About in Sapa
Sa Pa or Chapa (as the French called it) appeared on the national map when the French debarked in highland Tonkin in the late 1880s. Followed decade, this area started to see military and missionaries groups from the Société des Missions Etrangères de Paris visit. The first permanent French civilian resident arrived in Sa Pa in 1909. In the late 1910s, the villas were established by deserving managerial staff for vacationing purpose. Then, from the 1920s onwards, with its attractive continental climate, several wealthy professionals came and built private villas in the vicinity. In the early 1960s, the lowlands inhabitants migrated to the region under the New Economic Zones migration scheme organized by the new Socialist government. In 1993, Sapa was made to open as a prominent holiday destination to accommodate international tourists. Since then, Sa Pa is back on the tourist trail again, attracting a newly emerging local elite and international travellers. Tourism, therefore, has been contributed significantly (over 50% ) to Sapa District’s Gross Domestic Product (Sapa DPC, 2009). Sapa is well-known for its spetacular mountainous landscape, rich biodiversity and colorful ethnic groups. It is a quiet mountain town, located at 1600m above sea level in Lao Cai Province and 380 km north-west of Hanoi. The climate is moderate and rainy in summer (May—August), and foggy and cold with occasional snowfalls in winter. On a clear day, the imposing peak of Fan Si Pan, the highest mountain in Vietnam (3143 m above sea level), comes into view. This offers a real challenge to even the keenest walker, the opportunity of staggering views, and a rare glimpse of some of the last remaining primary rain forest in Vietnam. The Hoang Lien Mountains are home to a rich variety of plants, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects, many only found in northwestern Vietnam. Forest type and quality change with increasing altitude. At 2000 meters the natural, undisturbed forest begins to be seen. Above 2500 meters dwarf conifers and rhododendrons predominate in the harsh “elfin forest”, so called because a lack of topsoil and nutrients means that fully mature trees grow to measure only a few meters in height. Higher still, only the hardiest of plant species are found. At over 3000 meters, Fan Si Pan’s summit can only support dwarf bamboo. Sapa is a home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. The total population of 40,000 consists mostly of minority groups, of which over haft are Black Hmong (52%). The other ethnic groups include Red Dao (25%), Kinh (15%), Tay (5%), Giay (2%) and Xa Pho. Approximately 7,000 live in the Sapa twon, the majority of population being scattered in small communes throughout the district. The scenery of the Sa Pa in large part reflects the relationship between the minority people and nature. They work on sloping terrace lands, cultivate mainly rice and corn. The unique climate in Sapa has a major influence on agricultural yields and health. Rice, by its very nature of being a labour intensive crop, makes the daily fight for survival paramount. The mountainous landscape is seen especially in the paddy fields carpeting the rolling lower slopes of the Hoang Lien Mountains.The impressive physical setting which underlies this has resulted from the work of the elements over thousands of years, wearing away the underlying rock What to do Trekking and short visits to the tribal villages are popular activities prefered by backpacker/independent travellers and packaged tourists. If you have enough time, then adventuring to the Hoang Lien National Park to explore the wildlife and conquer the highest mountain peak in Vietnam, Fansipan 3143m above sea level. Otherwise, visit Ham Rong/Dragon jaw mountain or Siver waterfall and Tram Ton Pass. At free time, just walk around the town, explore the market, enjoy the foot massege, drinks and local food, do shopping or simply relax by sitting down with a cup of coffee. Getting here By trains Train service runs regularly from Hanoi to Lao Cai city. A soft sleeper at 4 berths cabin is highly recommended for overnight journey. It is better to book a train ticket a couple of days in advance to make sure that you do not end up travelling overnight on a hard seat. If you travel alone and you are a light sleeper, then ear plugs and an eye mask are a good idea! Be at the Hanoi Train Station at least 30 minutes before the departure time. The transporters are available, however usually at unreasonable price. So keep holding your bags and heading to the train tracks… your ticket will tell you which platform number that the train departs from. Remember to keep your tickets to present at arrival Lao Cai Station! When arrive in Lao Cai, there are many minibuses which would love to take you to Sapa. The one way bus ticket cost 50,000vnd per person. Taking bus to Sapa would be an interesting experience! Here’s a few tips… • Smile • Walk into the car park and find the fullest bus… then agree the price with the driver. Doing this way, you will be leaving for Sapa soon and not waiting for the next train to arrive with more tourists. Alternatively, if that does not sound like much fun at 5:30 a.m then we can arrange a pick up car for you… just let us know and a friendly face will be waiting for you at the entrance of the train station, holding a our sign with your name on it ) By Buses Sleeper buses Hanoi – Sapa are alternative choices. These buses are not comfortable as the train 4 sleeper cabin does, however at about a haft price, therefore affordable for budget travellers. It is better to take a night bus leaving Hanoi from 6-9pm and be in Sapa at around 5-7am in the next day. You can catch these buses whether at My Dinh or Gia Lam bus station. Some buses might pick you up at place close to Hanoi Old Quarter.