Telephone Code: 020
In Lao Cai Province in the far north near the Chinese border, this old French hill station is home to many ethnic minorities, including the H’mong, Tay and Dao.
The city is 678,6 sq km large with population of 41.700.
When to go
January to February is the coldest time in Sapa, It can be drizzly with no visibility and not get above 5°C one day and broad sunshine and over 20 the next. The perfect time to travel Sapa is March and May or mid-September to early December.
- By train: From Hanoi, you can reach Lao Cai by overnight train (costs about $25) which takes about 10 hours. Catch a minibus to Sapa from outside the station (VND25,000), or just jump a xe om (motorbike taxi). (Make sure to book your train ticket at least 10 days in advance to avoid hassle).
- Love Market: An ancient tradition, where ethnic minority people go to find a partner. (more about Sapa market)
- Surrounding Villages: Home to ethnic minorities who live the same way as they have done for centuries.
- Sapa is also a good place for trekking, cycling and motorbike trips to explore the mountainous region and visit the villages and markets of the ethnic minorities.
- Mount Fansipan: Exactly 3,143m high, it is the highest peak in the whole of Indochina. Five-day treks to the summit are available – but they are recommended for the very fit only.
- Take much care when driving as the roads are dangerous with rocks and cliffs
- It can be too much of an adventure trying to get there as individual traveler. Arrange the trip with a reputable tour operator to ensure smooth, risk free travel.
- Traveling on week days is both easier and cheaper than weekends (lower hotel costs, more relaxed travel schemes)
- Always make sure you have return tickets in hand.
- Get to Hanoi and Lao Cai at least 30 minutes before departure – but be ready for a sudden or late departure without any explanation.
- Make sure there is something to define the person who picks you up (i.e, his name, cell number and so on)
- Say “no” very firmly when someone offers you something you do not want to buy. If you show the slightest interest, they may well follow you all the way up the road, until they find anther likely target.
- Expect to bargain everything down to about half the original price asked. And expect most products to be from China instead of being authentically local.