Together with Halong Bay, Sapa has become one of the most attractive destinations for visitors when traveling to Northern Vietnam. Outstanding and diversified sceneries in each season, as well as unique cultures of many different ethnic minorities, are the main reasons attracting both domestic and foreigner tourists. In each kind of weather conditions, Sapa has different beauties flourishing so we should consider carefully to witness the most spectacular scenes with the growth of a versatile fauna and flora in Sapa at the most convenient time as well.
1. What is the best time to visit Sapa?
Tourists can actually travel to Sapa Vietnam all year round, but the best time to visit Sapa Vietnam is from March to May and from September to November as we can enjoy the relatively stable weather with sunny days by much sunshine and cool nights as well as do lots of exciting activities.
September to November
This is the most ideal time to travel to Sapa to have a laid-back natural holiday as the weather is cool and great for trekking, camping, sight-seeing, and photo-taking, and especially conquering Fansipan – the Indochina Summit. The clear and blue sky, colorful terraces along with the sun shining through hundreds of mountains create huge shadows in combination with vibrant landscapes and deep blue sky, which makes Sapa much more breath-taking. Some summer rains come to refresh the atmosphere, which makes Sapa a great place to relax and enjoy a real rejuvenating holiday after the hustle and bustle of modern life.
March to May
Spring in Sapa is considered to be the most beautiful season when plants grow and flowers blossom creating a water-color painting. Sapa enjoys a warm and fresh springtime when new buds start sprouting on the trees and the town is ornamented with cherry blossom. That is why many Vietnamese visit Sapa after the Lunar New Year to admire the blossoming cherry trees. The weather is quite dry and not rainy which makes the perfect time for trekking, camping, photo-taking and more interestingly, accessing remote hill tribes to get an insight into their distinctive traditions and lifestyles. Known as “Da Lat” of North Vietnam, in the summer, Sapa is not as hot as other regions. If we spend time in this town in the period between April and May, in addition to cool weather, we will have the chance to see the wonderful scenes of many colorful flowers and green fields there. However, as the weather sometimes varies dramatically during the day, visitors with be rewarded with phenomenal chance to witness four seasons throughout the day. That sounds really amazing.
Sapa rice filed
What about other months?
June to September – not the great time to visit Sapa
There are still some inconvenient times in Sapa that visitors should avoid. The wet season lasts for around 3 months, from June to September. As it is a highland town and still relatively pristine, the way leading there is quite hard, especially in rainy season, when all terrains and the road surface are slippery and a litter bit dangerous and causes troubles for sight-seeing. So it is not a wise choice of paying a visit to Sapa during that time.
December to February – not a good time to Sapa Vietnam either
From December to February, Sapa is in the winter, the weather in Sapa becomes extremely harsh with an average temperature of zero degree and cold breezing winds, and even snowy or ice, especially at night. However, in return, visitors can enjoy the sunrise over the valley in the morning under the fog and admire quite a romance scene. However, this is the reason why Sapa is inundated by flocks of tourists both foreign and domestic longing to witness snow and make a life-time memory, especially couples come here to enjoy that romance and to be deep in their love.
Each season has a particular beauty. From my experience, you should spend at least two days and one night in Sapa to have enough time to visit the most beautiful spots. And ideally, summer is the high peak of Sapa as its climate is amazing, opposed to the rest of Northern Vietnam – dry and extremely hot.
2. How to arrive in Sapa?
There are two ways to go to Sapa, you can go by train with air-conditioning and soft seats or sleeper beds. I recommend the sleeper beds. It is slightly more expensive but more comfortable on the following days. You should book train tickets at the train agents in advance on holidays. You can also take the bus to Sapa, or a sleeper bus departing at night. Night bus services in the North are not as good as in the South, but they are adequate. The advantage of taking the bus is that it works out cheaper than the train. Some bus companies are Hung Thanh, Hai Van, Sen Viet or Viet bus. If you go in the evening, you will be in Sapa by the next morning. It is advisable to buy your return ticket in advance.
3. What to admire in Sapa?
There are many tourist attractions in Sapa. However, there are some key points you should not miss, such as: Ta Van village, Lao Chai village, Ta Phin village, Cat Cat village, Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall. These attractions are not located on the same route; they are scattered around Sapa. It is advisable to rent a motorbike to save the money. If you go with your family, it is better to hire a car. This does not include gasoline. You can inquire about car rentals at your hotel.
Ham Rong Mountain
Ham Rong Mountain is located close to Sapa town, only 3 km away. You can visit the mountain on foot from your hotel in about half a day. From the top of Ham Rong Mountain, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Sapa, the Muong Hoa Valley, and Ta Phin under fog. Today, Ham Rong has been renovated with many beautiful gardens; many precious flowers are also brought here for display.
Ham Rong Mountain
Sapa Stone Church
Located in the heart of Sapa town, Sapa Stone Church, built in 1895, is considered the most integral architectural imprint the French left. The Church has been renovated and preserved; it is a must see when visiting Sapa Town.
Sapa Stone Church
Ta Phin Village
Ta Phin Village is located about 17km to the east of Sapa Town. It is inhabited mostly by Red Dao people, so you can take herbal bath there. Along the way from the highway to the village, you will cross beautiful terraced valleys. The dirt road leads to the base of the valley. Besides discovering Dao culture, you will also have the opportunity to visit Ta Phin Cave nearby. Many stalactites in the cave create interesting shapes such as the dancing fairies, the sitting fairies, or meadows.
Ta Phin Village
Apart from the Dao in Ta Phin, you can experience cultures of other ethnic minorities in Sapa such as the Hmong in Ta Van Village, the Giay and Tay, of Y Linh Ho Village, the Black Hmong of Lao Chai Village, the Tay of Ho village, Black Hmong in Lao Chai Village, and the Xa Pho of Ho Village.
Sapa Rice Terraces
When traveling to Sapa, you should not miss the rice terraces stretching around Sapa Town. The best routes for seeing rice terraces are the highway to Lao Cai, the road from Sapa leading to Ta Van village, the route from Y Linh Ho to Ta Van, Lao Chai as well as the road leading to Ta Phinh. The best time to visit the rice terraces is usually from mid-September to mid-October, depending on the rice harvest each year.
Sapa Rice Terraces
Ideally, there are a lot of new check-ins for you inn Sapa. Don't miss them.
Ideal Sapa tour: Ideally spending 2 days and 3 nights in Sapa – How?
This is my suggestion based on my experience of traveling to Sapa.
Night 1: Your first night is spent on the train to Sapa. Book a sleeper seat for the train.
Day 1: In the morning when you arrive at Lao Cai Station, take a bus to Sapa. Leave your luggage at the hotel, rent a car to take you to Ta Van Village and Sapa Rock Field. Return to Sapa Town for lunch at noon. Continue the trip by motorbike the next afternoon, visit Ta Phin Village, try a Dao herbal bath or go to Silver Falls or Cat Cat Village. Go back to Sapa in the late afternoon, return the car and go sightseeing on foot.
Night 2: In the evening, enjoy a salmon hot-pot or other Sapa specialties. If you go to Silver Falls by motorcycle, remember to ride up to the top of O Qui Ho Pass to see the beautiful scenery.
Day 2: (walking) You visit Ham Rong Mountain, the Foothill Gardens. After lunch, you can go shopping at the market. You can also go to the market first depending on the situation of the market in Sapa. You can also rent a motorbike if you want to visit any of the more outlying attractions.
Night 3: In the afternoon, take a bus to Lao Cai and go back to Hanoi by train.
There are many types of group tour with prices averaging from 800,000 to 1.3 million VND for two days and three nights in Sapa – some of them are voted to be one of the best tours in Northern Vietnam. The prices depend on the rating and level of service offered by the hotel. However, personally, I think it had better explore Sapa by yourself to have the most memorable with friends and family.