"Annd Now For Something Completey DIFFERENT :o]" Top 5 Page for this destination Sapa by Greggor58

Sapa Travel Guide: 194 reviews and 849 photos


Our four day stop in Sa Pa was ANOTHER adventure in Vietnam that was totally unlike anything I’ve ever seen before…The town itself was easy to get around in, the people I encountered here were interesting to say the least, the costs involved to spend four days in and around here were minimal and the local scenery is absolutely breath taking.

We arrived in the early morning just as the sun was rising…like most visitors to Sa Pa we had used the night train from Ha Noi to get here and we arrived easily at our pre-booked hotel in a mini bus that had been pre-arranged to meet us at the train station in Lao Cai.

I knew just from the drive to get here that we were going to be in for a treat, even though it was still dark, the going was slow and the road had many tight corners. It was easy to tell that we were climbing in elevation.

Sa Pa is located on a plateau in northern Vietnam, surrounded by the Hoang Lien Mountains, the highest peak in Indochina; Mount Fansipan being a part of that mountain range , is only a short distance away from town. The southern border of China is situated close by…a few hours drive north. . It really depends who you ask but generally speaking the elevation of the town of Sa Pa is about 1600 meters. Surrounding the town are beautifully terraced mountains that have been used for eons to grow crops and rice.


Sa Pa and the surrounding area are populated predominantly by some of the minority peoples that still today constitute the makeup of Vietnam. The town and surrounding area has a population of Vietnamese people, local Black Hmong people, the Dai people, and the Red Dao peoples.

The Hmong and Dao are thought to have migrated in the 1700,s from what is now southern China likely to escape political instability. You’ll see many of them in Sa Pa today selling goods to tourists and buying from the local market.

In fact one of the prime reasons that Sa Pa has become the tourist destination that it has is likely due to the interest that “westerners” have had in these peoples and they’re culture, they’re colorful clothing and certainly the natural beauty of the setting of Sa Pa itself.

Sa Pa and the immediate area surrounding the town was first "discovered" by Europeans when the French stumbled into the area in the late 1880,s and by the early 1900's a French army garrison was established here.
The climate and alpine scenery made Sa Pa a perfect escape for the bureaucrats of the Colonial Government and the "well to do" Francophone's of Ha Noi. By the 1920's wealthy French business people started to build private villas...and so began the recent history of modern Sa pa...

As the conflict escalated between the French and Việt Minh in the 1940's and the 1950's the town was pretty much wiped out,severely bombed,most if not all of the colonial structures were destroyed in the conflict.

In the early 60's new inhabitants from the lowlands of Vietnam started to migrate to the region during a program set up and administered buy the relatively new socialist regime of North Vietnam.Today you see what has been reconstructed of the town...a little Gem in the back pocket of northern Vietnam.

Lots to Do...Plenty to See!!!

During the course of our four days here…we managed to check out two different hotels, a few different restaurants, we did a day trip to Bac Ha to investigate the Sunday market there, we spent a day on a motorbike [motor trekking] through the Muong Hoa Valley. We made stops along the way, visiting communities like Ta Van, Lao Chai, and Cau May. We investigated a "rattan" bridge that crosses the Muong Hoa River, we checked out an archeological site of old carved boulders and stone, and got to meet some interesting local people, and generally just enjoyed ourselves seeing something that to both of us was "completely different " from what either of us had experienced before.

There are lots of opportunities to shop for hand crafted goods in and around Sa Pa, there’s a museum here to visit, and other interesting ways to enjoy your visit. The time I spent here was kind of busy, kind of relaxing, and certainly unforgettable.

I would HIGHLY recommend a stopover in Sa Pa and would LOVE to get back here another time.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:INCREDIBLE scenery and fun and unique people..smiles are free!!
  • Cons:No cons..none!
  • In a nutshell:See it to believe it!
  • Last visit to Sapa: Jan 2010
  • Intro Updated Jul 28, 2011
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (23)

Comments (12)

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Oct 22, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    A treat as always, reading your tips, Greg, and I love your people photos. Hehe, would not have wanted to sleep in the hotel with this water pump, a good thing you could move to another hotel.

  • cal6060's Profile Photo
    Jul 28, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    you have a much better pages.. I really love reading your writing and those pictures are beautiful...:)

  • ranger49's Profile Photo
    Jan 13, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    What an interesting page! I would love to be able to check out the museum for you ! - But I will be back to browse again!

  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo
    Oct 25, 2010 at 3:43 AM

    A colourful read and enjoyable about a place that's on my list for 2011. Thanks.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    Yes, this certainly is "something completely different" from most other parts of Vietnam -- because of the minorities & the altitude, I suppose. In 1964 I visited two minority settlements near the Cambodian border, but in the South where it's not so high.

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    May 12, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    Fantastic page about the destination I'd love to visit one day. Wonderful photographs of the market and the people.

  • Apr 25, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    Exploring the area without guide... what an adventure! I liked reading this page. Very entertaining. Beautiful photos too.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Apr 19, 2010 at 2:50 AM

    Excellent page! You struck such good weather, know the time to visit now. The terraces are so pretty at this time of the year, different to when I was there. Lots of great photo's! I really loved the ethnic people!

  • dancinbudgie's Profile Photo
    Apr 10, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    Here I am! Sorry...no cake! Excellent page! Makes me want to go back. Nice to have a translation. My...what long toes you have!

  • Jefie's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2010 at 5:44 AM

    Great videos of the market, they make for a nice complement to your tips. Loved the foot massage idea too!!


“Every road goes SOMEWHERE...”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 3 1 6
Forum Rank:
0 0 2 5 4

Badges & Stats in Sapa

  • 23 Reviews
  • 105 Photos
  • 8 Forum posts
  • 5,142PageViews

Have you been to Sapa?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Sapa

Videos in Sapa

See All Videos (5)

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)