Sapa’s superb hikes showcase towering rice terraces dotted with entrepreneurial hill tribe communities who’ve learnt to harness modern tourism. Nestled near the Chinese border, Sapa was once a tranquil French hill station famed for its cool, alpine-scented air but has seen rapid development thanks to the new Noi Bai to Lao Cai expressway. It’s tempting to hop on the Sapa Express bus from Hanoi but then you’d miss out on the romance of an overnight sleeper train, disembarking at dawn to mist-topped mountains and staircases of rice ascending towards the clouds.
From the moment you arrive, H’mong women dressed in brightly-embroidered clothes paired with plastic slippers will be waiting to sell you handmade purses and hiking trips. Trek with a guide from a social enterprise to experience the best of Sapa’s green-yellow terraces of rice, which meander toward the horizon, peppered with waterfalls, bamboo forests and villages home to the Red and Black Dao and H’mong communities. On a clear day, the snowy peak of Vietnam’s highest mountain, Fansipan, punctures the clouds.
Avoid the package Sapa tours, let our Vietnam specialists pair you with a local guide so you can venture further afield and discover Sapa’s most pristine scenery and remote villages.