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Top 8 Things to Do in Sapa

By Ruby ZhaoUpdated Apr. 25, 2021

Sapa is the northernmost tourist attraction in Vietnam. At the high altitude of 900 meters, it's cool in summer, making it attractive as a summer resort.

It's relatively untouched and many minority people live in the area. Graceful mountains surround the town, dressed in vertiginous terraced fields, with clear streams wriggling by.

It's magnificent, too. Gorgeous French-style buildings are dotted around, earning Sapa the reputation of a European Town.

Experience a Dream of Fantasy

Sapa Town

Recommended length of visit: half a day

Since the climate is great, the French built successive holiday resorts here from the 19th century onwards. These buildings constitute Sapa Town.

The splendid buildings, each a work of art, show the essence of French culture, its romanticism and aestheticism. Walking around the town, it seems like you've been whisked away into a European dream.

The sunshine here is warm and the fresh air is filled with birdsong. Just take a nap, followed by a cup of coffee, in the afternoon sunshine.

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Walk Into Minority Culture

Minority Village

Recommended length of visit: half-a-day to a day

Sapa is one of the main centers for the Hmong minority. Various Hmong tribes have lived in the valley for generations. Their villages have become gorgeous hidden jewels.

You can choose among several villages to visit: Cat Cat, Shin Chai, Ta Phin or Giang Ta Chai.

The most popular village for visitors is Cat Cat. Nowadays it's an open air museum, showing off the traditional lifestyle of the Black Hmong tribe. The location is gorgeous, surrounded by nice waterfalls and water mills. Children play around the road and pigs and ducks pass you by. It's peaceful and ancient.

Soak in a Sea of Gold

Terraced Rice Fields

Recommended length of visit: half-a-day to a day

As mountains and hills were always the dominant terrain in Sapa, the rugged ground was always difficult to plough. Intelligent people here developed an idea: terraced fields.

You can see rice fields all around. It's recommended to trek around the terraces in autumn. In this sunny bumper-harvest season, the fields around you become a golden sea. As sunlight licks through the terraces, the brilliant orange waves back to the skies. It's so spectacular!

Put Yourself in the Picture


Recommended length of visit: half a day

There are a few waterfalls in Sapa. The most famous are Lover Waterfall and Silver Falls. If you have seen great waterfalls like Victoria or Niagara Falls, maybe the waterfalls here are not so impressive. But it's still great to trek or ride all the way to the waterfalls.

The area is green all over and the fresh air makes the whole experience even better. You can see some buffalos in the water. Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks, all create beautiful pictures in your mind. Put yourself in the picture, with the beauty around.

Scale the Stairway to Heaven

Fansipan Peak

Recommended length of visit: half a day

Fansipan Peak, the highest mountain in Vietnam (3,140 meters), is a must-see in Sapa.

In the past, it took two or three days to climb to the peak, but now you can take a 25-minute cable car ride up the mountain.

As the carriage starts rising, you can see the rice fields below. After several minutes, however, the surroundings are all white. It's fog. You just stand in the clouds, as if you were in heaven! The fog lasts all the way to the top of the cable car ride.

After the ride, you have to climb steps to reach the summit. There are no views, but you'll feel jubilant!

Pray in the Fantastic Cathedral

Holy Rosary Church

Recommended length of visit: one to two hours

Holy Rosary Church, designed and built by the French, is a gothic-style church made of stone. It's simple and unadorned, in harmony with other local architecture, and attracts many people.

The church is lovely during the day but even more fantastic at night. It is lit up by colored lights and really does look fantastic, with a mountain backdrop. There is a square just beside the church, great for walking, sitting and chatting.

Gain Insights Into the World of the Hmong

Hmong Villages

Recommended length of visit: one to three days

The best way truly to experience the natural beauty of Sapa and the village lives of the Hmong people is to take a hike led by a local guide.

Your guide knows the area and the local people. He will guide you to hike down to a Hmong village in the valley, among the terraced fields. You'll be able to enter the homes of local people. Through meaningful connections with local people and environment, you will have a better understanding of the local culture.

Have Fun at a Minority Market

Can Cau Market

Recommended length of visit: one to three hours

There are lots of local markets in Sapa and different markets are open on different days. Make sure which day is market-day before you try and visit a market; Can Cau Market is highly recommended.

Can Cau is a beautiful traditional market filled with color and culture. Different villagers and minority people are here to trade, buy, sell, eat and drink. As there are many of the same goods at different stalls, you can definitely seek out authentic goods and bargain for fair prices.

There is also an animal market where dogs, cats, and pigs are sold. It's interesting to see this genuine minority market!

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