Sapa & Beyond
SAPA & BEYOND: AN ICONIC ACTIVE DESTINATION
For Topas, Sapa is where it all began, starting in the 1990s when we first discovered the treasures of this region and still going strong nearly 30 years later.
We believe exploring the magnificent scenery and spending time with ethnic minority groups is at the heart of any journey to Vietnam. Through community development and empowerment initiatives, our hard work has provided thousands of travelers and locals the benefit of cultural exchange in a responsible way throughout Sapa.
It’s for this reason that Sapa is featured heavily in our Original journeys as well our Family packages. It’s also the location of our boutique-styled homestay, Topas Riverside Lodge, and certified unique lodge by National Geographic, the acclaimed Topas Ecolodge.
When you travel with us, you will come to love Sapa just as much as we do. Learn more about this enchanting destination below and how you can work a Sapa tour into your next adventure to Vietnam. Sapa especially pairs well with other essential Vietnam tourist destinations, from the storied streets of Hanoi and magical landscapes of Lan Ha Bay to postcard perfect beaches hugging the sparkling turquoise sea.
Or, browse some of our bespoke Sapa tours for more travel inspiration.
There’s nowhere in the world quite like Sapa. A town founded by the French during colonial times (though close to a collection of existing hamlets and villages) this hill station has experienced a history of ups and downs.
Principally a retreat for long escape holidays from Hanoi’s summer heat, it soon became a hotspot for European anthropologists keen to study Southeast Asia’s rich cultural history and diversity. Nowadays, local cultures contrast with foreign nationalities, genuine colonial architecture sits beside kitsch Soviet copies, and ladies grilling corn crouch outside Italian pizza restaurants.
The town will continue to change, but experiences like warming your hands on a cup of coffee with a view of mountains, standing above the clouds on the Roof of Indochina, or haggling over textiles in the bustling market will always remain a quintessential part of traveling through Vietnam. Curious about what else there is to do in Sapa? We’ve curated a helpful list of our favorite things to do in Sapa here to help you out.
After experiencing the rainbow of color represented by the peoples of Sapa and beyond, you’ll see that kaleidoscopic is no understatement. This is down to the ethnic diversity, with H’mong, Dzao, Tay, Giay, Xa Pho, and many others represented throughout the area. Many of these groups can be segmented even further, which further enhances the differences.
The Black H’mong and Flower H’mong may both speak H’mong, but the colors they don themselves in couldn’t be more different. Less striking but just as enchanting is the architecture. Each group have a different way of constructing houses, from H’mong bungalows atop mountain peaks to the Tay that live in towering stilt houses alongside rivers. Get to know the people of the northern mountains through meaningful activities, such as hiking and homestays while traveling through Sapa. Or support the vibrant weaving and dying culture by purchasing textiles and joining workshops.
Picture a mountain. At the top there are dark green jungles that blanket the peak. About halfway down, waterfalls of rice terraces are carved into the slope like staircases for giants. And at the bottom, a flowing river trickles over rocks as it meanders down the valley. The forests are evergreen and the rivers rarely run dry, but the rice terraces shift dramatically throughout the year.
Sapa is a year-round travel destination, with the rice cycle showcasing the beauty of each season in spectacular fashion, particularly from March to May and September to early November. Whether it’s cycling, motorbiking, driving, or trekking in Sapa, there is no wrong way to discover the gorgeous landscapes and rich cultural diversity of the region. That being said, we believe there is no better way to experience the incredible landscapes of northern Vietnam than by joining a Sapa trekking tour.
Perched on a mountaintop with commanding views of the surrounding highlands, Topas Ecolodge is one of Asia’s most incredible accommodations. A certified “Unique Lodge” by National Geographic, you’ll stay in stone cottages that coil around the peak, ensuring that each one offers a different view.
Furthermore, Topas Ecolodge is the perfect place to base yourself in order to deeply explore the pristine landscapes and rich cultural diversity of Sapa. Whether you’re short on time or have a couple weeks to spare, don’t miss out on your chance to stay at one of the top-rated sustainable properties in the world!
Topas Riverside Lodge rests in Nam Cang, a village untouched by mass-tourism inside Hoang Lien National Park. The locals here still go about their lives much like they would anywhere else in the mountains, with days revolving around farming, fishing, foraging, and sewing traditional textiles. It’s also surrounded by lush jungles and swirling rice terraces, perfect for getting out into the wilderness.
Strap on your hiking shoes and take on the mountains for a day of hiking before returning to the lodge for a welcome Dzao herbal foot bath and family-style meals. Or if you have the need for speed, climb the hills on a mountain bike before an exhilarating descent as you pedal from village to village.
Dive deep into Vietnam’s magnificent landscapes and warm culture with these destination-focused itineraries designed to take you further into the country. Or mix and match to create the adventure of a lifetime.
Our Sapa & Beyond Tours
5 days | Active From 10,200,000 VND
Run away with us to the mountains and experience the best that northern Vietnam has to offer on this 5-day itinerary. Trek through the mountains, jungles, and ethnic minority tribes of Hoang Kien National Park outside of Sapa and enjoy two very different kinds of accommodations—the rustic, homestay-inspired Topas Riverside Lodge and the acclaimed luxurious Topas Ecolodge, a certified unique lodge by National Geographic.
7 days | Culture From 17,650,000 VND
Combine the mountains of Sapa and the sea of Lan Ha Bay on this iconic itinerary filled with the raw and powerful natural beauty of northern Vietnam. Leave the chaos of Hanoi behind and breathe in the fresh air of Hoang Lien National Park’s mountains and valleys, staying at a boutique homestay and the luxurious Topas Ecolodge. End your journey sailing through the impressive limestone mountains and waters of Lan Ha Bay.
9 days | Family From 22,260,000 VND
Fun for the whole family awaits on this 9-day exploration through the best of northern Vietnam. Find Hanoi’s hidden highlights by bike and vintage Vespa and trek through Sapa’s famous scenes of rice terraces and mountains visiting remote ethnic minorities. Spend a night at the renowned Topas Ecolodge before ending your travels relaxing aboard a three-day cruise through Lan Ha Bay’s exotic landscape.
4 days | Active From 9,000,000 VND
Short on time but want to experience the impressive landscape of northern Vietnam? We’ve got you covered. This action-packed adventure takes you deep into the mountains of Hoang Kien National Park outside of Sapa, filling the days with treks through mountains, jungles, and remote ethnic minority villages and nights with home-cooked, delicious Vietnamese family dinners at our homestyle-inspired Topas Riverside Lodge.
7 days | Culture From 16,500,000 VND
Let us introduce you to Vietnam on this 7-day journey through the traditional and cultural heartland of the country. Brave the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s intriguing city center before heading to the peace and quiet of the famous rice terraces and mountains of Sapa, visiting remote ethnic minorities and listening to the sounds of nature. End your travels cruising through the impressive limestone mountains and waters of Lan Ha Bay.
Want to explore Vietnam from North to South?
Check out our multi-destination itineraries