In the spectacular mountains of northern Vietnam, close to the border with China, lies Sapa – a hill station with mixed tribal influences and stunning 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.
Sapa is accessible by train from Hanoi. The Victoria is Sapa's prime hotel with great views of the town and the mountains, the Victoria has its own luxury carriages on board the train from Hanoi to Sapa.
Also in town, the Chau Long Hotel offers comfort and great views. A short drive along winding mountain roads will take you to the Topas Eco Lodge – an admirable project with a host of great excursions and a breathtaking view. The lodge can be combined with a stay at the Victoria and their overnight train.
Victoria Sapa Hotel, Sapa
Sapa's only true luxury hotel, overlooking the picturesque town and the mountainous highlands
Topas Ecolodge, Sapa
Breathtaking eco development with spectacular views through valleys and mountains