World Reviewer rating

Worth a visit
Rating 1.1 (181 votes)

Sapa Town

Listed under Historic Towns and Villages in Vietnam.

  • Photo of Sapa Town
  • Photo of Sapa Town
  • Photo of Sapa Town
  • Photo of Sapa Town
  • Photo of Sapa Town
  • Photo of Sapa Town
Photo of Sapa Town
Photo by Dave and Deb
Pin It

Sapa is an incredibly picturesque city, a former French hill station that lies on the Hoang Lien Son mountain range in Lao Cai province in the northwest of Vietnam. It’s one of the main market towns in the area, where there lived many local trades such as H’mong, Dzay, Dzao and Tay.

Sapa was probably first inhabited by highland minorities of the H’mong and Dzao groups and by a smaller numbers of Tay and Dzay, these being the four main minority groups still present in Sapa district today. The King people never originally colonised this highest of Vietnam’s valley, which lies in the shadow of Fansipan, the highest peak in the country (3143m).

The town began to appear on the national map when the French debarked in highland Tonkin in the late 1880s. By 1912 a military sanatorium for ailing officers had been erected along with a fully fledged military garrison. Then, from the 1920s onwards, several weathly professionals with enough financial capital also had a number of private villas built in the vicinity.

At the end of the Second World War, colonial buildings in or around Sapa were heavily distroyed either by Vietminh or by French.

In 1993 the last obstacle to Sapa’s full rebirth as a prominent holiday destination was lifted as the decision was made to open the door fully to international tourism. Sapa was back on the tourist trail again, this time for a newly emerging local elite tourist crowd, as well as international tourists.

Sapa has a temperate climate zone with the coldest months from January to February; excellent summer weather from March to May and rains from June to August. The town has the most pleasant temperature from September to mid-December.

Around Sapa

There are numerous options for exploration around the immediate region. A short walk down hill can bring you to an old French hydroelectric station at Cat-Cat village, while a day long trek from Sapa down into the valley below - roughly 14 kilometers long can take you through some beautiful landscape and visits to Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai and Ta Van village. The more energetic can tackle a three day hike up Mount Fansipan. In addition, you can sample the charms of the Taphin valley and visit the ruins of Our Lady of Peace monastery or enjoy a jaunt to Thac Bac (Silver waterfall). You can also arrange home stays with local people, in a Tay home built on stilts in Lao Chai or Ban Ho.

Local Markets

Nothing can prepare you for the riot of colour and activity at the regional markets that can be found dotted around the Sapa region. Make sure you have brought enough film or your camera's batteries are fully charged, as they are a photographer's delight!

The local markets in Sapa includes Muong Hum and Bac Ha market on Sunday, Can Cau market on Saturday and Coc Ly market on Tuesday.

Written by  Little Vietnam tours Co.,Ltd.

Other expert and press reviews


Located in the North West Corner of Vietnam, Sapa is a must for anyone wanting to add a little adventure into their travels while in Vietnam. Book a tour from Hanoi, or catch a train north to Lao Cai and find a guide to take you deep into the Hoang Lien… Read more...

Written by  Dave and Deb. Continue reading on

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

There are no posts. Why not be the first to have your say?

Post a comment, review or question

I want to
My comment - optional
Rating - how would you rate this place or experience?

Who's been here

No travelers have told us they have been here. Have you?

Similar Experiences

  • Xochimilco

    'Built in the 16th century by the Spanish on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the old Aztec capital, Mexico City is now one of the wo…

  • Nara

    Nara is an unassuming city, quiet, peaceful and often ignored. However, visitors who journey here will find that it actually fe…

  • Todi

    Called "the world's most livable city" Todi has built up something of a reputation in Italy. It's been a long time in coming, …

Nearby Experiences

  • Trung Thu

    Trung Thu is the time in Vietnam when people reconnect with their families, especially their children, after working so hard du…

  • Dong Xuan Market

    The Dong Xuan Market is an indoor market that's been created mainly for tourists – but that's not a reason not to visit: its st…

  • Sofitel Metropole

    Grand, gracious and graceful – Hanoi’s favourite hotel tickles the pleasure receptors and draws an eclectic crowd If you l…

Related links

Contribute to this page