Trek through the amazing landscapes and discover local cultures
Trekking is by far one of the most popular activities in Sapa. As you soon as you start walking out of the city, which has become more heavily developed to cater for the increased number of tourists, the incredible mountainous scenery begins to unfold all around you. As you walk along the small buffalo trails, you will be filled with awe. It is the perfect way to see the best of the rice paddies, mountains and valleys whilst also allowing you to reach the more remote and isolated villages. There are endless trekking options in Sapa to suit all abilities and interests, and routes can be personalised to suit your preferences. Our local guides know the small local trails like the back of their hands and will take you to best places for seeing the landscapes and experiencing the local culture. Treks can be arranged for a single day or over multiple days with overnight stays in local homestays along the way.
The ultimate trekking experience in Sapa has to be climbing to the summit of Fansipan (Fan Xi Pang) Mountain. Fansipan lies in the Hoang Son Lien Mountain Range, and it is the tallest peak in Indochina. Often referred to as The Roof of Indochina, this imposing peak stands at 3,143 m tall.
As well as offering incredible panoramas over the whole of Sapa, Fansipan is home to many different floral and faunal species. As you trek up the mountain, the wildlife and plant life changes according to the altitude. You will trek from the tangles of vines at the base of the mountain, through the cotton trees, up to the pine forests, before coming to the clusters of short bamboo which grow at the peak. Most tours are done over two or more days, with one or two nights at the campsite.
There is a small, and very basic, campsite 2,800 meters up the mountain where you can enjoy a camp stove dinner and a well-earned sleep, before completing the trek the following day. The best time to complete the trek is during April or May when the weather is slightly warmer, and the skies are likely to be clear.
The weather from September/October until April/May is ok for trekking, but it can get quite cold in December and January. Once you conquer the peak, your efforts will be rewarded with breathtaking views over the cloud dusted mountains. To descend the mountain you have two options. You can choose to trek back down, or, if you are feeling tired, you can take the newly installed cable car.
Take a cable car up Fansipan Mountain
The recently opened cable car on Fansipan Mountain allows visitors to enjoy the incredible views without having to conquer the peak on foot. SunGroup, who installed the cable car in 2016, have received two Guinness World Records for the longest non-stop three-rope cable car (6292,5m) and the greatest elevation difference by a non-stop three-roped cable car (1410m). The cable car whisks people from the bottom of the mountains, just behind the town, up over the pine forests, through the clouds and up to the peak. From the top, you can enjoy unrivalled views of the mountains peeking through the clouds and the tumbling Moung Hoa Valley. The whole journey takes just 20 minutes, a fraction of the time it takes to conquer on foot. It also gives those who would like to hike on the mountain the choice of either walking up and taking the cable car down or taking the cable car up and walking down.
Stay in a homestay
For many people, the main draw of Sapa is unique cultural experience it offers. The mountainside villages are made up of many different ethnic minority groups who have retained their traditional cultures and lifestyles.
We believe the best way to really learn about these cultures and begin to understand their ideals, is to spend time with the families, in their homes, participating in their daily routines. The homestay experience allows you to understand the joy and hardship of life in the mountains, uncover the generations-old customs and support local families in building a better future. These homestays also allow you to trek to some of the most remote areas of Sapa over a number of days, staying with different families along the way. Homestays allow you to discover the incredible hospitality of the local people in Sapa, who are always happy to look after their guests and teach them about their culture.
Although the accommodation in the homestays is generally very basic, in order to be registered as a homestay, the property must have a flushing toilet, mosquito nets and food hygiene approval. Guests will often share a communal sleeping space which is separate from that of the family, but everyone will share meals together.
If you choose to stay in a homestay, you will have invaluable experiences, which will make your trip truly unforgettable. From learning traditional embroidery techniques to sharing meals with the family and most likely, a few cups of the infamous rice wine, homestays offer so much more than a run of the mill hotel. As well as taking away some amazing memories, you can leave knowing that you have made a big difference to a local family. By supporting local businesses and taking a more ethical approach to travelling, you are directly supporting that family.
Discover the amazing textiles
The image of indigo-dyed fabric embroidered with brightly coloured designs and intricate weaved patterns is ubiquitous with the image of Sapa. The traditional outfits of the different ethnic groups vary but all showcase the incredible skill of the women who make all of the clothing using traditional methods. Although many of the traditional outfits of the different ethnic groups in Sapa share some similarities, the exact design and motifs used vary. The hand-dyed fabrics are weaved with cultural and historical significance, allowing people to show their heritage through their dress. Spending time learning these designs and techniques is an unbeatable way of bonding with the people you meet and learning about their culture. You will be amazed at the skill and dexterity of the women who have been practising the art since they were young girls, and although you may struggle at first, you will soon get the hang of it! As well as picking up some new skills, you will also be supporting local women in building a better future for themselves and their families.