Sapa has a gorgeous landscape of mountains and rice fields, and it should be on your bucket list. It’s even considered to be one of the best trekking spots in Vietnam. We decided to end our month long Vietnam trip exploring the gorgeous rice fields of Sapa. As we are travelling on a budget , we decided to explore it by ourselves and went without a guide. We noticed that every other tourist went with a guide, so we figured it’s useful to write an article on how to trek in Sapa without a guide. Don’t worry, it’s easy-peasy.
In this article you can find advice on how to start your hike or trek in Sapa without a guide. We hiked around for 8 hours, and went to enjoy the beautiful rice fields. Unfortunately, we don’t have our exact route for you, as we basically just followed our intuition. We didn’t go to Fansipan and didn’t spent a night in a home stay.
Sapa 0ne-day hike without a guide
Some facts about Sapa
Sapa is the capital of the Sapa District in Lao Cai Province, and is on an altitude of 1600 meters. The temperatures in Sapa can range a lot during the different seasons. Sapa’s climate is moderate and drizzly in the summer time and cold and foggy in the winter time.
Nowhere in Vietnam can you find the local ethnic minorities like in Sapa. There is a great diversity of ethnic people, including five main groups of Hmong, Yao, Zay, Tay and Xa Pho. They live throughout the valleys of Sapa, but they come to the center to trade or sell their products. This varies from rice, corn, fruits and handicrafts.
How to trek in Sapa without a guide
Cost: 135.000 VND (about 5 USD/Euro) per person incl. entree fee and lunch.
Duration: How long you want – we hiked for 8 hours (with breaks for breakfast and lunch).
To be honest, there isn’t a specific way to do it. We don’t have a specific route for you (although we have the starting point), as we basically walked in the direction we felt like.
Where to start your trek in Sapa
Start early so you have plenty of time! Head down the main road and go down Muong Hoa Street, here you’ll pass some cafés and hotels. If you keep on going down that road, you’ll soon go pass the ticket counter where you pay 75.000 VND (3 USD) per person for entering the rice fields.
After we went in, we just went straight on the
road for a while. Then we found a dirt road that went down a hill and already found some of the rice fields. Quickly we also found other tourists with guides and figured we went the right way.
As we prefer the less crowded places, we eventually went right, where everyone else went left. This gave us some time walking with just the two of us. Of course, you have the possibility to get lost. But we eventually bumped into people anyway, so you can always ask directions. We didn’t even take a map and managed perfectly.
What to take in your backpack during a trek in Sapa
- Water. Take enough water. We took 1.5 L per person and finished it all.
- Food. Also, we took some breakfast and lunch which we bought back in town. Because it didn’t taste well at all, we eventually decided to have lunch in one of the local restaurants among the rice fields. We got some spring rolls, omelet, vegetables and rice. Together it was only 5 USD, so we actually recommend to eat lunch there so you don’t have to carry around food! But of course, it’s good to take some snacks with you.
- Sunscreen. It was really sunny when we were there, so we had to wear enough sunblock not to get burned.
- Hat and sunglasses. If it’s warm and sunny, it’s essential to protect yourself!
- Camera. Take lots and lots of photos.
- Map. We went without a map, but we didn’t have a specific place we wanted to see. We recommend taking a map if you want to see a cerain village or find a specific home stay.