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Tet 2020


Essential Tips For A Sapa Vacation Much More Exciting

Sapa travel is a journey through time and space compared to the rest of Vietnam: stunning rice terraces appearing on what would otherwise be described as cliffs, comparatively frigid winter temperatures, the distinct dialect of the hill tribes, traditional batik handicrafts and a magical overnight train to get there. The list of what makes Sapa travel unique is almost endless. If it weren’t for the hotel construction boom and growing number of tourist buses you might not even know you’re in Vietnam.

To ensure others can take their travel to new heights, I’m sharing the six best things from my Sapa travel experience, as well as some simple tips to reduce stress during your trip. You’ll soon discover there is more than just trekking on offer in this memorable destination.

1. Trek With The Best


Essential Tips For A Sapa Vacation Much More Exciting
Photo by Vietnam Typical Tours team
Your trekking experience, like mine, may commonly entail a route down the valley, across the river, through the bamboo forest and visits to nearby villages. The combination is sure to be your own unique adventure. The weather will have a considerable impact on your journey, with possible fog and rain, so be prepared and stay positive. You may be able to capture brilliant rice terrace photos such as the one above. Or you may be stuck in a literal cloud for days. Planning the right time of year for your Sapa travel, as well as having a bit of luck will make the difference. 

For more on tips for a perfect trekking in Sapa, read more: 
http://www.viettravelmagazine.com/2019/05/full-tips-for-perfect-trekking-in-sapa.html

While trekking it’s also important to note that local women will often follow your group and offer assistance crossing rivers or carrying belongings in an effort to sell you souvenirs (most often purses and bracelets) or earn a tip. If you are not interested in buying, it’s best to be firm at the start and basically send them away instead of doing so after 6km of hiking together. The tribal women who are such hard working sellers are also pretty good hustlers when it comes to tourists. If you want to take a photo of their impressive traditional outfits expect to be asked for $1. For a few dollars more they will happily dress you in a traditional outfit to take a few group shots. Ultimately, you will be approached several times in Sapa and even on your trek to buy goods. However, you can also tell your guide if you really prefer to be left alone and they can help to manage the situation respectfully.

2. Join A Local Cooking Class


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Photo by Vietnam Typical Tours team
Participating in a cooking class is a great way to get a local taste of wherever you venture. This certainly holds true for Sapa travel as well. A homestay is the best place to give you the most authentic experience. The dishes were unlike anything I had eaten in my previous five months around Vietnam. Preparing the ingredients is done in a very clean, yet relaxed social atmosphere. Overall this experience in homestay lived up to the high expectations I had, and was a nice break from trekking.

3. Eat Well


Sapa is a tourist town. As such it’s got a surprising range of food on offer ranging from French inspired high-end dining to some downright exceptional local cuisine. While I always try my hand (or tongue) at the local specialties, I admittedly fell in love with a not-so-Vietnamese bistro that serves amazing wine, craft beer, charcuterie and burgers.

If you’re in the mood for local, and don’t mind a wait, Little Sapa Restaurant is a winner. Located in the heart of the town, popularity (thanks to coverage in Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor) means there is often a queue for dinner. The generous portions of the Vietnamese hot pot, grilled venison, spring rolls, roast duck and honey, and basically anything else on the menu are definitely worth the wait.

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Photo by collect by internet

4. Treat Your Aching Muscles At The Spa


I’ll admit, I’m a ‘spa’ person. I typically enjoy a good massage in each country I visit. Sapa isn’t necessarily home to five star luxury spa facilities, but it does have a few impressive entries. Once more, after a few days of trekking through the steep valleys and sleeping on the thin mattresses of homestays, you’ve certainly earned a good massage.

Another option for tired trekkers during their Sapa travel is a visit to the Red Dao Village for a traditional herbal bath. This experience allows you to soak in a private room overlooking the beautiful mountains (potentially completely covered in fog). Worth the visit if you are trekking through this area, but perhaps a bit too much effort and money if you’re taking the 40 minute return taxi ride from Sapa town.

5. Enjoy A Beer Alongside Sapa Lake


It’s simple, cheap and, on a sunny day mid-week, a lovely peaceful way to pass the time. Grab a beer from a local convenience store, or the shed/restaurant located at the western edge of the lake for 20k VND. There are plenty of benches to relax and enjoy a drink or two. During evenings you can even opt for the kitschy, but fun, swan boat rental from the aforementioned establishment. Rest assured the ride is a relaxing one, as the “lake” is no more than 350 meters long by 100 meters wide. The path around the lake also makes for a great 1km long running track if you are so inclined.

6. Sleep Well


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Photo by Vietnam Typical Tours team
There is quite a range of accommodation options in Sapa, from traditional hotels to pretty rustic homestays. Keep in mind weekends are very busy periods, attracting local Vietnamese travelers. Accommodation during this time can sell out. I don’t recommend risking a night in the cold, so be sure to book ahead as you plan your Sapa travel versus showing up in town looking for a place to stay, particularly during Vietnamese holidays.

If staying true to a local experience is your goal consider staying Ta Van village outside of town at Ta Van Eco Homestay. The homestay has a lovely view. A comfy mattress is one of the things that I’m always willing to ‘splurge’ on.

It does not take much of your time to visit the best homestay options in Sapa: https://sapatoursfromhanoi.com/gallery/sapa-homestay/
Item Reviewed: Essential Tips For A Sapa Vacation Much More Exciting Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nga Do
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