Vietnam’s highlands provide fantastic trekking routes for intrepid enthusiasts and mountain lovers. With a mix of rough terrain and tranquil scenery, Sapa will give you the best trekking experience, as well as the best ethnic minorities understanding. In here, you will learn about the harmonious cultures of Hmong Dzao, Giay people, while wandering through magnificent rice terrace fields as seen from many traveling magazines.
Because of their popularity, Sapa attracts many explorers, alongside with various tours and services to fit your preference. This Sapa trekking guide will help you make wise decisions and avoid the worst.
Insight of this trekking heaven
Sapa is home to one of the highest peak in all Indochina area, Mount Fansipan. This region owns comforting weather and inhabited by plenty of ethnic minority groups, such as Hmong, Dzao, Giay, Tay and many more…
Redeveloped in the 1990s, It opens to all the tourists, especially for a nomad who would love to have a glimpse of this austere grandeur of this mountain view.
You can travel by train from Hanoi since it’s a 350km journey, drop off in Lao Cai and catch a bus to get to the destination.
Best time to visit Sapa
It’s not always sunny in Sapa, which means you’ll have to check the weather before committing to the trek. The best season to enjoy the scene is from March to May and September to November. Between March and May, Sapa is covered in spring flowers and green fields. While in September the rice terraces are full of golden yellow, this is also the peak season in Sapa com you might need to avoid the crowd.
Sapa is also famous for having snow in Winter, but do mind the temperatures at night. And you might avoid coming to Sapa in June because of humidity and damp, create a muddy and steep slope that will affect your trekking trip.
Book a Tour guide
There are a lot of tours by many travel companies, but we will list out some of the highly recommended one.
This company scores to be the first social enterprise of Lao Cai province, helping the community to grow and provide multiple educations and employment for local people.
Sapa O’Chau is full of expertise, with tour guides are mainly young people from the local communities. They are equipped by Sapa’s topography knowledge, where the dangerous routes but yet stunning sceneries take place. They are also reputably knowledgeable about their culture, in which they were born and raise. Sapa O’Chau also hosting a lot of homestays for the traveler, and provide accommodation to all of the people who would like to visit the area.
Plenty of trekking routine for a one-day trek or a multiple-day adventure to some exquisite villages depends on your itinerary.
For more information, you can easily check out their website.
Sapa Sisters Tour Operator
The Sapa Sisters Tour Operator was found by six people, including two foreigners, and 4 Hmong. This one takes tour’s activities to a whole new level, with non-fixed itinerary, and freely choose your desired trekking route.
They are among the most popular tour operator in Sapa, intending to help Hmong women improve their lives. Fun fact about these women, they grew up trekking up and down the mountain hills every day, they are the master of highland navigation.
If you didn’t have a plan yet, fear not! Cause Sapa Sisters will directly contact you and map out the most suitable schedule, just a minute away from confirming your payment. Check out their pricing below:
You can easily to check time & price in this link sapasisters.com
Trekking without a Tour guide
If you appeal to travel spontaneously, a true nomad style, you might have what it take to trek without a guide. Trekking without a guide could lead to unexpected things, not necessarily bad. You have to be careful and always prepare beforehand, other than that, enjoy the exotic sights and uncharted destinations.
Whether it is easy or not, you have to make a firm decision on where to go. There is no specific map for the whole region, and the route you choose will be unavailable, look upon the internet for information, or consult with a local to make sure your path is safe and easily conquer.
There will be some language barriers when it comes to learning the cultures and local lifestyle, not to mentions the peddlers will follow you from places to places. If people (especially women and children) trying to sell you stuff, make sure to have enough money to buy from everyone. Usually, this will receive a welcoming attitude from them. If you don’t feel like buying anything, politely say “no thank you.” Another fun trick is to sell something of yours to them; myth said it would work, as local people are humble and kind.
If you’re thinking of a multiple-day trek, be fully prepared. Plan out the detail of your trip, gathers enough foods and drinks for all of the days. Homestays are pretty easy to find; a lot of Hmong ladies will ask you to stay with their families (do consider to give them some offering). You can even locate a homestay beforehand.
You can go anywhere for a look, so you’re free to explore many small villages downhill and play with children. On the other hand, you can walk through several craggy mountain tops or the beautifully green and yellow rice paddies cascade.
If you get lost, don’t be scared. Find people around the area and ask them for directions; there will be many people passing by. Do not hesitate to ask locals for some assistance; they are very friendly and full of hospitality.
A lot of trekking trails where you can exploit your wanderlust in Sapa. While there’s no specific map or route, there are many recommended routes that located outside of the town:
- Ta Van village – 10 km directly from the Sapa town
- Lao Chai village – 5 km away from the center of Sapa
- Sin Chai village – 6 km directly from the Sapa town
- Hau Thao village – 10 km away from the center of Sapa
- Ta Phin village – 12 km directly from the Sapa town
- Ban Ho village – 20 km away from the center of Sapa
A quick tip for trekking in Sapa by yourself: The farther, the better. Stay away from famous tourist destinations as far as possible. You will have a more gratifying and memorable experience.
Pros of Trekking without a Guide in Sapa
- It’s spontaneous and exciting; You will experience Sapa in your own way
- You can save up an extra fee, the only payment you’ll need is an entrance fee, food, and accommodation
- You can go anywhere you want, explore everything your heart desired
Cons of Trekking without a Guide in Sapa
- You might have to face the annoying peddlers, robbers, and bad people
- The food will be uneasy to swallow for you
- You will miss out on cultural information, as well as all the greatest spot.
Important rules for you to follow
- Do not try to touch any sacred object.
- Do not make any loud noise and drink alcohol (rice wine is doable in their own presence).
- No drugs.
- Do not kiss in public.
- Walk into someone’s house only if you were invited. Most owners welcome gifts for their kids but avoid sweets and money.
- Ask for their permission when you intend to take photos, especially contacting children and older people.
- I recommend you to buy at least one handmade object which may help you much in showing your appreciation of their hospitality.
- Pay for the meal if any local invites you for a homestay condition or for lunch.
What should you pack?
- Water and food: Expect very few stores in the whole path. Prepare enough water and food because you are recommended to rely mainly on yourself. A 1.5 L per person would be enough
- Camera: These scenes are worth saved and captured.
- Map: A map in a particular village will be beneficial. If you own 4G; there is one chance that you may access the internet. But you need to be well prepared for any bad situation like no signal. Our advice is to download a map application on a phone in advance when you can surf the Internet.
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat: These items depend much on your trekking time. It is indeed necessary for summer.
- Clothes: Bring at least two; you might be soaking wet after the trekking. If it’s winter, beware of a sub-zero degree in Sapa. Sometimes homestays do not enough or have no heat at all so try to stay warm.
- A rain jacket which is lightweight and makes you feel comfortable.
- Bug spray, personal medication: It best to prepare all of the essential medicines. The region is a rain forest, so mosquito is all over the place.
- Good hiking shoes, walking stick: You need to look after your stamina too.
The trails await my friend! This beautiful mountain region is yours to explore, allow yourself the time to enjoy them. I hope these Sapa trekking guides will help you make your decision. Enjoy your trekking trip and make memories.
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