Sapa offers its visitors a variety of opportunities to get to know the wonderful region that is also favored by the inhabitants of Vietnam. You can choose a one or multi-day tour from a local travel agency. You can also simply stroll through the streets of Sapa and wait for one of the Muong women to offer you herself as a guide and to hike an individual tour with you. Or you can do it like me and explore the town on your own.
Of course you need a motorcycle or a scooter for doing this, but this is one of the smaller hurdles. The rental stations, everywhere around Sapa, offer you a bike from around $10 a day. When hiring one, please make sure that the bike you have selected is in a good condition. Tests the brakes and lights. And as one of the most important features in Vietnam, the horn, too. But my experience has shown that this one always works.
TIP: I recommend you not to close the deal over the phone, go to the rental company and gain some insight of the condition of the bike. Above all, braking is essential for the hilly and steep streets of Sapa.
You found your vehicle, it drives and brakes, great. Nothing stands in the way of an adventure now. But where should the tour go? The region around Sapa is large and offers you a various number of possibilities.
For my stay, I choose three destinations that I wanted to visit. Below you will find my experiences.
And please remember to always drive carefully and not after sunset. The streets can quickly become dangerous, especially in the dark.
Overview of the Route
The Village Route
Duration: 8 Hours
Ticket price: 75.000 VND (2,91€) per person
I once traveled to Sapa to get to know the real village life of Vietnam. But I have never had this experience in the city of Sapa or in the Cat Cat Village, which is very popular by tourists. If you are traveling to Sapa with the same expectation, I highly recommend you visiting the numerous settlements in southern Sapa. Here you will find the authentic life and not the one prepared and staged for tourists.
The Village Tour starts in Sapa and runs strictly southeast. There is only one main path, so you can hardly get lost. If you follow this, it will take you straight to your destination as far as Thanh Phu. Along the tour you will encounter many small villages, including Ta Van and Ban Ho.
The path leads you through traditional Vietnam. Here the clocks tick a little bit slower. People are relaxed and have their own daily routines. Feel free to adapt to this routines, stop sometimes and enjoy the view of the hilly landscape with its beautiful rice fields. Makes often a rest and then drink some coffee or a coconut.
I can highly recommend the Anh Duc Homestay as a resting point. There you will find delicious smoothies and pancakes with honey.
When you arrive at the last station in Thanh Phu, you can easily go back. But the way back won’t be boring. Many things now appear from a different perspective and are illuminated by a completely different light due to a changed position of the sun.
On the entire route you will find the one or the other viewing platform. You can avoid them without hesitation, as they are besieged by the local children. They are just waiting for their prey, the tourist. Then they slip out of their hiding place, besiege you and try to sell something to earn a pair of dong. I know, you can’t blame them, but a relaxed enjoyment of the view is not possible in this situation.
Heaven’s Gate and the Tram Ton Pass
Duration: 4 Hours
Recommended Time: Between 6 and 8 o’clock
The north of Vietnam and mainly Sapa are known for the mountains and nature. You can experience all of this by yourself when you set off on your bike towards Heaven’s Gate. On the way there, you will have to scale quite a few meters in altitude.
Heaven’s Gate is a vantage point along the Tram Ton Pass, which is with its 2047 meters above sea level the highest pass in Vietnam. These facts alone guarantee an adventurous journey with a great view along the entire route. Once at the destination, this height is immediately noticeable. Starting in Sapa with short pants and shirt, it quickly gets cooler up here. So think of warm clothes before you start your trip.
The early bird catches the worm. Those who start early will be rewarded with a silent stay at the highest point, which enables you to listen the numerous birds and insects around you. Hardly any tourist gets here in the early time and you have the whole adventure just for yourself.
Duration: 4 Hours
Ticket price: 70.000 VND (2,71€) per person
Parking: 5.000 VND (0,19€)
The Love Waterfall is only a short distance away from Heaven’s Gate and can be visited on the same tour. As the name suggests, the main attraction is a waterfall, which you will only see after a 30-minute walk.
The starting point of the hiking tour is a parking lot with a few souvenir shops. Here you can park your bike and buy an admission ticket. Right at the beginning, you will notice that there are two different ways to start your tour. Pick one of them and just go. Both lead to the destination and cross each other after few meters.
I love hiking, it keeps you fit and you are alone with your thoughts. A lot of time for yourself to use that you would otherwise not have in the hectic pace of daily life. If you feel the same way like this, you will enjoy the 30 minutes to the waterfall. A lot of green, a lot of nature and a lot of peace.
There is a possibility to sit down at the waterfall and listen to the rippling of the waterfall. You can also go into the water and enjoy a cool down.
If you follow my blog for a longer time, you have already noticed that I am an individualist and always try to plan my adventures by myself. The start into the unknown is exactly what makes this adventure so appealing to me. As you know, the route is the goal.
I can recommend this bike route to every adventure hungry pal. This is the only way for you to get to know of the authentic Sapa and its inhabitants. And who knows what else will happen on your tour that you can report your loved ones later.
Unfortunately, as always, there is not enough time to experience everything in Sapa. But the good thing about it is that there is a reason to come back.