For those who have been in Vietnam, or haven’t but heard about this beautiful country, they must have heard about Sapa as the must-not-miss destination, as well as one of the top places recommended visiting in Vietnam. Especially for the travelers who love adventures, desire in natural-based activities, Sapa is an ideal place due to the fact that this is one of the most scenic regions in Northern Vietnam with spectacular landscapes of rice terraces, sweeping mountains, wild forests and villages of various ethnic minorities.
Most of the visitors travelling to Vietnam have chose Sapa as the start or ending point on their incredible trip across the length of the country. Sapa is distinguished by tropical monsoon climate in the high land with year round refreshing mountain air, cool weather with temperature range from 15-28oC making trekking, cycling and adventure possible all over the year.
Now let’s go for some tactics of trekking in Sapa:
You will need a guide!
There are a lot of choices for trekking in Sapa. You can enjoy half-day hikes, full-day hikes and even several days spending for experiencing the hillside. In case you would like to spend more than one day wandering around the spot to discover its beauty and gorgeousness, you are recommended to hire a local guide to be your companion who is familiar with the local tracks, changes in weather, terrain, and the best lookout spots in the destination. Once Sapa has emerged as one of the most attractive tourist destinations of the country, you can easily seek for any tourism services including guides. Hence, it is no need to make bookings in advance as it is cheaper when doing it in person, due to the fact that treks are easily arranged in Sapa. Especially in Sapa, there has been homestay model in which travelers will live with local families for authentic experiences of the local living, your host can also play as your guide who is enthusiastic and expert in local topography. In addition, most of local guides in Sapa are good at English giving you no worries about communication.
Lighter is better
Simplifying your belongings as many as possible is the second advice for your trekking in Sapa. Since this destination is full of self-run accommodations like homestays, there are always amenities available on the way if you need stop spots with open space, mattresses and mosquito net, clean bed sheets, warm blankets, and fresh towels. It is no need for you to pack heavy with sleeping bags or bulky luggage of all daily stuff you often bring along on other trips. Besides, your guide will only be your guide, means that he would not act as a porter carrying the bags for you. Hence, keep in mind that you only bring what are deemed absolutely necessary for you. The pack may not feel heavy when you first try it out of the door, but it can turn to be big problem in the day progress.
Proper shoes are indispensable
We will not call it “trekking” if the roads are easy to go like going jogging. Indeed, you would pass on tough roads, have times when you have to scramble up the mountain on all fours, hopping over ditches, come across forests full of branches and even thorns. As a result, good footwear is definitely demanding.
You are suggested to buy sturdy running shoes with good support and solid grip. You are also recommended to consider hiking boots for trip of more than 2 days, think Mount Fansipan. It may sound oddly, but a pair of flip-flop can also be something to consider for your trekking trip. Imagine after a long day, maybe two days of instantly walking, your feet must be tired and need to wiggle and breathe. Hence, giving them spacious rooms at the end of the hike would be well appreciated. However, it is strongly recommended that you should not attempt to have your whole trekking with flip flops if you do not want your feet end up with blisters and sprained ankles.
Let’s make a side note, there are many shops available in Sapa that both sell and rent trekking gear. If Sapa is not your starting point prior to have trekking and hiking boots are not already in your luggage, remember that you can easily find those things in affordable rate right inside the town.
Never make assumption that the water you think enough is enough
Bring double, even triple the amount of water that you insist being in your need. It is obvious that you will be very thirsty in a long trip walking through tough roads, even more like a camel guzzling for water in the desert. It is terrifying if you still have few hours of walking, but just realize you’ve drunk the last drop of your water. There actually are some stands selling water as you get closer to the town, so be released that you will merely dying thirst before you get some.
Know about the touts
Once Sapa has become famous destination of tourism in Vietnam attracting a large deal of travelers, following consequences can be seen. One of the most seen affections of this is touting as serious business of local residents, especially women. If you have spent few times being in Sapa, you’ll notice that touting is very commonplace in this destination. Right at the time you got to the town, you will be surrounded by local women walking alongside with you. Even though you make it clear that you have no intention to buy any souvenirs, they will make things start friendly by asking questions and practicing English. After a while, it will turn to be a bit aggressive with their sales pitch. Everyone knows that those residents have to make it for their living, but a little preparation is necessary for not having culture shock when you come to Sapa for trekking.
Finally, where is your buddy?
Eventually, do not forget your cameras with batteries fully charged. Sapa is an awesome place where you can catch extremely stunning scenes of the nature, poetic beauty of the surrounding region with mountains, hills, forests and rustic villages. Guides are very nice that they will wait for you taking photo breaks anytime you find you would like to do so. Thus, try to grasp memorable moments of your trekking in Sapa as much as possible with your camera to later share with your friends about fantastic experiences you had.
GETTING TO SAPA:
To get to Sapa, you can catch a train form Hanoi to Lao Cai, which is about 40km far from Sapa. There is bus service runs way of Hanoi to Lao Cai, but having night sleep on a train is far more convenient. Once you get to Lao Cai, let’s take a minivan to get way to Sapa.
Where to stay?
There are a lot of choices for your accommodation once you get to Sapa, but the most recommended is stay in homestays with local residents. Experiencing homestay does not only give you the most authentic memories, but also be one of the best ways to prepare you with advantageous conditions for the trip up here as you can learn about local culture, have your host as your guide. Homestays in Sapa are also can easily found, name some as Hien Phong Homestay, May Kieu Homestay, Black H’mong Homestay, Sapa Musician House…