This generation of travelers have a different mindset when it comes to group tours-we don’t want them. Perhaps our grandparents and parents enjoyed being shuffled on and off of buses by pushy tour guides for a hefty fee but we do not.
Travelers these days, we want independence, and we want to stretch our cash. How to go about traveling from Hanoi to Sapa, Vietnam is not entirely apparent, but you can get there without joining a group tour. Here is how to arrange a trip from Hanoi to Sapa on your own.
Getting from Hanoi to Sapa
Take the Sapa Express. The office and pick-up point are in the same building which is located within the center of town. The bus is brand new, comfortable and the service provides water, snacks and even one of those cushy little neck pillows.
Tickets can be purchased at the office and they cost around $15 round trip. Once in Sapa, the bus will drop you off and pick you back up right within the middle of the town.
Arranging a Hotel
Sapa is a tourist town and has plenty of hotels for you to choose from. They range from a measly $3 a night budget rooms to $30 and up for swankier places. Many overlook the mountains and villages an can be booked in advance online or right then and there when you show up. We stayed in the Cat Cat View Hotel and loved it!
Besides exploring the mountain town, the most popular thing to do in Sapa is trekking though the villages. The place is full of companies who run tours but Sapa Sisters is one of the more ethical choices. This company gives full profits to the village women who run these tours while other companies keep most of the money for themselves.
The tours are private, have brilliantly friendly and witty guides and can be arranged in their office located within the town. Visitors can also combine trekking with home stays which can be arranged through Sapa Sisters as well.
Exploring The Town
This little mountain town is perfectly manageable without a guide lugging you up and down the streets. Check out the tiny markets filled with village handicrafts by day and head to some of the laid back pubs in the evening.
The Mountain Bar and Pub has homemade wine and foosball table upstairs. For more of an upbeat vibe, head to Hmong Sisters Bar to play pool and hang with some of the local trekking guides who like to spend time there. Visit the massage parlors, sample as many restaurants as you can and don’t forget to take the time to just enjoy the view.
TIP: Do yourself a favor and DO NOT make pinky promises to buy bracelets from the adorable tribal women that approach you. These girls spend every day in the town trying to sell their handicrafts and if you break a promise to them, they will find you, follow you forever and tell you off for being such a bad person. Cheeky little buggers.