Some tips that might be helpful when you are in Sapa
To get to Sapa from the train station in Lao Cai, you’ll need to transfer by car for the 1 1/2- to 2-hour ride from Lao Cai station. The road is cut into the hillside and is bumpy and windy, but the views of the terraced rice farms of the valley are beautiful as you ascend (ride on the left side).
By road: from Hanoi is the longest option and a minimum ten hour drive by car or bus with the journey taking up the entire day. There are many possible routes to Sapa, and visitors can plan their road trip via the route that most matches their special interests. Driving in the mountainous northwest region is often dangerous, so care should be taken to avoid excessive speeds and select vehicles or bikes suitable for all types of terrain. The rainy season should be avoided if you plan an off the beaten track route, unless you are a very experienced offroader. Any tourist cafe or travel agent in Hanoi can arrange trips by private jeep or a combo jeep and train tour. Apart from Sapa, the vast tracts of the north are best visited through a tour company, many offer comprehensive itineraries. Especially for areas off the beaten track. Avoid the temptation to book budget tours with the tourist cafes
When to Go
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- It can be too much of an adventure trying to get there as individual traveller. Arrange the trip with a reputable tour operator to ensure smooth, risk free travel.
- Traveling on week days is both easier and cheaper than weekends (lower hotel costs, more relaxed travel schemes)
- Always make sure you have return tickets in hand.
- Get to Hanoi and Lao Cai at least 30 minutes before departure – but be ready for a sudden or late departure without any explaination.
- Make sure there is something to define the person who picks you up (i.e, his name, cell number and so on)
- Say “no” very firmly when someone offers you something you do not want to buy. If you show the slightest interest, they may well follow you all the way up the road, until they find anther likely target.
- Expect to bargain everything down to about half the original price asked. And expect most products to be Chinese instead of being authentically local.
Hope you enjoy your stay in Sapa!
For more Tips for backpackers, please return to our front page.