HOW Sapa is reached by taking an overnight train to Lao Cai from Hanoi followed by a road transfer. It is possible to drive all the way from Hanoi, but it is a very long, although rewarding day. Guests staying at the Victoria Sapa hotel can use the deluxe Victoria train to travel to Lao Cai.
WHAT Sapa, a former French hill station, has very dramatic scenery with terraced rice paddies and is home to many colourful hill tribes including Hmong, Tay and Dao. It is overlooked by Mount Fansipan (3145m). The town has vibrant markets (in particular the famous Love Market), a gathering place for the minority groups who still wear colourful traditional dress, while the adventurous can go trekking or cycling, on their own or as part of a group, staying in the hill tribe villages to experience a little of their way of life. Their handicrafts and typical food and drink are very popular gifts.
WHEN With a cool climate all year round, April to September are the best months to visit as it can be cold and foggy before and rainy after this. The spring months are a particularly good time to enjoy the many flowers, especially orchids.