Sapa pronounced Sa Pa is a rural farming village in Vietnam situated very close to the Chinese border. The town itself is very small so you can walk it in one day or grab a bike if you dare. The main attractions or at least the things we did was the Dragon Flower hike, the cable car that takes you up over 3 km to the tallest mountain in Vietnam and Cat Cat, which is a traditional village that you can go explore by foot, bike or taxi.
Sapa is like a town under investor siege…..meaning that you will see construction everywhere. It can get a bit noisy and annoying if you happen to stay next to one of these construction sites.
It rains a lot in Sapa. Prepare yourself with a poncho, waterproof boots or an umbrella if you are short on Dong.
The traditional locals will try and sell you on their product or service the moment you step off the bus. I mean like they will follow you around and keep trying to sell you what they have. I guess their strategy is annoy until you buy. The problem is if you do happen to buy something you will be targeted by all the other sellers around and effectively create a zombie horde of locals trying to push product on you. This can get old very quickly. In my case I just ignored every seller that came my way.
learn to haggle. Before I went to sapa I had no haggling skills, after Sapa I acquired the skill to buy anything at half the price they offered you. A pro haggler would probably get an even better deal than I did. But hey, Im new at this.
Prepare yourself for breathtaking views and great hikes.
You will need permits to visit the Cat Cat village. Its worth it because you are essentially walking back in time. If you are a fan of the idea of time traveling visiting Cat Cat is for you.
BEWARE. Horse is on the menu as well as dog. If you aren’t to keen on the idea of a sea biscuit stew or a grilled Rufus steak double check the menu or order white meat, salads or vegetarian.
The street food was good and its a fun way to eat if you aren’t in the mood for a big meal. We had errr… Pork. I put my trust in the vendor.
The markets are great but be aware that most clothes you buy in Sapa and generally all of Vietnam will run if it gets wet. Handwash any clothing bought before wearing. Stay away from the meat side of the market if you are squeamish, trust me on this one.
All in all Sapa was a great experience and we all had a great time there. Our hotel was affordable and had all the comforts we needed. The weather was extremely refreshing as its probably the coolest place we visited on our 3 week trip. Its a must see and I would recommend it to anyone who’d like to experience a different way of living.
The Dragon Flower hike was as beautiful as it was challenging. Lush and green vegetation with moss covered volcanic rock. The weather in Sapa is quite a bit cooler than Ha Noi was. No air conditioning was required in our hotel room.