Backpackers love going to Sapa because of the exotic encounters on the mountainside of Mount Fansipan, the tallest mountain in the Indochina peninsula. With just an overnight bus ride from Hanoi, travelers see the scenic view of the mountains, gorgeous rice terraces, and waterfalls. In those places, they also meet the locals living a simple yet culturally rich life.
Traveling to remote places in Sapa could be life-changing yet also tiring. Imagine those hikes take hours to finish. Even if you ride on a scooter, balancing along bumpy roads could still be exhausting. Hence, in this blog post, I share things to do in Sapa best for relaxation and wellness.
I also included the lesser exhausting things to do yet still offer a scenic view in Sapa in this list.
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Traveling in Vietnam? Check these out: 5 Best Things To Do In Ninh Binh Vietnam (Best Experiences) | 15 Best Things To Do Hanoi Old Quarter (With Walking Route) | Landscapes in Vietnam: 7 Most Spectacular Places to Visit – Click to open in a new tab and read later.
If you are coming from Hanoi, you can book a bus in advance to Sapa. Take an overnight bus so you will no anymore spend another night of accommodation in Hanoi or waste an entire day traveling on the road. Here are the 5 relaxing things to do in Sapa, Vietnam:
Ride on the cable car from Sapa and get a hot drink in Mount Fansipan.
First on the list of things to do in Sapa: Get a hot drink in Mount Fansipan.
Did you know that through the “longest” uninterrupted 3-rope cable car in the world, the Fansipan cable car, you can reach the summit of Mount Fansipan even without hiking it?
The three to four-day hike to the top of the tallest mountain in the entire Indochina peninsula shrinks to a 15-minute ride through it. Prepare to see incredible scenery while sitting relaxed and comfortable in the cable car!
Do you know what’s interesting? When you hop on the Fansipan cable car, you experience two world records at the same time. Not only you’ll ride on the longest, but you will also get the chance to ride on a cable car system that has the highest altitude difference in the world! You’ll soar 1410 meters higher than the first station in fifteen minutes.
For me, it was an exhilarating experience. My ears kinda hurt a little due to the sudden change in altitude, though. But it did not matter. The scenic view from the cable car kept me fascinated throughout the ride. Book in advance for cable car trips so you won’t fall in a queue at the cashier anymore.
Scenic mountain view
Going to the summit of Mount Fansipan begins at a funicular railway station at the center of Sapa town, near the Accor hotel building. Once you arrive, you can find trams that will bring you uphill to another station adjacent to Sunworld Cable Car station. There, your actual cable car experience starts.
When I arrived at Sunworld Cable Car station, I was surprised because it did not look like just a cable car station. I thought of it as a park. There are beautiful flowers and shops all around. In front of the main entrance of the cable car station, there is a temple with an enormous landmark of Sunworld Fansipan Legend with picturesque mountains in the backdrop.
Seeing the rice terraces
One of the best things that you will see when you ride on the Fansipan cable bar is the beautiful rice terraces of Sapa. There you can clearly see the shapes of each step of the terraced rice fields from above.
I suggest that you visit Sapa and ride in a cable car during the pre-harvest season so that you may see the rice terraces glowing in gold color. My imagination says they like stairs covered with golden carpets for colossal beings.
Traversing the clouds
If the weather isn’t bad, like it is not raining, another exciting experience awaits you in the cable car. As you move further and further upwards, you get closer and closer to the clouds. Inside, it will just feel like you’re going to touch the sky!
Witnessing a sea of clouds
What can be wondrous when is an overcast sky (not rain clouds) in Sapa is the possibility that you enter a whole new world after entering the clouds.
What do I mean? Some clouds just stay at an altitude lower than the summit of the mountains. Typically 1,500 to 2,500 meters above sea level. Above that, if the atmosphere is clear, you might see a spectacular sea of clouds with mountains matching the islands in the ocean.
The sea of clouds is the phenomenon that serves as a significant reason why you should go to Fansipan. If you witness it, I think you’ll be really awe-inspired for the rest of your days in Vietnam.
You’ll notice that the temperature significantly drops when you arrive at the Fansipan cable car station. There was a 10 degree Celsius difference between the climate in the Sunworld and Fansipan cable car stations during my visit. Thanks to Instagram stories, I was kept updated with the temperature readings.
Actually, I was not prepared with warm clothes when I visited Fansipan. I only had 2 layers of clothing, a shirt, and a sweater. Just perfect for the 5 degrees Celsius at the mountain’s summit (sarcastic). LOL! I was literally shivering a few minutes after I arrived.
Bringing your own warm clothing is definitely recommended. Unless you want to buy jackets that have prices that are high as Mount Fansipan! I kinda regret it, though.
The Summit Railway and Impressive Structures
The fun does not end after you arrive at Fansipan station. You can again ride on another tram to avoid climbing 600-step stairs to the summit. But in case you choose the stairs, you will see grand structures, temples, and statues along the way. In my case, I took the stairs after I’d been at the summit.
I’m sure you will also be really impressed by the structures around the summit of Mount Fansipan. They are both artistic and gigantic! Actually, when I was checking them one by one, I could not believe how every massive structure was built on the top of the mountain. Check out these photos:
A very enormous tower temple
The architecture of the temples
A giant statue of Buddha facing the people climbing a long stairway
A lady Buddha statue
Stairs to a pagoda
Coffee shop on the summit of Fansipan
Ultimately, you can find a coffee shop called Cafe Du Soleil at the summit of Mount Fansipan. It is a cozy place where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful view of the clouds and mountains. It was my refuge from the chilling weather at the peak of the mountain.
When you look around in the coffee shop, you will see a well-themed establishment with walls decorated with colorful fabric weaved in a Vietnamese way. You can also notice the tables decorated with mats printed with some kind of ethnic pattern. They made me feel that I was really in Vietnam sipping a coffee, not just in any ordinary coffee shop. The seats are comfortable, and the view seen from the window can be really marvelous.
The coffee is a little bit expensive, though. A small cup costs an equivalent of 3 to 6 USD. The latte I bought for 130,000 VND is nice, but I did not find the taste I was looking for. If I were not traveling on a budget, I probably bought another drink. You can find other beverages from the shop like fresh fruit juice, smoothies, whiskey, cocktails, and non-alcoholic miracle juices.
If I will be traveling slowly in Vietnam and the weather is fine in Fansipan, I’d probably stay in Cafe Di Soleil for much longer. How long? Like after lunch until the last cable car trip back to the Sunworld station in Sapa. Because I love to stare at the mountains and watch the sea of clouds spectacle for hours in a day.
Watch the sunset in Sapa Lake.
If there is a spot in Sapa where you can relax and enjoy beautiful scenery without effort and payment, that would be Sapa lake. It is located in the eastern portion of the town, surrounded by gardens, hotels, coffee shops, and beer houses. Watching the sunset in Sapa lake is one of the best things to do in Sapa, especially if you’re a photo enthusiast.
When I arrived in Sapa, all I knew beautiful mountain views and magnificent rice terraces awaited me. I also knew I could quickly visit Mount Fansipan’s summit through Sapa Cable Car, but I never knew Sapa has its a lake.
I love lakes. It is a place I’m always looking for whenever I travel. Lakes are lovely, and it seems to give me peace of mind and many other benefits. That’s why, when I discovered from Google Maps that there is a lake in Sapa, I immediately got the directions and followed them.
If you are traveling to escape tension, anxiety, or stress in your life, I recommend Sapa Lake. I have experienced those too. And I promise that seeing calm water helps relieve the pain inside.
Beautiful flowers in the park
The lovely park view was the first thing I saw when I arrived at the lake from the town center. At that time, the lake reflects the colorful houses and buildings at the backdrop of the park’s garden. Flowers are everywhere. Overall, they seem to be a very inviting sight to furthermore explore the area.
Daily lives of the locals
You will see locals hanging around the park and roaming along the lakeshore when you start walking around. I saw families bonding together; kids played badminton, teens arranged events in the park, and guys fishing in the lake. It may seem usual, but it kinda gave me a piece of time to think about how beautiful a simple life can be.
An old man fishing at Lake Sapa | Lady riding a scooter
Vietnamese family bonding together | Locals playing in the park | Teens preparing for a local event
Relaxation with the calm lake
You can find seats around the park beside Sapa lake, where you can sit and rest your legs. There I spent some “me” time with my Vietnamese coffee frappe. It was also in the same spot I waited for sunset to catch the golden hour – the best time to take photos.
Best place to take photos
If you are a photography enthusiast, Sapa lake will satisfy your artistic self. The lake is really calm, perfect to create mesmerizing water-reflection shots. The lakeshore railings also create good leading lines, an element to enhance your photos. Here are some of the pictures I captured from Sapa lake:
What a beautiful afternoon
Lovely flowers. They smell nice.
I just fell in love with a lake. So gorgeous.
Swim in a pool in Sapa with a magnificent mountain view.
What else would feel better if you combined the relaxing benefits of water and awe-inspiring mountains? Perhaps, nothing. It is just so perfect, right? So I tried one of the hotels in Sapa with an outdoor pool to test if it is really a good experience. And the result? Absolutely a YES. It was definitely a nice thing to do in Sapa!
As far as I know, there are only two hotels in Sapa which have an outdoor pool: Bamboo Sapa Hotel and Topas Ecolodge.
Bamboo Sapa Hotel
Bamboo Sapa Hotel is a 4-star hotel just a few-minute walk away from Sapa town center. It has 100 hotel rooms with a luxurious buffet restaurant on its ground floor. Beside the restaurant, you can find the infinity pool with a really fantastic view of the mountains.
The room I booked is just perfect for its price. I’m speechless for a 40 USD room that felt like accommodation in the 200 USD price range in other places. Bamboo Sapa Hotel is more than what I expected. You can check their promotional video here:
Check rates: Bamboo Sapa Hotel.
Sapa Topas Ecolodge
If you haven’t seen the viral Instagram post about the epic pool in Sapa, you will see it now:
Yes, it is here in Sapa Topas Ecolodge. Unlike Bamboo Sapa, this is located far away from the town center, about a 45-minute drive. Topas Ecolodge is not also the typical hotel you might be thinking of. There’s no TV or Wi-Fi here, just the pristine nature and incredible views of the mountains from your room and the saltwater infinity pool in the ecolodge.
Sustainable tourism is the one thoughtful reason you should stay In Sapa Topas Ecolodge, especially if you are doing luxurious travel. They benefit both the locals and the environment. Not only do they employ locals from nearby villages, but they also use local products and goods to economically help the ethnic groups living in the mountains. Sapa Topas Ecolodge also has waste management facilities, so whatever you do or leave here would not hurt the environment.
Check rates: Sapa Topas Ecolodge.
Get a body massage From a spa in Sapa.
We all know that Sapa is mostly about fantastic adventure and immersion in ethnic villages. Even though they are exhilarating activities, they will surely make you physically tired at the end of the day. One way to relieve those hurting feet and muscles is through a body massage.
However, you don’t need to be tired to get a massage. In Sapa, several spas offer rejuvenating treatments that are great for your overall well-being. They also do it in the Vietnamese way, so what you’ll get is a uniquely exciting experience.
Again, tired or not, going to spas is really a nice thing to do in Sapa. Check out the best-rated spas below:
Do Quyen Spa Private Experience in Sapa
If you just need a body massage to relieve your aching feet, back, or legs, you must try Do Quyen Spa. You will already get head-to-toe full-body treatment for a very affordable price of less than 2 USD. What’s even better is that they’ll give you a cup of soothing tea after your massage treatment. It’s said to complete your pampering, refreshing you inside and outside.
Do Quyen Spa has almost a perfect rating in Klook (4.8 out of 5), and it does more than just body massage. It also offers a sauna, Red Dao Footbath, Red Dao Herbal Bath, Hot Stone Body Massage, and a Vietnamese Body Massage.
Lavender Spa Treatments in Sapa
If you want to level up your pampering, you must try Lavender Spa. It is rated perfect 5 out of 5 on Tripadvisor, and they just do a lot more than just a massage. Though the price might be slightly higher than Do Quyen Spa, the service you’ll get shall be of utmost satisfaction.
One big difference between Lavender Spa and other more affordable spas in Sapa is the treatment rooms to get the body massage. Here, you’ll love the extravagance of the room and the excellent comfort of your bed.
The Lavender spa does more than many services you can avail of, like the Herbal of Red Dao People bath. They also do a green tea body scrub, luxury facial treatment, oat body wrap, Vietnamese coconut body wrap, Indian head massage, Asian heritage body treatment, Sapa Mountain Hot Stone Therapy, and more!
People-Watch at Quang Truong Square in Sapa.
If you’re visiting Sapa by the weekend, you should experience the fantastic Love Market in Quang Truong Square. It is an exciting event similar to Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi’s “cultural street party.” It happens every weekend, particularly on Saturday nights. It is a lovely thing to do in Sapa, especially if you are looking for a cultural experience.
Hmong and Dao Singles “Party”
You should not miss this event because the locals themselves go to the town center. They showcase what they’ve got in terms of food, goods, and culture.
The pairing of the singles from the Hmong and Dao tribes is a part of the event that you will enjoy, even if you’re just relaxing and sitting down at a bench. They play games in the middle of the town square during this gathering to match singles. It is a fascinating event to watch, especially if you love learning about Vietnamese culture.
Barbeques on the street
Also, in Quang Truong Square, in front of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, you’ll find cheap but delicious street meals excellent to check if you’re traveling for food. Or just have yourself a delicious meal while watching the Love Market event. The food that you should not miss is the local’s newly cooked hot barbeques, just suitable for the freezing night weather in Sapa.
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