While Sapa town is a nice place to shop or eat– the real highlight of the region is being able to trek through the mountains and the famous rice terraces. Peter and I did 2 full days of trekking (much to the shock of the manager of our hotel).
It was a challenging but incredible experience and despite the fact that my legs were exhausted by the end of the second day, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
And when I do– I’ll certainly keep these Tips for Trekking in Sapa Vietnam in mind.
1. Prepare for mud or rain
Sapa is in the mountains of Vietnam. So no matter what time of the year you visit Sapa, it’s likely to be muddy and damp with a chance of rain. Pack a lightweight poncho or rain jacket and wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. And most of all– wear the right shoes.
Most of the trek guides will be wearing thin rubber rainboots that you can buy in town. These seemed ideal because they could keep their feet dry and then wash off any mud by splashing through the many puddles.
Otherwise, wear shoes that are comfortable but waterproof.
2. Hire a guide
We hired our guide, Ni Ni, directly through our hotel. She was very friendly, knowledgable, and spoke excellent English. Honestly, getting to know Ni Ni is what made me really fall for Sapa and the local communities.
When Peter and I visit Sapa again, we’ve already promised Ni Ni we would stay at her homestay with her family (we may have also promised we’d come with a ‘baby tourist’ to play with her babies…so our next trip is still a few years away).
Hmong Guide – Sapa
Phone Number: 01 68 578 1022
Ni Ni’s spoken English is fantastic, but she cannot read or write in English so please call her!
3. Bring some support
Be it a hiking stick or a willing friend– it helps to have some support when you’re climbing through the muddy terraces. Each day Ni Ni made me a hiking stick with some bamboo we found along the hike, but I also relied on the two lovely ladies who followed us in to town on the first day of our trek.
With all this support I managed to only fall and slide in the mud once. Peter finished the treks unscathed, but he does have height on his side.
4. Chat with the locals
When you depart from town for a trek, you’ll often find yourself being followed by a couple of local women. It can be unsettling because in the end they will ask you to purchase one of their handicrafts in exchange for helping you on your trek– but be patient and kind.
These women are entrepreneurs, supporting their families, and are harmless. They’ll usually start by asking you “Where are you from?” or “What’s your name?” so be polite, answer, and either kindly let them know that you already have a guide and won’t need any assistance or have a chat with them and let them accompany you.
I was incredibly thankful to the two women who followed Peter, Ni Ni, and I on the first day of our treks. They saved me from falling in the mud more than I did! We didn’t purchase anything from them, but we did give them a small tip for their help along the trek.
5. Bring your camera!
You’ll want to remember these views.