Vietnam. A country that has everything from breathtaking mountainside views that rival that of Europe to stunning crystal blue seas. The charming and buzzling city life of Ho Chi Minh provides a delightful contrast of the traditional and rustic Hanoi.
14 days may seem like a long time to spend in a country like Vietnam to some, but it is barely enough. In this 3 part post, I will show you why is this so…
The Journey to Sapa Starts off with a Tiger Air Flight to Hanoi, then an overnight train that lasts 9 hours to Lao Cai train station.I learnt that the bus actually takes only 6 hours instead of 9, but taking the overnight train, I was able to have a good night’s rest on the sleeper bed. Do pay for the first class rooms that have decent beds, you do not want to save on the train tickets and wake up to have a sore back. It costs about 40USD for a one way train ticket. We took the 9pm train and it arrives about 6am in the morning.
Upon arrival in Lao Cai, I got a pick up service provided by my hostel, Cat Cat View. It costs about 2usd for a one way trip on a mini bus which takes about 45min to get to SAPA.
Cat Cat View Hostel
We opted for the 2 bedroom apartment in Cat Cat View that costed 40 USD a night per person. The air-conditioning was not required as the temperature in June was a comfortable 25 degrees celcius in the day. You can probably find an accommodation for half that amount if you are on a budget.
Cat Cat View Hostel Restaurant
Believe it or not, the hostel actually has a pretty decent restaurant with fairly priced dishes comparable to street stores. Upon arrival, we opted for a 4 course set lunch option for 150,000 dong(7USD) each person.
Caramelized Wild Boar Meat
We discovered that Salmon was successfully cultivated in Sapa! I KID YOU NOT. Hence for dinner, we decided to try the 3 course Sapa salmon set dinner which cost us 1.5 million dong(~70USD). The fish weighed about 1.5kg.
Food at Cat Cat View Restaurant was decently priced, but to be honest, it was not as good as I hoped it to be. However, relative to the food available in Sapa, this restaurant is a safe place to go to for your meals. The restaurant’s winning points are its fair prices, homely food and the views it offers.
Sapa is a small town, and everything is within a 30 min slow-walk distance. Aboriginal villagers come to the town everyday to sell their wares and cuisine, and the streets are littered with restaurants serving both local and foreign cuisine.(Which are honestly, average tasting). Having a 10usd budget per meal, will get you into any restaurant of your choice.
A key attraction in Sapa is the many aboriginal villages that are within a 12km radius around the main town. You can hike or rent a bike for about 3-5usd a day. The bike may or may not come with a full tank, but a full tank of 3 litres would only set you back about 1-2USD. You do not require a license to rent a bike in Sapa.
Cat Cat Village
Cat Cat Village was the first(and closest) village near Sapa, its only about 3km away down a rocky slope(totally walkable, but we still rented scooters)It is pretty much a commercialized village with many souvenir stores and houses as exhibits. It was still a pretty eye opening experience, and you get to interact with the villagers.