Sapa is an incredibly picturesque town that lies in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range near the Chinese border in northwestern Vietnam, known as "the Tonkinese Alps". Sapa and its surrounding region is host to many hill tribes, as well as rice terraces, lush vegetation, and Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam. In this article, Vietwindtravel will provide you some information about Climate and Weather in Sapa as well as some suggestions for your Sapa tour.
The climate of Hoang Lien National Park is unique to Vietnam. It is highly seasonal, with a subtropical climate in the summer and a temperate climate during the winter. Mean annual temperature for Sa Pa town is 15.4°C, with a maximum of 29.4°C and a minimum of 1°C. The warmest months are July and August, and the coldest months are December and January. Snow falls in some years on the highest peaks. The heaviest rainfall occurs in July and August. The weather is also notorious for changing frequently and quickly. It is said that only in Sapa, one can experience many different seasons within only one day.
Month Weather features
Month Weather features
January Coldest month, cloudy, foggy but not too wet. better from early days and gets worse to the later half of the month.
February Very cold in early days, cloudy, foggy. Getting warmer & better towards later days.
March Much nicer and warmer than Feb, more sunshine
April Summer start, dry, clear, warm enough
May Starting rainy season with quick shower occasionally, clear sky with more sunshine but little bit warm in the open at noon.
June Warm but not as hot like other region. Clear sky, much sunshine but summer shower get more but not too wet
July Among the 2 worst months of the year caused by summer shower
August The peak month of typhoon and rain
September Autumn starts, getting drier and normally very nice towards the end of the month.
October Cool, dry, sunshine almost every day, clear sky
November Cooler, dry. May be misty and foggy towards the end but nice
December Wet winter starts and get worse at the later days of the month.
Although, each season has its own special qualities and surprises, The best time to visit Sapa as well as the northern mountain is from September to November or from March to May, when the weather is fairly settled with dry sunny days and clear cold nights. During this period the temperature ranges from 15 – 25 degree Celsius. It is not rainy season in Sapa so the trekking routes are dry and bear which means added opportunity to do longer treks, and possibly conquer Mount Fansipan
And if you want to go there in winter, you can get some great feelings with the weather and sightseeing at there, Winters can be decidedly chilly, especially in the Northeast where night frosts are not uncommon from December to February, but the compensation is daybreak mists and breathtaking sunrise views high above valleys filled with early-morning lakes of cloud. During the winter months, the temperature is much cooler and it is advised to bring a some warmer clothing (good waterproof jacket, sweater, wool socks).
If you are a photographer, the most beautiful landscape in Sa Pa is:
September - October with terraced fields of yellow-ripened rice
May with green terraced fields of young rice plant
December with spring flower like peach & plum flower
Sapa is among the well- known beauty spots in Vietnam. It is famous not only for its landscapes but also convergence of many ethnicities living together. Coming there, visitors will enjoy vibrant dresses of ethnics as H’mong Black, Red Dao, Tay, Giay, etc. Each ethnic is different in dress, lifestyle, customs, and farming methods. Set on the slopes of a beautiful emerald green valley, Sapa is the heart of this unique piece of Vietnam. Travel to this peaceful land and meet resplendently dressed ethnic minorities at the local market, visit neighboring villages and hike through iridescent rice terraces, witnessing how the current of life has bubbled along here for centuries. On the way you will enjoy the beautiful scenery and stop for taking photos. You will also discover the Sapa market where the local people meet and exchange goods and culture as well as the place for young couples to date. You might certainly be impressed by the colorful costume of the minority ethics here which make Sapa become more poetic. If you are interested in learning about unique culture, custom and way of living of the Black H’mong, Giay, Red Dzao ethnic people. You can choose the home stay tour in Sapa which offer the opportunity to live with the local people in their villages lying on Hoang Lien Son Mountain and Muong Hoa valley such as Cat Cat, Lao Chai, Su Pan village… The local people will teach you cook their traditional dishes, and explain you their customs as well as the relating legends. You will take part in their daily life’s activities including reaping the rice on the terraced field in the harvest season, sewing the tradition costume or catching fish on the stream which certainly become your unforgettable memory about Sapa.
Sapa Village, the nature of Vietnam where the rice paddies and the ethnic minorities live
The village would be of considerably less interest without the H'mong and Dzao people, the largest ethnic groups in the region
They are mostly very poor, but are rapidly learning about free enterprise most of the Montmagnards have had no formal education and are illiterate, yet any of the youngsters have a good command of English and French
As usual in April and May when the local people water their fields at full to prepare for a new crop, the surface of terraced fields shines like a mirror reflecting the contrast of the reddish brown of soil the deep blue of the sky high above and the green of surrounding forests
June and July, the terraced rice fields with fully-grown paddy rice and forest trees spread the green out to the entire area, from the foot to top of mountains
The green of paddy rice grown on the terraced field makes tourists think of it as a hand-made creation of uniqueness which cannot be found anywhere else
I never seen children in the town of Sapa, well, some of the young girls taken their baby with them at their back but a small children not
I've meet a lots of the children during our trekking to the village and they are so adorable I have a bag of candy in my backpack and I was pleased to give to the kids
I cannot understand that some of them are very dirty I have compassion with this kids and they should be in school though
Our guide explain to me about some of the children not going to school because the mother can't afford it
And the school lesson is only until noon and the children is free in the afternoon
A total 6 km return from our hotel, after a few downhill kilometers, you'll find the entrance to Cat Cat Village marked by a gate, easily spotted in a cluster of cafes and restaurants
Proceed down the steps, through the rice fields, to the village and falls, there are no shortage of cafes, stalls and dirty children on the way
You can take a dip by crossing the bridge near the falls and sliding down the embankment on the other side not the most spectacular falls in the world, but it's a very pleasant way to spend half a day
The main square in Sapa is the center piece of the town it’s free to walk around of course the church is impressive and an endless range of locals selling goods all over the place
Aside from the many street sellers there are also two market areas in the town center you can’t miss either of them and they sell everything from food to souvenirs don’t forget to use your bargaining skills
Here you can come into close contact with a multitude of ethnic minorities chief among them are the Black Hmong, so named partly because their dress is black, ornamented with colourful brocade and silver jewellery, but mostly because of their black, fez-like headgear
The Red Hmong dress in black as well, but the women wrap up their hair in a red scarf bedecked with silver-beaded tassels
The Dzao also have distinctive headwear — a pile of coiled, braided hair, with an elaborate, rectangular ornament of silver metal sticking out of the top they will happily remove their headdress for tourists to show that it's just a hat and not their real hair
Today is a 12 km trek to the village, Sapa is well known to every traveler you will not be the only tourist in this area
Therefore we have chosen a trek to the village where we meet and see the real life of the hill tribe estimated time of walk is about 5 hours an average of physical condition is needed
Along the way we make several stops, we crossed bamboo bridges and overlooks the surrounding mountains and valleys
Many women are in the fields working children playing
Along the way we are accompanied by the ethnic women who tried sell their stuff and can sometimes very irritating
In that way, the 5 hour of walking is nothing to us, sometimes the walking path goes up and down and also plenty to see on the way
The kids in the village are very friendly and so adorable
Just walking around Sapa, up the hills will give you plenty of fodder for your camera and the opportunity to get close to the local ethnic minorities. Plus the fabulous views down to the Muong Hoa valley.
We stopped in Lao Chai for lunch before doing the 4 kms we had left to get up to Ta Van. This is also where you need to cross, what was a stream, but is now a river to get on the western side of the valley. There are two bridges, one suspended for people on foot and the other for motor traffic. Not much to see or do in Lao Chai but have a laugh with the locals.
This is another all downhill hike for about 7 kms, although a lot more difficult due to having to cross back and forth on rocks through a stream and walking on the sides of the terraced rice fields. We had company in the form of two Black H'Mong women who gave us a hand on the difficult sections, but otherwise didn't ask a thing, that is until we got to the village, where one ran on ahead, dived into her house and came back out with the usual tourist fodder. Actually buying something out in the sticks is cheaper than in Sapa, not by a lot because we're only talking 3€ before bargaining, but still. The bargaining is all part and parcel of wanting to buy something. The thing is not to go too far, everybody has to earn a crust, and we are only talking pennies, AND keep smiling.
On the way down the scenery of the terraced fields was superb. The south of Vietnam has the Mekong delta, but the north has the Muong Hoa valley.
There is both an inside and outside market in Sa Pa. The outside one is on the main square between the cathedral and the tourist office. Seems to be sellers there every day, perhaps not officially, although I did see a commissaire chase off the kids, but not the adults. Seemed to be quite friendly, just look from afar without stopping unless you know what you want. If you do stop to check something you can be sure they'll be another 10 sellers around within a minute, but there didn't seem to be any sort of agression until you get your money out. And then it starts "Why buy from her, and not me ?" etc etc etc.
Interesting also to watch the women doing their sewing and making mainly skull caps and bags. The large decorative panels for framing or for wall hanging are done in the villages.
Just at the side of the main viewing platform for the falls, is a small theatre used by the village cultural company to perform some of the H'Mong traditionnal dances. It was a real pleasure to watch the young people seemingly enjoying themselves as much as the 100 or so tourists present. The performances take place every hour and a half and are free, although there is a recipient for tips to help the company stay alive, even 10.000 VND (roughly half-dollar US) is more than welcomed.
One of the dances we recognised as the same as we saw at Mai Chau, the " Danse de l'Amour" , played with dancers and flautists.
For those that are a little worried about the climb back up to Sapa the majority of guides know an easier way out, a little longer but not so steep.
The Cat Cat waterfall is a little further on from the village down a concrete path This one impressed me a lot more than the Silver waterfall, although nowhere near as high, but here is a better flow. There is an old French hydro-electric station built over 100 years ago. Beware, there are plenty of souvenir sellers from the village here, mainly Black H'Mong.