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North Vietnam, Vietnam

Sapa Homestay and Trek

The small mountain town of Sapa feels like it's out of a fairy tale. Here, local H'mong women clad in Xena-warrior-princess-like adornments will lead you through luminous rice terraces, to show you their home. Take a few days to immerse yourself into the lives of the local communities by walking through rice paddies, sharing meals in their homes and listening to their stories. While Sapa is no longer a well-kept secret, many travellers speak fondly about the wonderful home-cooking and local hospitality they enjoyed here.

The closest international airport to Sapa is Hanoi. There are a few ways to get to Sapa from Hanoi: by bus, by train or by car. If you need any help booking a bus, train or private car, please let us know and we'll be glad to help! 🚌 If you're going by bus, take the bus to Sapa town directly. You can either take the public bus from Hanoi's Gia Lam station, or get an express bus which will pick you up from your hotel in Hanoi. The bus takes about 6 hours. 🚂 If you're going by train, take the train to Lao Cai, followed by a minibus to Sapa town. The train goes during the night only, and takes about 8 hours. When you reach the train station, there are lots of minbuses you can choose to take you to Sapa, or take a local bus just outside the station. The bus journey from Lao Cai to Sapa will take approximately an hour. This is our preferred choice as it is more comfortable - you can sleep completely flat in a 4 person cabin and arrive in Sapa by 7am, refreshed to start your hike! 🚕 Finally, you can take a private taxi to Sapa, but this is pretty costly (from US$185 for a 7-seater). Driving time would be about 6 hours.

The options included here all include both a trekking guide and a homestay. If you prefer wandering about on your own, you don't necessarily need to get a guide to walk around some of the rice terraces near Sapa town. You don't even really need to get one if you wander off a bit further afield if you are not afraid of getting lost. But if you do go with one of the options here which includes a guide, you'll find out more about the region, get to spend some time with a local H'mong family and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Most of the hike options are not very strenuous. You don't need any special preparation, just be able to walk 3-4 hours at a time at a brisk pace.

Sapa is best to visit from March to May and from September to November. Sapa's weather is generally cool and during this period, you'll tend to enjoy sunny days and cool nights. June to August will be rainy season so although the rice terraces will be luminously green, the trails may be muddy and slippery. If you do choose to come during this period, do bring waterproofs and non-slip shoes. December to February are the winter months where the temperature is approximately 10-15 degrees celsius in the day time, and may drop down to 0 degrees at night. If you do choose to come during this period, do make sure you bring some layers.

You'll need at least 3 days, including transport time from Hanoi to do a trip to Sapa. This will give you 1 day of travel time, and 2 days to immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of Sapa.

The options range from 1 to 3 days - so it all depends on how long you would like to spend in Sapa! Also, if you would like to go away from the beaten path, you may want to check out the Sapa O'Chau or the Sin Soui Ho Village homestay options. The Sapa O'Chau option takes a more remote route through the villages and takes you through some lesser-known areas in Sapa. Sin Suoi Ho Village is a much lesser known village adjacent to Sapa, and there you can enjoy the same views with a fraction of the number of travellers. As more and more travellers descend on Sapa each year, Sin Soui Ho Village feels like how we would imagine Sapa was like ten years ago.

Before you head out for a trek stop by Sapa O'Chau's café, a local social enterprise which provides Sapa treks, as well as trains youth from across the region in the hospitality trade. Or, if you are looking for a good dinner - head to A QUYNH - NHÀ HÀNG KHÁM PHÁ VIỆT for great local seafood and delicious regional hot pot. This place is also a favourite karaoke hotspot for locals. Don't be shy - jump right in!