My first trip to Sapa (Part 2)

I was born in Sài Gòn, so I thought Sapa could be probably similar to Đà Lạt – a famous highland town in South Vietnam. Đà Lạt renowned for its flowers, water falls, hills with pine trees, foggy lakes. It was a favourite romantic honeymoon place for many people in South. But I was wrong! Sapa in the North is much more impressive, absolutely majestic, a haughty Kingdom in cloud.

0b821-sapa_9Sapa in my eyes was much more majestic, like a haughty Kingdom 

During my trekking to Cát Cát village, I was a bit upset with the scenery, it seemed the nature, surrounding the village, has been destroyed or poorly maintained by the human, But then I realised Sapa has severe cold winter months, with snowfalls, minus temperature. That could explain why not everywhere in green.

Back to the hotel at noon, our room with the balcony, with a great view to the cloudy valley. I was partly tired after the overnight train ride, partly from the long trek to Cát Cát in the morning, but mostly from my bad cold after Yên Tử mountain. I couldn’t take a nap, while my friend deeply enjoyed his napping, I had to wake him up for the motorbike ride in the afternoon at 14:30.

daf1c-sapa_46The road leading to Golden Stream, Silver Waterfall…The Fansipan on the left

Following the instructions from the Hotel Desk Tour, we went to “Golden Stream, Silver Water Fall”, we want to have nice photos of the beautiful waterfall, after a quite long ride on motorbike, got the entrance tickets, 45,000 đồng/ each. We started to walk. We walked, walked and walked…The road seemed endless, deserted. I started to feel the heavies of the camera bag on my shoulder.

Finally I met some visitors on their way back to the entrance, looking at their exhausted  faces, I guess, it could be still very far, the waterfall, as after nearly half and hour walk, still no sign, even sound of the water fall. It was absolutely quiet but when we reached the Golden Stream, to be honest, I was socked and not sure this is a Golden Stream or not, it look like…nothing! I quickly changed my mind, I didn’t want to be stuck here any minute longer. It was a rare sunny day in Sapa, I couldn’t waste my time in this deserted forest.

22550-sapa_47Is it a Golden Stream, seriously? And still no sound of Silver Waterfall…

I gave up walking to the Silver Waterfall, despite my friend’s insistence to continue, I felt I waste my time, being stuck in here. Finally I convinced my friend to get out. The scenery with the terraced rice fields, the wonderful panorama of mountain chain is much more attractive to me!


On the way back to Sapa town, I was fascinated by this scenery – the white cherry blossoms (it was actually pear trees!), the terraced rice fields on the background of the mountains range Hoàng Liên Sơn with the highest peak Fanxipan.

1d967-sapa_48It was pear tree blossoms…some people confused with white cherry. 

I’ve been to Bali few years ago, I went to the terraced fields, somewhere near to the volcano, I was impressed but when seeing these paddy fields in Sapa, carpeting the rolling lower slopes of the mountains…I was speechless.

Later I learnt the terraced field in Sapa in top 10 of the most beautiful rice terraces by SpotCoolStuff. The sun started going down, the fog getting thicker, the wind colder, I was almost freezing even sitting behind the driver on the motorbike.

cfe86-sapa_5 I could imagine how wonderful these paddy fields during the harvest time… 

afb6c-sapa_49They would turn into a golden carpet with different grades of  yellow. 

ba0f8-sapa_7It would be an exciting experience to spend sometime in these home-stay. 

d1e25-sapa_50The last sun beams over another fields near to Ta Van tribe.  

a4aa6-sapa_51     Standing uphill, I admired the vast Mường Hoa valley…

The driver took us down to Tã Văn village, we arrived to the rice field, next to the village the scenery was different, not flashy as we saw from far, then I realised the minority people in Sapa living in poverty, very poor even to the rural living standards.

We saw them walking around the downtown of Sapa, speaking in different languages, trying to guide some foreigners, to sell souvenir items made of their beautiful traditional fabric in order to survive their rough life in the remote rural areas.

ae487-sapa_52The last photo taken at Tã Văn village…before the sunset 

4265d-sapa_21And the last photo before Sapa sank into the evening fog  

77a0d-suongmusapaNext morning the fog was that thick, nothing was visible in the distance of few meters. 

Our last morning in Sapa, we decided to skip the tour when we were informed about the visit to Tã Văn. We have been there yesterday afternoon, so better explore the downtown and I also wanted to do some shopping.

1eff6-sapa_53The church built in 1930, right in the heart of Sapa. It was a foggy noon. 

00637-sapa_14I wish Sapa could have cherry blossoms everywhere around the town…

Around 13:00 pm, the sunlight suddenly came out, I took a chance to get some quick photos of cherry blossoms by the lake. I was wondering if cherry blossoms could be everywhere in town, along the roads, around the villages, the hills, the mountains…Sapa should be much more splendid in this period of the year.

4665c-sapa_15These minority people always turn away or hide their face when the camera on them…

98fce-sapa_20Sapa reminds me of Đà Lạt, a highland town with many lakes in South.

b71b7-sapa_40The downtown Sapa with many shops, restaurants, massage parlours…   

We spent some time in this commercial area, walking along the road, having a good lunch, enjoying 60′ foot massage by young minority – Tày. They look pretty in their 20s, speak perfect Vietnamese but always keep speaking in their mother tongue.

99afe-minority_1Happy, smiling faces as I bought some souvenirs from them…

2b5f3-minorityThe newly built market couldn’t replace the pavement for these special vendors

17faa-minority_6They are everywhere, made Sapa more colourful, more charming, more unique…

aa094-minority_5Wondering she avoids my camera or in her nap. 

Back to hotel at 16:00. Sadly to say goodbye to Sapa. One and ½ day was not enough for me to explore this small town and its spectacular neighbourhood. But I was happy that I finally make it to Sapa after many years of hesitation.

The depart time was 17:00. We still didn’t have the bus tickets and I kept checking with the hotel as they were coordinating with the travel agent in Hà Nội. They said ok, we will take you to the bus. Until we arrived at the bus station, the bus driver assistant called again the tour agent in Hà Nội…and finally they let us get into the bus. For the first time I took the bus-bed or “sleeping bus”. Right the entrance door, we took the shoes off, put it in a plastic bad and went to our beds.


Inside the bus very clean, the toilet also spotlessly clean but very tiny. However I didn’t feel good laying down on my bed, I tried to push up the back, tried to get some sleep, but it was hard! The road from Sapa to Lào Cai is quite dangerous pass, with zig-zac route, I felt a bit like seasick when arrived to Hà Nội at 23:00. Anyway, my first trip to Sapa completed, quite in rush but surely remained memorable for long!

5 thoughts

  1. Hello, beautiful pictures of the paddy terraces! We plan to go there in March. Thought we have to walk to the villages. But looks like we could use moto taxi to get around? Could you share insights on your trip? Some of us not to keen on trekking 7hrs. Thank you.


    1. Hi, I think it’s better to hire a “xe ôm”, i.e moto taxi to get around. And the best time to visit Sapa is from Mar to May – the beautiful weather or from Sept. to Oct. when all the paddy terraces turn into the golden yellow, time for the harvest. There are many sites you can visit in Sapa : some tribes like Tả Văn, Sín Chải, Tả Phìn…or the valley Mường Hoa, if you love to travel further – there is site named “Cổng Trời”, i.e gate to the heaven (or sky) – beautiful scenery to the mountains. When hiring moto taxi, you better list down all sites you want to visit during the day and negotiate the price with them first, the hotel could help you with this one! Homestay in Sapa is also another unforgettable experience!


  2. I’m so glad I found your posts on Sapa. Such wonderful photos and all the good detail you write about your time there is very helpful. We are thinking of visiting North Vietnam this year and Sapa is on our list of places to see—maybe 2 days there. The terraces look wonderful. I was sorry to hear some of the people are not as friendly to tourists as the Thai.


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