Located in the breathtaking mountainous area of Northern Vietnam, Sapa is ideal for outdoor travel activities, especially trekking. Trekking in Sapa would be an unforgettable experience for tourists who seek challenging journeys thanks to its unique geographical features. The best time for trekking is during the dry season (From October to April) when it is not too wet and muddy although December and January can be quite cold. Here are 4 recommended routes arranged in easy-to-hard order that you may opt for if interested in trekking in this picturesque region.
1: Ma Tra – Ta Phin (The Pink road)
This route consists of only two destinations: Ma Tra and Ta Phin; therefore, it is suitable for trekking beginners or families with young children who may find travelling in a long journey challenging. The trekking journey starts from Ma Tra, a scenery valley resided by the Hmong and Red Dao, two of many ethnic minorities in North Vietnam. Situated 4 km to the North of Sapa, the valley is featured with beautiful oval-shaped terrain and green terraced fields. If you wish to escape stressful city’s atmosphere to enjoy the beauty of nature, this heavenly location is the right place. Also, don’t miss to explore the unique lifestyle of the people in this valley. Enjoying traditional food with the locals, playing and taking photos with curious village children are among the many things you could do here.
Following the trekking road to the Northeast, you will reach the village of Ta Phin. Ta Phin is a traditional village of the Red Dao people. 17 Km away from Sapa, the village is unique with not only its beautiful rice fields stretching immensely to the horizon but also its people and their unmistakably splendid culture. Having the chance to walk to Ta Phin, you will be amazed by the Dao’s sophisticated handicrafts. These artistic handicrafts are characterized by their eye-catching vivid colors, decorating patterns and various forms including handbags, scarves, and purses. Tourists are also encouraged to take part in traditional annual festivals such as “dancing festival”, “greeting for the new house” or “oath-taking ceremony”, most of which can only be seen in this lovely region.
Check out Ma Tra and Ta Phin day tour for more information
2: Lao Chai – Ta Van – Y Linh Ho (The Orange road)
This route begins from Lao Chai, a village located 8 km to the Southeast of Sapa. Contrast to the hustle and bustle of Sapa, Lao Chai offers tourists with a feeling of peace and balance. The whole village is like a gorgeous calligraphy dotted with beautiful green rice paddy fields. However, during the months of autumn, the village is coated with lovely yellow rice crops and the amazing aroma of these incredible rice crops can be smelled from far away.
Not too far from Lao Chai to the East is the village of Ta Van. Ta Van is home to many different ethnicities but mainly the Giay and the Hmong. What makes it different from other villages is its cultivation of fruits. Ta Van is famous for sub-tropical fruits, especially peaches which are not only enormous in size but also delicious in taste. Therefore, going trekking through the village, don’t forget to try these amazing fruits and get to know more about how they are cultivated.
The last destination of this route is Y Linh Ho, another beautiful village of the Black Hmong tribe, located in the breathtaking valley of Muong Hoa. Lying between stiff and high rock mountains, the atmosphere here is so refreshing that it is rumored that one could be 5 years younger with only one breath. This place is also ideal for fire camping and other group activities. If you are more interested in culture, it is recommended to visit local beautiful wooden houses decorated with traditional patterns and enjoy the art of weaving, one of the many highlights of Black Hmong culture. Also, don’t be surprised if the locals invite you for dinner. These people are no doubt hospitable and would never mind preparing a great deal of traditional food for their guests.
Check out Y Linh Ho – Lao Chai – Ta Van day tour for more information
3: Sa Seng – Hang Da – Giang Ta Chai (The Yellow Road)
This is the longest and perhaps hardest of all trekking routes in Sapa. The trekking journey starts from Sa Seng, a village standing tottery on stilts on a mountain slope, 1600m above sea level, 15 Km away from the center of Sapa. The mountain trekking track through the mist to the heavenly village of Sa Seng will be a truly amazing experience for trekking lovers even though it may not be for everyone due to its position. Beside its natural aesthetic value, Sa Seng is also famous for its beautiful traditions. Despite the ups and downs of time, many rituals and festivals of the Red Dao living in this lovely village still stay intact, including “ bell dancing festival”, “ Bai Tram ritual” and “ turtle catching ritual”.
Continuing walking along the long and stiff track, we will reach Hang Da, another challenging yet rewarding place. Similar to Sa Seng, Hang Da is situated on the slope on the Hoang Lien Son range and a popular destination for “cloud hunters” due to its high, impressive view. Year around covered in mist and clouds, this place is perfect for photos. However, as it is usually very cold in high mountains, it is advised to bring warm clothes and gloves before taking the trekking journey.
The last destination of the trekking route is the village of Giang Ta Chai, 18 km off the center of Sapa. It is a famous place for trekking lovers thanks to its incredibly diverse landscape, ranging from bamboo forests, rice paddy fields to waterfalls. But Giang Ta Chai isn’t just for trekking. People in Giang Ta Chai, mainly the Red Dao, are granted with the art of medical sauna. Dated back to ancient times, medical sauna is made from herbs proven to cure illnesses and served in the traditional way. Therefore, having the opportunity to explore Giang Ta Chai, one shouldn’t forget to try this wonderful sauna.
Check out Sa Seng – Hang Da – Giang Ta Chai day tour for more information
4: Sapa – Love waterfall – Silver Waterfall Tram Ton (The Purple road)
For those who love trekking but find it too challenging or those with health problems, opting for an easier choice like a car tour would be a better idea.
The first destination in this route is the center of Sapa, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam. Thanks to its geographic location, Sapa is cool year round. The town offers tons of travel choices. Tourists can visit “love market” to get to know the culture of ethnic minorities, try some traditional Vietnamese barbecue on the street or simply wander through the streets and witness the dynamism of Vietnam.
Continuing the journey, we reach Love waterfall. Located 4 km to the Northwest of Sapa town, the waterfall is considered a must for travellers. Often associated with a local fairy tale, love waterfall is elegant as a massive silk scarf falling from the sky above. Aimlessly flowing along the forest, the waterfall not only forms magnificent scenery but also plays as a fundamental source of water for the people in the area. Love waterfall is a popular place for taking photos and serves as a witness for the love of many couples.
The next destination is Silver waterfall. Lying 12 km East of the town’s center, the waterfall bears the resemblance of a silver dragon plummeting from the sky. That’s also the reason why the waterfall got that name. Silver waterfall is a great destination for people with a passion for dangerous sports like climbing or bungee jumping. Finishing the third destination, we move back to the center of Sapa where the journey begins.
5: Bac ha Market (available at the weekend)
Bac Ha, located 100 km to the north of Sapa, is a big market where the minorities ethnic living in Flower H’mong, Phu La and Dao Tuyen, come to buy and sell their handicraft products. This trip would require you to travel by car from Sapa to Bac Ha, and you can start your hiking once you get to the Bac Ha market.
Even though Bac Ha is called “Mountainous market”, it’s full of different types of products both locally produced and transported from somewhere else.
The market is divided into different quarters and each quarter is specialized in a different type of product. These include textile quarter,animal quarter, vegetable quarter, food quarter and souvenir quarter.
At Bac Ha, you can also visit the H’mong King’s house (King Hoang A Tuong), which is isolated in the center of the town. This used to be the most powerful house in the Northwest region.
Hoang A Tuong Palace was built in the style of Asia – Europe with closed rectangular layouts. Its owners were father and son Hoang Yen Chao and Hoang A Tuong, Tay ethnic people who ruled a region with 70 percent of the population are H’mong people and were called “King.”
The mansion was built by Hoang A Tuong in 1914. A French and a Chinese architect helped him choose land and direction as well as to design and build the work. The main house has two stories, with a total area of 420 m². The doors are vaulted. Corridors have rail. The four rooms on the two sides are the space for family activities. The center room on both floors are used as a meeting place. The main side is decorated with elaborate patterns. On the right and left are two parallel sentences wishing glory family. The total area of this mansion is up to 4,000 m². The house was completed in 1921.
Nearly 100 years of existence with time, the moss covered houses still stands majestically amidst the town. Bright sunlight slants through the doorway, the hallway, the room loophole but the rooms here are still gloomy. Hoang A Tuong mansion today is painted in a bright yellow, which makes the mansion lose its deep moss color. But despite being “colored,” the mansion still makes visitors feel strange.
Want to visit Bac Ha Market? Check out the Bac Ha Market tour with A21 Tours for more information.