Day 1 - Coffee, Creativity and Views
Morning: An Introduction to Sapa Town
Spend your first day in Sapa seeing the town before you head into the mountains. Tourism in this part of Vietnam has boomed since the late 1980s, and Sapa can feel overwhelming when you first arrive. Take a moment to settle in with coffee or tea and a spot of people watching in the town centre.
TIP: For coffee and patisserie, the local “go-to” is Le Gekko on Ngu Chi Son. This pretty spot near Sapa Lake serves delicious snacks and hot espresso. Cong Cafe on Xuan Vien is part of Vietnam’s most nostalgic coffee franchise. Take your pick from a variety of creamy drinks, hot teas and sweet sugar hits.
Afternoon: Ethnic Culture
Learning a little about local culture is a great way to start your time in Sapa. While the town is undeniably busy, life outside is as traditional as ever. Many minorities in this region still wear their ethnic dress, live in simple villages and embrace ancient customs.
For an afternoon activity, get to know the H’mong ethnic group by signing up for an ethnic cooking class where you can learn authentic recipes from a H'mong chef; or try your hand at H’mong batik (wax print indigo dyeing.) H’mong coats and skirts can take years to make. Each one tells the story of the person who made them.
TIP: Hill Station Restaurant on Fansipan Street offers cooking classes in authentic Black H’mong cuisine (book online in advance) and IndigoCat leads four-hour H'mong batik classes.
Evening: Sunset Above Sapa
After a creative afternoon, make your way to the Fansipan Terrace Cafe for a slice of their famous passionfruit cheesecake and spectacular mountain views. You can work up an appetite with a walk back to the town square, or join a game of đá cầu (shuttlecock) with the locals.
For dinner, spoil yourself with a fantastic Vietnamese and H'mong meal of Sapa dishes at Hill Station Signature Restaurant before turning in early for the night.
Day 2 – Mountain Trekking and Ethnic Homestays
Morning: Trekking Essentials
Wake up early, put on your hiking shoes and plenty of layers because today, you’re going on a trek! Although there are countless tour companies in Sapa, you’ll want to travel with those that highlight the best of Sapa’s cultural assets. Leave your luggage behind and just bring the bare essentials.
Before you head off, talk with your guide to decide on an itinerary that suits you. You may like to spend more time walking in the mountains, or learning about life in the villages (This itinerary follows a 24-hour tour, but you can also book half-day or two-day tours to match your schedule.)
TIP: Sapa Sisters are known for excellent tailored tours led by local guides. These homegrown tours will give you context for your adventure, plus info about Sapa’s history and the reality of life for its ethnic minorities today.
Ready to hit the trails? Most treks begin with a walk to the wet market to buy food for your trip. Then, it’s an invigorating walk through the hills, full of exquisite panoramas and sweet mountain air. Follow your guide along winding paths, stopping for pictures along the way. At lunch, you can watch your meal being cooked over an open wood fire. Everything in Sapa is grown in the hills nearby, so you’re sure to eat well.