Sapa Adventure Tour to Hill Tribe Villages
This Sapa soft adventure trip takes you to a "hill station" established by the French more than a century ago. Hill stations were summer retreats that provided a cool break from the heat and can be found in Cambodia, Myanmar, India and Sri Lanka in addition to Vietnam. For most hill stations, stunning scenery is an added bonus. The many surrounding villages of different tribal people that can easily be visited on foot add to the appeal of Sapa.
Day One: Hanoi to Sapa
Leave Hanoi after an early breakfast and you will be in Sapa in time for a late lunch. You can spend the afternoon looking around this charming town, or you can take your first mini-trek.
Your guide will travel with you from Hanoi and back, so you will not have to deal with finding your way around, permits to visit villages, admission costs, or tickets. Because you have a private car and driver throughout, you do not have to fuss with transportation between Lao Cai train station and Sapa.
Our Sapa Adventure program used to take you from Hanoi by overnight train. However, a new highway has cut travel time in half. Sleeping on a rocking train is difficult and you miss all the lovely scenery traveling at night. Your private car and driver will take you directly to Sapa, not Lao Cai, some distance away.
Sapa is an old French hill station town surrounded by colorful ethnic minority villages, making it one of Vietnam's top outdoor vacation destinations. Sapa's altitude is about 1800 meters (more than one mile) and there is some walking involved in visiting surrounding villages, although there are no steep inclines that require hiking. If you have serious mobility or respiratory problems this may not the best vacation destination for you. Appropriate wardrobe and footwear are advised.
Day Two: Full Day in Sapa
Today you will visit two or more ethnic villages. The most visited of these is Cat Cat, which is inhabited by the "Black H'mong" people.
In the afternoon you and your guide explore villages the Lao Chai and Ta Van villages, which are populated by H'mong and Dzay people.
If you get your day off to an early start, we have time to drive to Lao Chai, which is about seven kilometers away. Villagers here are quite friendly, so take some time to stop and chat with residents about their culture and the history of their village.
From there you might also like to walk to Ta Van, less than an hour away. From at an elevation of 1,816 kilometers, you should be able to see across the Chinese border to Yunan Province. The Dzay people here share a lot of cultural similarities with the Yunanese.
Day Three: Options and a Journey
This morning you have a lot of options, so how you spend your time is up to you. Another morning of exploring the countryside? A shopping expedition? A visit to the beautiful Love Waterfall, said to where fairies bathe. Or breathtaking Silver Waterfall? A visit to Sapa Museum? If you are enchanted by botanical gardens, a visit to Ham Rong Flower Garden is another possibility. All of these require a small admission cost, which is not included.
After lunch you and your guide return to Hanoi with your private car, arriving early evening.
Day Four: If You Stay an Extra Night
If you decided to spend one or more extra nights in Sapa there is plenty to do. You could easily spend an extra day visiting more villages on their market days. If you are up to it, you can Fansipan (Phan Xi Pan) Mountain. At 3,143 meters it is the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia. It used to be quite a hike, but the is now a funicular from Sapa town to the foot of the mountain, just nine kilometers away, then take a cable car to the top to enjoy sweeping views.
If you have not explored Sapa or feel the urge to shop, you can do that this morning instead. We return you and your guide to Hanoi after lunch.
Purple Dragon pioneered LGBTQ travel to Vietnam, but everyone is welcome on our tours!
Photos: Weeraphan Rattenakorn, Vince Fanucchi