Sapa Vietnam has become a popular destination in the northern part of the country for its rice terraces and tribal village producing their own rice wine and cultural handicrafts. You can join a Sapa Vietnam Tour with other people, but the place is safe enough for you to go by yourself and discover Sapa with a fresh pair of eyes.
How to get to Sa Pa from Hanoi
A mere 6 to 7 hours away by bus from Hanoi Vietnam, Sapa is worth considering for an overnight trip at the very least. However, most people would spend an entire week in the countryside to spend more time in trekking down Cat Cat Village. (Check out Tam Coc as well for a day trip outside of Hanoi!)
Cat Cat Village Trek
Your Sapa Vietnam Tour will not be complete without trekking Cat Cat Village! Since I fractured my foot a week before the Hanoi trip, I was bound to crutches the whole time. I’ll have to visit Sapa again one day to explore its waterfalls, rivers and hidden villages!
Coming from the Sapa town center, you can either walk winding road for 30 minutes or take a taxi for VND 100k per way to the ticketing station, which is located next to Sapa Sky View Restaurant and Bar. The entrance fee is VND 200k per person.
If you wanted to trek down Cat Cat Village, you’ll need at least 4 hours. There are a number of waterfalls that you can visit further down but they’re about 30-45 minutes away on foot.
If you don’t want to walk all the way down, you can also observe the village from Sapa Sky View like we did. We chilled there over egg coffee and some ca phe sua da for about an hour to fly the drone over the valley.
Along the road, you can find several stores renting out H’mong tribe dresses and headgear for picture taking for VND 15k per person. There are a lot of short and long dresses with colorful patterns to choose from. There are also traditional tops for men to rent.
H’mong Tribe and Sapa Love Market
Cat Cat Village is home to the H’mong Tribe, the indigenous people of north Vietnam. Initially, I thought there was only one tribe, but a local explained that there are different kinds of H’mong Tribes like the Flower Tribe and the Black Tribe. Similar to what I’m wearing in the picture below, Flower Tribe patterns are bright and colorful with flower petal details.
We paid a visit to the Sapa Love Market which was filled with stores selling handicraft–hand-woven bags, wallets, tapestries, skirts, tribal blouses and even liquor. I managed to buy 2 travel pouches, 2 tapestries and 1 blouse for VND 1Mn.
One thing that is common though is the Ruou or local distilled liquor made of either rice or corn. For only VND 150k, we were able to get a bottle of corn wine, which is sweeter and lighter compared to the rice wine.
Where to Eat in Sapa Vietnam
There are a lot of local eateries in downtown Sapa. You just have to follow your nose…and the flock of people. We wound up in a crowded restaurant called Nha Hàng Co Lich grilling raw exotic food like pork intestines, chicken feet, beef tripe and even frog! There were also some interesting delicacies like mashed corn grilled in corn husk.
Hotel Pistachio Sapa Vietnam
While the hillside is riddled with inns for solo travelers and budget travelers, there are also luxury hotels like Pistachio Hotel Sapa where couples can spend a romantic getaway while in Hanoi. You can book a room in Pistachio Hotel Sapa here.
Since the hotel was just built in 2018, the hotel has a modern design but the decor is accentuated with the H’mong tribe’s colorful patterns.
Sparing no expense to offer comfort and luxury, Pistachio Hotel has provided complete amenities, including bathrobes and bedroom slippers, which usually mark quality among hotels.
The complimentary hotel breakfast buffet is quite a feast. I only wish there were more traditional Vietnamese dishes to showcase the heritage of the place. However, the dessert was impeccable!