A trekking through the rice fields, mountains and forests of Sapa is one of the highlight of a trip in Vietnam. Visit local minority villages and behold the beautiful scenery. Trekking in Sapa is an experience you will not forget. Read this guide to help you on your way to choose the right trekking that fits all your needs and also to prepare you for your trek of a lifetime.

If you want to know about the other possibilities or learn more about this town, then read the Sapa travel guide.

About trekking in Sapa

As mentioned above, Sapa is one of the highlights of Vietnam. In our opinion, the best way to discover the area around this town is by foot. First we explain some of the basics of trekking through this area; what can you see, how difficult is it and if you need a guide or not.

Sapa trekking

What can you see?

Sapa is famous for the rice paddy fields, probably one of the most beautiful of the country and maybe even Asia. With a trekking you walk on paths between the rice paddy fields, including amazing viewpoints over the valley. On the way you pass different minority villages, where you get the feeling that you stepped back in time. You probably encounter a couple of water buffaloes who are being used to work on the lands. It is a great place for taking photos.

How difficult is the trekking?

You will walk up and down over hills, so of course your health and stamina need to be in good shape. An normal trek is about 12-15km per day and you walk for about 5-6 hours. Don’t expect to do any difficult climbing and the roads are not too bad too, even though you don’t walk on any paved roads. That is why after a heavy shower it can be a little bit more slippery on a couple of places. But really, anybody with a good or reasonable health can do this. When you take a private trekking tour in Sapa you can tell your guide beforehand what you are capable of so he can decide what the best route is for you. Also you can decide to do a one day trekking or multiple day depending on what you can handle.

Do I need a guide?

Yes, we definitely recommend a guide. The guides are most of the time locals who know everything about Sapa, every small path, rice field and forest. This way a guide can take you to remote places that are not on any map and go from the main walking paths through rice paddy fields and jungle. You will see more and have the comfort of a guide that takes care of food, showing you the way and accommodation if you do a multiple day trek.

If you are up for a real adventure then yes, you can go also do trekking by yourself. Before you go, you need to prepare the routes that you are going to walk. Easiest way to do this is to go trekking to villages where you can arrange a homestay for an overnight stay, like Cat Cat Village, Y Linh Ho or Ta Van. Make sure that you bring enough food and water with you, there are no shops if you get lost. There are also possibilities for small one day trekkings without guide.

Different trekking options in Sapa

There are lot of tours being offered online and in travel agents in Hanoi en Sapa. We made a selection of tours in Sapa we like the most with good reputation. Now you need to decide if you want to do a one day trekking or a multiple day trekking.

One day trekking or multiple days

The trekking tours are offered from one day up to three days. Four day tours often mean that the first day you travel from Hanoi to Sapa, not an actual day of trekking, so make sure you check the itinerary. If you just want one day trekking, you will already enjoy seeing the beautiful rice paddy fields and local minority villages. It is great if your stamina is not in a very good condition, when you don’t have enough time or at the end of the day you want to stay in a very comfortable hotel.

We always recommend the two day, one night trekking for the best experience. The second day of trekking is for many people the best day, because the scenery is getting more dramatic and you will encounter less tourist. Besides the beautiful rice fields you will walk through jungle and visit remote villages. On the end of the day you will sleep in an authentic homestay, what definitely adds up to the overall experience.

Three days trekking is for the people that really love trekkings, because the scenery will not change a lot. Of course you will go further, that means you will even see less tourist.

Easy, moderate or hard trek

The Sapa trekking tours on TuraVietnam are categorized in 3 difficulty categories:

  • Easy trekking
  • Moderate trekking
  • Hard trekking

Fansipan trekking tour

Another very popular trekking is the Fansipan trekking tour. There are people who can do it in one day. Not recommended though, you start very early, will be back late in the evening and the whole time you will be walking. A more comfortable way and probably more enjoyable is the two day one night trekking. At night you will sleep on the mountain in a hut. There are also three day trekking tours that take you up on a different road. Officially you can’t go up without a guide. There are still people who do this, but we don’t recommend this. In the past, people got lost and there even have been fatal accidents. Alway take a guide with you!

Fansipan trekking Sapa

If you are in Sapa for the famous rice paddy fields, then it is better to do a normal trekking tour. If Fansipan is still on your Sapa bucket list, since 2016 there is a cable car to the top of Fansipan.

Homestay in Sapa

Staying in a homestay can be a very great experience, but this is not for everyone. A homestay experience means that you stay overnight in the house of a local, as the name suggests. Official homestays must be registered. This means the house have to have a toilet that can flush, a bed with mosquito net and has to be clean and hygienic. Still, don’t expect a luxury room, it is a little bit more than a hut. If you are traveling in a group, you probably al sleep in the same room. Dinner and breakfast will be served by the family who host you. It is a very nice cultural experience that also supports the locals with extra income that can improve their lives. Besides that, an overnight trekking means that you can go further away from Sapa and explore more of the area with less tourists.

Sapa homestay

Best time to go trekking in Sapa

The dry season starts in January and ends in June. March to May are in this period the best time for trekking in Sapa; the weather becomes very nice, good to hike and to visit the local villages. The rainy season falls in June to August. September it is the end of the rainy season. This makes September to the end of November the best time to be there. From December it is already getting colder. In January and February temperatures can drop to 0ºC. Read the weather from month to month in Sapa here.

Trekking in Sapa

When is Sapa the most beautiful?

In June and July the rice fields are very green, a very beautiful landscape, but it rains also a lot and it can get very hot, more than 30 degrees which make hiking not very pleasant. In august the scenery is still very green and a little bit less rain. In September the rain is less and the landscape begins to change. The rice paddies are tinted yellow and the crops begin, which is very beautiful. The beginning of this month is probably the ideal combination of weather and scenery. It is possible that on the end of the month the ricefields are already harvested.

What to bring

When you are almost ready for your trip, you just need to make sure you are well prepared. Pack the following items:

  • Good walking shoes
  • Raincoat
  • Personal small water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Insect repellent
  • Small medkit: for small wounds and blister and medicine for diseases like flu, diarrhea and fever
  • Camera with extra batteries
  • Spare clothes

Also, don’t bring too much stuff with you. Pack light, that makes hiking for a few hours a lot more comfortable.

More tips

If your trip does not start from Hanoi but in Sapa, you need to go by yourself to Sapa. Read here: How do I get from Hanoi to Sapa?
Local villagers can sometimes be very pushy to sell you stuff during your trek. This can be uncomfortable. Just politely decline the goods they are trying to sell. Don’t ask the guide to do this, because these people can be from the same villages or are directly related to him.


If you are planning to visit Sapa, but not want to do a trekking, you can discover the beautiful countryside on two other ways. If you are adventurous, a very cool thing to do is to rent a motorbike or do a motorbike tour and drive around. Visit beautiful viewpoints, waterfalls and more. An easier and safer way is to rent a private car with driver, who will drive you to all the best places.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *