Sapa Adventure Tour to Hill Tribe Villages
Our Sapa Adventure program takes you by train practically to the Chinese border. The old French "hill station" town is surrounded by colorful tribal villages, making it one of Vietnam's top outdoor vacation destinations. Backpacking is not required, but don't go without a camera!
Photos: Weeraphan Rattenakorn, Vince Fanucchi
Heavenly Outdoor Adventures on the Edge of China
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 to provide a cool break from the heat. 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 may not the best vacation destination for you.
Day One: Overnight Train to Lao Cai
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.
Transportation to Sapa is by train, which has been upgraded to a comfortable first class standard, with four-birth cabins. (If there are two of you and you do not want to share you can buy the two additional births.) Food and beverages are available.
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, tickets, or any problems that might arise with rail transportation or your private cars between the Lao Cai train station and Sapa.
Day Two: Full Day in Sapa
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 Sapa. 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.
Day Three: Villages Galore & A Journey
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, which arrives back in Hanoi the following morning.
Day Four: Morning Arrival in Hanoi
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.
Stay Longer? See More?
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 climb Phang Xi Pang peak, spend a night in a village home.
Tet Holiday 2019:We regret that we can not accept Vietnam reservations during the period 04 through 09 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
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 use only hotels that are LGBT-friendly.
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 Contact 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.