Sapa is located about 9.5 hours away from Hanoi and is a popular trekking base in Vietnam. It overlooks the terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley, and the breathtaking view below is what you will see everyday throughout your journey. However, what left an impactful impression on me was not only the landscape, but also the one-of-a-kind Homestay experience I’ve had there, which is what I want to share in this post!

Getting around Sapa

Getting around Sapa was easy for me. I had my itinerary customised for me by Sapa Sisters. It is an all-female run social enterprise that arranges private treks and tours in Sapa. Their guides are from the minority tribal groups H’Mong who lives in Sapa and they offer these groups an avenue for direct access to travelers so as to create their source of sustainable income and living. My experience with them exceeded my expectations entirely when I felt so well taken care of during the full 3D2N!

Our guide, Mai Giang, was a young 18 years old lady then, and she planned our itinerary entirely. That included the trekking route, food, accommodation, and even the round trip from Lao Cai train station to Sapa. So, we literally had nothing to worry about during our whole time there after alighting from the overnight train.

The Homestay Experience

Initially, I was really concerned about our accommodation in Sapa because hygiene and safety are always my two biggest concerns of any accommodation. However, I felt so much at ease after arriving and realised that all my worries were so uncalled for!

Our First night

We spent the night at Mai’s uncle place for our first night in Sapa. The thing about Sapa Sisters is that they give the liberty of arranging the entire itinerary to the guide. I absolutely adore this because it means they get to retain most of the revenue and not lose it to middleman like how most other tour operators work.

View from our accommodation

We arrived at his place at around evening and began washing up after a long day of trekking. Mai’s uncle was already preparing dinner then and we came out from the shower to a Vietnam roll making session. I was so pleasantly surprised at this because how often do I get to experience cooking local dishes in a family kitchen of Sapa! Over the years of travelling, I realised what really makes me want to travel again and again is the chance to immerse myself in the local way of living in other countries, and not just visit places specially curated for tourists.

We ended up having so much fun laughing at each other’s ugly Vietnamese rolls. I even had an amazing time acting like a chef frying our end products at the stove. They honestly made me feel so at home that night!

Please don’t be scared, that’s just my wet and long hair.

The next morning, we woke up to an amazing smell of nature. Coming from a city myself, it felt really blissful to be able to take in a deep breath of fresh morning air to start my day! Imagine sipping a cup of Vietnamese coffee in one hand and admiring this beautiful landscape at the same time, that was me.

Just taking in the fresh morning air

Finally it was time for us to part ways and begin our second full day trek. I’m glad we remembered to take this picture with our amazing host and guide before leaving.

A photo before we parted ways

Our Second night

We spent our second night in a larger place that night. This place was nearly like a hostel with a good mix of other travelers and locals. We got to choose our beds from an entire floor of mattresses laid side by side with each covered with a mosquito net too. Very considerate of them to make us feel comfortable 🙂 And don’t worry, there are enough beds to choose from such that you don’t have to sleep beside someone you do not know.

Dinner that night in comparison to our first night was also much more like a party! All the guests and the owners of the hostel had dinner together on a long stretch of table, with a full spread of Vietnamese cuisine. We also had some specialty rice wine offered to us by the owners, made from their own home-grown Sapa rice. Having it amidst the terraced rice fields of Sapa definitely enhanced the essence of Sapa for all of us too! That night lasted late before we concussed into the cold night, preparing for our next day of trekking once again.

And that is the end of my Homestay experience in Sapa! Are you excited and keen to experience one for yourself too? Yours might even be better if your guide decide to bring you to a different place to stay at! You can then share your side of the story with me 🙂

How to get to Sapa from Hanoi

I took an 8 hours ride on the express overnight train on Vietnam Railways to Lao Cai, and another 1.5 hours by minibus to get to Sapa. Vietnam Railways runs two express trains daily from Hanoi to Lao Cai:

  • SP1 (21:35 PM Hanoi – 05:30 AM Lao Cai)
  • SP4 (21:40 PM Lao Cai – 05:30 AM Hanoi)

If you’re keen to know how it feels like on an overnight train in Sapa, and especially if it’s safe for girls, have a quick read of my experience over here.

About Sapa Sisters

If you would like to extend your help and help them tide through this Covid-19 period, I’m sure they would appreciate every help you can give now or in future when you can engage them to bring you on an unforgettable unique trip there!

Note: If this matters, this is not a sponsored post! I’m just sharing my experience to help spread the word for this organisation that I really feel deeply toward.

You might also enjoy: