We took a 6 hour semi sleeper bus from Hanoi to escape the smog and spend a few days in the countryside. Sapa is north of Hanoi close to the China border and is famous for its beautiful rice terrace fields up in the mountain ranges high in the sky.
It was FREEZING cold when we were there so we mainly relaxed and enjoyed all the local cafes and restaurants to recouperate from the busy city life.
As mentioned the weather really wasn’t on our side here so we didn’t get to see as much of the place as we wanted but we did appreciate just how beautiful this place is and can imagine with the right weather it is breathtaking!
Now, unfortunately and contrary to many other people’s opinions we didn’t enjoy our time here..! The weather wasn’t on our side, the tours were expensive and all involved activities we weren't keen on so we gave them a miss.
Another main factor affecting our time here was the constant and quite rude harassment we experienced from some (emphasis on some not all!) of the minority/ village women. From the second you step off the bus they are following you trying to sell your things and getting you to join their tours. Even when you decline they keep following you. We had them follow us wherever we went, wait outside restaurants while we ate and even shouting and swearing at us if we declined their offers. Personally this was just too much for us and we would have been more likely to buy something if they weren’t so rude about it! They also use their children to sell items to try and lure you in which made me slightly upset to see. We came in the off peak season where there weren’t many tourists so obviously they have more chance of grabbing you and you have less chance of getting away! Although an inevitable part of travelling it was a negative experience and we were sadly glad to leave.
We would only really recommend Sapa to those who are really ready to fully embrace it all and delve right into the village experience. Sapa excels when it comes to 2/3+ day trekking tours where you stay at the local villages along the way. If you accept that you’ll have the village women with you along the way, and you’re up for a tough trek, this is the place for you!
If not, we felt it is an expensive, long trip away to a small place with not many alternative activities up for offer. If you want to see some BEAUTIFUL countryside of Vietnam instead go to Ninh Binh - find our thoughts on this place in our Vietnam adventures.
These are absolutely incredible and the best way to travel on the 6 hour journey. In the comfort of your own lying down seat, with water and a snack provided. It’s the perfect place to nap, catch up on a series or take it the beautiful views.