5 things to do in Sapa, the amazing Lao Cai you've never heard of

Nga Do
Sapa is known as home to spectacular verdant rice terraces and mountain landscapes, unique tribe villageá and Hoang Lien mountain range which set a challenging backdrop for a lifetime trekking journey. There are lots of things for you to do in Sapa, some of the most favorite activities are trekking, cultural travelling, home stay, shopping at ethnic minority markets and street food. Below are 5 things to do in Sapa, the amazing Lao Cai you've never heard of.

#1 - Spend a night at a local village homestay

5 things to do in Sapa, the amazing Lao Cai you've never heard of
Photo by VietTrekking Home Sapa on the Facebook
There are many villages around Sapa town that offer visitors a glimpse of how each ethnic minority group go about their everyday life. The nearest is Cat Cat Village – a short 30min walk from Sapa. Due to its close proximity, it is also the most touristy. But for me, its multiple descriptive boards gave a good introduction to the culture and lifestyle that take place in a typical H’mong village. With our motorbike, we could venture further southeast to explore the villages of Lao Chai and Ta Van. We ended up having dinner and spending a night at a cozy homestay by the river, which we chanced upon in Ta Van Village.

#2 - Sapa Main Market

5 things to do in Sapa, the amazing Lao Cai you've never heard of 1
Photo by Arian Zwegers
Surrounding Sapa are several interesting hill tribe villages, including those of the Red Dao and Hmong, whose people head to Sapa market to sell handicrafts and ethnic style clothing. The market opens every day of the week—Saturdays are most appealing—set up with indoor and outdoor stalls for the day; head to the set of stairs outdoors to find fresh produce, medicinal herbs, and beautiful, fresh cut flowers. If you’re hoping to stock up on vibrant ethnic fabrics, explore stalls along the second floor—stalls along the bottom right have fine displays of tribal silverwork. One of the best things to do at the market is eat breakfast or lunch at one of the many food stalls. The market is ideal for becoming familiar with the different tribal characteristics of each of the tribes and to admire the colorful tribal clothing of the local people.

#3 - Try steamed glutinous rice with seven colors of Nung Dinh people

Nung people are always proud of their steamed glutinous rice with seven colors here. This dish is very special and splendid with natural colors. It is also called “xoi bay mau” in Vietnam- a traditional dish served in festivals of Nung Dinh ethnic in Muong Khuong province.

5 things to do in Sapa, the amazing Lao Cai you've never heard of 2
Photo by Khương Việt Hà
To make delicious Xoingu sac, it is necessary to select the best glutinous rice and fresh water from Muong Lo Stream because it helps make the food more delicious and fragrant. In addition to its tastiness, it also implies a historical meaning. In accordance with Nung people’s stories, each color of this dish represents each month in the struggle of Nung Din people lasting from January to July here. Green from banana leaf represents the spring, scarlet is the color of blood from people who died for the struggle, yellow is for the agonies, vermilions for the magnanimous victory. Etc.

#4 - Visit Muong Khuong Bird market

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Photo by Phạm Ngọc Thạch
Visiting any Southeast Asia market offers a rich cultural experience—Muong Khuong bird market is no different. The market sets a lively social scene; tribes gather to enjoy and fun outing (many villages are far-flung and secluded), laugh and talk with friends, and trade their wares. Most arrive in special traditional clothing—this is where obvious distinctions between mountain tribes are highlighted. The brouhaha around the bird market is certainly unique: normally, people arrive in early morning to catch sight of the best birds—it’s a long-standing tradition to have bird cages hanging in front of homes for spiritual purposes. Nightingales are the top prize, and are watched and listened to attentively before they are carefully selected for their auspicious twittering. The sights and sounds are unlike any other market, and if you’re attentive, you can watch this interesting tradition from start to finish.

#5 - Visiting Sapa food court

There is a Sapa food court right next to Sapa central square, in front of Sapa church. The area is particularly lively at night with many grilled dishes such as: grilled egg, grilled heart and stomach, grilled chicken, chestnut , etc.

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Photo by Sapa Jade Hill Resort
In particular, visitors to Sapa cannot ignore the other attractive food such as Lam rice cooked in bamboo pipes, Tao Meo liquor, Ban Pho corn liquor, grilled stream fish, salmon, boiled corn, etc. Before buying, make sure you ask the price first.

Sapa is still a destination with many stunning landscapes, beautiful villages, friendly people which are not so hard to explain why tourists fall in love with this land once stepping on here. It’s easier said than done. Why don’t you start your own journey to feeling how much love we give for this amazing land?

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