Sapa town stands at the head of a deep valley of magnificent rice terraces that are still farmed today as they have been for centuries. Backdrops don’t get much more spectacular. Enticing ribbons of road lead the eye down to the valley floor, white-water rivers rush among rice fields, and lush green mountains stretch into the distance as far as the eye can see. The highest peak in the region, Mount Fansipan, crowns the ragged ridge line high above town.
The best time to visit Sapa is in September and October when the rice terraces are at their most splendid; or in April and May when the weather is ideal and skies are clear. For those who don’t mind hot weather, June to August is a fine time to visit. Expect chilly weather from November to March.
Overnight trains are the most popular way to reach Sapa via the neighbouring province capital, Lao Cai. Upon arrival, transfer vans finish the journey up the mountains. Alternatively, regular buses and shuttle vans run from Hanoi with a journey time of five to six hours, stopping in the centre of town. As a former hill station, Sapa has plenty of steep roads and pathways. Many visitors get around by foot, or by taxi. Adventure-seekers can rent mountain bikes to explore the trails along the valley.