Essential Sapa Travel Tips and Tricks

Travel Sapa by car or by train?

  • Travel Sapa by train

  • King express train for Sapa travel packages

    King Express Train

  • See what our clients said about their Vietnam holiday

  • Victoria train for sapa tour package

    Victoria train

  • Sapaly train  for sapa  trip

    Sapaly train

  • Chapa train  for sapa  tour packages

    Chapa train

  • Sapaly train  for sapa  trip

    Livitrans train

  • See how cleints felt about Sapa tour with us

  • See our clients' feeling of Sapa tour

By train: Travel Sapa by train was considered as the best way in 2014, saving time for travellers in short time on Hanoi travel. There have been many night trains to Sapa departing at different time from 19:00pm to 22:00pm and arriving at Laocai station around 5:00am. Therefore, it saves time for travellers They sleep overnight in the cabin on the train. The cabin is used for 4persons and 1person can stay in one cabin if he can afford.

However, The railway in Vietnam is only 1 200 mm, so it is a little bumpy and rough. Further more, if your cabin is near the toilet, you may have to suffer from the bad smell or the door may make noise during the night when the train go up and down the hills. With our experience, there have been many people who could not sleep during the night and can not enjoy Sapa tour next day and they want to have the room early.

However, most of the tour operators in Vietnam do not recommend the tourists to book early check-in because this would make the price to go higher and make their tour package less competitive with others. You should remmeber the time for check-in is 14:00pm(international laws) and some of the hotels want to make some money and they may not let you to have the room early. According to our experience, most tourists have their room around 11:30 or 12:00 and few tourists have had to wait until 14:00. Moreover on the day you go back to Hanoi in the very early morning from 4:10 to 6:30am and if you do not book early check-in for the hotel, it will be very inconvenient and tired to wait until noon time for the room.

Review for the train to Sapa

Review for the train to Sapa

Review for the train to Sapa

Travel Sapa by car: There are 2 kinds of bus from Hanoi to Sapa: Public bus and tourist bus - daily departure from Hanoi to Sapa.

Sao Viet - Public bus: From your hotel, take a taxi to the bus station: Giap Bat bus station or My Dinh bus station. Sao Viet bus depart from Hanoi at 789 Giải Phóng road, Giap Bat bus station or My Dinh bus station at 6:00am and arrive at Sapa around 13:00pm.

Hai Van - Public bus: From your hotel, take a taxi to My Dinh bus station. Depart at Mỹ Đình station at 20h30 and arrive in Sapa at 6h30. The way back from Sapa to Mỹ Đình: 18h30 - 6h00 in Hanoi.

Tourist bus: Pick up you at your hotel in the Old Quarter at 6:00am and arrive in Sapa around 13:00. Returned bus to Hanoi, departure from Sapa at 15:30pm and arrival in Hanoi around 21:10pm. It is a good way to travel Sapa.

Private car/bus: The best way to travel to Sapa. You can go at any time you like. Highly recommended.

Sapa Travel Tips & Tricks

No wonder Sapa is the best place in Vietnam with the combination of breathtaking scenery and exotic cultures of ethnic groups. 96% of travelers to Sapa have had great time and amazing experience.

In 4%, some travelers booked wrong Sapa itinerary - Easy walking, easy trekking, medium trekking, hard trekking itineraries or Off beaten tracks. You should tell the tripadvisor when you book your Sapa tour package.

Kindly noted the road here is mountain roads or paths. It is up and down the mountains. It is not flat like the road in your city. You should mention your health conditions if you have any like back problem, knee problem.....

Good people and bad people live everywhere in the world and Sapa is the same. If you are cheated by local people, you can call one of the hotlines below to get help. As the local goverment and tour operators wish all travelers to Sapa to have great time here. Some cases, to which you should pay attention are dealing with motor-bike taxi drivers, taxi drivers, sellers at the markets and shops, some guys at mini hotels.

Vietnam Sapa tour guide for hotline contact

Why should you take guided tours to Sapa?:
- There are many ways or paths leading to the same village. On one path, there are many turns and which is the right turn to the village you want to visit? Surely our local tour guide will know.
- Not only absolutely beautiful nature but also exotic cultures of 7 ethnic groups here. Culture exploration is also one highlight of Sapa tour package. Surely our local tour guide will show you different groups and their own features.
- Surely our local licensed tour guide will know the best stops for photos on the trekking route.
- You are tourists but you don't want to see tourists, so which way to trek. Surely our local tour guide will know.
- Off beaten track and trek in the forests, our tour guide must lead the way. He will know if insects, snakes are on the way before your coming.
- Unfortunately on the day you tour Sapa and it is raining if you got hurt on the trek, our local tour guide will know what to do to help you.
- You love off beaten track but today you are not well, our local tour guide will know other options for you.
- Why should you wear a hat on the trek through the forest? As there may be snakes on the trees. Our tour guide will remind you before the trek.
- Why you should not come to visit that house when you see some branches, chicken bones... at the gate of their home. Surely our local tour guide will tell you why.

Why should your Sapa tour be responsible?
- Responsible for the local places. Surely you know the best ways to protect the beautiful nature of Sapa, but to the local cultures what you think is true in your culture. It may not be true here. Surely our local tour guide will tell you before your tour Sapa. Booking package tours to Sapa with us, your money will stay locally to improve the life of local people.

- Responsible for yourself, your family and local government. Sapa is absolutely beautiful, but also challenging for strange people. It becomes dangerous in certain trekking routes like treking from Thac Bac to Cat Cat, Trekking from Cat Cat to Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai and Tavan, Trekking from Tavan to Giang Ta Chai, Fansifan mountain climbing

Do not die in Sapa like Aiden Webb - a professional adventure traveler from UK. He left his girl friend in Sapa town for the adventure trip to FanSifan mountain. He got hurt on the way without any help as he climbed the mountain alone without local tour guide. He sent some messages to his girlfriend. Then. the local goverment of Sapa mobilized 150 people to find him. They tried their best and the GPS did not help in this case as it is the mountain there. He got hurt and died possibly on 4th June 2016. He left his gird friend and family forever. Stunning, absolutely beautiful nature is not worth if your life is in danger. For us, your safety is first.

Sapa travel tips

If you travel Sapa by train, you should bring only one suitcase. It is because: The cabin on the train is small and there is enough room for only one suitcase/person except you book the whole cabin for 2persons. You have to carry your luggage by hand quite far in Hanoi train station and Lao Cai station. You may hire the porters at the train station to cary for you. Remmember that they will load your luggage on a cart to carry and you also ask them to put your luggage into your cabin on the train. It is quite difficult for old people to put the luggage from the ground into the cabin. Please note: do not hire the porters without carts to carry your luggage. They are illegal and may disappear with your luggage. The price per cart is about 6 USD to 10 USD. It depends on how you can bargain. One cart can carry about 5 to 7 suitcases.

At the train station: Train station and bus station in Vietnam are the most complicated areas where many pick-pockets are doing their jobs. Our tour guides have informed our salers with many tourists whose cameras, iphones, ipads, money... were stolen at the train stations. Our job is to remind you about this situation. Please do not show your valued items mentioned above at the train station because the pickpocket will follow you. At night when you are on sleep, the pickpocket will steal those things from you.

In the cabin on the train: You must knock the door when you go to bed. Remmember to put valued items such as money, passport, cameras, iphone... with you - Side by Side With You. Do not put those things in your suitcases because even you knock the door of the cabin, the pickpocket can open from outside. Unluckily, this happened with one owner of our travel agent on an inspection trip to Sapa. Our tour guide did advise them about this situation. However, they did not care about this. They put camera, passports and ipad in their suitcase. They were stolen in the middle of the night. Luckily, they left their passports in the toilet on the train.

Pick-pocket on Market tours: 100% safe with ethnic people here. However, some of the Viet people wear the ethnic customs and they become the ethnic people in the eyes of the travelers here. They will try to pick-pocket from you. We strongly advise you to take care your belongings. On one tour to Bac Ha Market with Israeli tourist group, our tour guide did tell them twice, but they told our tour guide. No one can steal from us, but 1200 USD was stolen from a man in the group. Please, Please take our tour guide advice and take care your value items like smart phones, camera, money..

Selling things on the walking and trekking routes: On your walking and trekking routes in Lao Chai - Ta Van, Ta Phin, Ban Ho, Thanh Kim - Thanh Phu villages, you will meet many local ethnic people selling their brocade products. They will invite you to buy their products. If you like, you buy. Please do not say later because they will hope. You should say no from the beginning or say you already bought some. Eventhough they may follow you on the way and hope you may buy something. It does not matter. It is nice to talk with them on the way. Many of them can chat simple sentences with you. It will sound strainge for you to hear something like: What is your name? Where are you from? How old are you? Are you married? How many children do you have? How many sisters and brothers do you have? What is your job? Do you earn alot of money?.... All personal questions. I know that those questions should not be asked in your culture. However, in Vietnamese culture, those questions are asked for the 1st time of meeting eachother. Please feel free to chat with them in English. They can understand you with these simple questions if you do not speak fast.

Please do not give money to the kids. You can give some candies, pens, books to them. It is very nice of you to give the local people your unused clothes - especially warm coast. They are very poor here and the winter is sometimes very cold with snow.

Should not visit local home when you see some branches of the tree or chicken bones, pig bones are held at the gate, doors: If you see those things, this is the sign to inform you not to come inside their home. Maybe, someone is ill inside or someone just die or they have some problems related with their religion.

We strongly advise you to visit some of the local houses in the villages to explore the daily life and cultures. If you have a tour guide on your Sapa tour, he or she will ask the permission to visit the local homes and of course, our tour guide will give the house owner some money. It is like the entrance fee in other tourist spot. We would like to do so to help the poor and friendly ethnic people. If you travel Sapa by yourself, go to the villages and want to visit the local homes, you should ask for permission as well. Some of the homes sell local brocade products, if you like, you can buy to help them. Please take a carefull look because some are hand-made by the local and some are machine-made from the city and transfered here for sale.

Brocade - how to keep: If you buy brocade in Sapa, please keep them seperately from your clothes. It is because the color on the brocade will come out and destroy your clothes. You should put them on a plastic bag.

Love market in Sapa: What is the love market in Sapa? Where is the love market in Sapa? Why does the love market happen?. Please see in the link: Love market in Sapa

Religions in Sapa: There is a church in Sapa town for the local people. It was built by the French in 1930. The French persuaded the local people to follow the Catholic. The local ethnic is still going to the church, but they still worship their ancestors at home. Therefore, it is the same as other provices in Vietnam - Sapa has both Catholic and Buddhism with some pagodas in the town.

What to wear on Faxifan mountain: 3143m is the top of Fanxifan. When on top, it will be very cold even in Summer day. Therefore, you must take a jacket. Now you can take on the cable car to fansifan. However, the cable car does not take you to the top. When getting of the cable car, you will have to climb 600 steps to the top of 3143m.

Should drive motobike here: If you love adventure, Sapa is also great place for motobike tour. However, you should drive slowly than in the city. It is because the local ethnic people drive on the road without understanding the international traffic low and I think they do not have driving license. On the road here, we should be the second winner - Everything would be fine.

Motobike Taxi in Sapa: If you take trekking tour from Sapa to Cat Cat village, on the way back from Cat Cat bridge you will be invited by motor-bike taxi for the way back to Sapa town. You have to check if the moror-bike is in good conditions. The price list in 2014 below helps you to bargain with motor-bike taxi

Sapa Vietnam tour guide for motor-bike price list

Should take public bus by from Lao Cai - Sapa - Lao Cai: It is the cheapest transportation from Lao Cai city to Sapa. However, the bus is often old and not clean. If your lugguge is big, you should not use this type. The bus is always full loaded and sometimes overloaded. This kind sometimes causes accidents, too.

Should not eat grilled meat on the street in Sapa: Grilled food is very popular for visitors to Sapa. However, grilled pork, chicken and breef are things you can not know that it is just prepared today or could not sold from yesterday. However, chestnut, corn, sweet potato, grilled chicken eggs are delicious and you should try - it is so cheap.

Best time to travel Sapa: From April to the end of September is the best time to travel Sapa. The weather is so nice not hot and not cold. Most importantly, it is not foggy. It is summer time in Sapa, but no hot weather as it is 1600m higher than the sea. During this time, it is the time of the rice field.

In April, the local people start preparing the farm land, so the terraced rice fields are fed with water offering some of the best photos for Sapa.

In May and June, the stunning scenery is dotted with ethnic people working on the fields. In July, the scenery is so green and beautiful. However, in Agust and Sept, Sapa is at the best with the yellow of the golden terraced rice fields.

Homestay information: Sapa is the best place in Vietnam for homestay tours. Stay in local homes of ethnic people. Explore the real local life and cultures. Taste the local food. It is totally different from homestay style in Bentre, Vinh long in Mekong Vietnam. The villages for homestay in Sapa are Lao Chai with Hmong people, Ta Van with Dzay people, Ban Ho with Tay people, Cat Cat with Hmong people, Taphin with Hmong and Dzao people. Contact us for more information on homestay tour in Sapa. With Sapa homestay tours, you can join cooking with the hosts as well.

Sapa hotel information: Top 4star hotels in Sapa - Topas Ecolodge, Victoria Sapa, Chau Long hotel, Sunny Mountain hotel, Amazing Hotel Sapa, U Sapa hotel.
3star Sapa hotels: Bamboo hotel, Royal Sapa hotel, Sapa Lodge, Sapa Panorama Hotel, Sapa Paradise View Hotel, Sapa View Hotel

Which hotel should you stay in Sapa? It depends on your pocket and your style. If you love luxury and amazing nature, Topas Ecolodge is the best - It has the best localation of all hotels and resorts in Sapa. It is located on the hill in Thanh Kim valley overlooking the whole valley. This lodge is closest to breathtaking nature and villages, but 20 km from Sapa town. It is the best for those who loves peacefull and stunning nature and exotic cultures of the Red Dzao and Black Hmong ethnics.

If you love really good service, luxury and good view, Victoria resort & spa is the best choice. It is the most expensive option for stay in Sapa. Victoria is well know for its service.

If you like good service and really wonderfull view of stunning valley from your room windon, Amazing Sapa hotel, New wing Chau Long is the best choice for your stay in Sapa. Sunny mountain hotel rooms with Muong Hoa view is also considered as good choice.

Recommended Sapa restaurants: Good Morning Vietnam Restaurant, Sapa Restaurant, The Hill Station, Sapa O'Chau Cafe, Natureview, Red Dao House Restaurant, Viet Emotion Sapa Coffee and Restaurant, Le Gecko, The Lizard Restaurant, Little SAPA Restaurant, Sapa Restaurant

Sapa Travel Guide - Which ethnic villages to see

If you travel sapa without visiting the villages lying under the mountains, It would means you have not been to Sapa. These attractive villages of the ethnic minority groups which are surrounded by terraced rice paddy in fascinating valleys offer many ecological-culture tours from Sapa town. If you book another tour on the day coming back from Sapa, the travellers will be very tired to do the tour as well.

The famous 1day village tours in Sapa are Lao Chai - Tavan villages(1day easy walk/treking tour Sapa), Cat Cat - Sin Chai villages( 1day easy walking tour Sapa), Ma Cha - Ta Phin villages(1day hard trekking tour Sapa), Cat Cat - Y Linh Ho - Lao Chai - Ta van villages(1day really hard trekking tour Sapa)

2day trekking tour Sapa with homestay is Lao Chai - Tavan(homestay in Tavan) - Ban Ho( drive back to Sapa or 1 more night homestay in Ban Ho village), Sapa - Tavan(overnight in Tavan) - Sao My Ty - Thanh Phu - Thanh Kim

Down Muong Hoa stream and valley, you can walk and trek in the super landscape and mountainscape, meet friendly people, stay in clean houses in traditional architecture. Beside Sapa tours, you can join market tours and village tours in Bac Ha. There are also villages of H'mong, Tay, Dzay. Getting there, apart from the beautiful scenery, you can also learn the famous method of making corn wine. Taste wine, traditional food, drink a hot cup of coffee while sitting on stilt houses and listening to the their traditional fold saongs. You will think that you get lost in a huge forest with stream sound of birds and winds.

Lao Chai - Ta Van villages

These villages offers 1day tours in Sapa. There are 2 different ways to visit these villages of Black H'mong and Dzay ethnic people. The easy way for your Sapa tour is to take a car from Sapa town for 12km down Muong Hoa valley to the path leading to Lao Chai village. Get off your car for an amazing walk on the good path through many lush terraces of rice. It is very helpful to have a guide to take you to visit some local houses and introduce the enthnic cultures and the daily life or translate for you on your chat with local people. Following the path down to Muong Hoa stream, you will pass some schools. It is good to visit such schools to know how ethnic children study. Lao Chai village is connected with Ta Van village of Dzay and H'mong people. Living together in one village, but their cultures and life styles are so different. The tour guide will help you know the difference. Walking around Ta Van village, you will go over a bridge to the other roadside to meet the driver. Enjoy the inspiring scenery of Muong Hoa valley through the car window on the way back to Sapa town.

The 2nd way to visit these villages is really hard trekking tour from Sapa. Walking along the path to the trail to Y Linh Ho. This trek route must be done with tour guide. Following the path off beaten track, you hradly meet any tourists on the trail from Y Linh Ho village to Lao Chai village. It is a really hard trek but well-worth for adventure travellers. The trek is up and down the terraced rice fields requiring alot of energy.

Cat Cat village

Located in Cat Cat valley around 4km from Sapa town. You can trek from Sapa town to Cat Cat village as it is down the mountain. But trek back from Cat Cat to Sapa town, it is really hard. Cat Cat village offers wonderful photos of beautiful terraced paddy fields, waterfall and mountains. Trekking to the village, you will enjoy the beautiful nature and unique experience on the Black H'mong people.

Ta Phin village

All Sapa tours from Hanoi

Hanoi Sapa Halong bay tour packages