Sapa is a popular destination in northern Vietnam, and certainly one of the country’s most beautiful areas. It’s known for its amazing scenery of mountain vistas and rice terraces, waterfalls, hill tribes, and highland climate. One thing not to miss out on in Sapa is trekking. Treks can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. One of the best ways trek through the mountainside is by hiring a guide or joining an organized trek. However, it is possible to go trekking on your own if you’re feeling adventurous.
Hire a Guide
There are many different treks you can try on your own. If you really want to explore the hillside of Sapa, however, I would hire a local guide who knows the terrain, the best spots, and the typical weather. It’s pretty easy to arrange a guided trek once you get to town, and is often cheaper to book in person. I did do my research on TripAdvisor first, but then went to the actual office to book the trek. You can also book a trek through some hotels or the main tourism office.
During my trip to Sapa with my husband and a couple friends. A trek around Sapa was of course on the agenda, but due to only have two days in town, we opted for a day trek. Many people, however, do a trek that includes a homestay. We chose to take a trek with Sapa O’Chau, who I highly recommend. They offer a wide range of tours and treks. We chose the Waterfall and Sin Chai Village 1 Day Trek. Our guide spoke excellent English, and even taught us a few words in the language of the Hmong.
Booking a trek with Sapa O’Chau also let us help the local ethnic community, as it is a Social Enterprise, meaning that it gives back to the community. It was started by a young single mother from the Black Hmong tribe, along with the help of four Australian volunteers. Sapa O’Chau is now made up of the tour operation, the Hmong handicraft store, the cafe, and a boarding facility, all designed to help the community and provide a high school education to ethnic minority youth.
Cons of Not Hiring a Guide
- You could get lost. It’s not necessarily difficult to find you way back to town, but there’s still the possibility that you could lose your way.
- You don’t get all the information. Guides can actually teach you things. They can give you information about the local culture, history, and interesting stories.
- You may miss out on the good stuff. Guides know where some of the best spots in the hillside are, and the best ones will take you on more of a off-the-beaten path route. (Ours did.)
What to Bring for Trekking
- Plenty of water (Bring the double the amount you think you’ll need. You’ll be doing A LOT of walking.)
- Good shoes for hiking
- First aid kit
- A hat and maybe sunglasses
- Food (If you’re trekking on your own. If you hire a guide for at least a day trek, they’ll most likely provide food.)
- Map (If you’re on your own and trying to find specific places to see.)