Sapa Trekking - An experience like none other!

Nguyen Mai Huong - Updated July 24, 2019

Sapa trekking has recently been one of the famous activities for travelers in Northern Vietnam. Annually, thousands of travelers participated in trekking around Sapa. So, what is the charm of the Sapa trekking?

Let’s come with us to have one of the greatest chances to explore Vietnam on high magnitudes and beyond the clouds – the beautiful, dreamy and magnificent nature is waiting for you!

>>> See more Things to do in Sapa besides trekking <<<

 

Table of Contents


1. Sapa Vietnam Trekking and Hiking – Which one is for you?

Can you tell the differences between trekking and hiking in Sapa? Most of the people often use trekking and hiking as if they are synonyms, but actually, they are distinctive. 

Speaking locally about Sapa travel, hiking usually involves mountaineering in a short span of time, typically hiking to the peak of the Fansipan is the most popular. Hiking is often a day trip – start in the dusk and end at dawn. 

Meanwhile, Sapa trekking is much longer. A trek can be several days and hundreds of kilometers long. It requires more physical abilities, but there will be many more sightseeing destinations for you to see.

What is Sapa trekking?

What is Sapa trekking?

Hiking can only give the travelers a general experience of Sapa beauty, while trekking will lead you to every corner of this cloudy place. So, if you have a lot of time and want to enjoy Sapa to the fullest, let’s try the Sapa trekking!

2. Sapa trekking difficulty

The level of trekking in Sapa is not the same - there are actually three types of trek you can do in Sapa:

  • Level 1: Easy trekking. This trekking trip is short and almost effortless. The route will normally include the beaten, easy-to-go track and some villages for you to visit. 
  • Level 2: Medium trekking, this type of trekking is longer, and you will walk through some of the bumpy or muddy roads to explore more in-depth places. However, with the beautiful landscape as the reward, you will find your effort is worthy. The most popular trekking route of this type is Muong Hoa Valley trekking. 
  • Level 3: hard trekking. This is the type that requires your strength and endurance the most since the trek can last for several days. The terrace of Sapa can be really challenging, so for this type, you should have the accompany of a porter and tour guide. The recommended trails for hard trekking is, of course, Mount Fansipan Trekking. 

Sapa trekking difficulty

This activity requires physical abilities. So make sure if you want to join in, or else a short trekking for a day is exciting enough!

Trekking Sapa reviews

Also, you can see some trekking sapa reviews from Tripadvisor before decided to take a trip there!

“Fantastic trekking experience

We did the 3-night /2-day hike through Sapa and had a fantastic trekking experience. The tour was well-organized from beginning to end. 

Our guide My took us through the non-touristy routes of Sapa, and hence had a very relaxing hiking experience with gorgeous views. We did the 1-night homestay, which looks out on a rice field. Recommended watching the sunset here!”  

-  Olivier V, Tripadvisor -

Great Sapa day tour with local Lao Chai guide

We were staying at Y Linh Ho valley and arranged a day tour via an agent. A local guide, native of Lao Chai village's Black Hmong ethnic group showed up as our guide the next morning. 

At the start of the trip, I was a bit perplexed as she spoke little and answered only what was asked, but with details. Later as the trip progressed, I realized there is little to share in words and more to absorb via viewing.

The valley was beautiful, we walked all the way to Lao Chai village, Ta Van village. From there to Cau Mai waterfall, which was the most off beaten path walk with lots of narrow muddy walkways. The different landscapes throughout the walk were fascinating - rice paddies (although unsown during winter), small waterfalls, rivers, suspension bridges, bamboo forest.”

 - Explore_SEA, Tripadvisor -

3. Who should take Sapa Trek Vietnam? 

As mentioned before, Sapa valley trekking is not for some people, especially the ones with poor health, children and elders. Because trekking around Sapa Vietnam may take days or weeks, and most of the time you will have to climb the hills and go through a long-distance on foot. 

Therefore, Sapa trekking is best suitable for young, energetic and adventurous people. Anyone with the love for natural beauty, lively life on the mountains and impressive landscape should trek through the valleys in Sapa. It will give you a chance to experience the colorful life of the minorities and the beautiful nature. 

Sapa Vietnam trekking with kids

Trekking is hard and not for everyone. But trust me, when you eyewitness the whole landscape and get close with these locals, all worth it!

4. When to trek Sapa Vietnam?

Since trekking is a mostly-outdoor activity, the weather is of utmost importance. If the weather is nice, a trek in Sapa will be much easier and the landscape will be more beautiful. However, if you, unfortunately, go on rainy and foggy days, the mud road and bad vision will much lower your enjoyment. 

Therefore, you should check the weather forecast carefully before planning for a trekking trip in Sapa. And remember, the best time to visit Sapa are from March to May and September to November. in the times, the sun shines quite a lot, and you can have a chance to visit the lush green or golden rice terrace fields. 

Also, get the answers to other common questions:

5. Tour guide for best Sapa treks

If the question is “Is a tour guide for Sapa Trekking really necessary?”, the answer will always be a “Yes”. Sapa trekking routes will be up against many hills, through the villages and valleys in days, so without a guide, you are likely to get lost easily. Although there are a lot of beaten tracks there, a guide is what you need for the best trekking in Sapa

trekking in Sapa with tour guide

Only locals know how to make things go on the right track!

Besides, most of the guides available for Sapa valley trek are native people. It means that they have a better understanding of the local tracks, sightseeing destinations, and the traditions there, so it will also be a plus for having a Sapa tour guide. 

6. How about Sapa trekking by yourself?

It is still possible for experienced travelers to trek in Sapa without a guide, but it will require more effort. You have to arrange everything by yourself, and food, drinks, and accommodations are the most important. However, with the number of restaurants and homestays in Sapa, you can still manage the trekking trip. 

The disadvantage of DIY your trek in Sapa is that you may get lost, or miss out some of the best spots for sightseeing and cultural information. Nevertheless, going without a guide will allow you to lower your budget and have a free schedule - you can go anywhere you want to. If you fancy the thought of self-making a trekking trip, you can read further for tips at the end of this article and look for a homestay below! 

trek Sapa Vietnam to valley

May get lost in this dreamlike landscape?

7. Sapa trekking Homestay

For a Sapa trekking trip, homestay plays an important part. if you choose the wrong one, it is highly likely that you will get scammed. But if your homestays are authentic, you can get great experience with the local people and have a close-up view of their daily life. 

The Little View Homestay is located in the Sapa town center, so it is very suitable if you want to have a homestay at the beginning of the trek. The homestay offers a beautiful view to Muong Hoa valley and Mount Fansipan. They even provide service with local people and all helpful necessity for tourists. This homestay is quite cozy and filled with the color of local ethnic minorities. 

If you fancy a view over the rice terrace fields, welcome to Hoa’s Homestay Sapa. Located a bit further from Sapa town (approximately 10km), this homestay provides rooms with a terrace and/or a balcony with superb mountain or garden views.

Yen’s House is situated at the Sapa gateway, which is convenient for transportation. Some of the most attractive trekking trails are within walking distance, so it is easier for trekking travelers to spend the night here. A great bonus point for this homestay is that it offers an in-house restaurant for vegetarians. 

8. Sapa Trekking Map and some best Sapa valley trekking routes

For a trekking trip throughout Sapa Vietnam, there are a lot of trails and routes that travelers can choose. Commonly, the trekking destinations will include villages of the minorities and natural sightseeing attractions. Here are some of the best Sapa village trekking routes and trails in Sapa:

Also, take a look at our best trekking Sapa map below:

Sapa trekking route

Sapa village trek and Sapa mountain trek route

Ta Van Village – 10 km from the town of Sapa

Lao Chai Village – 5 km from the town of Sapa

Sin Chai Village – 6 km from the town of Sapa

Ta Phin Village – 12 km from the town of Sapa

Muong Hoa Valley – 3 km from the town of Sapa

Heaven Gate – 17 km from the town of Sapa

Trekking Sapa to Ta Van Village and Lao Chai Village

In Lao Chai Village and Ta Van Village, you will have a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery around you, as well as having a great time with the local people. These two villages are surrounded by fresh rice paddy fields, making a great scene for photography. 

Besides, Lao Chai Village is where Black Hmong people live, so it will be a great experience for anyone who wants to know more about their daily lives. Their handicraft, clothes, indigos have been made in the traditional ways from then to now. 

Trekking Sapa to Ta Van village

May you want to join in a Sapa Market with locals to truly experience how life goes on in this land

In Ta Van Village, The Giay people live a colorful and bright life. Travelers can stay with the native family, have meals with them, sleep in their house and join with them to a Sapa market. In total, live like a real Giay!

Sin Chai village 

If you fancy the art of weaving, you must come to Sin Chai Village. In this beautiful small village, the local people have been weaving and dyeing clothes for generations.

See Tho Cam clothing made by locals in Sapa trekking trip

Travelers will also have a chance to participate and actually learn how to weave with them. 

Weaving is not all about Sin Chai Village, in here you can also admire the beautiful blooming flowers. There are peach blossoms, plum blossoms, pear blossoms, and roses, dying the whole village with the dedicated and romantic petals and colors. 

Ta Phin village 

Ta Phin Village has a dreamy and idyllic feel. Half an hour away from Sapa, this is the village of the Black Hmong and Red Dzao people. If travelers want to take photos with them, they should ask for it first, because the natives are quite shy. 

Meet local people in a Sapa trekking trip

Meet local people on your trekking trip!

In Ta Phin Village, there are so many to see: the lush green rice paddy fields, the vast valley, and cloudy mountains. All of them are like a painting. 

Muong Hoa Valley

Muong Hoa Valley is a famous destination for Sapa trekking. This valley is quite near to Ta Van Village, so it will be quite great to visit both of them. In the right season, the Muong Hoa Valley is filled with beautiful and colorful blooming blossoms. Also, the golden endless rice fields and silver waterfall are really stunning. 

Heaven Gate

If you happen to love a gigantic panoramic view, you should come to the Heaven Gate of Sapa. The Heaven Gate, also called Tram Ton,  lies in the middle of the Hoang Lien Son and offers such a magnificent panoramic view. 

Heaven gate on Sapa trekking route

From there, you will see a vast landscape of beautiful Sapa and the cloudy majestic Fansipan.

This heavenly sight is the main reason for thousand of trekkers when coming to Sapa. 

9. Sapa trekking cost: Best Budget for trekking in Sapa

Before every trip, budget planning is a must. For Sapa trekking, it will vary a lot according to the type and the length of the trip. Sapa trekking can cost from 20$ US (400.000 VND) up to 200$ US (4.000.000 VND). 

For half-day trek Sapa or Sapa 1 day trek around valleys, the cost for one traveler will be starting at 20$ US per pax for a big group and can cost at most 50$ US for a private group

For overnight trips, the reasonable budget will be around 100$ US – 200$ US per pax, according to the length of the trip. The longer the trek, the higher the price. However, you can save the money by booking in a group of travelers together, or going on a large group. Besides, most do include Sapa trekking homestay and meals during the trip. 

Sapa trekking cost

Big group always get a discount!

To book a Sapa trekking trip, travelers have many ways to book a decent one. Most of them have the starting points in Hanoi, so you can choose a Hanoi-based travel agency to book. Booking can be made directly by going to the tour operator office or can be made online through their official website. 

Nevertheless, you should check the reliability of the tour operators first before making any agreement to avoid scams. Furthermore, you should discuss the itinerary carefully – what is included and excluded - to have the best experience out of it. 

10. What to pack?

Preparation for a trekking trip in Sapa is of utmost importance. For the luggage, you should not bring all of them with you on the track. Heavy and unnecessary luggage should be left at the tour office or the hotel. 

Ideally, a backpack with a one-day necessity and a small bag for items you will need at night will be good to go. Remember to bring spare clothes, a water bottle, and a light snack with you on the track. 

In winter, Sapa Vietnam weather can be freezing and even snowy, so warm clothes are the thing you should bring with you: warm jackets, gloves, and scarves are common items. Besides, Sapa can rain unexpectedly, so a lightweight rain jacket will be needed. You can get one at some convenience stores.

What to pack for Sapa trek Vietnam

And what about the summer?

In summer, you should wear shorts and t-shirts because it is very hot and you can get all sweaty and dirty from the tracks. Therefore, a spare couple of clothes will help you a lot. Also, sun-protectors like suncream, hat and jacket are a must to cope with the strong sunlight on the hills and mountains. 

Bug spray is also a must too. Because going trekking in Sapa means going to the valleys and mountains where a lot of insects, especially mosquitos, live. So to avoid getting bitten, you should use bug-spray. 

Moreover, some first-aid items such as bandaids will be helpful. Since trekking involves walking and climbing a lot, blisters and minor injuries may happen all the time. 

What shoes to wear in Sapa? A pair of good trekking shoes are also something you should pay attention to. Many of the travelers choose to wear trainers or sneakers, which perform poorly on the slippery and muddy path, let alone in rainy weather.  A pair of Sapa trekking shoes – waterproof if possible - will help you to get a better grip on the Sapa trail, resistance under the rain and crossing the stream.

11. Bonus Tips for the best trekking in Sapa!

  • Going on a Sapa trekking trip, you will encounter a lot of minorities will different ways of life, so you need to respect them and their standard of morality. 
  • You should not smoke or use drugs, to begin with, and avoid making loud noises in public areas. Getting too drunk and lose control of yourself will also leave a bad impression. 
  • Some of the sacred objects are worshipped, so no direct touch on them. And you can only come into a house if you get permitted or invited from the owners. If you want to take some photos of the locals, let’s ask them beforehand. 

Buying handicraft items from the local people can also be a good way of showing respect, however, if there is a too persistent seller or the price is too high, you can always turn down politely. 

Sapa is definitely a place to remember and a place to return to as well. I hope this article will encourage you to go on a Sapa trekking conquering the misty town in the most exciting way!

For further exploration check out other articles of AZ Local Trip! If you need a FREE Itinerary Planning or more advice, feel free to contact us. Our local experts are here to help!

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