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Solo Traveller’s Guide to Sapa Vietnam

One of my best memories of travelling in Vietnam was hiking through Sapa. The region has a beautiful landscape where rice terraces go on forever and cascading mountains layer in the background. I can see why Sapa is so attractive to hikers from all over as there are many trails zigzag through the staggered rice terraces. And it should be part of anyone’s Vietnam itinerary!

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What you need to know before going to Sapa

Before you plan your visit to Mui Ne, check out these travel tips first:

  • Sapa is a safe town for solo female travellers.
  • You can either take the overnight train on your own or join a tour.

How to get to Sapa Vietnam

Solo female travellers can easily get to Sapa via overnight train from Hanoi. The journey is safe as you will not travel alone on the train. Many (solo) travellers travel to Sapa via train as it is the most reliable option.

The journey to Sapa is quite simple. Visit one of the many tour companies in Hanoi Old Quarter, and they can set you up with train tickets to Lào Cai (a town where you must transfer), connecting bus from Lào Cai to your Sapa accommodation and all the transportation in reverse. Or you can sign up for a bigger tour like what we did.

The best part about being on the tour was how organized everything was, especially with all the transfers in between. Our primary contact with our tour company took us to the train station and showed us which platform to go to and which berths were ours for the night. On the way back from Sapa, someone holding a sign with my name on it waited on the platform just as we step off the train. How did he know which cabin we were on and therefore, which door that we would come out of? We were truly impressed with all the transfers between the train and our hotel. Definitely a big bonus for any solo female traveller.

What to do in Sapa for solo travellers

Day 1 of the Sapa hiking tour

When we arrived at Sapa, we immediately had a chance to freshen up from our overnight train ride. And we even had a big breakfast to prepare ourselves for the hike.

On the first day of our Sapa trekking tour, we hiked to Cat Cat Village, which is just 3km south of Sapa. The guided trek was relatively easy as it started off with a descent down a shallow hill. Despite the misty weather, the hike is beautiful as you can see rice fields and traditional H’Mong (ethnic minority) homes along the way. The guided path leads you to small farms, a waterfall and a community centre where the villagers perform cultural dance performances. Some of the H’Mong homes are also set up as shops where you can purchase local handicrafts made by the people living there.

After a delightful day of hiking and an overnight train experience, we were ready to relax at our accommodation. The remaining afternoon and evening was our time to relax and to do anything else we wanted in Sapa.

Day 2 of the Sapa hiking tour

The second day of hiking was all about hiking to Y Linh Ho, which it is inhabited by the H’Mong minority group. The trek was a bit more difficult due to the muddy paths resulting from a storm from the night before. But we had more luck in terms of weather; it was sunny for the entire day.

As we trekked through the largest farmland in the region, there were many picturesque spots for photo opportunities. Our group of eight was joined by small H’Mong women in traditional clothing. These small, tiny women helped us along the muddy paths and guided us for most of the day. Our little H’mong lady is the cutest little woman you will ever meet.

The trek included lunch in Ta Van Village. It was during lunch when we had a set meal and find out why the H’Mong women helped us. They carried a wicker basket full of handicrafts for sale on their back the entire time. I felt somewhat obligated to buy something from the sweet lady. And so I did. I gave her a bit more money as a tip as well.

After the quick lunch, we continue to trek and make our way further down the rice terraces. At this point, we hiked for most of the day, and most of us were quite tired. It was great to hear that there was a minibus waiting for us to take us back to Sapa town. Everything was organized really well with our Sapa tour package.

Day 3 of the Sapa hiking tour

Visit Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina. You can either do a multi-day hike up the highest peak or take the new cable car ride, which was our choice.

However, the weather didn’t cooperate that day. We had to forgo seeing the majestic mountain and hide in a coffee shop instead. If you are lucky to have a clear sunny day, definitely head up to the peak and take in the breathtaking views.

That evening, we made our way back to Lào Cai via a minibus and the dark, windy road to catch our overnight train back to Hanoi.

Going to Ha Giang from Sapa? Check out Ha Giang 3 day motorcycle trip

What to eat in Sapa

While there are many restaurants on Mường Hoa Street and Cầu Mây Street, a few places are facing the park that was a bit closer to our hotel.

  • Le Gecko Restaurant – The menu has Vietnamese food and international cuisine.
  • Moment Romantic Restaurant – hotpot is the perfect meal in Sapa, a town in high altitude and cold temperature.
  • Dao Coffee – try cafe trung (egg coffee) at this cozy little cafe.

Along with some of the types of northern Vietnamese cuisine recommended in the Hanoi guide, Sapa is famous for some unique treats:

  • Thắng cổ (buffalo, pork or horse meat soup) – a traditional dish of Hmong people
  • Thịt heo cặp nách Sapa (specialty pork in the region)
  • Pau Play Day Cake (glutinous rice and green peas)

Where to stay in Sapa for solo travellers

  • Golden Sun Sapa Hotel – centrally located and was our meeting spot for all the hiking tours.
  • Freesia Hotel – a 4-star renovated hotel with big spacious rooms, an indoor pool and a view of the lake.
  • Sapa Highland Resort & Spa – located on a hill, 300 meters from the centre of the town. The hotel is also newly renovated (there seem to be a lot of newer hotels popping up everywhere in Sapa). The room was spacious, and the bathroom was big. And not to mention the mountain view!
  • Topas Ecolodge – splurge on one of the nicest hotels in Sapa.
Thank you for reading my Sapa hiking post

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Vietnam:

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

2 Comments

  • Erin
    October 22, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    Sapa is such a beautiful, dreamy and peaceful place! Although it can be a bit touristy but still worth visiting!
    Thank you for your informative and amazing blog post!

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      October 24, 2019 at 9:29 am

      Hi Erin, thank you so much for your message! Sapa is pretty great! The group I was with was pretty small so it made the experience much better. 🙂

      Reply

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