Halong Bay Travel Guide

Trip To Halong Bay: Ultimate Travel Guide Blog

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Planning a trip to Ha Long Bay and don’t know how to start? This Halong Bay Travel Guide will tell you everything you need to know in this detailed itinerary. Learn when to go, where to stay, what to do, and a must-see attraction during your trip.

When visiting Vietnam, a trip to the stunning Halong bay or Ha Long Bay is absolutely unmissable by all those traveling in Northeast Vietnam and the Hanoi area. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to emerald waters and infinite towering limestone isles, islets, and caves topped by lush rainforests. All aging 20 million years! This is Vietnam’s most popular attraction and it attracts thousands of visitors for a day trip or multiple-day trips from around the world.

For a first-time visitor, it can be a bit confusing if you planning a trip to Ha Long Bay especially since there are an overwhelming number of tours to choose from. We were lucky and visited Halong Bay twice for my past travel experience.

Our first visit to Halong Bay is on a few years back when we backpacked in Vietnam. It was a rush trip as we only find our overnight tour when we landed in Hanoi. As we didn’t do many surveys before our visit, the money we paid was quite expensive although the journey is very memorable and joyful. With this experience, my recent visit to Halong Bay is a day trip cruise with everything well organized. Both trips gave me different experiences but one thing for sure is we have a wonderful time in Halong bay with its breathtaking scenery.

Below you can check out my Halong Bay travel guide details with some of the recommended Ha Long Bay tours from Hanoi to help you plan your Ha Long Bay itinerary!

Pre-Trip Essential

Halong Bay Pre-trip Essential

As usual, I am planning for a self-DIY Halong bay itinerary. But looking through all the information and resource, I ended up deciding to join the Halong Bay cruise tour. The reason is very straightforward. It is hassle-free and save me tons of traveling time and money.

Here are a few facts and tips when planning a Halong bay itinerary:

Shall I join a tour to Halong Bay?

We recommended getting to Halong bay by joining a tour. The public transport is not well-connected where you need to transfer and ride a taxi in order to get to the pier. It will be ended with an extremely long traveling time and it cost you even more compared with joining the tour.

How many days for Halong bay?

A day trip to Ha Long Bay is possible, but in my opinion, it’s best enjoyed on an overnight cruise, either 2 days or 3 days. Despite the long journey to get there, Halong Bay deserves to be explored at a slow pace and get out of the most.

Is Halong Bay worth the visit?

Definitely worth it for the scene! This is a must to do excursion in Vietnam especially when you are visiting the Northern region to Hanoi.

Cruise Tour in Halong Bay

Cruise in Halong Bay

Cruising in Halong Bay is the most popular way to experience this wonder of nature. Being the most popular attraction in Vietnam, this is a fact that there are many local tours available, and all the tours provided you’ll find in the Vietnam travel agencies. You can choose to reserve online, from local or home country travel agencies, and even from the hotel where you stayed in Hanoi.

While getting to Halong bay twice in my experience, my sincere advice and tip are to book your tour from a trustworthy tour company. We booked our Halong Bay Day Cruise from Hanoi through Klook. The tour agency is running the tour many years of experience with great reviews and happy customers. Most important, the fair is good and all the expenses and services are clearly stated.

Alternatively, you can also check out Viator – a TripAdvisor company with those reputation companies I can vouch for!

Local Selling Things in Halong
Local Selling Things in Halong

Next, you might be debating how many days should I spend in Halong bay. Should I get the luxury cruise or just a simple cruise? Well, it is depending on you. In general, a Halong bay trip usually goes for 1, 2, or 3 days. You can choose from a day trip from Hanoi, 2-day or 3-day overnight cruise for a basic tour or luxury tour if you wish. The services is depending on how much you are ready to spend.

We will explain in detail what you should be expecting when booking a tour to Halong bay to help you make up your decision.

Day Trip To Halong Bay

If you are on a tight budget or don’t have a lot of time, my advice for you is to go on a Ha Long Bay day tour instead. It is very totally feasible and easy to take a 1 day Ha Long Bay tour from Hanoi. In fact, this is the most popular day trip from Hanoi with many people are departing to Halong Bay every day.

If this is your decision for a day trip to Halong Bay, here is our recommendation:

Halong Bay Travel Guide: Bear in mind that the journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay took up to 3 hours each way which means a total of 6 journeys in total for a return within one day. So basically you merely have around 4 to 5 hours on the cruise if you are doing a day trip.

Halong Bay Overnight Tour

So if you have a little more time, you might want to check my sections below on multiple-day tours! For me, 2 days is fairly enough on a trip to Halong Bay unless you truly want a serene time for an additional day. But it is really up to your decision and interest.

Halong Bay Travel Guide: Beware that some the overnight cruise can offer very cheap prices. But always remember what get what you paid. That cruise is usually dirty and most activities and food are not included. You will need to pay extra to enjoy the activities and meals that are usually more expensive. So it might end up you are feeling getting scammed. We truly advise you understand what is included in the package to avoid an unhappy journey.

Things To Do in Halong Bay

What To Do in Halong Bay

There are many activities to do in Halong Bay that are offered as part of Ha Long Bay Cruises selected. Some tours offer many stops and keep you moving the whole trip whereas others allow you to rest and take in the views. Let’s take a look at what to do when you are visiting Ha Long Bay.

Cruising through the serene Ha Long Bay is definitely a must-do. There are well over 1,600 islands and islets, which offer spectacular seascape views of limestone mountains surrounded by emerald green water.

Must-See Attraction in Halong Bay
Must-See Attraction in Halong Bay

Swimming – We swam in the water in Halong Bay on my trip a few years back. That is truly a fun time that I still remember now. Unfortunately, this is not somewhere you’ll want to swim as there is quite a bit of garbage in the water. So we ended up giving up this option my the recent trip. Maybe this is a better option if you are doing the overnight cruise when you will cruise into a deeper area.

Don’t forget your swimwear if you planning to get into the water. It’s very easy to get changed on the tour boats.

Kayaking in Halong Bay

Kayaking in Halong Bay
Kayaking in Halong Bay

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can choose kayaking. This is one excursion you will never regret! Please note that your things can get wet, or you may lose your items in the water.

Some of the tours will be stated that kayaking is included as part of the activities, else you might need to pay extra if you want to have this activity.

Cave Visiting in Halong Bay

Cave Visiting in Halong Bay
Cave Visiting in Halong Bay

Caving visit is one of the popular activities usually included on the excursion tour. The steps aren’t as challenging as they appear and there are stages where you can rest and catch your breath. You can climb to the top of the mountain and enjoy the splendid view.

Truly a must-do for your Halong Bay visit. Take note that a cave visit is not permitted due to the weather condition and high tide.

My Trip To Halong Bay

A Visit to Ha Long Bay
Departing for Halong Bay Cruise

My day trip to Halong bay was a surreal experience. Our journey started in the early morning when the tour was organized to pick up us from the Hanoi hotel with a tour bus. It is a weekday but there are half full for the minibus with approximately 12 people together with us. The journey took us about 3 and half hours before we joined the others and boarded the cruise ship.

Halong Bay itinerary - Enjoy breathtaking View

A cruise through gigantic limestone karsts was like a dreamy escape. The cruises include several activities, such as kayaking, cave visits, and the opportunity to climb to the peak of Titop Island for breathtaking views and photo opportunities.

During the cruise, we were taken through the most beautiful Bay spots to enjoy the beautiful view. The cruise was soothing. We also stopped on the bay for kayaking and a cave visit to explore the limestone karsts.

For the food, they offered a Vietnamese lunch and afternoon tea which are included in the package. It was very delicious and filling with variety of choices. We have a very satisfying lunch and it’s also the best time to meet new friends from other countries too! Our guide can speak very good English and he is very accommodating and approachable.

Sunset in Halong Bay

Sunset in Halong Bay
Sunset in Halong Bay

Sharing my overnight cruise in Halong Bay with picture captured during sunset.

A day cruise is too rushed as the day cruise will try to pack your time with tons of activities. We enjoyed the time on the sundeck, soaking up the atmosphere, and the sunset. The bay during the sunset is extremely beautiful. Probably that is the reason you might think of an overnight cruise in Halong Bay.

Handy Halong Bay Travel Guide Tips

It’s honestly a must-visit in Vietnam even though it is touristy and it can get crowded. Again, the best way to explore Ha Long Bay is on a cruise. I wholeheartedly recommend doing thorough research before booking yours. Make sure to read reviews because there are really a lot of bad tour companies.

Prepare in advance with the change of clothes and swimwear for swimming. Sunblock, waterproof bags, and something to secure your phones if you planning for kayaking. Lastly, bring a good sneaker if you are joining the cave visit and hiking activities along the cruise journey.

Overview: A Visit To Halong Bay

That’s it for my comprehensive Halong Bay travel guide blog. In short, a trip to Halong bay was truly essential and wonderful when visiting Vietnam. It is a truly remarkable place and you should make every effort to see it. The breathtaking view deserves to be explored at a slow pace. But if a day is all you have, you may as well give it a go and try to make the most.

It was an amazing trip to Ha Long Bay and highly recommended. We were hesitating due to the money and time spent on the traveling but turned out that is the best experience that we had when visiting Vietnam. And that’s the reason we visited twice and still looking to come back another round!

Lastly, if you need more travel inspiration for Northern Vietnam, here you can find the best articles to plan your trip including Sapa, Hanoi, and Ha Long Bay.

Related Travel information to Sapa:

Related Travel information to Hanoi:

Where To Stay in Hanoi

Where To Stay in Hanoi: Best Areas and Hotels

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We wrote this neighborhood guide for where to stay in Hanoi, breakdown into areas and budgets. So you’ll exactly where to stay based on what you want to do. Let’s learn more about the best places to stay in Hanoi.

Hanoi or Ha Noi is one of those destinations where one trip is simply not enough. There are so many unique experiences and day trips that can be planned on your visit to Hanoi. This charming city is also the gateway to one of the greatest wonders of the world, Hang Long Bay. Many travelers flock to this charming city for a day or a few days of the visit.

Hanoi has a range of accommodation options to suit different types of travelers. From backpacker hostels, and mid-range boutique hotels to luxury resorts are available in the city. Hanoi is a also great travel destination if you are traveling on a budget because you get luxury hotels for the fraction of the price.

However, Hanoi is too crazy and hectic. It’s the capital city of Vietnam and the second largest city in the country. Choosing the best place to stay is the most important thing to do when you plan your trip to Hanoi.

If you’re visiting Hanoi for the first time, you’ll want to know more about where to stay that close to the city’s action and easy to plan what you want to do in the city. Here is the guide – where to stay in Hanoi.

Quick Guide: Where To Stay in Hanoi

When finding the best place to stay in Hanoi for travelers, we recommended staying as close as you can to Hanoi’s city center. The most popular areas to stay in are Hoan Kiem (Hanoi Old Quarter) and Tay Ho (Hanoi West Lake).

Hoan Kiem (Hanoi Old Quarter) – Where to stay in Hanoi for first-time travelers. This neighborhood is perfect for those that like to be located in the middle of the action at the heart of the city. Wide range of accommodation available with a great deal. Walking distance to Hanoi’s main attraction with a great range of restaurants and street food to choose from.

Tay Ho (Hanoi West Lake) – Where to stay in Hanoi with family and couples. This area is locally known for travelers who looking for a relaxing retreat in Hanoi. Here you will find modern shops and plenty of restaurants where you can try both local cuisine and international food.

Hoan Kiem

Known also as Hanoi City Centre or Hanoi Old Quarter, the best neighborhood to stay in Hanoi is Hoan Kiem. It’s the historical heart and soul of the city. Most of the main Hanoi attractions and interesting places are within the walking distance. Plus, the surrounding streets are lively, with shops, restaurants, and street vendors. Perfect place to stay in Hanoi for exploring different areas of the city.

Due to its convenience, Hoan Kiem is where most travelers stay. There is a wide range of accommodations that you can choose from. Many middle-priced hotels are often as good as luxury hotels in this neighborhood. You will find high-quality accommodation for an unbelievable price and a good deal.

Here is our best pick for where to stay in Hanoi – Hoan Kiem.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Luxury Hotel - Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
Luxury Hotel – Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

LuxurySofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is the best choice if you are looking where you stay in Hanoi luxury. Offering service since 1901, the property is a historic luxury landmark that amazed travelers from around the world. The location is also perfect with easy walking distance to wander around the French and Old Quarters.

The building and rooms are tastefully-designed in French architectural style while still showcasing rustic touches. Guests can enjoy the pampering spa services, 24-hour room service, and a heated swimming pool. The staff is 100% attentive, quick, and ready to support. Everything is of the highest quality and perfect for a luxurious stay in Hanoi.

Acoustic Hotel & Spa

Where to stay in Hanoi - Acoustic Hotel
Where to stay in Hanoi – Acoustic Hotel & Spa

High-RangeAcoustic Hotel & Spa is the popular affordable luxury Hotel in Hanoi. The location is pretty convenient and right on the border of the Old Quarter. It is walking distance to the train street and weekend market with lots of eateries along the way. Basically, you have everything you need to experience the best of Hanoi right on your doorstep.

The room was spotless, comfortable, and modern. The staffs are extremely accommodating, helpful, and friendly. A great bonus of complimentary afternoon tea with snacks for all hotel guests daily. This hotel will definitely make your stay in Hanoi worth every penny.

Classic Street Hotel

Room View on Classic Street Hotel
Room View on Classic Street Hotel

High-Range: As the name says, Classic Street Hotel is a classic-style hotel located on ancient Hang Be Street in Hanoi. The property is very well-kept with traditional Vietnamese decorations. The location is perfect, situated in a central location of the Old Quarter but tucked in a relatively calm street. Most of the Hanoi tourist attractions are within walking distance.

The room is spacious and very comfortable with great AC. All the staffs are gracious, friendly, and readily available. There are many other hotel options in the area but this hotel is excellent value for money. Highly recommended for a great stay in Hanoi.

Hanoi Media Hotel & Spa

Room View on Hanoi Media Hotel

High-RangeHanoi Media Hotel & Spa is a charming place to stay in the Old Quarter. Located in Hanoi’s Old Quarter area, the property is very ideal for exploring the charming city. It is only a short 1-minute stroll to the famous Hoan Kiem Lake, while a 15-minute walk can take you to St. Joseph Cathedral and Hanoi Opera House.

All the facilities are excellent, with a clean comfortable room with a balcony. Staffs are attentive and supportive. A good value for where to stay in Hanoi. It is highly recommended to stay here if you are visiting Hanoi or a short stopover before passing through one night to go to attractions nearby.

Hanoi Prime Center Hotel

Where To Stay - Hanoi Prime Center Hotel
Room view on Hanoi Prime Center Hotel

Mid-BudgetHanoi Prime Center Hotel is a very affordable mid-range hotel in the Old Quarter. It is located in the middle of the action and within walking distance of everything that you searching for in Hanoi. Night markets, train streets, all the great coffee shops, delicious Vietnamese cuisine, and all the livelier part of town.

The facilities are clean, and the room size was generous. The friendly staff will ensure you have the best stay in the hotel. Great value for money.

Ja Cosmo Hotel and Spa

Where To Stay in Hanoi on budget - Ja Cosmo Hotel
Where To Stay in Hanoi on budget – Ja Cosmo Hotel

Mid-BudgetJa Cosmo Hotel and Spa is a surprisingly affordable boutique hotel. Located in the heart of Hanoi Old Quarter, it is easy walking distance to visit the attractions nearby and find food even at night. You were able to reach everything by foot and only needed a few minutes to the popular night market.

The room is just as described, clean, and comfortable. The staff is kind and friendly and helps you with whatever you need. Perfect for a mid-budget stay in Hanoi.

Tay Ho (Hanoi West Lake)

Tay Ho or the Hanoi West Lake is our pick for where to stay in Hanoi for families and couples. Compared to the hectic Hanoi Old town, Tay Ho is in a fast pace of transition to a modern city. The highest density of ex-pats in Vietnam is living here.

In Tay Ho, you will find a vast array of all-ages activities and cater to those who looking to enjoy a relaxing retreat in Hanoi. A variety of accommodations and food options can be found here including lakeside restaurants, cafes, and bars. Perfect for travelers visiting Hanoi and wanting to stay in a comfortable and modern area.

InterContinental Hanoi Westlake

Where To Stay in Hanoi - InterContinental Hanoi Westlake

LuxuryInterContinental Hanoi Westlake is surely one of the popular options for where to stay in stay Hanoi luxury. The luxurious property sits on the peaceful waters of Hanoi’s Westlake, next to the 800-year-old Kim Lien (Golden Lotus) Pagoda. It is very relaxing by staying in the overwater bungalow in the quieter end of Hanoi with incredible views.

The property takes luxury to a high standard within contemporary Vietnamese decor and world-class service. Staffs are amazingly helpful and caring. Great food including the in-room dining options. Everything is perfect that you could expect from a 5-star hotel.

Moon West Lake Hotel & Residence

Place to Stay in Hanoi - Moon West Lake Hotel

High-RangeMoon West Lake Hotel & Residence is a very good apartment hotel right on Westlake shore. It will welcome you home after a busy day amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. The property is very well maintained and features a fully equipped kitchen and private bathroom. The room is clean and tiny. Reasonable price for a stay in Hanoi.

Eden Westlake Hotel

Room View on Eden Westlake Hotel
Room View on Eden Westlake Hotel

Mid-BudgetEden Westlake Hotel is a place if you’re looking for an experience with a local touch. The property features a mix between modern style and old traditional style. The building is nicely decorated for guests to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

The rooms are clean and the bed is comfortable, very suitable for resting and relaxing. Staffs are helpful and trying to ensure your stay is comfortable and enjoyable. Price are good and great value for money.

Overview: Best Place to Stay in Hanoi

That’s it! We hope you have already chosen a place to stay in Hanoi. All the accommodation options are great and they are exactly what you need after a long day of exploring the city.

If you’re still not sure which place is right for you, here is a quick recap of our top pick. We highly recommended affordable luxury hotels such as Acoustic Hotel & Spa and Classic Street Hotel because of their excellent location, comfortable, and good price. Both properties offer a clean, comfortable, and cozy stay for your visit.

Lastly, if you need more travel inspiration for Northern Vietnam, here you can find the best articles to plan your trip including Sapa, Hanoi, and Ha Long Bay.

Where To Stay in Sapa

Where To Stay in Sapa: Best Hotels and Homestays

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Be sure to read our accommodation guide on where to stay in Sapa. This article explains the best place to stay in Sapa and breaks it down into different budgets to make the most of your time!

Sapa is a popular travel destination in the Northern Vietnam region. Many travelers flock to this hilly region to amidst the mighty mountain range and terraced paddy fields with a trekking or hiking tour. It is also the best place to experience the local Vietnamese culture where you can visit the minority tribe village. Sapa has so much to offer!

If you do decide to visit, make sure you choose the best place to stay in Sapa. Being one of the cheapest destinations for traveling around Southeast Asia, it’s not surprising you will find a lot of accommodation options available here.

There is an enormous amount of choices, ranging from extremely cheap hostels, mid-range hotels, to affordable luxurious hotels. Sapa has some of the best hotels even if you are budget travelers and backpackers.

Below, I’ve detailed the best places to stay in Sapa with accommodation options to fit any style and budget. Let’s take a look at our top-rated places to stay in Sapa.

Quick Tips: Where To Stay in Sapa

When it comes to where to stay in Sapa, be sure to book your accommodation centrally in the heart of the city. Staying in the central is perfect because accommodation is cheap and you’re right in the action. Plus, most of the trekking tour is started from the city center for easy pick-up.

For quick and easy, we’ve picked out the best hotels in each different price range that best suit your budget.

Where to Stay in Sapa: Best Hotels and Homestays

Sapa Relax Hotel & Spa

Room View on Sapa Relax Hotel
Editor’s pick for where to stay in Sapa

Sapa Relax Hotel & Spa is our editor’s pick when choosing where to stay in Sapa. This beautiful hotel is located at the center of Sapa. It’s very convenient with a lot of shops, restaurants, and even many local massage spas and facilities nearby. The property also offers free private parking, a bar, and a shared lounge. You will love spending your time in the rooftop bar as it featured a beautiful view of the city and mountains.

For those views and services, it’s worth the stay!

Hotel de la Coupole – MGallery

Where To Stay in Sapa Luxury - Hotel de la Coupole
Where To Stay in Sapa Luxury – Hotel de la Coupole

Hotel de la Coupole – MGallery by Sofitel is probably the most luxurious hotel in Sapa. It is the first 5-star hotel in Sapa that sets the foundation for luxury travel in style. The property is designed in French architectural style while still showcasing rustic touches. The rooms are equally as impressive and offer a balcony with a stunning view. The highlight of the property is the rooftop bar and the heated pool, ensuring guests with the ultimate in comfort and the best experience!

Overall, it is a true luxury treat when choosing where to stay in Sapa luxury. No worry about staying in the property as even the most luxurious accommodation in Sapa is affordable! Check the room availability for Hotel de la Coupole – MGallery.

Pistachio Hotel Sapa

Where To Stay in Sapa - Pistachio Hotel
Where To Stay in Sapa – Pistachio Hotel

Pistachio Hotel Sapa offers the utmost luxury in a great location in Sapa. Your stay in Sapa has featured an amazing view overlooking the valley and an incredible rooftop infinity pool. The room is extremely clean, spacious, and well equipped and the bed is so comfortable. The staff were all very helpful and welcoming with a smile on their faces at all times.

Check the room availability and room rate for Pistachio Hotel Sapa.

Eden Boutique Hotel & Spa

Room View on Eden Boutique Hotel
Room View on Eden Boutique Hotel

Eden Boutique Hotel & Spa is an affordable luxury hotel that high recommended by travelers. This 4-star Sapa hotel boasts comfortable rooms and a beautiful decorated shared lounge in an excellent location in the town. It is very convenient and easy to access.

The room is spotless and spacious with a very comfortable mattress for a comfortable sleep. The staff is very attentive and helpful. Perfect place to stay in Sapa to get some rest and relaxation after a long day of exploring.

Phuong Nam Hotel 

Where To Stay in Sapa - Phuong Nam Hotel
Where To Stay in Sapa on budget – Phuong Nam Hotel

Phuong Nam Hotel is one of the popular picks for the best budget stay in Sapa. This hotel with gorgeous and offers affordable rooms of good size. The room is clean and comfortable. We recommended choosing the room offering balcony with views of the mountain as the view is worth paying a little more.

The location is convenient with just merely a 3 minutes walk to Sapa Station if you would like to go to Fansipan. Numerous shops and restaurants around. The staff is very helpful and the breakfast was good. Good value for money!

Mimosa Hotel Sapa

Where To Stay in Sapa - Mimosa Hotel

Mimosa Hotel Sapa is another good choice for a budget stays in Sapa. The property is located in the heart of town and within walking distance of Sun Plaza. There are many restaurants, cafes, and bars nearby which is pretty convenient.

The hotel provides accommodation with a terrace. All the rooms are full of furniture, clean, and come with a spacious bathroom. Free private parking for guests if you are driving to Sapa.

Homestay in Sapa

One of the most popular activities in Sapa is to stay in a homestay with the locals in their village. We recommended staying in a homestay in Sapa if you are looking for a unique experience. Many houses and cafes are converted into a homestay and here is our recommendation.

Eco Hills Homestay

Where To Stay in Sapa - Eco Hills Homestay
Family bungalow – Eco Hills Homestay

Eco Hills Homestay is the best pick if you are looking for natural beautiful scenery homestay in Sapa. Run a group of friendly locals, Eco Hills Homestay is spotless and very comfortable. It is a little off from the main road and situated in the middle of rice fields. But your stay is rewarded with incredible views of the valley.

The property offers a family bungalow and a spacious King room with a superb breakfast! They also offers scenic guided trekking into the nearby mountains where you can get to know the villages around Sapa.

Fansipan Terrace Cafe and Homestay

Where To Stay in Sapa - Fansipan Terrace Cafe and Homestay
Best homestay in Sapa – Fansipan Terrace Cafe and Homestay

Fansipan Terrace Cafe and Homestay is the place where you need to look for a homestay in Sapa. In fact, this homestay is one of the popular cafes among the locals for its great location overlooking the valleys and terraces. It is located near to the city center and everything is accessible but features breathtaking views. The rooms are clean with all the basic amenities. The hosts are extremely helpful, welcoming, and accommodating to guests’ needs.

Little View Homestay

Best Place to Stay in Sapa - Little View Homestay
Best Place to Stay in Sapa – Little View Homestay

For a cheap and cheerful homestay in town, head to Little View Homestay. The property is adorable and beautifully decorated by the hosts. It is located within a 3-minute walk from Sa Pa Stone Church and Cay May street, and close to the main street. All rooms include a private bathroom with a hot shower, hairdryer, and slippers.

Overview: Best Place to Stay in Sapa

All in all, we are covering the hotels and homestays that are highly recommended. Travelers can’t do better as there are so many incredibly valued accommodations in great value. Most of the accommodation is very affordable and we highly suggest paying a little bit more by choosing rooms offering breathtaking valley or mountain views. I am sure the money is worth it!

In short, if you’re looking for the best place to stay in Sapa, look no further than staying at Sapa Relax Hotel & Spa. It is mid-budget accommodation and featured a beautiful view of the city and mountains. It is clean and comfortable. For luxurious travelers, Hotel de la Coupole – MGallery definitely is your pick if you looking for a true luxury treat in Sapa.

Are you traveling to Sapa? Check out my Sapa travel posts below:

Sapa Travel Guide Blog

Things To Do in Sapa Itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog

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Last updated on August 12th, 2022

Are you planning a Sapa itinerary? In this Sapa travel guide blog, we will tell you where to go and what to do in Sapa, and what you should know when it comes to visiting the hillside region.

Sapa is fantastic and it is more impressive than what we expected. In Sapa, you will find misty lush green scenery, rice terraces, and charming hill-tribe villages in this hilly region. This place blows us away with its nature and unique culture.

During our trip to Sapa, we visited the local market and have great hiking through the local villages where the tribal people that live here. Meeting the minority ethnic groups in remote mountainous areas just amazed us.

In this Sapa travel guide blog, we will share with you our itinerary when visiting the region. We’ve packed all of our travel guides and tips to help you plan and prepare your Sapa trip. Let’s check it out!

Sapa Travel Guide

Sapa itinerary travel guide blog

Personally, we found it was quite hard to plan for the Sapa itinerary. Most of the attractions are in the hilly region and traveling time is long and exhausted from one place to another place. Plus, transportation is not very well connected. Therefore, there are many local tours to help you plan for your 1 day, 2 to 3 days of Sapa itinerary.

You can pre-book ahead before your trip or find it once arrived at Sapa. Either way is good and each has its benefit. Our advice is to know what is your interest and have an idea of where you want to go. Most tours included the transportation option. It is best to pre-book it ahead for hassle-free. Else you might need to find time to wander around.

Be prepared that you’ll need to spend time on the long-haul journey to visit the hilly tribe village in the mountainous area of Sapa. Besides, the weather is unpredictable and can turn moist and bad very quickly. An early start to kick start your day to explore the beautiful scenery is always recommended.

How To Get to Sapa From Hanoi

From Hanoi To Sapa

From Hanoi to Sapa, you can either take a bus or train which takes you around 5 to 6 hours. I would suggest you catch a night train from Hanoi to Sapa as it will save you the traveling time and accommodation costs. Tiring but pretty convenient. Plus the train is pretty clean.

Note: Due to the pandemic, the sleeper train is unavailable until further notice.

Overnight Train From Hanoi To Sapa

Alternatively, you can also join the tour with transport included, which is a lot more convenient. So basically you can rest along the trip and travel to Sapa hassle-free.

Accommodation in Sapa

Most of Sapa’s accommodation are mid-range and budget. There is a large selection of hotel options in the town and there you can find suitable accommodation for every travel budget.

We can recommend Sapa Relax Hotel & Spa which is probably one of the best hotels in Sapa. The room is clean with fantastic views and good facilities. The staff are so friendly and helpful. Most important, the price is very reasonable and worth it.

A few more Sapa accommodation at different budget for your selection:

  • Hotel de la Coupole – MGallery – Enjoy the most luxury stay in a great location in Sapa. Your stay is featured an amazing view overlooking the valley and an incredible rooftop bar and heated pool.
  • Pistachio Hotel Sapa – Affordable luxury hotel boasts comfortable rooms and incredible rooftop infinity pool.
  • Phuong Nam Hotel – Best budget stay in Sapa. The location is convenient and close to the Sun Plaza with the railway to Fansipan and with numerous restaurants around.

For more options, feel free to check out the accommodation guide: Where to Stay in Sapa.

Recommendation Sapa Tour

The distances to each attraction in Sapa are much further than you initially think. Plus, it is very hard to plan for the self-DIY Sapa itinerary. Perhaps you might want to consider joining a tour to reach certain destinations.

You can visit Sapa alone or together that coupling the Northen Vietnam attraction such as Sapa, Hanoi, and Ha Long Bay without grappling with public transport. There are multi-day tours option depending on how many days you plan to spend on your Sapa itinerary.

Here is the recommended Sapa Tour from Hanoi:

For Sapa trekking tour to the local village:

Planning on Sapa Itinerary

Planning Sapa Itinerary

Due to the long-haul traveling journey, spending at least two days in Sapa is a great option. We started our Sapa itinerary in the early morning after the overnight train from Hanoi. Next, we spent the fulfillment 2 days in Sapa before heading back to our next travel destination.

We had lots of fun time as well as a short trek in Sapa. We didn’t have to organize anything as everything is already pre-booked before our arrival. Take a look on how we plan for the amazing Sapa trip.

Planning on Sapa itinerary:

  • Day 1: Arrived in Sapa from Hanoi. Visit Bac Ha Sunday Market.
  • Day 2: Sapa – Trekking tour to local Village (Cat Cat Village, Ma Tra, and Ta Phin Village)
  • More days in Sapa? A visit to Sun World Fansipan with an exciting cable car ride.

Sapa Itinerary Day 1

Sapa Itinerary - Bac Ha Sunday Market
Sapa Travel Blog – A Visit to Bac Ha Sunday Market

One of the best things to do in Sapa is visiting the traditional local market, and glad that we visited the Bac Ha Sunday market. It is truly a memorable experience to enjoy the traditional culture of ethnic groups in the mountainous areas of North Vietnam.

Our Sapa itinerary started with an overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa. We booked a private tour and the tour guide picked us up at the train station. We next headed to Bac Ha weekly market in a minivan. The journey was painful as it took about 2.5 hours to reach the rural area of the village. But once we arrived, we know that it was worth the effort.

Bac Ha Sunday Market

Bac Ha Sunday Market

We arrived at Bac Ha Sunday Market at around 10 am and the market is in full swing. The market is bursting with color and life and it is one of the unique Vietnam experiences.

Locals including the minority peoples are gathering here to buy and sell a wide variety of goods. From household goods, clothes, food, vegetable, handicrafts, and even live animals for sale. All the people, especially women and ladies wear their traditional clothes. You can also meet the Flower Hmong people who live in Lao Cai and Ha Giang Provinces. They look so nice in their colorful clothes.

Food Eating Area in Bac Ha Market
Food Eating Area in Bac Ha Market

We didn’t buy anything here but if you want don’t forget to barter, but don’t push too hard. Most of the people are having a tough life living in the area. After visiting the market, we will bring to a restaurant where lunch is included in the tour.

Sapa Travel Blog - A Visit to Bac Ha Sunday Market

All in all, Bac Hac Sunday Market is a lively and colorful tribes market. It was a lot of fun and you’ll be delighted with the authenticity of this Sunday market. Like much of traditional Vietnam it is a disappearing lifestyle in Bac Ha. It is getting more and more touristy and please visit Bac Ha market when this kind of place still exists.

Sapa Travel Tip: Bac Hac Market is only held at Sunday. If possible, overnight at a nearby village one day before and try to get there early to beat the crowd. Most tour buses on a day trip from Sapa will arrive at around 10 am and the market is packed with tourist.

Sapa Itinerary Day 2

Sapa Trekking Tour

A good trekking tour to explore the local village and learn about the culture and history of the people in Sapa.

There are few local villages to choose from. Cat Cat village is probably the most popular destination on the Sapa trekking tour. This is probably because the village itself is fairly easily accessible compared to the other villages in Sapa. But this also makes it very touristy with lines of souvenir shops.

If you are planning to witness the settlement of the local’s life I would suggest visiting others villages such as Ma Tra and Ta Phin Village.

Sapa Trekking Tour

Sapa Trekking Travel Tips

We started our trekking journey early in the morning. There is approximately a 3 km downhill walk toward the village from Sapa town. The trek was easy and more of a stroll although with uneven stairs. But, this is not recommended for people with health conditions.

The trek journey is about 5 to 6km from our starting point. Alternatively, you can even get a taxi from Sapa to Cat Cat Village.

Trekking in Sapa

Our tour guide is a very nice lady from Black Hmong. She can speak good English and is knowledgeable about the area. We have ample rest and take to take photo along the trek. The walk to the village could be tiring but it was worth it.

Cat Cat Village

Sapa Itinerary - Visiting Cat Cat Village

Cat Cat Village is a picturesque local village in a stunning mountain range with a beautiful natural landscape. It is also home to the Hmong people who emigrated from China 300 years ago. The village itself is gorgeous and it was really interesting to walk around the Cat Cat village to learn about the tribe in the village. There is a small admission fee to enter the village.

Local House in Cat Cat Village

Once in Cat Cat Village, there are loads of craft stalls, shops, little cafes, and local houses. Most local people no longer live in this village but those houses are still maintained to showcase their local village life.

We have the chance to visit the local houses demonstrating the local crafts and have a glimpse into the daily life of local ethnic people. It is truly impressive to see the craftsmanship such as weaving fabric. But be prepared to be asked for buying the handicraft. Some can be pushing but gentle no is recommended.

Inside Cat Cat Village

You can also walk to the waterfalls downhill and terraces is breathtaking. Lots of great photo opportunities and many local tourists are renting traditional costumes to take photos in the village.

After the walking tour, we were picked up by the van and brought back to the town for a nice simple Vietnamese lunch that was included as part of the tour. We have a great time in Cat Cat Village and are recommended for those who want a glimpse of a local village.

More Attractions in Sapa

As we only have a limited 2 days in Sapa, so we have to skip some of the attractions. We choose to visit the Ba Hac Market and trekking tour to the local village as we prefer a more cultural visit. There is much more attractive that can be coupled together on the Sapa itinerary.

If you have more days in Sapa, consider visiting below attractions on your visit to Sapa.

Sun World Fansipan

The Sun World Fansipan turn out to be one of the popular attractions in Sapa. Take a scenic cable car ride up 3,143 meters above sea level to the peak of Fansipan Mountain. It is the longest and highest cable ride in Vietnam. The ride up to the top of the mountain top is very picturesque. Every different minute you’ll be mesmerized by the beauty of nature.

Discounted Ticket for Sun World Fansipan from Klook

At the summit, it is a fantastic picturesque destination with Buddhist temples, shrines, and breathtaking views. Amazing place and cold weather for an epic experience in Sapa. The highest point in Indochina on countries like Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Make sure to visit Sun World Fansipan in good weather!

The cost is relatively high for a cable car ride to the peak. Get the discounted Sun World Fansipan Legend Admission Ticket with a different package option from Klook. Easy to use and cheaper than buying tickets at the counter!

Final Tips for Sapa Travel Guide

Here is a few more handy tips for this Sapa Travel Guide Blog:

Is Sapa worth a visit?

Definitely worth it! There are many cultural villages in Sapa where you can experience authentic Vietnamese village experience.

How many days in Sapa is enough?

Three days in Sapa is the perfect amount of time to spend in Sapa. You can explore the main sightseeing and have an easy trek into the northern mountains.

Do you need a tour in Sapa?

Planning a Sapa trip can be a difficult task due to the long traveling journey and transportation arrangements. Joining a tour with transport included is recommended but not compulsory.

Overview: A Visit to Sapa

A Visit to Sapa Bac Ha Sunday Market
A Visit to Sapa Bac Ha Sunday Market

All in all, you should plan at least 2 days for your Sapa itinerary. The landscape here is so breathtakingly beautiful and a visit to Sapa is definitely worthwhile.

The traveling might take times that leads you through the beautiful landscape of the local village. But you are rewarded with beautiful views of the lush green nature in all directions. You can see the local life as is it although a bit touristic still simple and genuine countryside. Whether you’re looking for a rad solo trip or an all-inclusive family holiday, Sapa is highly recommended.

Traveling to Northern Vietnam and looking for more inspiration for the trip? Here is our Northern Vietnam travel stories.