In the spectacular mountains of northern Vietnam, close to the border with China, lies Sapa – a hill station with mixed tribal influences and scenic surroundings. The rugged mountains of the northern ‘alps’ are inhabited by ethnic groups seemingly a world away from the fast pace of urban life.
At an elevation of 1,650 metres, this former French hill station is now a centre for those seeking adventure and exploration among the country’s highest mountains. Primarily Vietnamese in character, Sapa comes alive during the weekend market when local ethnic Hmong and Dao people trek in from nearby villages to sell their produce. Surrounded by the vista of Vietnam’s highest peak, Mount Fansipan, the region holds countless trails and walks and an insight into the lives of the isolated communities of the north.
The mountains of the North are characterised by the terraced paddy fields which cascade down the slopes, one of Vietnam’s enduring images. Sapa can be used as a base for deeper exploration or as a destination in its own right. There are several hotels in town and a few more lodges outside. Please talk to our consultants about what might suit you.
Sapa is accessible by overnight train from Hanoi. The town itself is busy and touristy though it is not too difficult to get outside where local walks and treks will take you into gorgeous mountain scenery, past quiet hill tribe villages.
The nearby Bac Ha market town is much less visited in comparison, though is just as colourful, with its bustling Sunday market and lush countryside. It isn't as developed for tourism as Sapa is, which makes it an ideal stop for those seeking a more off-the-beaten-track experience in the mountains. We suggest speaking to our Vietnam experts to determine which destination is best for you.
Holidays in Vietnam with a Difference:
Northern Adventure & Classic Vietnam
Combine a journey through the remote hills and national parks of the North with a full tour of Vietnam's highlights.
A Different Side of Vietnam
Weaving a different path through Vietnam, this holiday combines remarkable countryside with insider cultural tours via unique transport.
Northern Loops of Thailand and Vietnam
Discover the most beautiful parts of both Thailand and Vietnam. Lovely hotels, authentic local experiences neatly tied together with just one local flight.
Vietnam Train Odyssey
Traverse Vietnam along the North-South Railway. Take in the scenery from the train and stop to explore the highlights with a guide.