Nobody wants to go anywhere in winter, especially some highlands like Sapa, right! Most of us think that there’s only the hard cold and snow which are extremely annoying during the winter. But as in previous article on this site (Reasons to have Sapa tours in Vietnam during winter), we found out a great deal of reasons to make a tour to Sapa, right! But if you still find it unreasonable to travel to a highland like Sapa in such a harsh winter, then why don’t you just spend some time my article below to know how I made my best tour to Sapa ever?
In the winter, sunny skies are less common (though not impossible) and it’s significantly colder (this is the only part of Vietnam where it sometimes snows), but Sapa still offers stunning landscape views and so much more.
1. Less Tourists and Crowds
Way back when, few outsiders made the trip to Sapa or the nearby villages. The ethnic minority groups in the area survived simply off of subsistence farming. And while today most locals and minority groups continue to farm only to feed their families (rather than selling rice or produce in the markets) most families rely on tourism for income.
Unique sceneries of Sapa in winter
For better or for worse, Sapa is no longer a quaint, sleepy town and in the summer, Sapa can be mobbed with tourists and traffic and the beautiful hillsides are easily filled with other trekkers.
However in the winter, you’ll see far less tourists than you would during the peak season. Every restaurant we wanted to try in town had a table available, and while trekking, it was rare for us to encounter other tour groups. We were also able to get our own private tour guide which was much nicer than having to trek in a large group where everyone has different things they want to see and different paces.
2. Forget the Hard Sell
As I mentioned, Sapa has a thrives on tourism. If you look up other resources on Sapa, you’ll see many complaints about the local women aggressively trying to sell you their handicrafts or their services as guides. While I sympathize with both parties (tourists feel annoyed or uncomfortable but locals are trying to earn a living).
Market in Sapa
During our visit to Sapa we did not encounter much of the “hard sell” in large part, because of the weather. It was just too cold. At most, women huddled with friends with items for sale laid out on blankets on the sidewalks. Very few people came up to us to ask us to buy anything and if they did, they took no thank you as an answer immediately and then returned to find warmth.
We did have two women who followed us from town as we set out for our first morning of trekking. They followed the common routine of asking “Where are you from?” and “What is your name?” and I was wary of them at first. However later when I was nearly knee deep in mud in the rice terraces (mud is a year-round thing in Sapa), I was thankful to have the two of them keeping me upright.
3. Pay Less
Pretty self explanatory, but in the off-season, expect to pay less for hotels and homestays. You’re also likely to get extra perks from your hotel or to be able to negotiate for the prices of tours and treks. If you are doing some shopping, the odds are in your favor when it comes to haggling, but I recommend buying directly from one of the local ethnic minority women rather than from a big shop where the products are most likely mass produced and not handmade.
Handmade products in Sapa
4. Beautiful Views
No matter the season, Sapa is a beautiful place to visit. While the iconic rice terraces are not as vibrant at this time of year, this region still offers fantastic trekking any time of the year.
Sapa’s sceneries in winter
I would definitely add on additional time to your stay in Sapa if you’re traveling in the off season just in case you get a couple of days of poor weather, but you’ll still be able to enjoy the peaceful landscapes of the area.
5. The Hospitality
Beyond the views that make Sapa so famous, what really draws me in to the region and the real reason I want to go back is because of the wonderful hospitality we encountered. The staff at our hotel were so generous, thoughtful and always smiling.
The shiny smile of H’mong women
And you could really tell that the local communities revolved around their families. I would love to go back again and stay in a homestay with a local family but I really contribute the great feel we were able to get for Sa Pa because of reasons #1-4 above.
So, are you curious about it? Why don’t you try another feeling and take a tour to the breath-taking Sapa in winter, so that you can enjoy unique things and get to know the warm heart of people here?
It will be one of your most memorable experiences, seriously!