Sapa – The City in the Mist

August 4, 2020 8 mins to read

Stepping away from the hustle and bustle of busy work life, the crowded roads, and the rush of people heading home after a long day, we pause in Sapa. It’s no exaggeration to say that Sapa is one of the most beloved tourist destinations in the North, with an irresistibly charming and distinctive title: ‘The Land of Mist.’ Here, you’ll find a calm and gentle climate, numerous picturesque landscapes reminiscent of paintings, and a vibrant tapestry of diverse cultures from various ethnic groups: H’Mong, Dao, Thai, and more.

Sapa is more than just a destination; it’s an experience waiting to be discovered. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Sapa, it’s a must to come and feel this place has beauty!

A Glimpse of Sapa

Situated as a highland district in Lao Cai province, 33km from Lao Cai city and 317km from Hanoi, the town of Sapa perches gracefully atop a mountain, embraced by the sky, veiled in mist throughout the seasons. The natural landscape of Sapa is likened to a fairyland, with its intense green mountain ranges, the mysterious Hoang Lien Son mountain range, the majestic Fansipan peak, and the lush terraced rice fields.

Nestled at an average altitude of 1,500-1,800 meters above sea level, Sapa enjoys a temperate climate with an average temperature of 15-18°C. The rainy season stretches from May to August, while temperatures can drop below 0°C in winter, bringing snow and frost. During this time, Sapa becomes even more enticing, offering the rare opportunity to witness snowfall in a tropical country like Vietnam.”

Bản Tả Van

Ta Van (Collection of photos)

The Beauty of Each Season in Sapa

Sapa is beautiful in every season, with each period showcasing its unique charm. From February to May, Sapa blooms like a young maiden adorning herself in a vibrant cloak of flowers, boasting hues of cherry blossoms, plums, apricots, and more.

In the summer, from June to August, Sapa becomes an escape from the heat, revealing lush green terraced rice fields.

Fall extends from September to November, gracing Sapa with an enchanting allure dressed in shimmering golden hues, the fragrant scent of ripened rice, and a gradually cooling climate. Sapa vividly displays its characteristic ‘Land of Mist’ identity during this time.

From December to around February of the following year, if you’re fortunate, you might witness the magic of snowfall and frost on the mountaintops.

Must-Visit Places in Sapa:

Cat Cat Village

The entrance fee to Cat Cat Village is 90,000 VND per person. You can rent traditional Thai or Mongolian costumes for 80,000 VND and 250,000 VND per person. The distance from the parking area to the village is quite far, so we opted for a local motorbike taxi at 40,000 VND per trip (for two people). It’s worth noting that only local motorbike taxis are allowed to enter the village gate.

Bản Cát Cát

Cat Cat Village (Photo collection)

Cat Cat Village still preserves its traditional charm, but the terrain is challenging, so wear comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes to navigate the steep stairs. The village is adorned with many picturesque spots, perfect for capturing beautiful moments. It’s a popular location for young couples taking wedding photos and creating lasting memories. Outside the village, photography and makeup services are available for those interested. A visit to Cat Cat Village is a definite must for anyone exploring Sapa!

Ban Ho

It is located about 30 km from the center of Sapa town to the southwest. Visitors will not be surprised at the picturesque scenery with undulating hills, stretching terraces, and clear streams … In addition, visitors can experience life under the stilt house made of wood in the forest, watching the traditional rituals and dances of the people in the village.

Bản Hồ tươi đẹp

Beautiful Lake (Collected photos)

Walking and learning more about traditional brocade in the center of Ho village, visitors will be overwhelmed by the towels and fabrics woven by the Tay woman into beautiful costumes and many decorative products. . Brocade weaving not only brings lovely souvenirs but today is also for tourists everywhere to visit, admire the ingenuity through the hands of high mountain women in this tourist destination

Coming to Ban Ho, visitors will surely not want to leave before the warm, sincere feelings of the indigenous people, which is the moment that brings a feeling of a peaceful and simple life in the mountains.

Ta Phin

Ta Phin village is about 13 km from Sapa town, going to the northeast. This is a locality inhabited by the Dao and Hmong ethnic groups.

Visitors will see images of Dao women in attractive costumes with red towels covering their hair with a part of their forehead and eyebrows shaved, and blue and black clothes with lots of embroidery patterns. Red and white on the necks and sleeves are selling brocade, or specialty goods of the mountains.

Bản Tả Phìn bình yên

Peaceful Ta Phin (Photo collection)

Tourists visiting Ta Phin village, a popular destination in Sa Pa, should not miss the opportunity to experience the traditional practice of bathing in a water tank filled with more than ten varieties of tobacco. This practice is known to have several health benefits, such as relieving diseases like colds, flu, rheumatism, arthralgia, muscle fatigue, and sciatica, as well as improving blood circulation and skin smoothness.

While enjoying the warm water, guests can also relish the aroma of forest tobacco leaves and relax their minds. Moreover, visitors can avail themselves of a full-body massage upon request.

Ban Pho

Ban Pho is a small town in the Bac Ha district of Lao Cai province. While the houses in Ban Pho may not be architecturally impressive, they are built into the mountainside using primarily wood, which makes them surprisingly robust. Visitors can enter these homes through the furnace and often find homeowners cooking wild meat over a fire, offering it to guests along with traditional Pho corn wine. This unique experience is a popular tourist attraction in Sapa and is an excellent opportunity for visitors to learn about the local culture.

Bản phố nhìn từ trên cao

View from above (Photo collected)

Visitors to Pho Village should try the unique and flavorful Pho wine. This wine uses Hang De stream water for cooking and has a pungent taste. Also, locals soak corn in cold winter fog with millet and rosy seeds to make yeast. When in Pho village, don’t forget to buy some wine as a gift or to enjoy with friends back home.

While in the village, you can sit on a porch and sip corn wine while admiring the beautiful hilly landscape. You’ll see the rural women wearing loose skirts with fancy patterns and ripping corn while the boys in burly black clothes gather firewood. This peaceful scene showcases the harmony, essence, and natural beauty of the village and surrounding mountains and forests. It’s a perfect spot for a self-guided tour of the area.

Exploring the Enchanting Ta Van

Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Sapa, Ta Van unfolds as a hidden gem, showcasing the cultural richness of the Giay ethnic group. The village offers a serene escape, surrounded by terraced rice fields and embraced by lush green mountains. Wander through traditional Giay stilt houses, witness locals practicing age-old customs, and savor authentic Giay cuisine. Consider a homestay for an immersive experience, delve into scenic hiking trails, and explore vibrant ethnic markets. Ta Van beckons travelers with its unique blend of natural beauty and cultural immersion, providing a captivating glimpse into the heart of northern Vietnam.

Looking down from above (photo collection)

Savoring the Flavors of Sapa

When in Sapa, indulging in local delights is a must. Dive into the culinary scene with a taste of salmon, sturgeon hotpot, and various grilled dishes. Notable specialties we enjoyed include the hearty “Phở Cốn Sủi Ông Há” (468 Dien Bien Phu), conveniently located near our lodging, and the flavorful fish hotpot at “Hotpot Center” (71 Xuan Vien). With this spacious three-story establishment, we savored a delightful combo of sturgeon hotpot and grilled peppered chicken. The freshness of salmon and sturgeon paired with well-balanced seasonings made the experience memorable, and the prices were reasonable. For a delightful evening, stroll through Sapa Market, where we couldn’t resist trying Northwest-style sweet soup, roasted nut cakes, and some buffalo meat for a cozy night with beer and lively conversations.

As the misty landscapes of Sapa unfold, so does a tapestry of enchanting experiences. From the captivating heights of Fansipan to the cultural immersion in Ta Van, Sapa reveals its unique charm through every step of the journey. Delight your taste buds with salmon and sturgeon hotpot flavors, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culinary scene. Whether strolling through the terraced fields, indulging in the warmth of a homestay, or exploring the colorful markets, Sapa invites you to discover the heart and soul of northern Vietnam. In Sapa, each season whispers its beauty, and each village beckons with its tale. So, lace up your hiking boots, savor the local delicacies, and let Sapa weave its magic, creating memories that linger like the mist over Hoang Lien Son.

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