The Rice fields in the mountains of Sapa are an unmissable place in Vietnam. It’s way up in the North, near to China, so normally visited whilst you are stopping in Hanoi.
Sapa Tour Options
There are lots of tour agencies that will offer tour packages. The length of the tour, where you stay, how to get there, size of the groups, type of travelers in the group, are the different options to consider
I went for the 1 nights 2 days tour and think that the one night is a good amount of time. You do a lot of trekking in the blistering heat (during May). After the first day and a half, you wont need to do any more as it’s quite similar. I booked this with Lily’s Travel Agency as this was recommended to me by another traveler. I too would recommend the tour.
Getting to Sapa
You can catch a train or bus to Lao Cai, from where you will then take a car to Sapa, included in the price. I caught the train for a better night sleep but would advise the bus. Now the roads are improved, I would recommend the Vietnam night buses. They are surprisingly comfy (unless you are very tall) and actually quicker than the train due to the roads. It’s also much cheaper. By bus you arrive in the early hours of the morning and are usually allowed to sleep on the bus until time of the tour. On the train though, you get a 4 berth sleeper carriage offering a comfy nights sleep.
The Sapa Trek
When we finally arrived in Sapa we met our group and Guide, then began our trek. We were a group of 8 which is a sociable number. The scenery is beautiful high up in the mountains.The rice terraces are strictly organised, spanning as far as the eye can see. Along the way, local tribes women would follow us and chat to us. Obviously to try to sell us something when the time came. They weren’t too pushy though. We would take regular breaks to enjoy the scenery and gather our breaths. There are other tour groups there, but with Sapa spanning such a large area, it was never obvious that we were around lots of groups.
During lunch the selling continues where little cheeky kids would come and sell you some handmade wristbands. The kids were engaging and really wanting to sell their bands to everyone. Not sure why they weren’t in school though…
Afterwards we continued walking. The total walk was around 12km, which is not too far, but in the heat and steep terrain, it was challenging in parts.
Accommodation for the night
They advertise the accommodation as a home stay. However it wasn’t really a home stay. It was a purpose built wooden house which seemed to be there mainly for the purpose of tourist accommodation. No family lived in the house with us. So if you are looking for something super authentic, this tour won’t be the way to go. Unfortunately, I think they all operate this way. None the less, we enjoyed dinner with our guide and having a session of “Happy Water” drinking, which is homemade rice wine. The village where we were staying offered amazing views of the mountains where you can relax and enjoy a cold beer.
The next day was more trekking in the heat, where we went through rocky terrain and some forest areas. We eventually got to a spring/lake where lots of people were swimming and enjoying the cool water. Take a swim here, as it’s unbelievably refreshing after walking under the intense sun. Just be careful, as the current is quite strong. If I can give a piece of advice, it would be to take sun lotion as the rays are strong and if you’re not careful you can get sun burnt. A hat isn’t a bad idea if you have one. I didn’t have either and felt pretty silly.
At the end of the second day, we are taken back to the hotel in the town, and those who are staying for day 3 have some time to relax, and those who are finished, wait for the bus back to Hanoi. If you liked this post, please hit the share button below.