20 Things To Do In Sapa

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For those that are looking to explore some rarely go to, and feel as if they can truly disconnect form the world, so head to Sapa. This area is in a hilly location that is actually one of the northern most parts of Vietnam. It is nearly 200 miles (320 km) away from the capital of Ha Noi. There are numerous activities to do in Sapa and the surrounding area.

Sapa, Vietnam

Top Tours

20 Things To Do In Sapa

1- Climb Mount Fansipan

Those who find themselves the adventurous type should consider climbing the largest mountain in the Indochina region.

It’s around 7 miles of climbing (11.2 km) and can take several hours to complete.

You don’t have to be in perfect rock climbing shape, but being active and in decent shape can help with your excursion here.

You can climb up yourself independently or if you’re looking to mix trekking with historical value there are numerous guides that can not only help with the climb, but point out and offer up more insight during your climb.

Recommended tours:

2- Explore Multiple Cultures At The Bac Ha Market

Only open on Sundays, and starting as early as six in the morning, and is quite a distance from Sapa itself.

Yet this is where all the various villages in the surrounding mountains head out for several ours to sell their wares to locals and tourists alike.

Revel in the excellent handmade craftsmanship, and know that when you’re getting something here, from dresses to other souvenirs, you will usually be getting something unique to remember your travels by.

They also have some spectacular local wine they produce as well, that can be a nice treat for some to enjoy.

Recommended tour: From Sa Pa: Sunday Bac Ha Market Group Tour

3- Shop At Sapa Market

Sapa Town Square
Shopping in the Sapa Love Market is one of the fun things to do in Sapa Vietnam.

While home to various markets, you must stop at a visit to the traditional Sapa Market which can be found in the center of Sapa itself.

It’s a place that sells the local produce of the day, as well as numerous spices, ready to be purchased by you and brought back home to where that might be.

It’s also home to a slew of Brocade products that are some of the most colorful options possible.

You can experience this market in a different setting on Saturday nights when it becomes the Sapa Love Market.

This is where local young men and women come here to find their partners.

You will see their affections for love, some dancing and singing as well, but do keep in mind that recently this has become more of a show for tourists to enjoy.

4- Get The Perfect Picture From Ham Rong Mountain

Mountain Garden
Visiting the Hamrong Mountain is one of the things to do in Sapa.

While you’re already enjoying just how beautiful the region is, you can get an excellent vantage point from this mountain.

There are legends that circle the formation of the mountain itself that relates to dragons and brothers that you can learn more about when you head there.

The name itself translates to the Dragon’s Jaw mountain.

It can also be quite a difficult path to take to get all the way to the top, but at the same time you will get the most majestic image possible of the town of Sapa, down below.

If you head there at the right moment you can get the clouds encircling the village as well.

5- Revel In The History Of The Sapa Stone Church

Church Of Sapa In Cloudy Day
Visiting the Sapa Church is one of the top things to do in Sapa to soak up its colonial history.

Built at the turn of the 20th century, this church has stood the test of time and is over 100 years old.

It is built in a classical Catholic French architecture, that seems as if the church is a piece of history in Sapa itself.

The stones are made from a traditional mixture combining molasses and sand as well as lime.

As restoration work is done, they do their best to keep to the traditional methods.

Even the bells are beyond 80 years old, and fully functional.

The church and grounds are massive, as they take up about 64,600 square feet of space (6,000 square meters).

6- Stop By Cat Cat Village

Cat-Cat Waterfall, Vietnam
Visiting Cat Cat Village is one of the top things to do in Sapa.

About 1.2 miles (2 km) away from Sapa center is this beautiful village of the Hmong people.

While you can bike or drive there, you can also easily walk to this village and enjoy the journey through the purity of nature.

You can tour the area yourself, or take one of the native tour guides, who tend to speak English quite well.

There’s also the possibility to stay in this village and enjoy that delicious mountain air every morning.

While touring you can enjoy the terraced fields and rose gardens they have.

There’s also plenty of options to purchase traditional handcrafted items and clothing made on the spot for your unique souvenirs.

Don’t forget to enjoy the Cat Cat waterfalls to round out the trip here.

7- Visit The Sapa Museum

Don’t forget to make a stop at the Sapa Museum that is an interactive museum set in a house. 

It helps to give you a crash course on the region and local ethnic groups, as it houses hundreds of objects to enjoy and learn about the various cultures.

You will see just how different the locals can be and see something that is truly unique and probably you haven’t seen before.

Keep in mind that while the museum is technically free, there is a chance to be able to donate to help maintain it.

The Sapa Museum is at 02 Fansipan, TT. Sa Pa, Sa Pa, Lào Cai.

8- See The Mystical Cave of Fairies

Another area that is steeped in lore, at first glance, you will feel as if this is a piece of artwork that is existing in nature.

It can only be approached by boat on the Chay River and is not a common destination for tourists, meaning you can enjoy it before complete commercialism takes over.

You can bathe in the beautiful stream that runs into the caves, or relax on the bed of flowers that naturally grows in the cave, with the sunlight beaming on you, helping you feel as if you transported to a different land.

Of course don’t forget to make a wish, and just maybe the Fairies will hear you!

9- Take A Boat Ride On Sapa Lake

Sapa Town During Beautiful Sunny Day, Lao Cai Province
Wandering around town is one of the things to do in Sapa to get your bearings.

Relax part of your day with this mesmerizing boat ride.

You can enjoy the crystal clear waters that will reflect the town of Sapa perfectly and give you views you didn’t think were possible.

Get your best camera gear ready as you navigate the calming and tranquil waters.

You’ll have plenty of different shots you can take from the beautiful flowers along the lake, or even some of the unique birds that are indigenous to the region itself.

10- Spend The Day At Ta Phin Village

You can get the right mix of cultural infusion, rejuvenation and exploration.

Indulge yourself in an ancient and traditional herbal bath that will soak your body and release all that those aches and pains.

Walk through the village to see the beautiful and ornate clothing that the village is producing on a constant basis.

You can also explore the caves where you can see unique stalactites that seem to come in different shapes of objects and animals.

Consider heading to this village during the week instead of the weekend as high tourism season can leave this place quite crowded.

11- Bask In The Peace Of The Silver Waterfall

Thac Bac Waterfall In Sapa, Vietnam
Exploring the Bac Waterfall is one of the top things to do in Sapa.

About 9.3 miles (15 km) away from Sapa is this fantastic waterfall.

You may want to consider taking a motorbike here as it will let you stop along the way to enjoy the additional views as you head out here.

Taking a car can be an option if you’re just looking to see the waterfall itself.

There is infrastructure that will allow you to walk to the top and cross a bridge that can give you the best views of the waterfall itself.

This can be a great place to visit during the winter months, because although it may be colder, it will appear mystical with the addition of the fog that is common during those months.

12- Discover The Love Waterfall

As you trek through a forest full of bamboo, you’ll eventually hit this beautiful waterfall in the middle of it all.

It’s connected with a story of love and romance, and is an ideal place to enjoy with your special someone as well.

It’s best to visit this location during the Spring, dry months, which start in March.

This will give you the best opportunity to enjoy the best weather for such an adventure, and not have to feel as if you’re going to be hiking in cold or rainy weather.

There are plenty of activities that are possible at the Love Waterfall, or you can simply go independently, and when you reach the cool refreshing waters, take a dip at the bottom!

13- Visit The Muong Hoa Valley

Fog With Mountains. In The Morning, The Mountains
Discovering the mountains is one of the things to do in northern Vietnam, Sapa.

About 5 miles (8km) from Sapa, lies this picturesque valley.

When you first approach it, you’re going to think that you’re looking at a painting, but in reality it’s just the perfection of nature.

For those who want the blend of colors, they should come starting in September, when the rice paddies start to turn yellow, and you have multiple hues of greens and yellows.

If you want to enjoy this wonderous valley with calmer, dry weather then you should consider coming here between March up until June.

Everything will be a lush mesmerising green then.

You can enjoy the strange rock formations or simply sip your favorite beverage by the stream that runs through the valley.

There’s plenty of photo opportunities as well.

If you find yourself hungry, there’s plenty of delicious local options, including trying out buffalo meat.

14- Trek Through The Hoang Lien Son Mountain Pass

in the Hoang Lien National park, this mountain pass is not for the faint of heart.

At its peak it’s at 6560 feet above sea level (2000 meters), and will give you quite the breath taking views when you are able to reach the top.

You wont need any type of special hiking equipment and the entire path is walkable as long as you are in decent shape.

Consider visiting this part in February as it is the start of the cherry blossom season.

You will also want to walk on the tallest glass bridge in southeast Asia, or even consider taking a picture with the lonely tree that sits atop the pass.

15- Take A Break At The Sapa Botanical Gardens

Many of our options above are all about exploring and traveling around Sapa.

This one is in the heart of Sapa and is the perfect excursion to spend part of the day relaxing, enjoying the scenery or catching up on the latest book that you’re reading.

It’s home to perfectly curated and ultra rare plants and flowers, so definitely worth a stop.

16- Make A Stop At The Sin Chai Village

This is a lesser known touristic area for those that are looking for less people to bump into and a more traditional feel.

You will be rewarded with spectacular mountain views to enjoy as well as seeing how the local villagers handle their day to day activities.

If you come at the start of the Spring season you will see the fields look like nature’s mirrors reflecting off the sun that is hitting the rice paddies.

You will also notice the Red Dao style which is where the locals wear beautifully handcrafted clothing. 

17- Get Lost In The Sapa Night Market

When the sun sets and everything begins to cool down, you can head out to the Sapa Night Market.

It’s easy to find as all you need to do is head to the center of town.

Expect to open daily at around 6pm and be open for several hours.

You will be able to weave your way through numerous stalls selling all sorts of items, and of course, delicious authentic and cheap street food.

It’s a great place to try the local delicacies and fill your belly at the same time.

There’s also numerous crafts being created locally and sold, making it a prime opportunity to bring back a token from your journeys.

18- Soak In Ban Ho Village

If you’re will to head around two ours even further north you can head to Ban Ho Village and spend some time there.

It’ll be well worth it since there are natural thermal springs you can soak in.

Feel the waters that can go past 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) and have your body get the rejuvenation it needs.

They adjust to the surrounding climate, so they can become quite cool as well on those hotter days.

This is a pretty remote area, so it’s excellent for those that are ready to camp around the area, as amenities can be quite sparse.

Don’t forget to enjoy a meal here as well, as it will be one of the freshest meals ever.

19- Admire The Hoang A Tuong Palace

This is an excellent location to admire how great the local craftsmen are.

It combines both western and eastern elements into its architecture and was built for one of the last kings in the region that was known as the Cat King.

You will be in the Lao Cai region outside of Sapa so make sure while you are here to try the local culinary foods and flavors that are fresh takes on Vietnamese cuisine.

It’s also best to visit this location around the spring time to see the plum blossoms in full bloom.

The Hoang A Tuong Palace is at 257 Ngọc Uyển, TT. Bắc Hà, Bắc Hà, Lào Cai 31300.

20- Enjoy Lao Chai Village 

Another village close by is also home to the H’mong culture and people.

You will enjoy similar picturesque terraced farming and you are able to walk through this area taking in the sights, peacefulness and most importantly fresh air.

The villagers are quite friendly and may invite you in from time to time to share how colorful and beautiful their living areas are.

They keep to traditional styles and décor meaning what you see today is what has been around for quite some time.

This is also a great place to enjoy and try out the local wine that’s made of corn, offering a unique flavor and possibly new favorite drink for many.

In The End

There are plenty of places to disappear and explore when you head to the town of Sapa and you will immediately start to miss it as soon as you leave.

There’s so many things to try, and the locals are extremely friendly, making you feel like your home away from home.

Sapa will be an excellent choice for those that are looking to try something a bit different, and frankly a bit more peaceful than some other options.

You wont regret it and it’s a great place to visit throughout the year.

That means if you find yourself able to snag an amazing deal, grab it and have your journey here.

For more things to do in Vietnam, read:

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Roger Szlatiner
Born and raised in New York City, Roger has always had the desire to see what the world had to offer. After building out his career in the corporate world and obtaining his Master of Science in Technology, Roger felt that his true passion came from writing and sharing his experiences with others. He is currently working on publishing his first book which is a mixture of his travels and working within different industries and cultures, and the crazy that comes with that. He’s spent the past couple of years writing content and poetry as well. When asked where his favourite travel locations are, he’ll immediately reply ‘anywhere in Southeast Asia’. Everything from the controlled chaos to the variety of places to see and food to eat kept him in the region often. When he’s not on his next trip, you can find him living between Indonesia and Vietnam.