat Village, and Ham Rong Mountain off your list quite easily. Don’t be afraid to wander off the path as you come across hidden gems and intriguing alleys.back to menu ↑
Buying some handicrafts
Every hill tribe woman you bump into will likely try to sell you something—whether it’s handicrafts, food, tours, or a place to crash at night. There are tons of items you can buy, from bracelets, anklets, and headbands to scarves, jewelry, handbags, shoes, and carpets – all of them embroidered with love and care. The colors and patterns on the objects represent the different people’s tribes, and it’s interesting to see which one is.
Don’t be afraid to let the best of you get your curiosity. Talk to the women and find out about it. Not only do these things make great memories for you, but your loved ones at home will also love them. Sapa Market is full of stalls with colorful displays, and we’re pretty sure you won’t come out empty-handed.back to menu ↑
Rent a motorbike and drive around
Although tours to every popular place are available, it is almost always better to do it at your own pace by yourself. Renting a bike for the day makes it possible for you to do just that. Dinh Deo Pass that leads to Heaven’s Gate is a favorite route among travelers to drive through. If the dangerously serpentine roads don’t make you hold your breath, the stunning views of both sides of the valleys and the mountains will surely do.
This is not the place to learn if you have never ridden a bike before. Hop on the back of an experienced rider’s bike and allow them to take you around. Make sure you stop so often that you can get as many photos as you can! The town is also an excellent place to visit on a motorcycle, by the way.back to menu ↑
North Vietnam is home to the highest peak in Indochina, Mount Fansipan. At an altitude of 10,312 feet (3,143 meters), this is a beast to conquer, and it is definitely worth your time and effort. Don’t try to do this on your own, as there have been cases where things have gone wrong. There are many tour agencies in Sapa and Hanoi offering different types of mountain tours, and you can choose one that appeals to you.
The best ones span two days and offer all-inclusive packages, so you don’t have to go through the trouble of finding your homestays. Once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with beautiful views of the city and the terraced rice fields below. However, if it’s cloudy, your view may be obstructed.back to menu ↑
Trek Muong Hoa Valley
Just like everything else on this list, it’s a must when you’re in Sapa. You can only truly appreciate the beauty of Muong Hoa Valley if you take your time on a hike and spend a night or two at a local village homestay. You can book trekking tours online (try Sapa O’Chau) or through travel agencies that you meet in Hanoi or Sapa. Sometimes women from the regional ethnic minority tribes can even approach you while in town (the bus station is a popular spot for this) and offer a trek and a homestay.
Don’t be afraid to say yes to that. These are often more authentic than those made by tour agencies. Taking muddy paths through terraced fields, drinking water from streams, sleeping on the floor in traditional long tail houses, and spending time with local families and drinking happy water (rice wine) in bottles of Aquafina are typical things that will happen on these tours. The memories of the North are unrivaled.back to menu ↑
Hang out with the different ethnic tribes
The H’Mong are the predominant minority tribe in Sapa, but you will also meet the people of Yao and Zay. Striking up a conversation is easy, as most of them are well-versed in English, having learned from other tourists in or at school.
Get to know them and their stories, and you’ll probably be invited to their home to share food and laughter. It’s a humbling experience to live with them, even if it’s just a day, and you’re going to leave Sapa with a new appreciation of life.back to menu ↑
Try to eat regional cuisine
Leave behind your cravings for burgers and pizza and indulge in some of the delicious regional food. The H’Mong tribe’s favorite dish, Thang co, is a hotpot made of horse meat, internal organs, and bones. Also worth trying are the salmon hotpot, black chicken, and bamboo sticky rice. In restaurants like The Hill Station Signature Restaurant, you can find these dishes and many more.
For thang co, visit A Quynh, a popular place among locals. Thang Co or a horse’s meat stew. It’s a traditional H’mong hot pot dish made with different types of meat, such as beef, pork, buffalo, and goat, although the main ingredient is horse meat.
H’mong people have been using horses for transportation for generations. When the horse gets too sick or too old to work, they put it to death for its meat, which is how this dish came to be. Simmered with up to twelve different spices in a large pot or pan for hours, each part of the horse is used, such as its liver, lungs, intestines, and kidneys, so that nothing goes to waste.back to menu ↑
Drop by the Sapa Love Market
This is a unique Sapa experience and only occurs on Saturdays. The Sapa Love Market is where people from young ethnic tribes come to meet, fall in love, and marry each other. Because there are sparsely populated villages in Sapa, those living in distant villages will make the journey days ahead so that they can arrive in time to find someone.
You’ll see boys and girls hanging out, laughing, drinking, eating, doing traditional dances, and playing traditional games together. The ladies will donate their colorful dresses and decorative ornaments, while the gents dress in traditional costumes. It is a world different from what we are used to. They part ways at the end of the day but promise to meet again, likely in a week when the market comes back to life.back to menu ↑
Explore Sapa’s history and culture at Sapa Museum
Sapa Museum is a small museum in the vicinity of Sapa Station. Located on the second floor of a handicraft shop, it offers several exhibits on the history and ethnology of the Sapa region.
This is the main and only place to come if you want to find a showcase of the history and culture of the region that dates back to the French colonial period. You can also explore galleries dedicated to the different ethnic minorities living in this part of Vietnam, and this is a great place to learn all about this unique part of the country.
There’s a shop on the ground floor of the museum, so if you’re looking to buy some handicrafts, embroideries, or clothes for your loved ones back home, there’s a wide range of options! There’s not much to see in the museum, but admission is free so it’s worth a quick stop while you’re in Sapa.back to menu ↑
Marvel at the beautiful and romantic Love Waterfall
Places are made up of a thousand stories – the legend behind the Love Waterfall is one that should not be missed. The legend says that this waterfall was the place where fairies bathed a long time ago. One day, one of the fairies heard the flute played by a young boy and fell in love with him. Then every day, she went to the Love Waterfall to hear his songs.
Sadly, her parents found out and forbade her to ever return to the waterfall. The fairy was so sad that she turned into a bird just to be able to eternally be together with her love. That’s why the Love Waterfall was named for this place.