North west of the capital, Hanoi, is the popular hill station of Sapa. It has become a frequently visited area with the tourist since around the 1920’s, due to its trekking routes and views.
On a clear day it is said that Sapa has one of the most incredible views, with the rice terraces and mountains towering around Sapa. However this can often be hidden under the thick cloud of mist, which unfortunately we experienced over our visit.
On the cold rainy days there honestly isn’t much to do. The best advice is to wonder from the hotel room to heated coffee shops and restaurants, and maybe into a massage parlour or souvenir shops. Sapa feels more like a mountain ski resort in the Alps, then a place in South East Asia.
If luck is one your side then overnight stays with locals are a popular option, with endless choice of tours. However it is important to note that some of these are really authentic and really scam tourist out of money. Routes can include anything from a 3km hike to Cat Cat to a 14km loop through surrounding villages.
Fansipan is ‘the’ mountain to see, with its peak at 3143m ( the tallest peak in Vietnam). This can be dangerous to climb and a good fitness is definitely needed, but by foot is the only option. If walking isn’t your thing, hiring scooters for $4/day is another option to see the views.