We all want the coronavirus pandemic to end and our lives to return to normal. One of the activities we miss the most from the time before the pandemic is definitely traveled. As more and more people have been vaccinated, the announcement of world officials is that this year’s tourist season will be much better than last year and that complete normalization is expected next year. Those are amazing news to hear after almost two years of fear and bad predictions.
So you can go back to planning and organizing your next trip. If Vietnam is the destination you want to visit, you are not the only one who is ranking that Southeast Asian country high on the bucket list. It is a beautiful country that offers so many fantastic and diverse places to visit. We believe that you have already included Halong Bay, Saigon, the world’s largest cave and a tour of many other destinations in your travel plan, but we want to draw your attention to another place worth your time. And that is Sapa. In the rest of the article, learn more about Sapa and also things that will surprise first-time visitors.
Sapa is a city located in north-western Vietnam, relatively close to the border with China and Laos. It is located over 1500 meters above sea level in the valley and is surrounded by mountains. That is why it is the main location in Vietnam for all hikers who use Sapa as a place to start touring Mount Fansipan.
The city was founded by the French more than 100 years ago while these parts of Vietnam were colonial territories within the French Indochina. They used Sapa to rest from the heat and humidity which are constantly present during summer in Hanoi. During the war in the middle of the 20th century, the city was destroyed. About 30 years ago, rebuilding began, so today it is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. The full potential of tourism is still not fulfilled, because until 15 years ago, no one went there. But the situation improved significantly before the pandemic.
How to get there?
Hanoi is the nearest big city, almost 400 kilometers away from Sapa. You can use a bus or car to cover that distance, but by far the best and most comfortable choice is the train. It will take you about 8 hours by train, but as you pass through very scenic landscapes, you will enjoy the journey. It will take you about 6 hours by bus, and the prices are a bit less than by train.
To find out how to get from Lao Cai Railway Station to Sapa, then what are the prices, timetable and all other information related to travel by train or bus read the Sapa Travel Guide You Need to Know at https://exploreonevietnam.com/sapa-vietnam/
If you are in Ho Chi Minh City, then you are about 2000 km away from Sapa. Although you can travel by train or some other means of transport, it would mean a multi-day trip. So it is best to take a plane to Hanoi and then to Sapa by train or bus.
Things that will surprise first-time visitors
1. Nice weather
As in all of Southeast Asia, there is a dry and rainy season. Yet most agree that the weather is generally much more pleasant than in Hanoi. That is the exact reason why the French founded this city in the first place.
There are two periods of the year, and those are spring and autumn when the weather is very stable, warm, and the nights are pleasant. During the spring you will enjoy the flowers and green fields, and during the autumn the rice fields look the most beautiful. January and February are the only months when it is not convenient to visit Sapa because of the fog.
The rest of the year is very pleasant and this surprises all first-time visitors who expect a climate typical of the rest of Vietnam.
2. Delicious food
When you come to Sapa you probably don’t expect to have so much delicious food available. Due to the very favorable climate, a wide variety of vegetables grow here, which is a part of almost every dish. Along with vegetables, the most popular is traditional grilled pork. Whatever you eat here is a local product so everything is very fresh, healthy and delicious.
You will also find many fish dishes, primarily containing salmon. Bamboo sticky rice is often on the table in Sapa. You absolutely have to try Thang Co (bone soup), which is a soup made of so many different ingredients. You may not like it because of the strong smell and taste, but you should try it.
When it comes to dessert, Vietnamese eat fruits mostly. Since they have access to various types of delicious fruit throughout the year, they prefer it to cakes, which is certainly healthier.
3. Great choice of accommodation
You might expect a limited offer of accommodation available, but you will find pretty much everything in Sapa. You can choose whatever type of accommodation you want. There are a lot of luxury hotels and lodges. Pao’s Sapa Leisure Hotel is the only 5-star hotel, and you have plenty of 3- or 4-star hotels that will offer you comfort and great service, all at very affordable prices.
If you still prefer to get to know the local culture and people more, then choose a homestay. Homestay is a very popular option and you will be accommodated with Vietnamese families in very comfortable, traditionally decorated houses.
4. So many trekking routes
As we have already said, hiking and trekking are what tourists primarily come for. When they arrive, they are thrilled with the number of trekking routes that exist. Most routers do not require climbing skills, which means they are suitable for everyone. But still, we suggest you be in a good shape because some routes are very strenuous.
5. Many places to visit
Don’t think that hiking is the only thing you can do in Sapa. You can visit beautiful Silver Waterfall, and not far from there is The Sky Gate which is a great place to take a photo. You can visit many picturesque villages, ancient rock fields, etc.
If you are in Vietnam, and especially if you are in Hanoi, do not miss visiting Sapa, because you will be delighted with all that this city and its surroundings can offer you.