Sapa in northern Vietnam is a town of outstanding views, dreamy spirit and travel sensations. Most tourists visit it for the hiking and I did too, but today on Don’t Stop Living it’s time to view Sapa as merely a magical mountainside town. You can really relax here away from the over worked business world. I love it. Here’s what to do in Sapa!
How To Get to Sapa
I’d estimate that most people arrive in Sapa by bus from the city of Lao Cai, as I did too. Lao Cai itself is a decent spot, which mixes Vietnam into China acting as a border crossing between the two separate countries. If you’re pushed for time like me, you won’t be able to hang around and see Lao Cai, but a night there could be fun! I got a bus from Lao Cai train station directly to Sapa. In Vietnam there are countless travel agencies to organise these buses (and trains and hikes and hostels), I used Green Mango which are based in Hanoi. Yes, I would recommend them – Lily that runs the company is a proper travel agent – she knows about customer service and when I was in a rush she even gave me a lift on her own scooter to a train in Hanoi one evening.
So you will arrive by bus in most cases. Savour the mountain views on the way in by the way. They are outstanding. These types of views on my travels make me tick!
Where To Stay in Sapa
Sapa offers a range of accommodation to suit all travelers. I based myself at the Sapa Summit Hotel. I could leave my bags there while I hiked, have breakfast there and even shower there without paying them a penny – I was on a budget and was pushed for time so this was perfect for me. I arrived there around 7am one morning, and left at 9am to do the hike. They make money through the countless tour agencies that use their hotel. I would recommend the Sapa Summit Hotel for its views, but look around and book in advance if you want – there are lots of decent hotels and hostels in Sapa.
Another good option is U Sapa Hotel, a luxury hotel at the price of a budget one.
What to Do in Sapa
Sapa itself is a relaxing charming town and offers a vibrant mix of proud locals, passing tourists and keen hikers. You can walk at leisure round the city itself which is free of course. Here’s my top 5 things of what to do in Sapa:
1. Main Square
The main square in Sapa is the centrepiece of the town. It’s free to walk around of course. The church is impressive and an endless range of locals selling goods all over the place. I liked the church so I’ve added it below in a photo:
2. Sapa Culture Museum
I didn’t actually go in (sorry! It’s rare for me to actually mention a bit of travel that I didn’t do!) – I don’t visit museums that much anymore in fact, but if you want to get an insight into the culture and people that live in this part of Vietnam, pop in!
3. Relax with a Beer!!
Anyone that has been to Vietnam knows how cheap it is to drink there. Relax and get yourself a beer overlooking a view of epic Vietnamese mountains. There’s a ton of bars in Sapa to choose from! I drank at Nature Bar and Grill on the main street by the church heading down the hill.
Aside from the many street sellers there are also two market areas in the town centre – you can’t miss either of them and they sell everything from food to souvenirs. Don’t forget to use your bargaining skills!! You can see the markets on two of my videos below.
5. Admire the Views
Sapa is perfect for keen photographers. For example if you stand in the main square and take a photo, you can capture the clouds surrounding the mountains in the background and a misty town. If you take some time to walk around you will just find yourself in awe of the views!
How much money do you need for Sapa
As a rough guide, you can easily get by on $15 US a day and live a good life of decent food and a few beers. Beer and food is cheap and all you need to spend money on is accommodation. As for the hiking around Sapa, I will cover that separately in a future post!
I actually felt like I rushed Sapa, and could easily have spent a few days relaxing there, but on this trip I didn’t have the time, as the main point of visiting Sapa was to do the hiking. I’ve travelled to a lot of places in recent years and Sapa ranks very highly with me. Go and see it!!