Sapa is an essential stop for anyone keen to witness the striking beauty of Vietnam’s northern regions. It’s blend of colourful tribal culture, colonial charm and mountain scenery make it one of Vietnam’s most treasured travel destinations.
A pristine mountain town, Sapa was originally a bustling hub for trade between the local hill tribes. Later, it became a cool, calm frontier retreat for French colonialists in the 1920s, who sought an escape from the humidity and crowds of Hanoi. An old-fashioned train service from the capital, the boutique hotels, and good choice of upmarket restaurants give Sapa an enticing mix of the rustic and the refined.
Upon arriving, you’ll be dazzled by breathtaking views overlooking the Tonkinese Alps. Numerous scenic trekking tours await, so all you will need is a pair of hiking shoes to explore the lush Hoan Lien Son Mountain range. The countryside, with its green rice paddies and terraced tea plantations, is one of the most picturesque areas of Vietnam. It’s a tough task to take a bad photograph here.
The villages surrounding Sapa provide a unique opportunity to mingle with the various different tribes people, keen to show off their wares. From hand woven baskets and scarves, to trinkets and wood carving ornaments, mementoes are plentiful. But be forewarned that with the rise in tourism, many of these vendors have mastered the art of selling they can they can be quite persistent hagglers – keep calm, smile and be prepared to walk away!
Venturing to northern Vietnam – where the climate, culture, and activities are so disparate from the rest of the country – is a rich and unforgettable experience. And with Lightfoot’s tailor-made approach, you’ll get the inside scoop on where to stay and how to best plan your luxury tour.