Friday, 24 November 2017

Top Things To Do In Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa is a small hill town located about 320 km north-west of Hanoi. In recent years, Sapa has seen a surge in popularity and is now a major tourist destination in Northern Vietnam. A friend I met 5 years ago was telling how beautiful Sapa's rice terraces were and recommended Sapa as a 'Must-Visit' place. Its terraced rice fields have been ranked among the world's top by renowned travel magazine and travel websites and that was the main reason why we headed for Sapa.

We spent a total of 5 days and 4 nights in this hill station and travelled on a self-planned itinerary. It has always been more satisfying to travel on our own as we get to choose where to stay and how each day's activity should go. 

Besides rice terraces Sapa offers other attractions and a list of many things to do. Listed below are a few popular ones.

1. Cat Cat Village
Sapa is home to a diversity of ethnic minority tribal people. All in there are about 8 different tribes each practicing its own culture and donning its unique tribal attire. To peek into the lifestyle of the H’Mong who makes up the majority of Sapa's population, visiting Cat Cat Village is a good start. Cat Cat is also the nearest village to Sapa town being less than 2 km away. 

2. Hamrong Mountain Park (Dragon Jaw Mountain) 
One of the most beautiful places to be in Sapa is Hamrong Mountain Park. It is easily accessible on foot as it is located in the heart of town. Hamrong Mountain Park features colorful flower beds, man-made stone sculptures, a luxuriant foliage with diverse floras and natural mountain rock formation. It also offers the best viewpoint over Sapa town. 

3. Walk Along Fanxipan Road
For those who are unable to take the stress of hiking along a mountainous terrain, a slow stroll along Fanxipan Road would enable you to get glimpses of some terraced rice fields and a pretty mountain landscape. Fanxipan Road is a long winding road with a steep gradient located in the hub of town. After the long row of shops, the view of mountains and valleys with some rice terraces becomes visible.

4. Sapa Town Park
There is a little park in the middle of town where you can hang out and watch the world go by. This park features an interesting monument, a fountain, trees, rocks and benches. Bordered by Xuân Viên Street and Thạch Sơn Street this park is cozy albeit a little noisy as it is located in the most busy part of town.

5. Stone Church
The Holy Rosary Church commonly known as Stone Church is an imposing landmark in Sapa town. Built by the French in 1930, this Catholic Church is still a functional place of worship. The church ground is always a hive of activities as tourist flock to take photos and the ethnic minority who have come out of their villages congregate to take a breather and also to sell their handicrafts.

6. Sapa Town Square (Quang Truong Square)
Sapa town square is a huge arena with cement steps located in the middle of Sapa town. It is another favorite hangout for the locals and events like 'Love Market' is held here every Saturday night. This love market is an activity where ethnic girls and guys from various villagers congregate to court each other with the view of marriage. On the Saturday night when I was there, a big lantern festival was held in the square and the love market activity was cancelled. 😭

7. Sapa Lake
Sapa Lake is a man-made reservoir near the town centre. A stroll along the lake on a cool day can be quite refreshing and at certain times of the day the water gives a good reflection of its surrounds.

8. Sapa Market
Sapa Market is located slightly more than one km from the town centre. It is just an ordinary market and can be skipped if time doesn't permit. The main market building houses many smaller stores selling among other things ethnic handicrafts and souvenirs. There is an eatery section where you can get cheaper eats but this is mostly patronized by locals. The wet market is towards the back part of the main building. I almost puked when I saw dog meat being sold there.

9. Cau May Street
Sapa town is not very big and it is feasible to explore all the streets on foot. Walking along Cau May Street is a must as this is the main commercial street of Sapa. Most of Sapa's restaurants, shops, massage parlors, etc are concentrated along this street.

10. A Unique Lifestyle
The best way to get to know Sapa and the lifestyle of its people is to walk its streets and corners.  
The ethnic minority people can always be seen in town. They travel all the way from their villages to sell their crafts and often hang around for days without proper places to sleep  before returning to the villages again. Many speak excellent English even though they can't read or write the language. Unfortunately many live in abject poverty, eating only plain white rice on the street to fill their hunger. They normally bring along their young children and babies who would help them sell their wares.

It is also interesting to see what people sell on the streets. This stall on Dong Loi Street sells horse meat.
There are many cafes and restaurants that cater to tourist. This one is rather fanciful.

11. Day Tours
There are many things to do outside of Sapa town. The best way to participate in these activities is to buy day tours from your hotels or travel agents. It saves a lot of money by joining an international group tour instead of a private tour.
For those who are physically fit, a trekking tour to the ethnic villages is an ideal way to see the spectacular rice terraces and to experience the lifestyle of the various tribes. There are many such tours to choose from.
For those who love waterfalls, there is a half day tour to Silver Waterfall, Love Waterfall and Heaven Gate.
Fanxipan Mountain tour is also available for those who wish to scale the tallest mountain in Vietnam.
A day tour to one of the ethnic markets outside Sapa is also an interesting activity.
These markets are only opened once a week. 
Bac Ha Market  - Sun
Phong Hai Market - Mon
Coc Ly Market - Tue 
Cao Son Market - Wed 
Lung Khau Nhin Market - Thu
Can Cau Market - Sat

Related Posts:
1. Top Things To Do In Sapa, Vietnam
2. My First Day In Sapa: Trekking To Cat Cat Village
3.My Second Day In Sapa; Trekking To Muong Hoa Valley
4. My Third Day In Sapa: Visiting Hamrong Mountain
5. My Fourth Day In Sapa: Bac Ha Market
6. What And Where To Eat In Sapa

1 comment :

Kim-Ngan Nguyen said...

Thanks for you well-organized information and eye-catching pictures! Other article as Best places to visit in Vietnam can also give a closer look to Vietnam destinations to have memorable time in Vietnam

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