Sapa is one of the those places that are difficult not to love…After coming from Hanoi, arriving in the quiet and tranquil Sapa was definitely the change we needed.
We always had this idea about the country side of Vietnam being this far away land that was difficult to reach. But Sapa really changed our mind. Once you get there, it’s a matter of a few meters till you are right in the middle of the rice fields!
For starters, if you travel to Sapa at the beginning of Winter, you’ll get a mild cold weather (about 7°-15°C) and lots, looots of fog. We spent 5 days in Sapa and had probably only 1 day of clear visibility. Everything else was just fog. Such an intense fog actually, that we couldn’t see about 50 metres in front of us.
To us, it didn’t really matter. It was part of the city and the charm it offers. We were actually glad it wasn’t any colder as we weren’t the least prepared for it!
Another really awesome perk? They sell roasted chestnuts everywhere! And we love chestnuts! So much, that we actually ate at least half a kilo per day. Ops!
Sapa was an incredible place to relax and to experience the local life. No trip to Sapa would be complete without a visit to the rice paddies. So we decided to take an easy tour to the closest villages as we didn’t particularly prepare for a tougher trek.
As soon as we left town, a crowd of locals followed and accompanied us during the trek. They were helpful and very nice, even risking some English conversation with us. What we didn’t expect is that at our lunch break, they would come and almost bully us to buy their crafts. As we didn’t know this was common practice and we didn’t have much money with us (plus we didn’t want to carry anything else with us) we insisted on the ‘no, thank you’ note but they were incredibly upset.
NOTE: If you want, you can easily go on your own and not pay for a tour as we pretty much were left on our own with the locals to ‘help’ us through the trek, so you can buy some some stuff from them, instead of paying for a tour. However, at the end of our trek, we had a bus pick us up to take us back to the hotel. If you go on your own, you’ll have to make your way back to town.
Why We Loved Sapa
Although the locals were really pushy, like in the rest of Vietnam, it was a lovely experience for us to learn a bit more about their livelihood and culture. Many villagers roam in town to sell their crafts so they can buy food and supplies back home. The majority of the population however, still live in the farms and work hard on the land to produce rice and other basic crops.
The views also didn’t disappoint, although we missed the green fields in Spring.
If you have the chance to stay a little longer, we highly recommend that you go visit the beautiful waterfalls which are just about 10-15km from town. We hired a motorbike (again) and made our way up stopping every now and then to admire the views.
The first waterfall, is called Silver Waterfall. Ticket fee is VND 20.ooo (less than AUD2) but you’ll have to pay to ‘park’ your bike to the local vendors which will keep your bike. Can’t run from that.
You can only go ‘around’ the waterfall sort of like up, across and then down through the stairs. The falls are beautiful and really worth a stop.
The next stop is at Love Waterfall, entrance fee is VND70.000 (about AUD4). A beautiful park with a very romantic appeal and a good of exercise after all the chestnuts we’d been eating! We walked all the way down to the river and kept going up until we reached the main waterfall. Beautiful scenery and perfect for a pretty picture…
We wish the weather was warmer as we think this would be the perfect spot for a swim. Probably nicer with a higher water flow too. Worth it anyway specially for all the amazing views over the region.
Sapa is not your destination if you are looking to party hard but it’s perfect to relax and indulge in good food and learn about the local culture.
Larissa & Jean