Heavenly Outdoor Adventures on the Edge of China ﻬ
This Sapa soft adventure trip takes you to a "hill station" established
by the French more than a century. Hill stations were weekend retreats to
provide a cool break from the hot summer weather. Sapa town, with its colonial architecture and Catholic church, is quite charming
and can be explored leisurely on your own. What makes Sapa so interesting to visitors is that it is surrounded by many villages populated by different
"ethnic minority" people. Cultures in this part of Vietnam are still tribal. Each village retains its own identity, language, dress and crafts. These villages are fifteen to thirty minutes apart. Sapa is so close to the border that on a clear day you can see China's Yunan province.
We do our best to maximize your time here if you like an active holiday.
we try to adapt to everyone's interests and energy level. Hiking is optional but
you should be prepared for plenty of walking. Each village has its own market day, so we might also vary the itinerary slightly if you want to see one or more of them for yourself. If you have a sense of adventure and want to see more than just the most frequently visited villages, we recommend adding an extra night.
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 is probably not the best vacation destination for you.
How you spend your day is up to you since we do not depart Hanoi until 9:00 p.m. If you are traveling with us to Halong Bay before continuing to Sapa you can
enjoy a leisurely dinner in the city before your train to Lao Cai.
There are two different kinds of train transportation. If you wish to stay in the four star Victoria Sapa Hotel, we will arrange for transportation
in their private rail car, which borders on luxurious with very comfortable sleeping accommodation. Victoria's
private train has a dining car three days a week in each direction. The Victoria train does not operate on Sundays.
If you choose our Superior hotel you will travel on a government-owned train. Food (it is better to take your own) and beverages are available and sleeping is in four-berth compartments. The public trains operate daily.
Incidentally, our guide will travel with you from Hanoi and back, so you will not have to deal with finding your way around, dealing with tickets or any problems that might arise with rail transportation or your private cars beginning and ending in Lao Cai.
Our car is waiting Lao Cai train station in the morning to drive you to Sapa, where you will arrive about an hour later. After dropping your luggage at the hotel we you visit two or more ethnic villages. The most visited of these is Cat Cat, which is inhabited by the Black H'mong people.
Return to the hotel around lunch time for check-in a short rest. If you are up to it you can also see the hydroelectric plant built by the French. (Communist countries love to show off their hydroelectric plants.) The spectacular waterfall nearby makes it worth the trip.
After that, it's back to Sa Pa. You might enjoy a stroll around this compact little town, which has a night market and quite a few bars and restaurants with prices to fit every budget. Get some rest. Tomorrow is another long day.
After breakfast you and your guide explore villages, Lao Chai and Ta Van villages, which are populated by H'mong and Dzay people.
We drive Lao Chai, which is about seven kilometers away. People here are quite used to being invaded by tourists and backpackers every day, so they throw their doors open to interested visitors. Take some time to stop and chat with residents about their culture and the history of their village.
From there we walk to Ta Van is located in the northern province of Lao Chai, which is 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 share a lot of cultural similarities with the Yunanese.
You can enjoy lunch either with a local family or try one of the restaurants in Sapa before driving back to Lao Cai to catch the return train.
Your journey ends early in Hanoi early this morning. If you are continuing your travels with us we provide complimentary transportation to your hotel or to the airport. You may also begin an overnight trip to Halong Bay directly from the train station.
If you decided to spend one or more extra nights in Sapa there is plenty to do. You could easily spend an extra visiting more villages on their market days. If you are up to it, you can climb Phang Xi Pang peak, spend a night in a village home.
TET Holiday 2013: We regret that we can not accept Vietnam reservations during the period
08 through 13 February due to the TET (Vietnamese New Year) Holiday. Since it is considered unlucky to work during this period, practically everything closes, everyone takes a vacation, and some prices double. We do not recommend visiting during this time because there are no public festivities and visitors are left with almost nothing to do.
Prices and Hotels
Prices depend on your choice of hotel and when you want to travel.
We offer several different hotels in Sapa, including the five-star Victoria Sapa (which also uses the Victoria private train). If you have a specific hotel in mind, please let us know. All of the hotels we use are carefully chosen for location, amenities, quality of service, security and value. We only use hotels that are gay-owned, gay-managed or gay-friendly. We inspect most hotels at least once a year.
To see prices and compare hotels please click on the "$" button on the left. If you have questions or suggestions about the hotels we use, please email us.
Where We Shine: Our Customer Service Manager and guide staff in Saigon work for us - not for a local tour company, so we know you are getting the best guides available. They love to show our guests the real Vietnam, and enjoy Saigon's often hard-to-find nightlife. All of our hotels are in safe, central locations.
Your Sapa adventure transportation between your gay- and lesbian-friendly Sapa hotel and the train station, round trip train transportation, transportation from Lao Cai to Sapa and return, hotel accommodations (inclusive of tax, service, breakfast if you stay at the Victoria Sapa Resort, private English-speaking guide throughout. Not included: airfare, other meals and beverages, other admissions or features not specifically mentioned in the itinerary, or items of a purely personal nature. Please buy lunch for your guide.