Top 12 Best Things To Do In Sapa

12 Best things to do in Sapa - cover

Sapa is a secluded town in northwest Vietnam renowned for its picturesque rice terraces, cool mountain environment, and ethnic minority culture. There are a plethora of trekking opportunities via the region’s scenic mountains and smaller ethnic villages.

While trekking is the most popular activity in Sapa and the main reason visitors travel there, there are other things to do as well.

This guide will show you 12 of the best things to do in Sapa, from learning about life in ethnic villages to taking a cable car to Vietnam’s highest peak.

When To Visit Sapa?

Sapa in spring

Sapa is best visited from March to May and September to November, with September being the most beautiful month. This is the time when the rice is ready for harvest, and the terraced rice fields are at their most beautiful, with brilliant yellow and golden hues.

Spring spans from late March until early April. Following a cold winter, the months are getting warmer and more pleasant. The scenery appears greener than in previous seasons, making it ideal for trekking. Enjoy magnificent views while trekking in the mountains with perfect weather, neither too hot nor too cold. The sky is clear, and you have excellent photo opportunities. In addition to the pleasant weather and lush scenery, it is cherry blossom season. Along the route, large fields and gardens are blooming with white and pink flowers.

With the rain lessening in September, trekking and travelling around becomes easier and more enjoyable. During the day, it can still get pretty warm, but the summer heat will be gone. The harvest season begins in September and ends in October. Sapa’s rice fields are at their peak at this time of year. The golden rice fields will run through the mountains like golden ribbons, creating magnificent scenery. As a result, autumn is the greatest time to visit Sapa.

>> See Tour: Hanoi, Halong & Sapa Tour

Top Best Things To Do In Sapa

1. Hiking

O Quy Ho Pass

Sapa originated as a lovely hill station during colonial times, and many people used to come here to escape the heat and enjoy the natural beauty. Because of the temperate climate, Sapa is one of the best spots in Vietnam to go hiking, and much of the area is covered in lush green hills. Along with the rolling mountains, there are lovely dazzling waterfalls and stunning valleys filled with jagged caves.

You can do a half-day, full-day, or multi-day walk that includes a night in a homestay. It is the best way to view the rice fields and engage with the local minorities.

2. Explore the rice terraces

Sapa rice fields

Sapa is not only an excellent destination to visit in the summer, but it also draws tourists who come to admire the beautiful splendor of the terraced rice fields on the hilly slopes. Because of the steep terrain and fertile soil, local ethnic minority groups plant rice and create beautiful terraced rice fields. 

From a distance, these terraced rice fields are a lovely picture of nature with heart-stopping beauty that draws travelers in. The hue changes seasonally, with appealing beauty at the start of fresh crops and yellow maturing rice towards harvest.

>>Read More: The 6 Most Beautiful Rice Terraces In Vietnam

3. Visit the villages of the minorities

Best things to do in Sapa

The distinctive culture of the mountain tribes is the third reason to visit Sapa. These ethnic communities have lived in the mountainous regions for many generations and rely on the land. There are several minority communities in this area, including the H’mong, the Dao, the TĂ y, and the Giay. The most popular tourist destinations are Cat Cat, Ta Phin, and Lao Chai villages.

Each group has its own language, attire, and culture. Visiting the neighboring communities outside of Sapa is one of the best ways to learn about this distinctive culture. Explore the villages to learn about their daily lives and their unique way of life in the highlands.

4. Attend a local market

You can visit many different markets in Sapa and beyond. The native hill tribes use these markets to trade their locally farmed food. But there’s a lot more here. Consider clothing, textiles, brocade, jewelry, and even cell phones and chargers. The cattle section is one of the most exciting parts of the market. Traders can be seen here inspecting every part of the animal before making a trade.

Attending an ethnic minority market is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The colors of the traditional dress, the animals, and the crowds give the impression of chaos. However, the chaos is surprisingly cozy and has a pleasant ambiance. The Bac Ha market (held every Sunday) is the most popular market in the Sapa area, however, there are many other markets to explore.

5. Conquer Fansipan Roof of Indochina

Fansipan Peak in Sapa

Fansipan is Vietnam’s highest peak, and as such, it is quite literally the most spectacular. Previously, you could only reach the summit by climbing for two or three days. Although this is still possible, there is now a cable car that takes you 15 minutes from the cable car station in Sapa to the summit of Fansipan.

You may now visit a variety of temples and pagodas that have been built around the mountain’s top. On clear days, you can see the surrounding mountains.

>>See Tour: Vietnam: The Northwest Loop

6. Enjoy a warm coffee above the clouds

One of the best feelings of a trip to Sapa is having a drink at a cloud cafe where you can take in the lush wonderful views while sipping a local drink. Most of these cafes are located on Fansipan and Cau May streets.

Cafe in the Clouds is an exceptional cafe shop where you may spend time appreciating the eerie landscape and scenery over the green valley below. The cafe also serves a variety of drinks as well as both local and international cuisine.

7. Join a H’mong Sewing Class

In this mountainous town, the H’Mong ethnic group has a sizable population. Their weaving style is very unique and widely recognized in the region. If you’re wondering about how they sew and produce their products, you can take a sewing lesson at Indigo Cat.

An expert local H’mong person will teach you every stage of the process, from collecting the leaves to putting them in the barrels, pulling them out, adding the lime, and so on. After that, you may try and create your own product. The H’mong speaks excellent English and can thoroughly explain the specifics to you. You may also buy authentic weaving products for your family and friends here.

8. Ride to Muong Hoa valley

Muong Hoa valley

Muong Hoa Valley, a beautiful expanse of land at the foot of Fansipan’s side, is a popular destination for motorbike riders. It is 14 kilometers from town and is situated between two big mountain ranges. For people curious in knowing more about local life, this spot is an excellent site to learn about rice cultivation.

Driving from town to Muong Hoa will be an unforgettable experience. You can travel across the tallest mountain range to dozens of streams downhill, pass through small towns and rice fields of ethnic minority people, and observe how they work. Furthermore, there are numerous photo chances with stunning views for you.

9. Taste the local food

Salmon hotpot, BBQ skewers, horse meat hotpot, and seven-color glutinous rice are some of the most popular tourist specialties in Sapa.

Salmon hotpot has become a popular dish to enjoy in the chilly weather since rainbow trout are widely grown in areas near Sapa. The same holds true with grilled skewers, where people can enjoy warm food.

The horse meat hotpot cooks all of the meat and intestine together with up to twelve different spices, giving a unique flavor.

The seven-color steamed glutinous rice is a specialty of the Nung Dinh people. Each color of glutinous rice has a specific meaning. Many tourists enjoy it because of its appealing appearance and distinct flavor.

>>See Tour: Vietnam Secret Revealed

10. Shop for local handicrafts

Sapa and the surrounding areas feature a variety of local marketplaces where you may buy handicrafts as well as supplies for your trip.

These lovely items are best purchased in authentically local marketplaces in small villages. You may get the most unique and gorgeous items at reasonable costs here. You will also get the opportunity to meet and support the artisans.

11. Sightsee the waterfalls

Sapa waterfalls

Sapa is well-known for its waterfalls. The lovely Love Waterfall is located in San Sa Ho Commune, about 15 kilometers west of Sapa town. The Silver Waterfall, nestled near the foot of the O Quy Ho Pass, is another popular waterfall. You may go to this location via motorcycle or bus. Most Sapa visitors never miss the opportunity to visit this waterfall since it is the most magnificent in Sapa.

Standing at the base of the waterfall, you can see the glistening water cascading down. From a distance, it appears to be a stunning mountain scenery, generating a wild and mysterious atmosphere. The Sky Gate is a great site to take in the magnificent splendor of the Northwestern mountains and woods, as well as the amazing surroundings. From here, visitors can see vast valleys with green terraced fields, a long road connecting the provinces of Lai Chau and Lao Cai, and the Silver Waterfall.

12. Explore Sapa town

Sapa town

So all the activities on our list of the best things to do in Sapa have been quite … out of town. Nevertheless, the heart of this town is still charming, with some landmarks that you should not miss out on.

Old stone church and the local market are both in the city’s heart. The church has a rustic appearance and a colonial architectural design that takes us to Vietnam during the French colonial period. It is only accessible on weekends, and while you won’t be able to see the interior, the stunning outside is worth a photo!

The market can be fun to visit on weekends when it becomes rather crowded with local minorities. There is also a museum on the many ethnic groups that you may visit. Finally, you may wander around the lake or take in the city view from Ham Rong Mountain.

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