Tips for trekking in Sapa

Published:  13:44 Wednesday - September 14, 2016

Tips for trekking in Sapa

Sapa is a famous destination in the North Vietnam and considered the second Dalat in Vietnam because of the cool weather. The most interesting activities in Sapa is trekking and there are some tips for those who want to enjoy this activity.

Hire a guide

There are full-day hikes and even half-day hikes (like Cat Cat Village) which you may want to attempt on your own, however, if you want to spend a few days experiencing the hillside you would recommend hiring a local guide who is familiar with the terrain, the changes in weather, and the best lookout spots.

Treks are easy to arrange once you arrive in Sapa, so don’t bother making bookings in advance as it’ll be cheaper to do so in person. You can also book tours through the main tourism office or the various tour operators found in town. Most of the guides are local and they speak great English, so know that you’re giving back to the local community when you book a trekking guide.


Pack light

In Vietnam travel guide, towels and bedding are not necessary. The accommodations arrange at a small family-run guesthouse. It is a bit of an open-concept with lots of mattresses lined side by side and a mosquito net over top, but you have clean bedsheets, warm blankets for the night, and fresh towels. You can see a few people lugging around their own sleeping bags and heavy packs with who knows what…you really needn’t bother.

Also, keep in mind that the guide is not a porter (this is not Everest Base Camp) and he is not going to carry your bag for you. Only bring what you deem absolutely necessary. Remember, your bag may not feel heavy when you first try it out in your room, but it’ll only get heavier as the day progresses.


Wear sturdy shoes

Your guide will take you “off-the-beaten-track”, quite literally. There are times when we are scrambling up the mountain on all fours, hopping across ditches, and having our bodies whipped by branches as we cut across a bamboo forest. It is demanding and you’ll want good footwear.

Hiking boots might be something to consider if you’re planning something longer than a 2 day trek, like say the summit of Mount Fansipan.

As a side note, there are lots of shops in Sapa that both rent and sell trekking gear. If you’re doing some travel around Southeast Asia prior to your visit to Sapa and don’t feel like lugging around boots and hiking poles, know that those things can be found in the town at affordable rates.


Bring double the water you think you’ll need

Actually make that triple. You will get thirsty and you’ll be guzzling more water than a camel. It’s a horrible feeling realizing you’ve just drank the last drop of your water and there are still another 2 hours of hiking ahead of you.


Get used to the touts

If you’re spending a few days in Sapa, you’ll notice that for the women of the Hmong tribe touting is serious business. If you are hoping the touting will stop once you leave Sapa, think again. Despite making it clear that we had no intention of purchasing any more souvenirs, we had women walk alongside us for hours. Things started off friendly enough with them asking questions and practicing their English, but there was always a pitch at the end and their sales tactics were a bit aggressive. 


And lastly, don’t forget your camera!

The scenery in Sapa and the surrounding region is stunning so you’ll want to make sure you bring your camera and that the battery is fully charged. The guide is very gracious and let you take lots of photo breaks every time you came over a hill or reached yet another lookout point. Your photos from Sapa will be the unforgettable moment in your trip in Vietnam!

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