Sapa


Located 38km from Lao Cai City, Sapa is a mountainous district of Lao Cai Province. Sapa District is very well-known with Sapa Townlet, a beautiful and romantic resort.
At the height of 1,600m above sea level, the average temperature of the area is 15-18°C. It is cool in summer and cold in winter.

Sapa

Sapa overview

Visitor to Sapa in summer can feel the climate of four seasons in one day. In the morning and afternoon in Sapa, it is cool like the weather of spring and autumn. At noon in Sapa, it is as sunny and cloudless as the weather of summer. And it is cold in the evening in Sapa. With no advance warning of a thunderstorm short and heavy rains may come at noon on any summer day in Sapa. Subsequently, a rainbow appears, transforming Sapa into a magic land, which for years has been a constant source of poetic inspiration, lights up the whole region.
The best time to witness the scenic beauty of Sapa is in April and May. Before that period, the weather might be cold and foggy; after that period is the rainy season. In April and May, Sapa is blooming with flowers and green pastures. The clouds that settle in the valley in early morning quickly disappear into thin air.

Sapa

Ham Rong Mountain

Sapa has many natural sites such as Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo Forest and Ta Phin Cave. Sapa is also the starting point for many climbers and scientists who want to reach the top of Fansipan Mountain, the highest mountain in Vietnam at 3,143m. Hoang Lien Mountain Range is also called the Alps of the North Sea area since Fansipan Mountain is not only the highest peak in Vietnam, but also in the Indochina Peninsula. The pyramid-shaped mountain is covered with clouds all year round and temperatures often drop below zero, especially at high elevations.
The first thing you notice when approaching the resort town are some detached wooden mansions and villas perched on a hill top or hillside, behind thick pine forests and almost invisible on this foggy morning. Old and new villas with red roofs now appear and now disappear in the green rows of pomu trees, bringing the town the beauty of European towns.

Fresh and cool air in Sapa is an idea climate condition for growing temperate vegetables such as cabbage, chayote, precious medicinal herbs, and fruit trees such as plum, pear…

Sapa is home to various families of flowers of captivating colors, which can be found nowhere else in the country. When Tet, the Lunar New Year Festival, comes, the whole township of Sapa is filled with the pink color of peach blossom brought from the vast forests of peach just outside the town. Sapa is regarded as the kingdom of orchids. Here, orchid lovers are even amazed by the choice, when trekking in the forest filled with several hundred kinds of orchids of brilliant colors and fantastic shapes, such as Orchid Princess, Orchid of My Fair Lady’s Shoe. Some orchids are named after lovely singing birds such as the canary, salangane’s nest, and more.

Sapa

Red Dao Ethnic Minority People

Sapa is most beautiful in spring. Apricot, plum and cherry flowers are splendidly beautiful. Markets in Sapa are crowded and merry, and are especially attractive to visitors. Minority groups in Sapa come here to exchange and trade goods and products. Market sessions are also a chance for locals to promenade and young men and women in colorful costumes to meet, date or seek sweethearts.

Visitors to Sapa will have opportunities to discover the unique customs of the local residents.

 People in Sapa

The population of the Lào Cai province is a mosaic of ethnic groups. An incredible variety of peoples, some of them unique to Vietnam, are found on a relatively small area.

In fact, visitors can meet 24 ethnic groups, each with its own language, culture and traditions. This cultural wealth is explained by the diversity of landscapes and of land available for farming. History also offers clues as to why the highlands in the Lào Cai province served as a refuge for certain ethnic groups during political unrest like the Taiping rebellion in 19th-century China.

Life is probably better for the tribes than it once was, but it may still take all day for vendors to make a few dollars profit. Despite the steady flow of tourists, supply far outweighs demand. You may notice that if you wander beyond the last tourist-oriented business on any street, there are precious few businesses thriving on local dollars alone. In a sense, it’s not really a town at all — the tribes live elsewhere and come into town to do business, often trudging along on foot for hours or nowadays just as likely to jump on the back of a motorbike. The ethnic Vietnamese, for their part, are from other cities in Vietnam. Many live in cheap, shabby rooms but it still takes a lot of postcards and sweet potatoes to make the monthly rent. And there are few other options than family farming, since there are no major industries in the area aside from tourism.

Sapa

Ta Van Village

Sapa weather

At the height of 1,600m above sea level, the average temperature of the area is 15-18°C. It is cool in summer and cold in winter in Sapa. Visitor to Sapa in summer can feel the climate of four seasons in one day in Sapa. In the morning and afternoon in Sapa, it is cool like the weather of spring and autumn. At noon in Sapa, it is as sunny and cloudless as the weather of summer. And it is cold in the evening. With no advance warning of a thunderstorm short and heavy rains may come at noon on any summer day. Subsequently, a rainbow appears, transforming Sapa into a magic land, which for years has been a constant source of poetic inspiration, lights up the whole region.

Sapa attractions

Ta Van is a small village set within a picturesque valley not far from the northern Vietnamese mountain resort of Sa Pa. The area is renowned for its colourful ethnic minorities, and Ta Van is home to two such groups.

Sapa travel tips

There are many trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai. However almost all sleeper seats are controlled by travel agents. It is ipossible to buy sleeper tickets. The seat tickets are available and a few 2nd class sleeper may be available at the train station without makeup.

Time to visit Sapa

If you’re only in Sapa for a few days, be forewarned that the views do not come with a money-back guarantee. The best time to visit Sapa is in the summer months of August to December, when skies are more likely to be clear in Sapa. These months in Sapa are rainier but they are also warmer, and sometimes you can’t beat a nice summer rain for atmosphere — showers are typically brief, but it pours in buckets. Winter can be cold, foggy and rainy, but every three or four days, the weather clears and the views are more gorgeous than they are any other time of year.

No matter what time of year you arrive, Sapa has its drawbacks and advantages. Your top priority when selecting a room from December to February should be heat. Some places have electric blankets or heaters built into the bed frame, but that means the rest of the room is going to be freezing. Electric space heaters are better, and best yet, many places come with wood-burning fire-places. Make sure the fireplace works before you hand over your passport — some we saw were only ornamental — and check on the price of firewood as it rarely comes free and burns quickly.

Sapa

Children in Cat Cat Village

Houses of Ethnic people in Sapa

The population of the Lào Cai province is a mosaic of ethnic groups. An incredible variety of peoples, some of them unique to Vietnam, are found on a relatively small area.

Sapa

Houses of Ethnic people in Sapa

Geography in Sapa

The village lies on the Hoang Lien Son Alps, known in English as the Tonkinese Alps. To the South West of Sa Pa, on this beautiful alp, is the 3143m high Fanxipan Mountain, known as the roof of Indochina – the tallest mountain not only in Vietnam but in all of Indochina. Between Fanxipan Mountain and Sa Pa town is Muong Hoa valley, which is terraced into wet staircase rice paddies.  

Demographics in Sapa

The village of Sa Pa is rich in culture and ethnicity. Out of its 36,000 scattered population, the Kinh group (who are the ethnic majority in Vietnam) only make up 15%. Most inhabitants of Sa Pa are ethnic minorities: Hmong 52%, Dao 25%, Tay 5%, Giay 2% and a small number of Xa Pho, who up to this day still preserve very much of their traditional life style, culture and clothing.

Sapa

Sapa Tour

Sapa Trekking

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