Hiking in Sapa, Vietnam: Day 1 – Sapa to Ta Van

Mountains of northern Vietnam near Sapa hiking

Hiking in Sapa Vitenam – Part 1 – Sapa to Ta Van – outstanding scenery!

Hiking in Sapa in Vietnam is outstanding. It’s totally worth a trip, and something which would be a real shame to miss. The best thing about it is – it’s an EASY hike, no difficult terrain, amazing views and very cheap. All in all, this is one of the best hikes you could do as a backpacker for those very reasons.

Sapa to Ta Van hike in Vietnam

The Sapa Hike Day 1 from Sapa to Ta Van

Northern Vietnam is magical. Imagine a world where China sits behind mountains, local tribes roam the valleys, the Vietnamese people build towns and villages with epic views and tourists walk around, taking it all in. This is my first installment on hiking in Sapa. I just prefer to split this hike into two parts – Day 1 which is Sapa to Ta Van and Day 2 which is from Ta Van to Giangtachai Village (and a bus back to Sapa). Here goes with part One. Get a beer and sit back, there’s nothing difficult about this at all 😉

Hiking in Sapa Vietnam

The epic mountains on the first day of the Sapa hike in Vietnam

How to book your hiking in Sapa, Vietnam:

There are countless tour operators in Hanoi offering the hiking trips. I used Green Mango travel who don’t have a website (a lot of them don’t) as it was close to my hotsel, the Hanoi Backpackers. So you can either book it in Hanoi or just turn up in Sapa and book it. The reason I booked mine in Hanoi was just that I was pushed for time and I got the tour operator to organise my trains and buses too. You’ll save money if you shop around in Sapa.

Green Mango Travel Hanoi Vietnam

I used Green Mango Travel but there are countless travel agents in Hanoi and Sapa organising these hikes

How much does hiking in Sapa cost?

Roughly $30 US Dollars which includes your overnight stay, the guides, breakfast, lunch, dinner on Day 1 and Day 2 (so 6 meals). Not too bad at all. I didn’t give a tip as the guides seemed to skip some of the things that were written on the tour. It was still great value.

how much does hiking in Sapa cost

You can get the 2 day hike including all your food for around $30 US.

Where to stay when hiking in Sapa

The hike I did was a simple 2 day hike. You stay with a homestay or local family. We stayed in the village of Ta Van which has lots of homestays. It will be included in your tour. You could probably just turn up and hike it on your own and get a cheap place to stay, though I didn’t hear of anyone doing that.

Homestay in Ta Van on Sapa hike Vietnam

Our homestay in Ta Van on the first day of the hiking in Sapa, Vietnam

What does the hike entail?

OK here’s a rough overview of Day 1 on the tour I booked:

7 am – Breakfast in the Sumit Hotel in Sapa (amazing views).

8.30 am – Assemble in hotel lobby and meet the others.

9 am – Start the hike by walking out of the town of Sapa, we are joined by a local tribe who accompany us, but in reality they are just locals looking for money.

Local tribe Sapa Vietnam hiking

We were joined by a local tribe while walking out of the edge of the town of Sapa

10 am – Start the descent down into the valleys with epic views.

Jonny Blair of Dont Stop Living hiking in Sapa Vietnam

Outstanding views of layered rice fields and endless valleys and hills in Sapa in Vietnam

11 am – Short break for water and snack.

Hiking in Sapa Vietnam a lifestyle of travel

Through the valleys and forests at the start of the Sapa hike in Vietnam

12.30 pm – Arrive in the village of Lao Chai (not to be confused with Lao Cai the bigger town) where we have lunch in the local restaurant, run by a guy from England. A few of us buy a beer (Lao Cai Beer) which costs $1 extra.

Lao Chai Vietnam on the Sapa hike mountain village

We had out lunch in the lower mountain village of Lao Chai

1.30 pm – Continue on our hike over rivers. By the point the tribe that followed us have left. We paid them some money for parting gifts, less than 50 cents.

Sapa hike day 1 a river near Lao Chai

One of the views of the river on the way to Lao Chai for lunch

2 pm – We stop randomly on the hike to be shown how indigo dye is used by the locals here to dye the colour of cloths.

Blue indigo dye for cloths in Sapa Vietnam

Between Lao Chai and Ta Van we are shown how blue indigo is used to dye cloths.

2.30 pm – So early, the hike actually ends and we check into our homestay. We were all completely shocked by this – it was so early but we relaxed.

hiking in Sapa Vietnam

The views on the way down to our homestay at Ta Van – incredible!

Afternoon – Showers, relax, lie down, chat over beers with the group and meet our family who are hosting us. They didn’t say much! I enjoy chatting away to my hiking buddies – a great crew 4 Italians, 1 German and 1 Malaysian!

staying in Ta Van Vietnam homestay sapa hiking

Our massive shared room in the homestay at Ta Van

5 pm – Just before dinner we were served bowls of chips (French Fries) and then I headed to a bar in Ta Van on my own for a relaxed beer – The Bamboo Bar. Nobody else in my group came for a beer and the bar is basically empty.

Lao Cai beer Vietnam cold and consumed at Ta Van

Top notch cold Lao Cai beer at the homestay in Ta Van

7 pm – The sun has set and we congregate round the table for dinner. It is an all you can eat treat!

Jonny Blair in Vietnam at Ta Van homestay

Ready to tuck into the evening feast at our homestay!

8 pm – We get given some free Rice Wine and a few of us buy beers and drink away.

dinner in Ta Van homestay on sapa hike Vietnam

Our table at the homestay for dinner and drinks in Ta Van!

11 pm – I decide to have an early night and head to bed.

We are given some rice wine by our hosts in Ta Van at the homestay

Our hosts bring us over some Vietnamese Rice Wine. Had a couple of shots, but it’s not my thing at all…

Other than that, head there yourself and do it! It’s a great hike!

Here are some of my videos from Day 1 of Hiking in Sapa, you can see the others on my YouTube channel:

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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
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12 Responses to Hiking in Sapa, Vietnam: Day 1 – Sapa to Ta Van

  1. I’m heading over to Vietnam at the end of the month, and I was just planning to ‘visit’ Sapa, but now I want to do the hike! 😀

  2. Jonny says:

    Hi Audrey – I totally recommend the hike in Sapa – I’d say don’t miss it for the views alone. It’s in the very north of Vietnam and if you’re up for a more extreme hike you can do Fansipan – Vietnam’s highest mountain. As for the hike – the first day is an all day hike and the second day the hike finishes around lunchtime so you have the afternoon to explore the town of Sapa, I done a top 5 things to do in Sapa before, but it’s the hike that makes the place for me:

    Once you’re done with Sapa you’ll have 2 options – 1. head to Yunnan Province, China at the Lao Cai border or 2. head back to Hanoi on a night train. Yunnan Province in China is without doubt one of the best places I have been, here’s a taster for you: Look forward to hearing your plans. Jonny

  3. Thanks for the info, Jonny! Yeah, our plan is to cross over into China afterwards, so we’ll see how it goes! I’m definitely looking forward to exploring the countryside on foot.

  4. Jonny says:

    Wow! That sounds great Audrey. China is by far one of my favourite countries to travel in. I’ve been 10 times with 3 more trips planned, it’s cheap, varied, cultured and still off the beaten track. I didn’t see another foreigner anywhere on my last 4 trips to China! I’ve done a fair bit of Yunnan Province so let me know if you’re heading there and I’ll have some good tips (it helps that my girlfriend is Chinese!).

  5. Graham says:

    Hi Jonny
    Just completed the Sapa tour and hike to TA VAN, really great and enjoyed it. I stayed at the Sapa Submit Hotel, I think thats where you stayed. Thanks for you advice on your web site.

    Graham Army

  6. Jonny says:

    Are you serious Graham?? If I’d known that I would have posted my stuff on it earlier – didn’t realise you were heading there. It was a great place! Where you off to next? Might see you in Azerbaijan later in the year? Jonny

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