H’mong, Dao, and Giay people speaking English more fluently than Vietnamese, tremendous natural vistas right outside your balcony, an early morning chill with clouds hovering over the mountains, this and more is what you should expect from Sapa!
Located on the northern border of Vietnam, Sapa is the only region of the country that has snow in the winter, which tempts many Vietnamese travelers. However, Sapa is more than fluffy flakes! The highland is charming with its pure fresh atmosphere, authentic people, amazing natural food, and relaxing living habitats. You can check our complete guide on what to see and do in Sapa, which also includes a great selection of food.
With this article, I’m going to highlight how and where to stay in Sapa.
Where to Stay in Sapa
Where to stay in Sapa depends on what sort of experience you desire. Sapa town is suitable for an afternoon in the spa, shopping, and several eating spotlights. You can also book day trekking trips for out-of-town visits. If you wish to have fun at night, I recommend staying in town (near Sapa Church and Sapa Market). As you walk down the main streets of Sapa town, you will find sparkling cafés, rustic restaurants luring in customers with the warm smell of grilled sweet potato, corn, and sizzling meat. At night, you can lay back with a beer in a small-town bar.
Little Sapa Homestay
Located in the center of Sapa town, this homestay is ideal if you wish to visit the town at night. Though listed as “homestay”, the services and amenities provided are as good as a hostel.
Address: 42 Cau May Alley, Sapa Town
Price Range: $15
Go Sapa Hostel
Clean, neatly designed, friendly with an international atmosphere, and located right in the heart of Sapa Town, this hostel is great for any backpacker. Dorm rooms are available for individual travelers, and there are rooms for couples or a group as well.
Address: 25 Thac Bac St., Sapa Town
Price Range: $5 – $20
Sapa Horizon Hotel
Two minutes walking from the Church and Sapa Market, this hotel is a perfect spot to comfortably stay in town. Most of the staff are locals, who will be eager to share their stories of how the locals live.
Address: 18 Pham Xuan Huan St., Sapa Town
Price Range: $100
Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa
This luxury hotel and spa is five minutes walking distance from the Church which means it is located quite far away from the busy lights of the town.
Address: 30 Hoang Lien St., Sapa Town
Price Range: $95 – $250
If you want an authentic local experience, being part of a family by waking up to the aroma of steaming rice and mountain winds, look into staying in a homestay in a small village. Ta Van and Lao Chai villages (around 8km from Sapa town), are most recommended for your trip of discovery. They are located in Muong Hoa valley in the rice terraces. The best season to feel the charm of the golden rice field is from August to October. You can also stop by Cat Cat village, Ta Phin village and Thac Bac village which are closer to the town.
Several homestays you should check out:
I like this homestay a lot because of its owner. I work in Saigon and every day going to work, I pass by Ao Dai Boutique House – Huu Lala, beautifully green on the outside and so warm inside. This authentic boutique in Saigon shares the same owner of Phori’s House – Ms. Huu!
At Phori’s House in Sapa, expect to stay in a wooden, delicately crafted bungalow settled calmly on a natural hill. Big rocks nestled in the small stream in front of the house are perfect for your morning reading time. An ascent on the trail will take you to a higher cliff cluster where just sitting and watching the afternoon smoke from the villages below will charm your soul. What I love most about this house is their organic vegetable garden, where you can grab some lettuce, get right to the well-prepared kitchen, and make your meal! Phori’s House provides you with fabric bag instead of plastic, and kindly reminds you to sort garbage according to their instruction. You live green here and protect the environment!
Address: Lao Chai, Ta Van Day, Sapa
Phone: 090 623 10 47
Price Range: $35 ~ $71
Gem Valley Sapa
Originally, this was the gallery of a Hanoi-an artist who removed himself from the busy Hanoi streets to this rustic town for a calmer life. The homestay possesses an amazing vista which allows you to contemplate the huge valley and rice terraces below while enjoying your breakfast.
This homestay is built mainly of wood. The second floor is now for guests to stay. Once a home for the owner’s friends when they visited Sapa, today, Gem Valley is a highly recommended accommodation for any guests coming to the highland. And guess what, if you are lucky, you could be welcomed with a homemade, local breakfast prepared by the artist’s wife.
Gem Valley Sapa is located in Cat Cat Village, where traditional handicrafts are still preserved. Go and enjoy how local people live their daily life!
Address: Cat Cat Village, Sapa
Hmong Mountain Retreat
If you want to experience sleeping among the rice terraces, try this! Hmong Mountain Retreat is a cluster of stilt houses and rustic bungalows, many of them are even 70 years old. On cloudy days, bodies of mist gently blow into your house, making a breezy cozy space inside the bungalow.
Since your homestay is right in the middle of the rice terraces, you feel extremely fresh. Breathe deeply. You can either choose a shared-room for a better price if you go alone or book the whole bungalow for a group of 2 – 3 people.
In the common area, you can find bunches of unique, local-style decorative items, bean bags, swings, couches, and more for relaxing. Most interestingly, the chef at Hmong Mountain Retreat usually organizes cooking workshop for guests. You can choose to learn either Vietnamese dishes, ethnic dishes, or even Western dishes if you wish to.
Address: 18 Phan Si Pang St., Sapa
How to Look for More and Book
You can check out the above-recommended homestays and hotels to figure out the details for Sapa’s accommodation. If you want to find more homestays on your own, there are several ways:
- Airbnb.com/Homestay.com: Airbnb is famous for its huge community of homestay providers and guests worldwide. In Vietnam, Airbnb has a solid foundation. Airbnb is built on the rationale that it is more fun for guests to experience how it is to live in a Vietnamese house, and for hosts to live their dream with their creativity and bring travelers the most authentic experience. Therefore, a good Airbnb house is, at least, well designed, clean and neat, and usually has a design concept. Hosts might not be there 24/24 as they do have their main job, but they usually respond to messages and email quickly. Homestay.com in Vietnam is less popular than Airbnb but you will surely find houses in Sapa with good reviews. Yet, for the time being, I prefer Airbnb for Sapa.
To book a house, look for the star rating. 4.5 – 5 stars should be a good choice. I recommend reading the reviews of previous guests. After your stay, if you felt the service was good, give the owner 5 stars and a good review, too!
Like friends giving feedback to friends, hosts do have their right to review guests back. This is what makes Airbnb different from a hostel platform. If you happen to see a bad review among many good reviews, click on the guest’s profile and you can trace back to the host’s review of the guest as well. I have been lucky many times because my guests clean my room like new which made me appreciate them a lot more!
To create your account and enjoy your Airbnb travel credit of $25, click here. You can also recommend your friend to book from Airbnb, which will grant both of you more travel credit. Same goes for Homestay.com.
- Booking.com/Hostelworld.com: this worldwide hotel booking platform covers hotels of most places in the world! If a hotel experience is what you are looking for, you should go with booking.com. Reviews from guests are available on booking.com, however, service providers cannot review their guests in return. If you book a homestay here, you should recognize that the service will not be as good as in a hotel.
Booking with an agency
Sapa is really busy in its high season. If you have not yet booked a place in advance, chances are the most beautiful rooms are not available. Agencies reserved them already. Therefore, in case you cannot find a place, you should check with a tour agency. The fee could be 8 – 10% higher, but your room will be one of the best in Sapa.
If you don’t know which agency is good, check out Saigontourist, Asia Tour Advisor.
– Make sure you read the House Rules in detail before booking, especially if you book a homestay since there will be different rules and services.
– Let your hosts know your time of arrival and departure so they can prepare the rooms for the utmost detail. A lot of hotels also provide taxi pickup and drop-off.
– You should consider bringing your host a small gift, especially if you book a non-professional homestay.
– Personal equipment: expect to walk a lot in Sapa, so sneakers are good. A coat is essential.
– Vietnam is booming and construction sites are everywhere, hence you may want to visit Sapa’s rustic beauty before more buildings invade the town.
– Many Hmong young girls are lured into prostitution as a side-effect of tourism.
– Not all the ethnic people in Sapa like Vietnamese, some even aggressively dislike hearing Vietnamese. Yet, their English is fine to communicate.
– At times, people will try to sell you things, sometimes drugs. Be nice to them, many of them are good people, but do watch out for your belongings.
– If a young girl invites you to her home, the family may ask you for some money after the meal. The girl is purely innocent, it’s the family, so please be nice to her. Sapa is still acclimating to the tourism industry.
Sapa is going through a huge wave of modernization. We do want to keep its rustic beauty like today. Yet, who knows what the future holds! So, if you have time, pay Sapa a visit, live with nature, feel the freeze of the early morning mist instead of the AC, walk the stone stairs instead of using the lift, and understand how hard, yet how free it is to live without much modern equipment. Above are several houses that I like, and ways to book your accommodation. I hope you have found a home away from home in Sapa. I wish you a beautifully meaningful trip!
For further exploration check out these articles:
Looking for more awesome things to see, do and eat in Vietnam? Check out our other comprehensive articles at the Christina’s Blog!