I arrived in Sapa at some ridiculous hour after attempting (and generally failing) to sleep in the cheapest seat I could get on the night train from Hanoi (terrible idea). Given I couldn’t get a room until 11am, some 4 – 5 hours away, I decided to come up with some ideas on how I’d spend my next few days.
I hadn’t been planning a trip into Sapa, and so I had no idea what we tourists did there. I only knew the place was stunning, and figured a cooler temperature would be nice after the intense humidity of Hanoi.
Fortunately, my hostel had a tour desk and so my research began immediately. Over the following week (I stuck around since I had the time and the weather was being a bit temperamental), I heard from plenty of other travellers, and found there were four main things to do.
I hope you’re feeling adventurous!
Cat Cat Village
This is a nice easy trek to get you started and introduce you to the village life, and the many rice fields, surrounding Sapa.
The village is located about 2km from the main square, so it’s easy enough to walk to, or you can take a motorbike if you’d prefer (you’ll certainly get plenty of offers).
There’s a small cost involved in getting access to the village (40,000 dong) which you pay as you enter (there’s a building to the right of the road).
The walk down to the village is stunning, and it’s nice getting a bit closer to things by taking the walk through, however I found it to be over-commercialised and that took something away from the beauty of the place.
Unless you’ve got a couple of hours free, you could probably give this one a miss.
I’m still devastated I had to give my own little motorcycle tour a miss – I wasn’t prepared to tackle my first ride in the rain, and so I never got to give it a shot. I spoke with plenty of other travellers who did get out there, and from the sounds of it, this could be the highlight of any journey through Sapa.
Walking through Sapa, you’ll find a place to hire a bike on every street. From about US$5, you can get one for the day – even without a licence… From there, the mountain roads are yours to tackle – I heard very good things about the ride towards Ta Van if you’re unsure where to go.
This was my highlight from Sapa. I enjoyed it so much I wrote a whole post about it!
All hotels, hostels and tour offices (there are a lot) will offer you a homestay trek. There appear to be a few options which range from a trek through the National Park or a trek which will pass through a few of the villages surrounding Sapa.
Given my budget, I opted for the cheap option, and bartered with the local H’Mong ladies who wander the streets attempting to sell their wares for a tour.
Read about my trek here.
Fansipan Summit Trek
Tempted to get to the top of Indochina? Then you’ll need to set your sights on the Fansipan trek.
Fansipan is the tallest mountain in all of Indochina sitting at a height of 3,143 metres. Tours are available that range from a single day up to a 3 day trek.
I seriously considered doing this one (I mostly just wanted to say I’d reached the roof of Indochina), but there were a couple of things that stopped me.
Firstly, I heard the opinions of everyone who had done it. The hike was hard, and the view you got at the top was generally impossible to see given the cloud cover, making the trip feel like it wasn’t worth the effort. There was even one guy in my dorm who didn’t get out of bed for two days following his ascent of the mountain (it’s questionable whether that was due to sore muscles or a stomach bug though…).
My other reason came down to the building of a cable car. Soon enough, anyone will be able to see the roof of Indochina, and that took away a lot of the magic for me. It also meant that a lot of the hike would be through the construction site, and that would ruin the enjoyment (if any) of the long hike up.
Read More at: Vietnam Travel
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