The French settled Sapa in 1922 as a hill station, and over time it’s become a boon for tourism in northwest Vietnam. Sapa is now undoubtedly on the backpacking circuit but the far-flung location keeps it mostly uncrowded. Most popular for hiking throughout alluring mountainous terrain, Sapa is perfect for outdoor activities but also for exploring some of the most unique and fascinating hill tribe villages in the region. Spectacular scenes, incredibly welcoming locals, bustling markets, and small, mist-shrouded hotels are each a part of Sapa’s newfound renaissance.
8. Sapa Main Market
Surrounding Sapa are several interesting hill tribe villages, including those of the Red Dao and Hmong, whose people head to Sapa market to sell handicrafts and ethnic style clothing. The market opens every day of the week—Saturdays are most appealing—set up with indoor and outdoor stalls for the day; head to the set of stairs outdoors to find fresh produce, medicinal herbs, and beautiful, fresh cut flowers. If you’re hoping to stock up on vibrant ethnic fabrics, explore stalls along the second floor—stalls along the bottom right have fine displays of tribal silverwork. One of the best things to do at the market is eat breakfast or lunch at one of the many food stalls. The market is ideal for becoming familiar with the different tribal characteristics of each of the tribes and to admire the colorful tribal clothing of the local people.