Vietnam is kind of addictive.
To date, I’ve seen Saigon, Mui Ne, Dalat, Phu Quoc, Hanoi and Sapa, and each city/town is so different from the other. For those wondering, Dalat is the most unforgivably beautiful city with the best weather and people. But today we shall discuss Sapa – I was super stoked for this quick trip because I’ve always wanted to visit (⁎⁍̴̛ᴗ⁍̴̛⁎).
We hopped on a sleeper bus from Hanoi for USD15 one-way to see the beautiful rice terraces in Sapa. If you’ve never been on a sleeper bus and want to be prepared for one in Vietnam, observe the photos. At first glance the sleeping arrangements may look complex. But do know this occurrence is a result of randos getting comfortable on the floor of the bus.
The concept of a sleeper bus is actually very simple: custom-designed bunk beds with optimal room for stretching your legs out and a blanket for the journey – be warned that said blankets may have you considering the last time they were washed. The journey from Hanoi to Sapa takes approximately 6 hours, and you can either catch an early morning ride, or an overnight trip. The bus will do multiple pick ups before hitting the road, and because they don’t usually turn anyone down, you might awake from a nap to aforementioned randos occupying the walking space.
The complimentary WIFI doesn’t work great, but is good enough for when you get bored of all your Netflix downloads and Sudoku. Highly recommend: a bottle of water, snacks and maybe a large scarf to keep warm, in place of said suspicious blankets.
6 hours later, the bus rolls up into Lao Cai, where you can catch a GrabTaxi to your hotel. Definitely book via the app > flagging one off the streets. Now, the hotel I stayed in was pretty shit, albeit a very good location. We chose Sapa Hills Hotel for its rooftop terrace – unfortunately we had gone during the rainy season at the start of August and experienced erratic showers. Also worth noting that the neighboring hotels also boost the same beautiful views, so look for alternatives with better quality.
Being high up in the mountains meant that the clouds hung low when it rained. Notice the difference in view between the top and bottom photo – the latter is not low-res and poorly captured, the clouds simply obscured all view. The temperamental showers also means it doesn’t pour round-the-clock, there will be opportunities to trek out to see the beautiful terraces, which is what we did!
Being rice terraces, naturally we had to climb some steps for a view, before we could reap the rewards of our footwork. Have I mentioned it was raining a lot? Put climbing + raining in one sentence and you’ll get a Yun who slipped and fell on her bum… three times in one day. Pro tip: wear better shoes.
There are several villages you can visit in Sapa to see the rice terraces from different view points. We first visited Cat Cat Village (pronounced kat mane and not kitty cat) – and we had to pay a small fee to enter which was rather annoying. Along the way we encountered Hmong people striking up conversations with us in their attempts to have us buy their handmade items – also rather annoying but I can’t say we were surprised by the experience.
A more scenic option will take about 25 minutes by bike. Tell your hotel receptionist you want to visit Ta Phin Village, and they’ll ring up motorcyclists who will take you there. I mostly got videos on my phone, but trust me when I say the sights I saw were unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
The next day we started the day early and had a beautiful quiet morning at Cafe In The Clouds. where I tried Egg Coffee for the first time!
… it was bizarre to me. I don’t usually drink coffee at all and to have an frothy egg thrown into the mix, it’s suffice to say it didn’t quite float my boat. Or perhaps I could have gone somewhere more “popular” and maybe gotten a more drinkable serving. Either way, give it a go because this is one of Vietnam’s specialities.
There really isn’t too much to do in Sapa except to bask in the beauty of nature. Think of Sapa as a quick getaway from the city – we spent two days here and made our way back to Hanoi on an overnight bus.