WHAT TO DO
- Trekking around ethnic minorities’ villages
Sapa is well-known for its cultural diversity since it is a home of many Vietnamese ethnic minorities. Visiting Sapa, tourists often choose to trek around ethnic minorities’ villages, which are surrounded by terraced rice paddy fields and vast mountain ranges. Cat Cat Village, where the Black H’mong people reside, and Ta Phin Village, the home of the Red Dao people, are the most popular destinations for tourists who opt for short trekking routes. Trekking to these villages, you will have chances to see and interact with local people there. Most of the time, they are super friendly; children are innocent and cute. However, when it comes to peddling, they can be very aggressive. If you are an experienced trekker, who is in a good shape for a long trek, then there are some destinations that are worth your time and energy to pay a visit, such as Silver Waterfall, Ta Van, Ban Ho. It is advisable to go with a local guide who is not only no stranger to the routes but also able to communicate well in English. Don’t forget to bring with you some snacks and a bottle of water to keep you energized during your trek.
- Trekking to Mountain Fansipan
Nowadays, conquering the mighty Mountain Fansipan, the highest mountain in Vietnam and Indochina, seems to be an attainable challenge since there have been a lot of people successfully trekking to the summit. Although the cable car service opened last year, reducing the time to reach the peak to 20 minutes, trekking to Mountain Fansipan still remains attractive. No technical trekking skills are required, but you must be in a good shape to be able to complete the trek in 3 days. Furthermore, the route to the summit can be craggy and dangerous especially in the rainy season. Therefore, for the sake of your safety, it is advisable to join a trekking tour, in which you may go with 4 or 5 people under guidance and supervision of an experienced local guide. Once you reach the peak of Mountain Fansipan, you will have a chance to see a panoramic view from the top of “the roof of Indochina” with an indescribable proud feeling.
- Riding motorbike around Sapa
Cycling around Sapa, either by bike or by motorbike, has become a ubiquitous way to see around the photogenic little town. For those who want to explore outside the town center when their schedule is tight, it is recommended to rent a motorbike in the town center or join a motorbike tour. You can get to some nearby villages such as Cau May village or go a bit further to Bac Ha. Just keep in mind that the roads there are not in good condition and can be dangerous during the rainy season; hence, for the sake of your own safety, riding your motorbike at slow speed with a cautious mind.
- Shopping at local market
Sapa market is situated in the town center, opening every day from Monday to Sunday. Sapa market captivates tourists’ attraction by colorful clothing stalls, aroma of foods from food courts, and so on. On the weekend, Sapa market is more crowded than on any other days as H’mong, Red Dzao and other ethnic minorities will come and exchange goods in the market. If you want to find herb medicine and fresh meat, Sapa market is a right place for you. If you want to buy crafted and embroidered products, you should head to Sapa Square where a plenty of hill tribe vendors selling these products. Especially, on every Saturday night, Love market is organized at Sapa market for hill tribe men and women to come and meet each other. It is where love blossoms between men and women there. They talk, sing and dance together to express their affection for the apple of their eyes.
If you want to go further than Sapa, you can catch a motorbike-taxi (xe om) or rent a motorbike yourself to go to Bac Ha market where is renowned for hill-tribe silver jewelry, hill-tribe style clothes and bags and many other beautiful and exotic products. Bac Ha market is also a place that local Vietnamese ethnic minorities exchange their signature products, for example, fruits, honey to name a few.
- Massaging and herbal bathing
After a long hour travel from Hanoi or a day walking around Sapa, what is a better way than a massage to relax your stiff muscles and regain energy for other activities? Especially, massaging service in Sapa is really good. Foot and body massage price is around 5 or 6 USD for an hour, which is inexpensive.
Another way to refresh your body is to bathe with herbs. Some hotels also offer the herbal bath service, but if your hotel doesn’t, you can go to some public bathroom to enjoy the healthy and relaxing bath with a variety of mountainous herbs. An herbal bath is originally made by the Red Dzao and has grown its popularity among tourists thanks to its special stress-shooting effects. The price for an herbal bath is really cheap, just around 3 USD for a person.
- Eating out in Sapa
Sapa is a heaven of foods with many signature foods that you cannot find in anywhere else. Eating out in Sapa is not very costly, but you should check the price first, especially at a local market. There is a plenty of restaurants serving Western and Asian foods with a decent price; hence, if Vietnamese foods don’t work for you, you can get a multitude of alternatives. Otherwise, a variety of Sapa traditional foods is waiting for you such as Lam sticky rice, ‘carried-under-arm’ grilled pork and so on. You can get more information about these tasty foods by reading my article about Sapa cuisine.
- Chilling at a local bar
One way to enjoy a night with your friends or meet new people in Sapa is to hang out and chill at a local bar. My friends and I went to Táu Bar which is near our hotel. Táu Bar is more popular with international tourists than with Vietnamese ones. Táu Bar spots out thanks to its graffiti outfit. It has very impressive graffiti wall design, which creates an impressive space to have a couple of drinks. The rock music is nice and suits with the bar ambiance. In addition, there are some other well-known bars that you can spend a night, for instance, The Valley View Bar, Delta Bar, Bamboo Bar, The H’mong Sisters and so forth.