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How to Book a Hotel in Sa Pa

In order to book an accommodation in Sa Pa enter the proper dates and do the hotel search. If needed, sort the found Sa Pa hotels by price, star rating, property type, guest rating, hotel features, hotel theme or hotel chain. Then take a look at the found hotels on Sa Pa map to estimate the distance from the main Sa Pa attractions and sights. You can also read the guest reviews of Sa Pa hotels and see their ratings.

When a hotel search in Sa Pa is done, please select the room type, the included meals and the suitable booking conditions (for example, "Deluxe double room, Breakfast included, Non-Refundable"). Press the "View Deal" ("Book Now") button. Make your booking on a hotel booking website and get the hotel reservation voucher by email. That's it, a perfect hotel in Sa Pa is waiting for you!

Hotels of Sa Pa

A hotel in Sa Pa is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Sa Pa hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Sa Pa are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Sa Pa hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Sa Pa hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Sa Pa have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:

Upscale luxury hotels in Sa Pa
An upscale full service hotel facility in Sa Pa that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Sa Pa hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.

Full service hotels in Sa Pa
Full service Sa Pa hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.

Historic inns and boutique hotels in Sa Pa
Boutique hotels of Sa Pa are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Sa Pa boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Sa Pa may be classified as luxury hotels.

Focused or select service hotels in Sa Pa
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Sa Pa travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Sa Pa focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.

Economy and limited service hotels in Sa Pa
Small to medium-sized Sa Pa hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Sa Pa traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Sa Pa hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.

Guest houses and B&Bs in Sa Pa
A bed and breakfast in Sa Pa is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Sa Pa bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Sa Pa B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.

Hostels in Sa Pa
Sa Pa hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Sa Pa hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.

Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Sa Pa
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Sa Pa hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Sa Pa lack an on-site restaurant.

Timeshare and destination clubs in Sa Pa
Sa Pa timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Sa Pa often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Sa Pa on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.

Motels in Sa Pa
A Sa Pa motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Sa Pa for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Sa Pa motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.

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Travelling and vacation in Sa Pa

Sa Pa
Thị trấn Sa Pa
Sa Pa Township
Sa Pa town
Sa Pa town
Sa Pa is located in Vietnam
Sa Pa
Sa Pa
Location of in Vietnam
Coordinates:  / 22.350; 103.867
Country Vietnam
Province Lào Cai
District Sa Pa
• Total 24.02 km (9.27 sq mi)
Population (2009)
• Total 8,975
• Density 373.6/km (968/sq mi)

Sa Pa (About this sound listen), or Sapa, is a frontier township and capital of Sa Pa District in Lào Cai Province in north-west Vietnam. It is one of the main market towns in the area, where several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao (Yao), Giáy, Pho Lu, and Tay live.

Sa Pa: History

Sa Pa is a frontier township and capital of Sa Pa District in Lào Cai Province in north-west Vietnam. It was first inhabited by people we know nothing about. They left in the entire valley hundreds of petroglyphs, mostly composed of lines, which experts think date from the 15th century and represent local cadastres. Then came the highland minorities of the Hmong and Yao. The township is one of the main market ones in the area, where several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao (Yao), Giáy, Pho Lu, and Tay live. groups, as well as by smaller numbers of Tày and Giay. These are the four main minority groups still present in Sa Pa district today. The Kinh (lowland Vietnamese) never originally colonised this highest of Việt Nam’s valleys, which lies in the shadow of Phan-Xi-Pǎng (Fansipan, 3143 m), the highest peak in the country.

The Catholic church in Sa Pa, built in stone in 1930

It was only when the French debarked in highland Tonkin in the late 1880s that Sa Pa, name of the Hmong hamlet, with "S" is pronounced almost as hard as "Ch" in French, "Sh" in English, "S" in standard Vietnamese, so Chapa as the French called it, began to appear on the national map. Near to the now Sa Pa townlet is "Sa Pả commune", which shows the origin in Hmong language of the location name.

In the following decade, the future site of Sa Pa township started to see military parties as well as missionaries from the Société des Missions Etrangères de Paris (MEP) visit. The French military marched from the Red River Delta into the northern mountainous regions as part of Tonkin's ‘pacification’. In 1894-96 the border between China and Tonkin was formally agreed upon and the Sa Pa area, just to the south of this frontier, was placed under French authority. From 1891 the entire Lào Cai region, including Sa Pa, came under direct colonial military administration so as to curtail banditry and political resistance on the sensitive northern frontier.

The first permanent French civilian resident arrived in Sa Pa in 1909. With its attractive continental climate, health authorities believed the site had potential. By 1912 a military sanatorium for ailing officers had been erected along with a fully fledged military garrison. Then, from the 1920s onwards, several wealthy professionals with enough financial capital also had a number of private villas built in the vicinity.

At the end of the Second World War a long period of hostilities began in Tonkin that was to last until 1954. In the process, nearly all of the 200 or so colonial buildings in or around Sa Pa were destroyed, either by Việt Minh sympathisers in the late 1940s, or, in the early 1950s by French air raids. The vast majority of the Viet population fled for their lives, and the former township entered a prolonged sleep.

In the early 1960s, thanks to the New Economic Zones migration scheme set up by the new Socialist regime, new inhabitants from the lowlands started to migrate to the region.

The short 1979 occupation of the northern border region by Chinese troops had little impact on Sa Pa town, but did force the Kinh (lowland Vietnamese) population out for a month.

In 1993 the last obstacle to Sa Pa's full rebirth as a prominent holiday destination was lifted as the decision was made to open the door fully to international tourism. Sa Pa was back on the tourist trail again, this time for a newly emerging local elite tourist crowd, as well as international tourists.

Sa Pa is now in full economic boom, mainly from the thousands of tourists who come every year to walk the hundreds of miles of trekking trails between and around the villages of Dao villages of Ta Van and Ta Phin.

In 2006, the Chairman of The People's Committee of Sa Pa Province was elected to The Communist Party Central Committee as the youngest ever member (born in 1973).

Sa Pa: Geography

Sa Pa District is in Lào Cai Province, northwest Vietnam, 380 km northwest of Hanoi close to the border with China. The Hoàng Liên Son range of mountains dominates the district, which is at the eastern extremity of the Himalayas. This range includes Vietnam's highest mountain, Fan Si Pan, at a height of 3143 m above sea level. In addition, other mountains like Aurora & J (where the sun appears at sunrise) complete a very steep terrain. The town of Sa Pa lies at an elevation of about 1500 meters (4,921 feet) elevation. The climate is moderate and rainy in summer (May-August), and foggy and cold with occasional snowfalls in winter.

Sa Pa below the Aurora & J Mountain
Mountain view from downtown Sa Pa

Sa Pa is a quiet mountain town and home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. The total population of 36,000 consists mostly of minority groups. Besides the Kinh (Viet) people (15 percent) there are mainly five ethnic groups in Sa Pa: Hmong 52 percent, Dao 25 percent, Tay five percent, Giay two percent, and a small number of Xa Pho. Approximately 7,000 live in Sa Pa, the other 36,000 being scattered in small communes throughout the district.

Terraced fields in Sa Pa

Most of the ethnic minority people work their land on sloping terraces since the vast majority of the land is mountainous. Their staple foods are rice and corn. Rice, by its very nature of being a labour-intensive crop, makes the daily fight for survival paramount. The unique climate in Sa Pa has a major influence on the ethnic minorities who live in the area. With sub-tropical summers, temperate winters and 160 days of mist annually, the influence on agricultural yields and health-related issues is significant.

The geographical location of the area makes it a truly unique place for many interesting plants and animals, allowing it to support many inhabitants. Many very rare or even endemic species have been recorded in the region.

Sa Pa town hall

The scenery of the Sa Pa region in large part reflects the relationship between the minority people and nature. This is seen especially in the paddy fields carpeting the rolling lower slopes of the Hoàng Liên Mountains. The impressive physical landscape which underlies this has resulted from the work of the elements over thousands of years, wearing away the underlying rock. On a clear day, the imposing peak of Fan Si Pan comes into view. The last major peak in the Himalayan chain, Fan Si Pan offers a real challenge to even the keenest walker, the opportunity of staggering views, and a rare glimpse of some of the last remaining primary rain forest in Vietnam.

Geology, climate and human activity have combined to produce a range of very distinct habitats around Sa Pa. Especially important is Sa Pa's geographic position, at the convergence of the world's 14 "biomes" (distinct biographic areas), producing an assemblage of plant and animal species unique in the world.

In 2014, Sa Pa ranked number nine in the top 10 rice terrace destinations of the world by SpotCoolStuff.

Sa Pa: Ecological life

A black pig in Sa Pa

The Hoàng Liên Mountains are home to a rich variety of plants, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects, many only found in north-western Vietnam. For this reason, the Hoàng Liên Nature Reserve was made a National Park in 2006, and covers much of the mountain range to the immediate south of Sa Pa.

Forest type and quality change with increasing altitude. At 2000 meters the natural, undisturbed forest begins to be seen. Above 2500 meters dwarf conifers and rhododendrons predominate in the harsh “elfin forest”, so called because a lack of topsoil and nutrients means that fully mature trees grow to measure only a few meters in height. Higher still, only the hardiest of plant species are found. At over 3000 meters, Fan Si Pan's summit can only support dwarf bamboo.

Sa Pa: Topography

The Hoang Lien Mountains lie at the south-eastern extent of the Himalayan chain. The national park is located on the north-east flank of these mountains and includes Vietnam's highest peak, Fansipan, at 3,143 m (see map). The lowest point is 380 m but most of the national park lies above 1,000 m. The flanks of the mountains are very steep and many areas are almost inaccessible on foot. Between Fansipan Mountain and Sa Pa town, lies the Muong Hoa valley, which has been terraced for wet rice agriculture. This valley becomes wider towards the east of the national park.

Sa Pa: Climate

The climate of Hoàng Liên National Park is unique in Vietnam. It is highly seasonal, with a subtropical climate in the summer and a temperate climate during the winter. Under the Köppen climate classification, Sa Pa has a subtropical highland climate (Cwb). Mean annual temperature for Sa Pa town is 15.4 °C (59.7 °F), with a maximum of 29.4 °C (84.9 °F) and a minimum of 1.0 °C (33.8 °F). The warmest months are July and August, and the coldest months are December and January. Snow falls in some years on the highest peaks. It has snowed in the town itself in 1983, 2000, 16 March 2011, 15 December 2013, and 19 February 2014.

In common with the rest of northern Vietnam, Hoàng Liên National Park experiences a marked wet season from May to September, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in July and August. Mean annual rainfall is 2,763 millimetres (108.8 in), with a high of 4,023 millimetres (158.4 in) and a low of 2,064 millimetres (81.3 in). Humidity ranges from 75 to 91 percent with a yearly mean of 86 percent.

Climate varies considerably within the national park. The prevalent wind direction for most of the year is west to east, leading to cloud formation on the upper slopes of the Fansipan massif. These high-altitude areas are covered by cloud most days of the year and have very high humidity. Cloud also penetrates into the valleys but these areas are usually less humid than the mountain slopes. In the extreme east of the national park, around Ban Ho village, mean temperatures are considerably higher due to the lower altitude of these areas.

Climate data for Sa Pa, Vietnam
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 23.9
Average high °C (°F) 11.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 8.1
Average low °C (°F) 5.0
Record low °C (°F) −6.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 40.6
Average relative humidity (%) 86 92 86 82 85 88 88 89 87 93 90 88 88
Mean monthly sunshine hours 113.78 111.03 157.00 169.99 149.50 94.58 113.09 119.22 101.49 95.69 102.11 132.56 1,456.67
Percent possible sunshine 33.98 35.06 42.63 45.20 36.90 23.65 27.61 30.20 27.96 27.03 31.21 40.14 33.25
Source #1: Sistema de Clasificación Bioclimática Mundial, south-east Asian Climate Assessment & Dataset (sun 1961–1990)
Source #2: Weatherbase

Sa Pa: Geology

Rice crops

The geology of Hoàng Liên National Park includes metamorphosed sediments and a granitic intrusion. The metamorphosed sediments strike from north-west to south-east along the Muong Hoa valley. On the north-eastern side of the valley is a craggy ridge of marble and metamorphosed carbonate rocks that exhibit a karst style of weathering. These formations are currently being quarried for road building. The valley floor is characterised by schist and, to a lesser extent, gneiss. The granitic intrusion extends from the Muong Hoa River to the summit ridge of Fansipan and beyond. Due to the high humidity and rainfall in the area, chemical weathering is prevalent. This is reflected in the clay nature of the soil.

Sa Pa: Economic and social development

Sa Pa market

Before the 1990s, the town's economy was mainly based on small size agriculture.

Tourist arrival between 1995 and 2003 grew from a total of 4,860 to 138,622. On average, 79% of the visitors are Vietnamese and 21% are foreigners.

The people of the Sa Pa area have been very poor even by Vietnam's rural standards. Efforts to improve the situation for the local people include both governmental and non-governmental initiatives. The government of Vietnam and foreign governments have contributed to local development programs. International non-governmental organizations such as Oxfam have also been involved in Sa Pa. Locally, the Hmong-run social enterprise, Sapa O'Chau, organizes volunteer placements, such as English teaching, and visiting through trekking and homestays at local villages for short or long-term periods. Vocational training by the Hoa Sua School also aims to increases skills and earnings potential for local residents.

Sa Pa: Hydrology

Sa Pa Lake and town

Hoàng Liên National Park is drained by the Muong Hoa and Ta Trung Ho rivers, which feed the Nam Po River and, finally, the Song Hong (Red) river. The forest has an essential role in water catchment protection, particularly the forest at high altitudes, which is frequently covered in cloud. Water condenses on the vegetation and falls as ‘occult’ precipitation. Occult precipitation makes a major contribution to stream-flow during the dry season when rainfall is low.

Sa Pa: Vegetation

The forest of Hoàng Liên National Park can be classified as belonging to 3 types: sub-montane dry evergreen forest, tropical montane deciduous forest and sub-alpine forest. The sub-montane dry evergreen forest, which occurs at lower altitudes, has been the most heavily disturbed by the activities of man.

In addition to the forest habitats, the national park contains large areas of agricultural land, scrub land and Savannah. Agriculture is concentrated at altitudes below 1,500m, in the bottom of valleys. Scrub land and Savannah areas are found where forest has been cleared: around the edge of cultivated areas and on ridge tops, which have been subjected to burning. A final vegetation type represented at Hoàng Liên National Park is dwarf bamboo. This habitat is confined to the highest ridges of the Fansipan massif, at altitudes above 2,800 m.

Panorama of Sa Pa towards the Fansipan

Sa Pa: Notes

  1. Note that, in the process of exploration and conquest of Tonkin in late 19th century, the French rely on transportation and help from the Hmong (or montagnards in general), who are less compliant Vietnam government, so landmarks were indicated on the map of period 1870-1890 was recorded under the name in Hmong language under French style. So the situation is the name "Lao Cai", in Hmong language is "Old Market". Some researchers do not pay attention to the origin of name in languages of ethnic minorities, but try to find it in Chinese or so, and that led to a long discussion.
  2. Station ID for Sa Pa is 303. Download the data, open the text files for each month and use this station ID to obtain monthly sunshine values for this location

Sa Pa: References

  1. Michaud, J. 2001, French Chapa, a short history. Hanoi: Victoria hotels.
  2. Il était un Tonkin: Jean Dupuis. forez-info, 2012. Retrieved 22/12/2015.
  3. Michaud J., 2004 "French Missionary Expansion in Colonial Upper-Tonkin". Journal of south-east Asian Studies 35(2):287-310
  4. Michaud J., 2008 "Flexibilité de l'économie chez les Hmong de la haute région du Viêt-nam septentrional", Aséanie 22:151-83.
  5. Michaud J., S.Turner, 2006 "Contending Visions of a Hill-Station in Vietnam". Annals of Tourism Research. 33(3): 785-808.
  6. http://travel.spotcoolstuff.com/amazing-views/best-rice-terraces
  7. "Tropical snow in Sapa". The Voice of Vietnam. 27 March 2011. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  8. "Snow creates winter wonderland in Sa Pa". Vietnam News. VietNamNet/Viet Nam News. 19 March 2011. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  9. "Snow falls in Sapa". VietNamNet. VietNamNet Bridge. 16 March 2014. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  10. "Vietnam snow damages farms". LAO CAI, Vietnam: Inquirer.net. Viet Nam News-Asia News Network. 17 December 2013. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  11. "Tourists flock to see rare sight of snow in Sa Pa". Viet Nam News. LAO CAI. VNS. 16 December 2013. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  12. "Sapa town in snow". Radio The Voice of Vietnam. 17 December 2013. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  13. "Sapa covered in a blanket of snow". The Voice of Vietnam. 15 December 2014. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  14. Lao Cai receives light snowfall. Viet Nam News. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  15. "Vietnam - Sa Pa". Centro de Investigaciones Fitosociológicas. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  16. "Climatology Maps: Sunshine duration (1961–1990 period)". Badan Meteorologi Klimatologi dan Geofisika (BMKG). Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  17. "Climatology Maps: Sunshine duration fraction with respect to daylength (1961–1990 period)". Badan Meteorologi Klimatologi dan Geofisika (BMKG). Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  18. "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Muong Bu, Vietnam". Weatherbase. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  19. Minot N., Epprecht M., Tran Thi Tram Anh, Le Quang Trung, 2006 Income Diversification and Poverty in the Northern Uplands of Vietnam. International Food Policy Institute. Research Report 145:29.
  20. Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion, Start-up Level 2011.
  21. Oxfam 2012, Oxfam in Vietnam.
  22. Sheffield Telegraph, 14 June 2012, "Sheffield teaching a class apart".
  23. Hoa Sua School for Disadvantaged Youth, 2012. There is a charity based in Saigon that helps to rehouse minority families, especially those with young children. The charity is called 'Sun of Hope' and they build new homes and complete refurbishments on current existing homes. They work on one project at a time but require the projects to be fully funded in advance.
  • Forbes, Andrew, and Henley, David: 'Sapa and the north-west' in: Vietnam Past and Present: The North (History and culture of Hanoi and Tonkin). Chiang Mai. Cognoscenti Books, 2012. ASIN: B006DCCM9Q.
  • Michaud, J. and S. Turner, 2006: Contending Visions of Sa Pa, A Hill-Station in Viet Nam. Annals of Tourism Research. Vol 33, no 3, 785-808.
  • Michaud, J. and S. Turner, 2003: Tribulations d'un marché de montagne. Sapa, province de Lao Cai, Vietnam. Études rurales. n° 165-166, janvier-juin. 53-80.
  • Turner, S. 2007: Trading Old Textiles: the Selective Diversification of Highland Livelihoods in Northern Vietnam. Human Organization. 66 (4), 389-404.
  • Oxfam in Vietnam (PDF)

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