Trekking in Sapa
Sapa is a mountainous region in the northwest of Vietnam. It is a popular trekking base overlooking the rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley.
Local hill tribes fill the town and surrounding villages with colour and culture.
Though you don’t come to Sapa for the town, you come for the trekking.
Visiting Sapa has been one of my highlights of Vietnam. It is so peaceful and tranquil, the buildings are a cross between Swiss and Chinese style and the scenery is stunning.
Trekking and hiking tours
We booked a 2 night 3 day trekking tour through our hostel (Vietnam backpackers) for $110 dollars, approximately £83.
I’m sure you could probably get it cheaper but we had heard great things and wanted to do the tour as a group of 7.
Getting to Sapa
Pretty much all tours to the north of Vietnam start in Hanoi and this was no different.
The bus is included in the tour price and there are two options; night bus leaving at 9pm (essentially making it 3 nights 3 days) or day bus leaving at 6am.
We opted to do the night bus. You are collected from your hostel, taken to a shop and then out on a bus.
The bus was significantly better than other night buses I have taken, with single-seats. Unfortunately for Stephen and I we were the last people called on the bus and had to have the back seats which were really squished together with hardly any space.
You arrive in Sapa at 4am but sleep on the bus until 6am. When you get out it’s freezing and a real shock to the system!
Panorama Sapa hotel
We didn’t have high hopes for the hotel in Sapa but it was actually really nice. Way better than any of the hostels we have stayed in.
There is a restaurant with views over the mountains and the rooms are spacious with super comfy beds and amazing showers.
The reason we got the night bus was so we would have the day to explore Fansipan. It is the highest point in Indochina.
We took a taxi to the cable car station for 100,000 Đồng, it takes around 15 minutes.
The cable car is fairly expensive at 600,000 Đồng but the only way up unless you want to hike it!
When you get off the cable car you have to climb 600 steps to get to the top. Doesn’t sound like to many but believe me it had me out of breath especially as it was raining.
Sadly for us it was a very cloudy day so we were not able to see much from the top but we got a few snaps.
You are collected from your hotel at 8:30am, catch a short bus ride to the starting point and then get going.
The trek is a total of 30km, just under 19 miles.
It was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be!
There is A LOT of up and downhill trekking and it’s very muddy and slippy. You have to clamber through bamboo forests, over waterfalls and through tiny paths in rice fields.
You see many buffalos, pigs, chickens and ducks along the way through villages. The village people also join along in the trek at various points to ‘help’ (if they help you, you have to pay them).
The scenery is absolute stunning, it feels so good to be in the mountains feeling the fresh air and having fun with friends.
The 1st day of trekking was for 8 hours not including a break for lunch and believe me the last couple of hours were HARD.
Everybody had different body parts hurting but for me, I had blisters on my feet, my joints were aching from all steep hills and my shoulders were sore from carrying my rucksack.
But it was totally worth it. We were in an amazing group of 7 and we all had such a laugh along the way.
Plus when you finally finish he feeling of achievement is SO GOOD!
The homestay is in a tiny village in the mountains, when you arrive from your trek the hostess greets you and the guide shows you where you will be staying.
You are able to buy beers and sit outside the homestay relaxing after trekking all day. The hostess speaks no English but she means some mean chips! The flavours they added were delicious and we all ate them very quickly (food included- drinks not).
After a pre dinner snack you are able to shower off the mud collected throughout the day. The showers are freezing cold so I had a super quick wash and got dressed very quickly to keep warm.
The temperature in the evening dropped to around 2 or 3 degrees celsius so I ended up wearing my trousers hoodie and waterproof jacket to stay warm.
For dinner the host cooks traditional Vietnamese-food and provides you with free rice wine.
We all ended up doing quite a few shots, but no where near as much as the family and guide. They drank the stuff like water!
After dinner we played games, socialised and drank some beers. Though not to late, we were all in bed by 11pm shattered from the day.
On the second day you have a 7km trek with only a few hills to climb to where you will have lunch and then depart back to the hotel.
Although you do not have a room at the hotel, they provide hot showers and a place to change. A hot shower feels so dam good after trekking!
At 4pm you begin the 6 and half hour journey back to Hanoi on a sleeper bus.
Sapa was amazing, I loved it. The scenery was stunning, and the company was great.
Trekking was a lot harder and longer than we had expected but once it’s all over you have a real sense of achievement.
It was such a good experience of culture to stay in the village homestay with the family and an ideal way to end the day.
Special thanks to Stephen, Blair, Felix, Sven, Laura and Ruben who made the trip so much fun!