Founded in 1922 in a beautiful valley near the Chinese border, Sapa is a former mountain resort at 1600 m altitude. This beautiful area is now very easy to access from Hanoi, with new high way and nigth train.
In the past, Some problems have prevented this town from becoming a tourist mecca: the Second World War, the guerrilla war against the French, the conflict with the United States …skirmishes due to Sino-Vietnamese border dispute of 1979, excluding the sharp decline in the economy in the 80s. The old hotels built by the French were abandoned and Sapa fell into oblivion almost universal (including among Vietnamese). Suddenly rediscovered by foreign tourists, Vietnamese and even by some Chinese from Lao Cai, the new tourist boom has radically changed the future of Sapa. Bad roads are being renovated, new hotels are being built, electricity supply has become more regular food has improved considerably.
Only the climate remains unchanged. Do not forget your sweaters because it is cold (the temperature drops to 0 ° C) and winter is still wet. This cool nonetheless promotes cultivation of fruit trees that grow normally in temperate regions (peach, plum, etc..). A Sapa, the dry season lasts roughly from January to June
The charm of Sapa lies mainly in the meeting with Hmong and Dao minorities, the largest and most colorful in the region. Very poor, the tribes gradually are engaged in the sale of souvenirs. If you haggle, stay nice and do not forget that they are not accustomed to trading. While most of them ignore the Vietnamese, they begin to speak quite well English and maybe some French.
• Every Saturday, ethnic tribes in their traditional costumes head to Sapa market. The market attracts organized groups from Hanoi and most arrive on Friday evening. If you want to visit Sapa in the quiet, avoid the Saturday market.
• Around Sapa, Hoang Lien Son Mountains rise . You can see the sommit of country, Fansipan (3143 m).This top is accessible year-round to anyone who is in good shape and fitted with the proper equipment, but does not underestimate the difficulty of the climb and get ready to face a very wet and often cold. Climbers are almost exclusively foreigners, the Vietnamese feel crazy.
• Only accessible on foot, Fansipan rises 9 km from Sapa. Despite this proximity, the circuit trip takes almost tree or four days since the terrain is rugged and tough weather conditions . It is not necessary to bring ropes or to be a mountaineer. Only a minimum endurance is required.
• There is currently no shelter on the course and you will be self-sufficient; carry a sleeping bag, tent, waterproof, provision of a stove, raincoat or poncho, compass and other items necessary for your survival . Otherwise, you have to emploi a local guide. Carriers are availables but quite expensive
• You can rent camping equipment of poor quality from Sapa, better bring your own equipment. For permission : you must now pay $ 10 to get permission to climb Mt. Fansipan
Tram Ton Pass
• If you go to Lai Chau, you pass through the Tram Ton Pass. Located on the north side of Fansipan, 15km from Sapa and 1900 m, the highest pass in Vietnam. Besides the beautiful view, its interest lies in the bizarre climate. Side of Sapa, expect a cold foggy and unpleasant. Down a few hundred meters on the other side dominant Lai Chau to warm up under a bright sun. Sapa is the most frigid and Vietnam Lai Chau, the hottest.
• 5 km from the pass to Sapa, Bac Thai waterfall, 100 m high along the road. Climbing there can be dangerous. Reduced to a trickle of water in winter, during the dry Season, it can be impressive during the rainy Season
• The Tram Ton pass is easily accessible by bike, and unlike Fansipan, no permit is required for the trip.