2-Day Homestay Tour in Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa was one of the first additions to the itinerary when planning my two weeks in Vietnam in November 2017, and to this day it’s one of my all-time favourite travel experiences.

Here are the five things I wish I’d packed for trekking in SaPa.

To fit in a further excursion to Halong Bay, we opted for the two days, one night Sapa Trek homestay with Central Backpackers Hostel – there are other durations available. We paid a short deposit before arriving in Vietnam and paid the remaining balance in person the day before the tour via card at the hostel.

The tour cost approx £45 per person including the return sleeper bus ticket, transfers, meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner ), 2 day guided trek, car transfers, entry fees to the Sapa, homestay accommodation, and luggage storage in Hanoi or Sapa. It didn’t include drinks.

We did hear that it was possible to ride the sleeper bus yourself and on arrival to Sapa you’d find families offering a homestay there and then – we settled for the certainty of a tour, but others did this. During the tour, we left our main luggage in the hostel luggage store and only took what we needed.

Sapa, Vietnam

Sleeper Bus from Hanoi to Sapa

With only two weeks in Vietnam, we had to maximise our time so to reach Sapa from Hanoi we took the overnight sleeper bus. We met at Central Backpackers Hostel who was leading our tour at 9pm, bound for the 10pm sleeper bus.

It can be a little bit confusing when booking the tour, so the sleeper bus departs on the first booked day of your tour. For example, we booked the tour to start on 1st November, which meant we met at 9pm at the hostel on 1st November. The tour itself started on arrival into Sapa the next day.

The address for Central backpackers hostel original is 16 Ly Quoc Su street – there’s more than one.

On entering the bus you’re asked to remove your shoes and select a chair, the chairs fully recline and a blanket and pillow are provided it was surprisingly comfortable. The bus is kind of a double decker, so almost like bunk beds lining each side, except for the back row which is three reclined seats side by side. There is space for around 30 people on board, there is a toilet and a blanket provided but there are no charging sockets, so be sure to bring a portable charger.

Sleeper bus from Hanoi to Sapa

Day One

We arrived in Sapa at 04:30am, and once our luggage had been collected we quickly realised who our other tourmates would be – que the confused tourists looking completely lost in a rural bus station. There was some confusion but eventually someone arrived after around twenty minutes to transfer us to our first stop.

We enjoyed a pit stop at the Roxana Sapa Hotel for a quick shower and some breakfast, we were given a free towel from reception, this was a little odd due to the half-built hotels surrounding us and the far-reaching greenery in front. I imagine if I arrived in the same location today, I wouldn’t recognise it. We had some spare time to explore Sapa and it was off to start the tour.

Sapa to Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai and Ta Van

Our tour began pretty much opposite the hotel where we were led by a guide and accompanied by some H’mong women who I believe were from the tribe we were hiking towards in the Muong Hoa Valley. The walk offered incredible scenery of the Hoang Lien mountain ranges and terraced rice paddies. When we crossed through minority villages, there were many villagers selling handmade textiles and other wares, our guide was very clear that there was no obligation to purchase anything nor did we feel pressured.

Hmong Woman

Eventually, we made it to the  Zay village in Ta Van where we would be staying for the evening. We were to enjoy the hospitality of  Zay overnight with dinner cooked on a wood fire and the company of our group and hosts. The sleeping arrangements were effectively just mattresses on the second floor, it was like a big group sleepover and despite seeing some spiders, it was comfortable enough.

Drinks weren’t included in the price so if we wanted one we purchased it from the host, these were 20,000 for a beer and 10,000 for water.

Zapa Homestay

Our Homestay

Sleeping Arrangements

Day Two

Ta Van to Giang Ta Chai, Su Pan and Sapa

After an early wake-up with some pancakes for breakfast, we were ready to start our second and final day of trekking through bamboo forests, the Giang Ta Chai waterfall, and into Giang Ta Chai village which is inhabited by the Red Zao minorities. Eventually, we arrived at the Supan village where we were transported by bus back to Sapa.

We had time to freshen up with a shower in the hotel and have dinner, before catching the overnight sleeper bus back to Hanoi. There were to options for the bus – 4pm and 10:30pm, if you take 4pm bus, you will get to Hanoi about 10:30 pm on the same day. If you take 10 pm bus you arrive around 5am the next morning – we did the latter.

Unfortunately, what we didn’t account for is that you need to walk from the bus office in Hanoi to your hostel. Sadly arriving so early that we couldn’t access our room so we had a shower and slept on the hostel sofas until we could gain entry.

This trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience, we had a really great group of people of all ages, some of whom we have kept in touch with.

Sapa Tour Group

Our Tour Group

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