As a born and raised Vancouverite (Vancouver, Canada), I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to hiking. Vancouver is surrounded by beautiful lakes and mountains and hiking is regular weekend activity. My three-day trek through the rice terraces of Sapa was an eye opening experience to say the least; as much as I will always love Vancouver, I’ve left a piece of my heart in the picturesque countryside of Sapa.
Sapa is a hilltop village in Northern Vietnam, about 300 kilometers northwest of Hanoi. The northern town was established by the French in 1922, and still gives off a European vibe. Sapa’s narrow, winding streets are surrounded by dozens of French bakeries and coffee shops, and tall, colonial style buildings are nestled safely along the hilly landscape.
But Sapa’s true charm is its countryside.
I hiked along trekking trails that were carved through rolling hills, and gazed at endless rice terraces that stretched as far as the eye could see. A thin fog hung low in the valley, giving the countryside an air of mystery.
I embarked on my journey in late March, and got lucky with the weather. It was 20 degrees Celsius during my trek, and although it was slightly overcast, I felt lucky to avoid the cold rains of the previous week.
My trekking buddies and I spent a night at a homestay, in a village 10 kilometers from the main town. Our host prepared a lovely meal for us, and urged us to try their homemade “happy water,” which is really a type of rice wine. It tasted a bit like Japanese sake.
The next day we explored a nearby waterfall before heading back to the main town.
If you’re a fan of hiking and love nature, I strongly recommend an overnight trek through Sapa’s amazing countryside.
Book Your Trip
I booked my three-day trekking tour in Hanoi, through my accommodation. My budget friendly three-day trip was $125 USD and included transportation to and from Sapa (via a sleeper bus), 3 guided treks, an overnight sleep in a homestay and one night in a hotel. If you’re on a budget I suggest buying a bus or train ticket and heading up to Sapa without prepaid arrangements. Dozens of local guides crowd around the bus and train stations, offering trekking tours and homestays upon arrival. I booked in advance because I was on a tight schedule and couldn’t afford a delay.
Tours to Sapa range from 1 to 4 day trekking tours or longer with other activities mixed in.