Is Sapa Worth Visiting? Everything You Need to Know

Is Sapa Worth Visiting? Everything You Need to Know

Planning your visit to Vietnam and wondering, “Is Sapa worth visiting?” Here’s everything you need to know about planning your trip to Sapa.

Located in the lush mountains of Northern Vietnam is Sapa. Here you will find mountain views and rice paddy fields that cover the stunning landscape.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

Sapa Essentials

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Where to Stay in Sapa

Basing yourself in Sapa Town is ideal so that you’ll be within walking distance of most restaurants and tour departures.

$ – Lustig Hostel

$$ – Sapa Unique Hotel

$$$ – Hรดtel de la Coupole – MGallery

Why Sapa is Worth Visiting – Best Things to Do in Sapa

To give you the super short answer, yes – Sapa is 100% worth visiting and was actually my favorite part of my 1-month trip to Vietnam (and yes I did the Ha Giang Loop!) Sapa still topped the charts, though motorbiking in northern Vietnam was truly fantastic.

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will find Sapa is worth visiting because there are loads of interesting activities to do.

Here are some of the top things to do in Sapa, and what makes this beautiful region a must-do on your Vietnam itinerary.

1. Go Trekking

is sapa worth visiting

Going on an overnight trek and staying in a homestay a traditional village is one of the main reasons why travelers go out of their way to visit Sapa. And let me tell you, it is truly amazing!

Expert hikers and adventure travelers can take trekking and planning homestays into their own hands – which is very easy to do upon arrival to Sapa town. You’ll have loads of options. This is best option for anyone staying around 3 days.

Planners or anyone short on time (like me) should book a tour in advance. Since I only had 2 days in Sapa, I booked this tour here and would highly recommend it.

2. Ride the Cable Car to Fansipan

On a clear day, see spectacular views from one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia – Fansipan Mountain.

This activity is quite pricey, roundtrip cable car tickets are around 800,000 VND (34 USD) so check the weather before booking, otherwise the view may not be worth the cost.

3. Visit Sapa Town

Sapa Town may seem like a stark difference from its serene outskirts. The town is a major tourist hub, but it’s nice to walk around and visit some shops and see the evening festivities in the main square.

4. Visit the Waterfalls

While there are many waterfalls in Sapa and the surrounding area, Silver Waterfall and Love Waterfall are the two most popular. You can arrange transport or rent a motorbike to get to the falls.

5. Cat Cat Village

If you’ve already done a Sapa trek, you can skip Cat Cat if you’ve had your dose of a Sapa authentic village experience. Cat Cat is a great option if you are staying in Sapa Town and aren’t trekking as it’s only a 15-minute walk and will give you a small taste of what the Sapa villages are like.

Cat Cat is very touristy, so take it with a grain of salt and prepare to be surrounded by locals selling their goods!

6. Visit the Sapa Museum (closed often, check before)

If you’re especially interested in the history and traditions of Sapa tribes, visit the Sapa Museum. Although this museum tends to operate on its own terms, so consider calling before going.

7. Try Hot Pot

Salmon Hot Pot is one of the most known meals to have in Sapa. Try some out at Viet Deli or Moment Romantic Restaurant Sapa.

Weather in Sapa.. It can be an issue.

is sapa worth visiting

Your trip to Sapa, and how much you’ll enjoy it, may, unfortunately, be completely dependent on the weather.

This isn’t exactly helpful information, because when I was in Hanoi and looking at the weather in Sapa, it said it would rain every day – and it barely rained at all. I would have been so upset if I didn’t plan my trip to Sapa based on this incredibly inaccurate weather forecast.

Much like anything in Vietnam, it’s a gamble. But let me help you narrow down your options.

Northern Vietnam’s rainy season is from mid-May to mid-September. If you’re traveling to Vietnam during this time, I would consider not booking a Sapa trek. If it’s pouring down rain the entire trek, you’re simply just not going to enjoy it.

The best time to visit Sapa is March-May and September-November.

Alternatively, you could book a trip to Sapa town, assess the weather situation, and book a trek for the next day. That’s the great thing about Vietnam is you can (almost) travel the entire country booking things only a day or two in advance.

Sapa town is full of nice restaurants, hotels, shopping, and local events. Worst case scenario you get there and won’t get to trek but will get to see the lovely town.

How to Get to Sapa

Book your transportation to Sapa here.

Personally, I took an overnight sleeper bus and it was very nice. Pay close attention as the trains to Sapa take longer and I’ve heard are not as nice as the buses!

While the buses can range dramatically, I got one that was so awesome – just look at it!

Many travelers also book a complete guided tour from Hanoi with all transportation included (this is what I did!)

I booked this tour here doing option #2 (sleeper bus) and arriving in SaPa at 6 am and beginning my hike that day. This is the best option for maximizing your time.

What to Pack for Sapa Trekking

Some of the trekking tours aren’t totally clear about what you actually need for trekking in Sapa. Lots of people were either not prepared or over-prepared on my trek.

1. Bug Spray

Hands down the number one thing you will need is bug spray! You will be trekking deep in the rice fields and forests, those mosquitos will eat you alive!

2. Good tennis shoes/ trekking shoes

My asics tennis shoes barely got me by on this trek, and I wasn’t alone! As touristy as Sapa treks can be, they are actually quite tough. I was slipping and sliding left and right. I was kicking myself for not bringing a better pair of hiking shoes.

3. Small Backpack

Do NOT bring your suitcase or big backpacking bag on your Sapa trek. You’ll need to leave most of your luggage behind at your accommodation and just bring a small backpack filled with your essentials for your Sapa trek.

4. Sunscreen

If you’re trekking in sunny weather, you’ll want to pack sunscreen to protect your skin.

5. Cash

Everything on Sapa treks is cash only, so be sure to bring cash – especially small bills for water and snacks. Most restaurants and accommodations in Sapa Town accept cards, but once you leave the town you are in cash-only territory.

6. Rain Jacket & Protection

As I’ve mentioned – rain in SaPa can be tricky! You’ll want to bring a rain jacket & a trash bag or plastic protection to put over your bag.

7. Baby Wipes

The trek can be pretty muddy or you might be one of the (many) unlucky ones who slide in Buffalo poop! Having a pack of baby wipes will keep you fresh throughout your hike.

8. Swimsuit

Throughout your hike, you may find a few rivers to take a dip in, so you’ll want to pack your swimsuit,

9. Basic Essentials

However long your hike is, you’ll want to pack just the very basics you’ll need for your trek and your overnight homestays.

Is Sapa Worth Visiting – YES!

As you can see I clearly think Sapa is worth visiting and making the time for in your Vietnam itinerary.

Sapa is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi and can be a stop along the way on your Ha Giang Loop tour.

I hope this Sapa travel guide has completely prepared you for your epic scenic adventure in northern Vietnam.

is sapa worth visiting

Planning Your Trip to Hanoi?

Don’t forget your FREE Hanoi checklist so you don’t miss a thing! Also, read all about my favorite things to do in Hanoi.

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17 Best Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

17 Best Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is the vibrant capital of Vietnam where you can waltz the streets of the night market or get served a tasty bowl of pho to the tune of cars echoing all around you.

best things to do in Vietnam

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

With so much to do in the country’s capital, it’s important to spend a minimum of 3 days in this colorful city.

I’ve rounded up what I think are the very best things to do in Hanoi.

Where to stay in Hanoi

You’ll want to base yourself in the Old Quarter, where you’ll be in close proximity to most main attractions and delicious restaurants.

$ – Buffalo Hanoi Hostel

$$ – Mayflower Hotel Hanoi

$$$ = Peridot Grand Luxury Hotel or The Oriental Jade Hotel & Spa

Don’t Forget Your FREE Hanoi Checklist

Planning your trip to Vietnam? Print this free Hanoi checklist to take with you on your trip so you don’t miss a thing! Also, check out my post on Sapa, Vietnam to help you plan your travels.

Vietnam Essentials

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1. Explore the Old Quarter

Hanoi’s Old Quarter has the most buzzing streets in the city.

Here you will find an eclectic mix of unique architecture, loads of traffic, and sizzling street food.

This is the best area to stay if it’s your first time visiting Hanoi.

best things to do in Vietnam

2. Take a Free Walking Tour

Every capital city I visit always begins with a free walking tour. Typically organized by locals or experienced guides, this is the BEST way to get familiar with a city (especially on your first day).

Find info on free walking tours in Hanoi here. Or simply show up in the lobby of Buffalo Hanoi Hostel at 10 am where free walking tours depart daily.

3. Eat Pho

Pho originated in Hanoi, so you’ll want to eat lots of it while you’re here!

Here’s where you can find fantastic pho in Hanoi:

  • Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su
  • Bep Viet Restaurant
  • PhแปŸ Thรฌn

best things to do in Vietnam

4. Stroll Along Hoan Kiem Lake

In the heart of Hanoi, you’ll find the Hoan Kiem Lake. Surrounded by the lake are luscious parks and walking paths that make for a perfect morning walk.

best things to do in Vietnam

5. Temple of Literature

Built in 1070, this temple is dedicated to Confucious and his disciples. The temple features a lake and gorgeous courtyards throughout the property. Vietnam’s first university, The Imperial Academy, was established within the temple in 1076.

To enter the temple, prepare to wear modest clothing.

6. Ngoc Son Temple

Located along the Hoan Kiem Lake is the Ngoc Son Temple. Constructed to honor a military commander of the Tran Dynasty, it’s also used to worship the God of Prosperity in ancient Chinese culture and philosophy.

Reminder: Women should bring a shawl to cover your chest & shoulders.

7. Go to the Train Street

Hanoi’s train street is one of the most iconic tourist experiences to have in Hanoi.

Buildings are built less than a meter from the train that passes through and it’s quite the rush when it goes by!

8. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

If you’re a lover of history you’ll definitely want to check out the resting place of the preserved body of President Ho Chi Minh.

It can be quite tricky how to navigate getting inside. The hours are a bit odd, it closes often, and there is typically a long line. Just do a quick check the night before and remember – wear respectful clothing or you’ll be denied entry.

Out of respect, there are no photos allowed of the preserved body.

9. Visit the Old Quarter Night Market

To see a city really come to life in Asia, all you have to do is visit a bustling night market.

It’s a guaranteed one-stop shop to buy some souvenirs, try some street food, and embrace the country’s true culture.

best things to do in Vietnam

10. Try Street Food

On the streets of Hanoi is where you’ll find some of the cheapest and tastiest food in the city.

If you’re nervous about getting sick, I usually look for places that have a line – like this guy at the Old Quarter night market. He was swamped and could barely catch up with orders.

Most of the people in line seemed like they come here often, which was a good sign to me.

best things to do in Vietnam

11. Try ALL the Special Coffees

Attention all coffee lovers – Vietnam is the PLACE for you.

I’m talking – Vietnamese iced coffee, egg coffee, and coconut blended coffee. Prepare for your caffeine cravings to be met in the most delicious ways.

One of the coolest cafes in Hanoi to try specialty coffee is Note Cafe.

12. Visit the Women’s Museum

Vietnam is filled with museums dedicated to history and war, but rarely do you see a museum in a country dedicated to just women.

I loved the fact it’s also one of the top museums in Hanoi.

I enjoyed learning about all different kinds of women in Vietnam – present and past. Here, you will learn about Vietnamese women who live and work in the cities or rural areas and all the hardships they can endure each day.

Womens Museum in Hanoi

13. St Joseph’s Cathedral

Even after two devastating wars, St Joseph’s Cathedral still stands tall in the center of Hanoi, serving the local Roman Catholic community. It’s hard to miss as the gothic-style architecture is quite striking and unique to its surroundings.

St Joseph Cathedral - best things to do in Hanoi

14. Party on Beer Street

Beer Street is Hanoi’s most happenin’ party street in the city. Mostly consisting of tourists and expats, while touristy it IS so much fun.

Wondering where the local’s party in Hanoi? While I’m sure there are ‘actual’ bars where locals go, most of the time they gather with their friends at stalls on the side of the street that have mixed meat and loads of beer.

This is a true local bar experience! I was lucky enough to be invited by my local friend who asked me, “do you want to go to my friend’s bar?”

Local Bars in Hanoi

Additional Things to Do in Hanoi

While the list above is what I consider to be the most essential things to do in Hanoi, here are a few more things I enjoyed that you may want to add to your itinerary.

15. Yoga & Lunch at Om Hanoi

Back home I regularly practice yoga, so I was itching to book a class in Hanoi. I discovered Om Hanoi, which is a local yoga studio that can be taught in Vietnamese and English. I was so impressed with the class!

Afterward, I grabbed lunch at their cafe below the yoga studio. I knew the food would be delicious when I walked in and the place was packed for lunch. The food was incredible!

Om Yoga - best things to do in Hanoi

16. Book a Day Trip From Hanoi to Halong Bay

Many people choose to book overnight cruises to Halong Bay. However, I was told by a few travelers that they didn’t think it was worth it. So, I opted for this day trip tour and felt a whole day in Halong Bay was sufficient.

However, if you have a lot of time and spending a couple of nights on Halong Bay is on your bucket list, check out these tours below:

17. Go to a Cocktail Bar

Hanoi has so many beautiful cafes and cocktail bars. If you’re a lover of craft cocktails, consider the splurge!

Here are some great cocktail bars to check out in Hanoi:

  • Polite & Co
  • The Dios
  • Ne Cocktail Bar
The Dios Cocktail Bar in Hanoi
The Dios Cocktail Bar in Hanoi

Hanoi is filled with many unique experiences and hidden gems. I hope this list guides you to discover the best things to do in Hanoi tailored to what you like to do.

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