When visiting Sapa, the number one thing to do is trek through the region. There are various Sapa trekking routes spanning multiple days, or if you don’t have much time, you can always do a simple half-day trek.
I did a half-day trek combined with my own trekking so that I was hiking through the Muong Hoa Valley for two full days. I recommend starting on a Sapa trekking half day tour and going from there so that you have a clear route as to how to get down into the valley despite the steep, muddy paths. Your accommodation can easily arrange this for you.
If you join a Sapa trekking tour, you’ll also be supporting the local ethnic tribes as your guides will typically be H’mong women from the valley. They are as sweet as could be and proud of where they are from. My guide even pointed out her house in the valley and everything.
And, while the women are smaller than I, they actually proved a massive help in certain areas of the Sapa trekking routes and will push and pull you along no matter how slippery. These are trails they walk every day, so not only do they know exactly where to step (they do this in sandals!) but they’re incredibly strong.
On my Sapa trek I went from Sapa to Lao Chai with a small guided tour, and then from Lao Chai I hiked to Ta Van and Lao Cai on my own (yes, those two “Lao” villages are different by just one letter).
If you’re visiting Sapa, definitely spend one night at a homestay in the countryside as it truly immerses you in the local culture.
When I set out to hike, I had no destination in mind. I just walked and walked until I found a homestay with a view that blew me away, and I found that at Hoa’s Homestay Sapa. When I saw that it was completely surrounded by rice terraces and mountains, I knew that it was the best place for me to rest my feet after about 10 miles of Sapa trekking. It was also perfectly situated in the valley so that I could see both sunrise and sunset, which was just what I was hoping for! Plus, the owners were as sweet and welcoming as could be!
We didn’t get a colorful sunset, but it was beautiful nonetheless. The way the homestays work – because you’re virtually in the middle of nowhere – is that you typically contribute toward a family-style meal, and ours was absolutely delicious!
The next morning I woke up to a stunning sunrise and took a walk down to the river before continuing my trek back into Sapa.
If you’re going to Sapa, don’t miss out on these absolutely beautiful treks! Do yourself a favor and factor in about 4 days minimum to explore Sapa and its surroundings.