Sapa was originally built as a hill station by the French in the early years of the last century. They constructed villas, a small hydroelectric station, a church, tennis courts, even an aerodrome. All still remain in Sapa today.
Tucked high in Vietnam's remote northern mountains, the former French military outpost of Sapa offers some of Vietnam's most colorful experiences. The views are breath taking. Vietnam's highest peak, the 3,143-metre Mount Fansipan, looms overhead, while the surrounding valleys feature terraced rice paddies and blazing green fields cut by fast-flowing streams. Layer upon layer of green ridges fade into the distance, edged by sharp, rocky peaks.
Major ethnic groups to be found here are the H'mong, Red Zao, Xapho and Tai, complete with their largely untouched dress and customs. Here, people live as they have for centuries, raising water buffalo and pot-bellied pigs, cultivating paddy, corn and cassava, and weaving their colorful clothing. At the end of the week the H'mong, Dao and other ethnic minorities trek into town from the surrounding countryside at the weekend markets. The market is place for trading and exchange local goods and products as well as a meeting place for young people who seek a partner by singing love songs and playing pan-pines and mouth harps. 

Ham Rong Mountain

Lying in the center of Sapa Township, Ham Rong Mountain is an attractive tourist area. Following the steps uphill from the main road near the market visitor will arrive to a large ground called San May (Cloud Yard) where panorama view of Sapa Town opens wide. The small orchid garden is really charming with a collection of Sapa’s wild orchid. Further uphill to the radio station, one can enjoy great view of the magnificent Fansipan as well as of Cat Cat valley on the southwest side of Sapa Town. Also at the top of the mountain, there is a mini museum of Sapa and the Northwest ethnicity in which artifacts about 10 tribal groups are display in traditional style houses and traditional dance and performances are on show.

Cat Cat village

A small village of H'mong people about 4 km from Sapa Center. Trekking or going by motorbike, jeep upon request. There is an existing Power Station built by the French next to a very nice stream where you can sit and relax on big stones.


Silver waterfall & Heaven Gate

13 km from Sapa, you will drive to the Silver Waterfall; from there you can see stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the lush forests belonging to Hoang Lien National Park. Afterwards, continue uphill to Heavens Gate, the highest stretch of road in Vietnam as well as the provincial border of Lao Cai and Lai Chau provinces. Here, you will take in extraordinary views of mountains and terraced rice fields.

Taphin Village

15 km from Sapa on the way back to Lao Cai, Tafin is famous for its scenery with mountains and caves. Upon arrival in Ta Phin, you will experience the unmixed cultural life of the Black Hmong and the Red Dao minorities, the two largest ethnic groups in the area. They live happily together while maintaining their own traditions and passing them along from generation to generation. You can distinguish them by their vibrant clothes; both groups are known for their colourful handicrafts. You will experience their traditional daily life by visiting some local homes. On entering the Red Dao's home, you can see a wooden stove burning all the time in the middle of the house a symbol of a long lasting life and keeping people out of bad lucks and evil spirits.  A Women Union's embroidery house is a place where you can buy a small hand-made gift.. Especially, ladies' silver-colored beads and coins will surprise you a great deal. People have always believed that a womans wealth is equal to the weight of coins she carries. Here, the women are beautiful with long locks of hair tied up in a large red embroidered turban..

Lao Chai & Tavan village

9 km from Sapa Center: trekking down and picked up by motorbike or jeep will take you whole day; 2 ways going by car will take you half day. You will commence your short journey by driving south toward Muong Hoa valley. You will then start your walk by descending into the valley, which is home to the largest terraced rice paddy in the Sapa area. Your guide will provide you interesting information about the cultivation of rice. Continue from the Black Hmong village of Lao Chai to the Giay minority village of Ta Van.

On the way to Lao Chai & Ta Van, very nice rice paddles are on your view where you can see minorities of H'mong, Day and Dao people who dress in traditional style that is unique in the Northern Region of Vietnam; and explore their daily lives, culture and customs.

Fancipan peak

Located 9km south-west of Sapa Townlet in the Hoang Lien Mountain Range, Fansipan is branded "the Roof of Indochina" at the height of 3,143m; Fansipan is to be approved as one of the very few eco-tourist spots of Vietnam, with about 2,024 floral varieties and 327 faunal species. Geologists say the Hoang Lien Mountain Range, with Fansipan as its highest peak, did not emerge in the mountainous North West of Vietnam until the neozoic period (circ. 100 million years ago). Fansipan, a rough pronunciation of the local name "Hua Xi Pan" means "the tottery giant rock". The French came to Vietnam and in 1905 planted a landmark telling Fansipan's height of 3,143m and branded it "the Roof of Indochina". Very few people climbed to the top of Fansipan at the time. Then came the long years of war and Fansipan was left deserted for hunting and savaging. The trail blazed by the French was quickly overgrown by the underbrush.

The summit of Fansipan is accessible all year round, but the best time to make the ascent is from mid-October to mid-November, and again in March.

Bac Ha Market

Approximately 100km from Sapa, Bac Ha is the largest and most colourful market in the area. Every Sunday morning, many different ethnic groups such as Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay and Nung minorities gather to buy and sell local products that cannot be found elsewhere. This is a typical weekly activity for the H'Mong and other minority groups living in the locality. Local products for sale or barter are carried on horseback.

Coc Ly market

Coc Ly market, 95 km from Sapa is a very small market which takes place every Tuesday. You can meet several ethnic minorities from surrounding villages such as Flower Hmong, Black Zao, Phu La, Nung and Tay. After visiting the market, you will board a traditional boat for a one-way cruise along the Chay River followed by a short walk to the minority village of Trung Do.

Muong Khuong market

75 Km from Sapa, Muong Khuong market (every Sunday) is located in a small border town, which is frequented by Flower Hmong, Tu Di, Tay and Giay ethnic minorities. They come from surrounding villages to buy and sell local products such as food and material for agriculture and fabric. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, you will visit a village of Tay people, where you have opportunity to explore their daily life and visit the nearby waterfall.

Lung Khau Nhin market

The tiny market of Lung Khau Nhin (90 km from Sapa) is surrounded by pine trees forests and villages. Every Thursday, Flower Hmong, Tu Di, Tay and Giay ethnic minorities come to buy and sell local products. This is one of the most untouched markets in the north. After exploring the market, you will visit the Black Dao village of Sin Lung Chai.

 Binh Lư

Binh Lu is about 50 km from Sapa. This trip is a combination of travelling by jeep on the most amazing road in Viet Nam and walking. Along the ride, you will be able to enjoy magnificent views from the Tram Ton pass, a short walk to Silver Waterfall as well as visiting the Flower Hmong village of Chu Va, the Lu and Thai village of Pa Pen ....

Can Cau market

Situated in the mountains near the Chinese border, 20 km (12 miles) from Bac Ha, Can Cau is a small, but very colourful market. Taking place only on Saturdays, it always delivers a very photogenic display of Flower Hmong, Nung, Phu La ethnic costumes. Chinese people also come for trading. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, you will leave the market for Bac Ha town, where you will have lunch in a local restaurant.

After lunch, you drive downhill for about half an hour. You will then start a short walk to Trung Do village, which belongs to the Tay minority. Here you can visit a traditional Tay house, before getting on a boat. You will have a cruise upstream the Chay River to experience the picturesque sceneries on the river banks. You will then cruise downstream to the Bao Nhai Bridge.

Xin Cheng market

On every Wednesdays, Xin Cheng Market offers the opportunity to discover a colorful gathering point of many local minorities such as the Flower H'Mong, Tay or Giay. On the way to the market along the Chinese border, you will enjoy amazing mountain scenery, charming rivers and terraced rice fields. People from the area meet at the market to exchange tobacco, clothes, fruits, horses, buffaloes and many other local products. Xin Cheng is also a social gathering point for the villagers to meet and exchange the latest news. On the way back to Sapa, you will pass by the H'mong King Palace which was built in the early 20th century during the French colonial era. This tour departs early in the morning from Sapa or Lao Cai and finish around 4pm.

Muong Hum market

This hidden Sunday market close to the Chinese border will allow you to meet a large variety of ethnic minorities such as Ha Nhi, Phu La, Tu Di, Black Dao, Giay, Red and Black Hmong. The ethnic groups gather once a week to trade local products such as food, agricultural equipments and fabrics. After lunch, you will be able to visit Muong Vi caves, which can be sometimes submerged, depending on the weather. Stretching along a thousand meters, the caves are carved with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites.