If any of you asks for the best town in Vietnam filled with beautiful nature and ethnic culture, then Sapa Town is a top choice. Around 350km northwest of Hanoi, Sapa is famous for ecotourism highlights and as an exotic destination with off-the-beaten-track trekking trails. The town is home to the well-known Fansipan Mountain, ethnic villages, the long-lasting Sapa Church, and heaps of imposing terraced rice fields, valleys, and forests. The destination is also recognized for its colorful ethnic festivals and ethnic markets, which are unique traits. Traveling to northern Vietnam often involves a visit to this cool town of Sapa. While some vacationers enjoy photographing amazing nature, others are interested in ethnic cultural experiences in the villages and their markets, the rest might be keen on the French-style castles and entertainment activities on Fansipan Mountain through Sun World Fansipan Legend. Read on for more introduction to Sapa, and then conclude if this precious town is worth your weekends away from home. Indeed, this town has been on the wish list of many honeymooners who demand a destination where love can evolve, and interesting experiences can beautify their travel stories together. When people are on the Roof of Indochina, it feels like their vacations are free of any unease and they can be their best versions. If you want to know all about Sapa, here is the right place to settle for good knowledge.
Sapa is a district-level town of Lao Cai Province, in the northwest region of Vietnam. It is home to several ethnic minority groups, namely the Hmong, Red Dao (Yao), Xa Pho, Giay, and Tay. It has grown to be an attractive destination in Vietnam that attracts nature lovers, trekkers, eco-tourists, and backpackers who prefer intact nature rather than skyscrapers or luxury. Things in Sapa remain mountainous, intact, and natural, in which the pristine trekking trails and the ethnic villages are the precious highlights. People who travel to Sapa might not expect to lay heads on the luxurious beds or be entertained by the exciting malls; rather, they enjoy being close to nature, watching how the ethnic villagers live, trekking on the scenic trails, and getting new exotic experiences, away from the bustling city. Here you find the mountains, valleys, and green corners dotted by the minority villages for photography, cultural experiences, and hikes. The journeys in Sapa are far different from anywhere on earth, in which you try the horsemeat-based soup of the Hmong, the bamboo sticky rice, etc., and sing the local songs. The cable car towards the impressive Sun World Fansipan Legend is a must to do. This is where you can find the flower gardens, the temples, the restaurants, etc., amid the cloud. In December or January, you might find snowfall in Sapa.
Sapa District is located in Lao Cai Province, which is around 380 km northwest of Hanoi. The district is close to the border with China, and it’s dominated by the mighty Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range. The Range consists of Vietnam’s highest mountain, Fansipan, which is at a height of 3,143m above sea level. Sapa Town itself is set at an elevation of 1,500m, giving it a moderate climate that is foggy and cold with occasional snowfall (in the winter). The laid-back town preserves a great diversity of ethnic minority groups, of which the Kinh people take 15% and the rest are of major five ethnic groups: Hmong 52%, Dao 25%, Tay 5%, Giay 2%, and Xa Pho 1%. The population of the town lives scattered among the communes throughout the district. About the administrative divisions, Sapa includes 16 commune-level subdivisions, of which six wards are Cau May, Ham Rong, O Quy Ho, Phan Xi Pang, Sa Pa, and Sa Pa and 10 communes are Ban Ho, Hoang Lien, Lien Minh, Muong Bo, Muong Hoa, Ngu Chi Son, Ta Phin, Ta Van, Thanh Binh, and Trung Chai. With this geographical location, Sapa owns the ideal environments for plants and animals, of which some are rare. There remain the primary rainforests and terraced rice fields, which reflect the relationship between humans and nature for decades. In 2014, Sapa was ranked #9 in the Top 10 rice terrace destinations in the world, by Spot Cool Stuff travel blog. In 2015, the Sapa terraced rice field was listed in the Top 11 incredible terrace fields of the world, by Touropia.
Sapa features a subtropical highland climate as it’s set at an elevation of 1,500m above sea level. The annual temperature is around 15.3 Celsius degrees, with a maximum of 29.6 Celsius degrees and a minimum of -6.1 Celsius degrees. Throughout the year, the warmest months are July and August while the coldest ones are December and January. Snowfalls are occasional. Due to the high altitude, the areas are mostly covered by the cloud during days of the year and have very high humidity. The valleys are often penetrated by clouds, but these sectors are less humid than the mountain slopes. The entire area might get very cold during winter nights.
The best time to visit Sapa is from September to November or from March to May, if you like the favorable weather, as it’s sunny during the day and quite chilly at night. Along with that, April-May is the harvest season when the ethnic people work on the green terraced rice fields, resulting in the imposing scenery. Then, when it comes to the harvest season, from September to October, the rice fields turn yellow which illuminates the whole Sapa beautifully. During this period, the town seems to overcoat its hills and mountains with the new bright yellow. You’re advised to get there in the middle of September as the harvest season nearly comes to an end in October. The periods from December to February shower Sapa with the cold vibe and occasional snowfall. It’s also when the cherry blossoms are blooming.
Previously, Sapa was a frontier township and capital of Sapa District, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. The town was first settled by the unknown groups that left the areas with ancient petroglyphs of the 15th century. After that, the highland minorities of the Hmong and Yao came to the area and grew it with ethnic markets along with other ethnic groups.
In the late 1880s, the French got to the town and made it on the national map. In the following decade, Sapa township was being influenced by the military parties and missionaries from the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP). Then, as a part of the Tokin pacification program, the areas from the Red River Delta to the northern mountainous regions were marched by the French military. From 1894 to 1896, the China and Tokin border was formally agreed upon, of which Sapa town was put under the French authority. The colonial military administration began to apply their influences on the whole Lao Cai region. In 1909, the first French civilian population arrived in Sapa. In 1912, a military sanatorium for sick officers was built as the French health authorities noticed the ideal continental climate. From the 1920s onwards, the wealthy people began building private villas in the surrounding areas, which resulted in numerous colonial buildings in and around Sapa. However, at the end of the Second World War, hundreds of the colonial buildings in Sapa were destroyed as a consequence of the hostility in Tokin, which last until 1954. As people ran away, the town of Sapa became deserted for a long period.
In the early 1960s, people began reinhabiting in Sapa thanks to the New Economic Zone migration scheme, ordered by the Socialist government. In 1993, the town of Sapa was made open to international tourists, which made it known to the outside world. People began their first trips to the mountainous town and put positive comments. After that, Sapa was on the tourist trails, which attracted both domestic and international vacationers. In particular, tourist arrivals were between 1995 and 2003, which changed the economy of the region. Prior to the 1990s, its economy was heavily dependent on small-size agriculture. Nowadays, the city grows to be an attractive ecotourism destination spotlighted by the scenic trekking trails between and around the ethnic villages. Nature lovers keep backpacking to this lovely town while some hikers come to hunt the cloud and enjoy their journey amid the off-the-beaten-track trails.
The lovely Sapa Town is around 38km from Lao Cai City and 376km from Hanoi. To get to Sapa, the popular means of transport are a train, private car, or shuttle bus.
Train ticket from Hanoi to Sapa
About the trains, passengers can choose soft/hard seats or air-conditioned cabins with beds. The train tickets from Hanoi to Lao Cai can be easily booked but the tickets from Lao Cai to Hanoi are harder to find; therefore, it’s always best to book the tickets in advance. Besides, you can refer to Victoria Express: Hanoi – Lao Cai, which departs 6 times per week, from Hanoi train station to Lao Cai’s for 8,5 hours. The express train can accommodate 52 passengers in two luxurious compartments separated by wooden partitions for absolute silence and a spacious view. Each compartment includes 6 Superior cabins (each cabin has 4 beds) and 1 Deluxe cabin (2 beds), which are well equipped with an air conditioner, personal reading light, large window for sightseeing, wooden floor, and more.
Here is the train schedule for your reference:
• Depart from Hanoi at 10:00 PM and arrive at Lao Cai station at 06:30 AM.
• Depart from Lao Cai at 09:05 PM and arrive at Hanoi station at 05:30 AM. The train operates every day, except Saturday.
Bus ticket from Hanoi to Sapa
The route from Hanoi to Sapa is about 340 km long, of which 245 km is the Noi Bai-Lao Cai highway. On average, there are nearly 100 bus trips daily from Hanoi to Sapa including:
• "Limousine" minibus (9 seats, 16 seats and 29 seats) of Sapa Express, Eco Sapa, New Enjoy, Sapa Luxury Van, Hoang Phu Limousine, Truong Thanh Limousine, Pumkin Limousine, Dream Transport, Green Lion..
• High-class sleeper bus from 38-46 beds of Fansipan Express Bus, Sapa Express, Interbus Line, Green Bus, Queen Cafe, Sapa King Express Bus, Ha Son Hai Van, Sao Viet...
Running from 5 am till 23:45 daily, there is a trip every 30 minutes. Ticket prices range from VND 250.000 to VND 450.000/person (US$11-20). The time for a journey from Hanoi to Sapa is about 6 hours, most bus operators will stop twice at km 57 and km 237 stations on Noi Bai Lao Cai highway.
Upon your arrival at Sapa, to get around, an interesting way is to hire a motorbike to explore the attractions scattered throughout the town. Note that the cost is counted for a day (from 06:00 AM to 18:00 AM). But if you’re not ready to ride a motorbike in Vietnam, it’s better to use a motorbike taxi (“Xe Om”). The local driver will take you to four or five famous tourist sites. Or you can use the official taxi services of Mai Linh, Hai Yen, Thanh Cong, Taxi Sapa, etc. It’s not difficult to hail a taxi, so no worry.
Top things to see in Sapa Vietnam
Fansipan is the highest mountain in the Indochina region, with a height of 3,143m, in the center of the Hoang Lien Son mountain ranges. The mountain is around 9km from Sapa Town to the southwest. You can go on a tour package to visit the mountain or opt for the trek guided by the ethnic Hmong/Dao villagers. If you’re on a trek, take the opportunity to marvel at the fantastic nature as well as the rich system of flora and fauna. It’s feasible to come across valuable wood, birds, monkeys, etc. The other fantastic way is to take a cable car from Sun World Fansipan Legend to reach the top of the mountain. This cable car route also received two Guinness records: 1) the Greatest elevation difference by a non-stop three-roped cable car, taking passengers up a panoramic 1,410 m into the mountains, 2) the Longest non-stop three-rope cable car in the world with the length of 6,292.5m system. The duration to explore the peak of Fansipan could be shortened from 2 days on foot to merely 20 minutes thanks to the internationally-awarded cable car. On the mountain, you’ll be astonished by the long-lasting French-style castles, the flower gardens, the restaurants, etc. There must be several times you’re wondering how the French people could build such wonders at such height. Each cabin of the record-breaking Fansipan Sapa Cable Car can accommodate 30-35 passengers and the transfer between the two stations take around 20 minutes per way. Reaching the peak of the Indochina Summit mountain becomes easier than ever, yet the experience is still amazing.VIEW VIDEO
Sapa Church is located in the center of Sapa Town. The site requires no entrance fee, and its opening hours are from 06:00 AM to 08:30 PM. The best time to visit the Church is between 08:00 and 10:00 AM. Often, it takes around one and a half hours to get around the site and explore its ancient structures. This site could be regarded as the most intact antique French architectural building in Sapa. The Church is set in an area of 6,000 square meters and has a cross shape. Built in 1895, it was made under Roman Gothic architecture. People used a mixture of sand, lime, and molasses to connect the stones. If you notice, it’s easy to realize that the colored glass windows depicted Jesus’s life. The Church has played a critical role in the local people’s lives and beliefs, which makes it a must-see for both locals and visitors. In front of the Church is the large courtyard which is often packed with ethnic villagers and newcomers. Interestingly, every Saturday, the ethnic Love Market takes place in this courtyard. And, at Christmas, the Stone Church becomes a gathering venue for parishioners to celebrate the eve, pray, and sing. Going through several times of renovations, the Church appears in its intact architecture, which is worth a visit.VIEW VIDEO
Cat Cat Village is inhabited by the majority of the Hmong ethnic group, which covers 50% of the population in Sapa. Therefore, you’re likely to meet many Hmong people along the journeys in Sapa. Their traditional dresses are noticeable. The Hmong men often wear black or dark blue pants, short-sleeved blouses like a vest. They also use round and shallow hats on the top of their heads; of which the hats are in black or have a brocade embroidered ring. Meanwhile, the Hmong women often wear black dresses, black scarves, sleeveless coats at knee length. The way people create the Hmong costumes is quite special as the fabric is pressed with beeswax, resulting in the silver color. Note that the Hmong women do not wear skirts; rather, they wear knee-length sorts and cover their calves with a narrow bandage. Besides the cultural experiences, Cat Cat Village is where you find the Hmong handicraft traditions, how they grow cotton, weave fabric, and create traditional jewelry. The actual visit will let you even witness how the locals make their traditional costumes and serve you their food namely Thang Co (horse-meat soup) and corn wine.VIEW VIDEO
Ta Phin Village is home to the Red Dao, the second-largest minority group in Sapa (after the Hmong). This village preserves the culture and customs of the Red Dao ethnic group, so it attracts the culture fanciers who come to explore, witness, and listen to the stories about ethnicity. You can easily recognize the Red Dao people through their colorful costumes. While men often bun their hair at the nape of their necks and wear short black or indigo shirts, the Red Dao women’s costumes are highlighted by the five colors, of which red is the main color. Besides, the Red Dao women’s hair is quite long, so it’s wrapped around their heads with a triangular scarf of the red color. This minority group tends to inhabit the valleys or the low areas which are ideal for growing corn. Also, they have a habit of restoring dried food in their kitchen compartments so that they have food to eat during hard times. One of the meaningful festivals of the Red Dao is the “Le Cap Sac”, which is to remember and honor their forefathers and origins.VIEW VIDEO
The Giay ethnic group mostly gathers in the Ta Van Village, which is frequently visited by tourists. This village is where people enjoy gorgeous nature and the beautiful culture of the Giay people. It’s interesting to see how the locals raise livestock and crops in the valley. Regarding their costume, it is not as sophisticated as those of the Red Dao, but quite simple with little embroidery, with colors around the neck and bodice. Instead, they keep a sophisticated way of cooking. They boil rice, and then put it in a pan to be fully cooked. And, they drink boiled rice water. When talking about the Giay people in Ta Van Village, people use the “simple or rustic beauty” to describe them. The most important festival of the Giay people in Sapa is the “Giong Pooc” festival which occurs in January every year. The festival is to pray for a new year with a fruitful harvest, favorable rain, and wind so that people have a happy life. This ethnic group is rich in literature, folksongs, and legends about natural phenomena.VIEW VIDEO
Ham Rong Mountain is set near the ancient Sapa Stone Church. On the way to the mountain, you’re likely to meet many ethnic minority children selling their colorful items and dresses. Upon your first sight of the mountain, it can enchant you thanks to the panoramic sightseeing. Amid the fog and cloud in the early morning, the mountain seems to hide, which looks empyreal. Sometimes, visitors feel like they’re walking above the clouds. Getting there in the early morning, prior to 08:00 AM, you can witness how the mountain was named the “dragon’s mouth.” Behind some far-off mountains, the clouds look similar to the mouth of the dragon. If you want to take a good picture of that scene, ask the local vendors to adjust the angles. They’re more than happy to help. The green cover of the mountain offers a fresh and scenic atmosphere for everybody to refresh. You can easily spot the street vendor booths that serve the local dishes of grilled meat. Some backgrounds are also set up for photography while several corners remain intact. Kids and adults might love dressing like the ethnic locals for memorable photography.VIEW VIDEO
Muong Hoa Valley is nestled in Hau Thao Commune, around 8km from Sapa Town to the southeast. From the town, visitors need to go past a hill along the mountain ranges to reach Muong Hoa Valley. This natural landmark is filled with imposing scenery of streams, forests, flowers, and scattered ethnic villages. The valley is marked by the 15km stream running through several ethnic sites of Lao Chai, Ta Van, Hau Thao, and Ban Ho. Especially, the valley is home to the ancient stone field which consists of several stones with age-old images carved on them. The stones have been there, among the trees and terraced rice fields, in an area of 8 square kilometers. Hundreds of the stones carved with intricate images of people, stilt houses, flowers, and indecipherable letters/symbols remain unexplained. None can define their origins and meanings, which leave them weird and exotic to visitors. The ancient stone fields have been made a national heritage site as it was the legacy of the ancient Vietnamese people. Regarding the archeological values of the heritage site, in 1925, the first research was made on 200 pieces of stone of various sizes and shapes. However, their origins remain unexplainable. The largest stone is called Hon Bo (Father Stone) which is 15m long and 6m high. There are even stories about a couple of stones called the Wife-Husband stones, which represented the forever love of the couple who died and turned into the two stones turning to each other. Nowadays, Sapa Ancient Stone Field in Muong Hoa Valley is attractive not only to the science community but also to tourists worldwide.VIEW VIDEO
Around 18km north of Sapa Town, Tram Ton Pass or Heaven’s Gate is famous among the young backpackers and thrill-seekers who are keen on an exotic place. The road towards this attraction is zigzag winding in the middle of mountain ranges. Tram Ton Passs runs between the majestic Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range. Heaven’s Gate is on the top of Tram Ton Pass. The scenery is so awesome that even no words can fully describe its beauty and magnificence. If you stand in the center of the gate, it’s amazing to spread your eyes over the vast valley, the green fields, the winding roads, and the Silver Waterfall in the distance. This is also where you can feel the fantasy and enormous size of Fansipan Mountain. The deep abysses beneath look so mysterious and breathtaking for sightseeing and photography. This explains why Sapa Heaven’s Gate remains attractive to many photographers who make it a must to stop by this site among the top attractions in Sapa and take dozens of pictures.VIEW VIDEO
Located at 100km from Sapa, Bac Ha Cultural Market is one of the largest fairs in the Northern mountainous region of Vietnam. Bac Ha Market has been voted as one of the 10 most unique markets in Southeast Asia. This highland market has held the footsteps of many tourists and is a destination that is hard to ignore if anyone has ever set foot in this up-country area.
Bac Ha market is held only once a week on Sunday where most of the ethnic groups in the district converge here with colorful multi-racial costumes. such as: Mong, Dao, Phu La, Tay, Nung, La Chi .... Coming to Bac Ha market, visitors discover its unique features, which is still imbued with the customs and habits of the highland people. The market is divided into five zones with specific characteristics of products including local handmade brocade shops; vegetable and fruit shops; the grocery sector displays all the necessary items; the cattle sector which is always bustling with hundreds of buffaloes, cows and horses; and a section specialized to selling dogs and birds.
Top activities not to be missed in Sapa Vietnam
You can choose to either hike toward the peak or enjoy the Guinness-recorded cable car. The hiking trails to the “Roof of the Indochina region” is very spectacular and keeps you entertained by the scenic scenery, rich flora, and fauna, cloud amid and above the forest, etc. If you’re not ready to take a long trek, use the excellent Sun World Fansipan Legend service instead.
The terraced rice fields in Sapa have been recorded as one of the most beautiful sites in the world. Not only does nature gives this region favorable weather and gorgeous landscape, but also the skillful hands that establish the “stairways” toward the sky. The series of steps between the rice fields is said to reach the sky, which is awesome for photography. In the harvest month of September, the green fields change their covers into bright yellow, illuminating the vast region.
Observing the lovely town from the watchtower at a height of 1800m on the peak of Ham Rong Mountain is a praiseworthy experience that everybody should try. This offers a perfect view of the whole town, in which the houses, roads, restaurants, hotels, tourist sights, etc., just become so lovely and small. This mountain is also home to many kinds of flowers of various colors that beautify the mountain creeks.
Going for a walk around the town will turn out to be a memorable experience. Sapa is among the top destinations for a perfect walk. The town encourages you to walk for tens of kilometers, from morning to afternoon, if your health can afford it. You will pass through the villages, rice fields, bridges, and streams; all of the sites are photogenic and feature a slow-paced lifestyle. Take your opportunities to mingle with the laidback lifestyle, in which you might speak in a low voice, walk in slow motion so that you can look and feel the life and culture of the indigenous people. The ideal places of interest for a walk are Sapa old town, Cat Cat Village, Ta Phin Village, and Muong Hoa Valley.
The real cultural experiences are pleasant when you opt for a homestay in a local house of the ethnic villagers. Through this channel, you can eat the local food of the ethnic minority people and communicate with them on the spot. The local kids and adults welcome you to their houses and make you feel homelike. Waking up in a village far away from the city center will turn out to be the most unforgettable event of your travel episodes. Homestay service in Sapa is developing, so no need to worry about the house facilities as well as the food hygiene.
The Silver Waterfall (Thac Bac) and Love Waterfall (Thac Tinh Yeu) are around 12km from the town center. These natural landmarks shower visitors with a cool and fresh atmosphere. Sightseeing a cascade of water falling from a height becomes an exciting pastime. Also, be ready to listen to some folk stories about the origin of the waterfalls, which are relevant to the true love between a fairy and a farmer.
Passing through the waterfalls, you will arrive at the awe-inspiring O Quy Ho pass which is one of the four best passes in northern Vietnam. If you stand on the peak of O Quy Ho, it’s amazing to feast eyes on the winding roads connecting Lao Cai and Lai Chau Provinces. The adjacent wonderful sight is the awesome Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range. Make sure you don’t miss the hike toward this pass because it’s a rewarding trip.
In the evening, the town center of Sapa becomes an attractive culinary venue for visitors to eat yummy grilled food and hot soup. As the town is a bit cold at night, it’s perfect to please your belly with hot soup or sticks of grilled pork. Gathering around a table to enjoy the salmon sour hotpot is a great activity to do in Sapa. Or, Thang Co can inspire some first tastes. The food can be perfectly served with a bowl of corn wine. It’s super easy to come across the local eateries or street vendors that serve hot and aromatic food in Sapa. Therefore, try as many choices as you like and conclude if the local food is worth every compliment from the community. The sticks of grilled meat in Sapa might leave a strong and long impression on your palate.
Around a 20-minute motorbike drive from Sapa Town and located at the end edge of Ta Van Village, Sali House is a lovely and friendly homestay address. From any angle of the House, guests can spread their eyes over the beautiful nature, especially the vast terraced rice fields. This is a haven for everybody to be a part of intact nature. About a 10-minute walk from Sali House, there is a small stream filled with transparent water and a fresh atmosphere. If you like a trek, then let’s trek to the nearby Giang Ta Chai Village to explore the ethnic lifestyle, culture, and food. After a busy day of exploration, reward yourself with the relaxing food massage served by the ethnic people.
Another lovely House nestled in Ta Van Village, around 10km from Sapa Town, is Phơri’s House. In front of the House is a small stream for a romantic and peaceful landscape. There are some rocks for you to lay the back and enjoy reading books. In the late afternoon, you can go for a walk and climb the terraced rice fields to observe the wonderful scenery beneath. The price for a night in this House is USD 30/room/2 persons. The entire House is ideal for a group of 14 people for USD 120/day. The House offers a well-equipped kitchen so that you can self-cook after a short visit to the local market.
The Haven is situated on the route toward Cat Cat Village, around 2km from the town center, which means you can easily go for walk to this homestay site. The air is so fresh, and the scenery is so photogenic that wins the positive praises of many backpackers. Located on “Vong Canh” Hill, this campsite allows you to sightsee the entire Sapa with an awesome view. Each corner provides a so-deep photography background. Especially, this site is perfect for sunrise and sunset watching, plus the moonlight. The Haven has two dorms with 30 beds, which suit groups and backpackers. Its facilities include the Outdoor Bar & Camp Site, 360 Lounge, Cinema & BBQ Terrace, and Haven Restaurant.
Located in Lao Chai Village, Eco Palms House offers amazing views of the mighty Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range and the enchanting Muong Hoa Valley. This address has five bungalows, of which each bungalow is designed similar to the ethnic houses of the Hmong, Red Dao, Giay, and Xa Pho. As a nature-friendly homestay site, the House brings you to the world of wood, bamboo, and thatch, which is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Drinking tea on the wooden table in front of the house lets you marvel at the vast greenery of Sapa highlights and feel absolute peace.
Sapa Heavenly is set in Ta Phin Village, around 17km east of the center of Sapa Town. At the first look, this homestay address can win your compliments on its beautiful design, which is completely built with high-quality Pomu wood – a kind of anti-mosquito wood. Pictures of the Sapa Heavenly online will first leave a good impression and the actual stay can confirm it. This address also allows tourists to participate in local activities like planting rice, growing veggies, and gathering by the fire to tell stories and grill food. All establish a cozy stay.
About 18km from Sapa Town and located on the peaks of the two conical hills, Topas Ecolodge offers 25 rooms designed like the traditional stilt houses with wooden and stone components. The designs help tourists to stay close to nature and feel a sense of romance. All of the rooms have a private balcony overlooking the gorgeous valley, the heavenly terraced rice fields, and the peaceful Muong Hoa stream beneath. This is an impeccable choice for every soul that wants to run away from the bustle and hassle. Instead, they choose a vacation of peace, fantasy, and no rush.
Vietnamese and foreign tourists love Sapa cuisine
Thang Co is the traditional Hmong soup made of horsemeat, horse’s viscera, and bone. Other versions of Thang Co can be cooked from pork, buffalo meat, or beef. It is a unique food to eat in Sapa that all guests are encouraged to try once. The soup is also spiced with 12 types of spices (some chefs even use 27 spices) while stewing the whole complex in a large pot for a couple of hours. The jungle vegetables are the second most important ingredients. The food features a special taste, which can be sweet, greasy, and aromatic. Sitting by the boiling pot of Thang Co and sipping a cup of corn wine help people feel warm and memorable.
Thanks to the temperate climate, Sapa is a land of typical fresh vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, chayote, cabbage, etc., which feature a sweet and delicious taste. In that sense, the frequently-ordered vegetable dishes in Sapa could be the boiled chayote served with sesame salt, the cabbage stir-fried with garlic, and chicken hotpot served with several types of vegetables. The veggies in Sapa make it a paradise for vegetarians.
As the cold-water fish raised in Sapa, the local salmon has good meat with the least fat and highest nutrition values. During the cold nights, a hotpot of salmon served with fresh vegetables is a perfect choice for every hungry stomach. Make sure you save this hotpot for your dinner in Sapa, then evaluate if it can warm your belly, and even your heart. This is a table delicacy of Sapa that every foodie should savor. Other versions made from salmon are the salmon salad and grilled salmon, which are both appetizing.
This refers to a breed of small-size pig raised freely by the indigenous Hmong people. Due to the small size, the pigs can be easily grabbed under the armpits and brought to the markets for sales. This results in its local name as “Lon Cap Nach” or the pig under the armpit. A typical “adult pig” weighs around 4-5 kg only. A whole pig can be grilled or roasted for a delicious treat. The pork features a layer of crispy skin, 2cm soft lean meat, and then the small bone. People often eat the grilled pork with Sapa local beverage called “Ruou Tao Meo” for an exciting night. Together with the grilled pork, other types of grilled food (chicken, egg, meat wrapped in vegetables, chicken’s legs, corn, sweet potato, etc.) are very fragrant and delicious.
Sapa markets do sell dried mushrooms for guests to buy as the iconic food of the mountainous destination. The typical price is around VND 100,000/kg. The dried mushroom features the scent of the mountainous soil and the taste of the forest. Food connoisseurs can ask for the mushrooms stir-fried with meat or the local choices of mushroom dishes upon dining at the restaurants. Mushroom soup in Sapa is also an eminent choice.
The local black chicken weighs around 1.2kg in a very black look. At first sight, some guests might not dare to eat this type of chicken but know that its food is very praiseworthy. The most favorable dish is the Sapa black chicken grilled with honey. The chicken should be served hot and with mint leaves and dipped into a complex sauce including salt, lemon, and pepper. That said, a trip to Sapa could not be complete without the black chicken choice.
Another table delicacy of the mountainous Sapa is the dried meat of buffalo which is hung in the kitchen of the Hmong people for drying. Pieces of the buffalo’s meat would be cut lengthwise into 2-3kg per piece. People will string and hang these pieces over the kitchen floor for them to get dried as reserved food for years. When eating, the meat pieces must be cleaned to remove the dust and the smell. Then, they will be stir-fried with tomatoes or bamboo shoots, which results in a fragrant and fleshy dish. Tourists can buy kilograms of buffalo meat pieces as gifts to their relatives or friends at home.
The sticky rice cooked inside bamboo is a specialty you must eat in Sapa. The major ingredient is the sticky rice which will be cooked inside the bamboo tubes. To enjoy the food, the burnt outer sections of the bamboo will be cut off, just leave a thin layer of bamboo chips for the patrons to hold the tube and eat the rice inside. It is the glutinous rice, the special taste of the spring water, and the gentle fragrance of the bamboo that is well combined for a yummy rice dish. The “Com Lam” should be served with the local grilled pork, chicken, or a hot bowl of salmon soup.
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