Sapa, a small frontier town to the northwest of Hanoi and just 36 kilometres from the centre of Lao Cai city, is definitely worth taking tours. Sapa tours will lead you to some of the most attractive destinations within the region, to admire Sapa’s majestic nature featured by cloud-capped mountains and its people highlighted by a well-established tradition. And the following have been chosen to be the most well-known tourist attractions that you should visit when taking Sapa tours.
Fansipan – Unique to Sapa tours
Fansipan is widely considered to be the most extraordinary destination of every Sapa tour. Nicknamed “The Roof of Indochina” due to its height of 3,143 metres, Fasipan is particularly drawing to young adventurous travellers harbouring fervent desires for standing at the highest point of three Indochina countries. Trekking to the top of Fansipan may become the most memorable experience of your tours in Sapa. Most of the days you walk in the fog, and the trek get more and more challenging towards the top with some arduous rock climbing. After 2-day-1-night or 3-day-2-day treks, you reach the summit, gulping in the fresh mountain air and catching sight of the magnificent mountain scenery.
Sapa Catholic Church – A historical site for Sapa tours
Located in the town centre, Sapa Catholic is the most ancient architectural work by the French left in Sapa, Lao Cai. It should also be included in the itinerary of your tours to Sapa because of its historical meaning to the town. The image of a catholic rock church strongly reflecting French old architecture has become indispensible in the context of the town of Sapa. The cathedral can be observed from four sides and is an apex of the triangle formed by it and two other buildings also built by the French – Hoang Cau Masion (now the Hoang Lien Hotel) and the former district office (now the headquarter of the Lao Cai Tourist Information Centre).
Muong Hoa valley – A Sapa of romance
Muong Hoa valley, about 8 kilometres to the southeast of Sapa town, is a frequent stop point for almost all Sapa tours every day. Hoa stream, meaning a stream of flower, flows along Muong Hoa valley through Ta Van, Lao Chai, Hau Thao villages and finishes in Ho village. Taking tours there, travellers will be surprised by the romantic beauty of the valley typically featured by terraced rice fields curving around the hills. It is also along mountains in Muong Hoa valley that a site of ancient carved stones was discovered. The 159 bizarre stones ranging in shape and size seem to be arranged randomly with mysterious pictures carved.
The villages of Cat Cat, Ta Phin, Ta Van, Lao Chai… The exploration of Sapa people
A visiting to these local villages during your tours in Sapa may give you a deep insight into the locals’ tradition and custom shown by their lifestyle. You will find out that their lives are not as modern as yours, but are highlighted by a well-established tradition with a unique method of cultivation on expose hillsides. If you want to experience a night of homestay in this remote area, you are always welcomed and treated with hospitality. The people here are not rich, but they will offer you everything they have, which creates a congenial atmosphere for travellers.
Ham Rong Mountain – A miniature version of Sapa
Ham Rong is one of many peaks belonging to the mountain range of Hoang Lien Son. Surprisingly, it looks like a dragon head when seen from a distance. Located at an altitude of approximately 2,000 metres on the mountain behind Sapa Catholic Church, Ham Rong always leaves travellers with an impression of thousands of coloured flowers in full bloom. Ham Rong is just like a miniature version of the real Sapa, with the beauty of nature and people from this small but stunning town of Vietnam.
Bac Ha Market
Sleepy Bac Ha wakes up for the riot of colour and commerce that is its Sunday market, when the lanes fill to choking point and villagers flock in from the hills and valleys. Once the barter, buy and sell is done and the day-tripper tourist buses from Sapa have left, the town rolls over and goes back to bed for the rest of the week.
Despite being surrounded by countryside just as lush and interesting as Sapa, Bac Ha has somehow flown under the radar as a trekking base so far. In town, woodsmoke fills the morning air, the main street is completely bereft of hawkers, and chickens and pigs snuffle for scraps in the back lanes where a small clutch of traditional adobe houses valiantly clings on in the age of concrete. Just out of town, trails meander through swooping verdant valleys with their hill-slope rice terraces, connecting the tiny villages of 11 hill-tribe groups. The colourful Flower Hmong are the most visible, but other ethnic minorities in the area include Dzao, Giay (Nhang), Han (Hoa), Xa Fang, Lachi, Nung, Phula, Tay, Thai and Thulao. If you’re not worried about a lack of in-town amenities, and are turned off by Sapa’s hustle, Bac Ha may just tick your boxes as an alternative base from where to launch yourself out on highland hikes.