Sapa is located in the Lao Cai province in the mountainous region in the far northwest of the Vietnam, almost near the border of China. Sapa was originally a hill station built by the French in 1922 for summer retreats from Hanoi.
Sapa is the home to diverse mountain tribe communities including the H’mong, Tay, Dao and Thai ethnic groups, and visits to the markets and nearby villages of the ethnic tribes are one of the highlights of most trips.
December and January are cold but dry (it can snow) and you’ll want that log fire. There is mist and low cloud during this period.
February – April are mostly dry with temperatures gradually warming up but you may still need a heater.
May – September are the warmest and wettest with July and August being busiest season for domestic tourism and also the wettest.
Did you know?
- The location of Sapa means that it has many endemic species of flora and fauna (species only found in Sapa)
- There used to be over 200 French colonials villas, but they were all destroyed between 1940 and 1960.
- There is a Saturday night Love Market in Sapa where Black Hmong and Red Dao teenagers come to find a partner. Done more discreetly these days
- It is home to Vietnam’s highest mountain. Mt Fansipan, which is over 3000 metres.
Getting to Sapa
Train travel is the most comfortable way to get to Sapa, Lao Cao. There are around 12 tourist trains operating the route Hanoi-Lao Cai including Sapaly, Victoria, Livitrans, Ratraco and Hara. You can buy the tickets directly with the train station or through a local train agency Hanoisapatrain.com.