Sapa cycling is our complete Sapa travel guide dedicated to all things bicycle travel: Hanoi to Sapa cycling, Sapa cycling tour, mountain bike race, bicycle hire, rent, rental, Sapa bike routes, Sapa Vietnam by bike.
Cycling in Sapa Vietnam lets you to discover the best mountain retreat in Vietnam, the impressive terraced paddy fields, and to experience the rich ethnic culture. Whether you look for a half day bike tour to explore Sapa hill tribe villages or an overnight trip to discover its surroundings, Sapa has something to fit your personal requirements.
Sapa is a frontier township and capital of Sapa District in Lao Cai Province in north-west Vietnam. This is one of the main market ones in the area, where several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao (Yao), Giay, Pho Lu, and Tay live.
The scenery of the Sapa region in large part reflects the relationship between the minority people and nature. This is seen especially in the paddy fields carpeting the rolling lower slopes of the Hoang Lien Mountains. The impressive physical landscape which underlies this has resulted from the work of the elements over thousands of years, wearing away the underlying rock. On a clear day, the imposing peak of Fansipan mountain comes into view.
Sapa how to get there?
Hanoi to Sapa by private car with driver
Renting a private car with driver is a perfect choice thanks to the recent opening of the Noi Bai – Lao Cai highway (245 km in length) passing through five provinces and cities of Hanoi, Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho, Yen Bai and Lao Cai. With this Hanoi – Lao Cai highway, using private car rental to Sapa is 4 hours shorter and more enjoyable than traveling by train. The private transfer offers you the chance to travel at your own pace. You will enjoy the view of the Vietnamese countryside along the road and it is by far the quickest and easiest way to travel between Hanoi and Sapa.
Hanoi to Sapa by train
From Hanoi it is a 8-hour train journey to Lao Cai Railway Station, the gateway to Sapa. Vietnam Railways operates 3 services everyday: 2 express trains SP1/SP2, SP2/SP3 and 1 local train LC1/LC2. Occasionally during high season and national holidays the railway company may announce additional services, such as SP7/SP8 and LC3/LC4 services. Express trains run during the night and stop only in major stations, whereas local trains run during daytime at slower speed and stopping in all stations along the Hanoi – Lao Cai railway line.
Hanoi to Sapa by bus
There are both sleeper bus and day bus from Hanoi to Sapa. The bus station in Hanoi is in My Dinh, about 10K from the Old Quarter. The bus station in Sapa is in the centre of town, near the lake. Express bus or shuttle bus departs daily at 7 AM via the newly built Hanoi – Lao Cai highway. It takes about 6 hours of driving from Hanoi to Sapa, depending on traffic and weather. Note that there is no toilet, and they only make one rest stop along the way.
Hanoi to Sapa by motorbike/scooter
Sapa can also be reached by motorcycle from Hanoi by a variety of routes. The most direct route takes at least ten hours for first time riders, though local expats often brag about making it in less. Bikes can be rented in Hanoi for unguided passage, or local guides can lead the way.
When to go cycling in Sapa Vietnam?
The climate of Sapa is unique in Vietnam. It is highly seasonal, with a subtropical climate in the summer and a temperate climate during the winter. Under the Köppen climate classification, Sapa has a subtropical highland climate, above the sea level by nearly 1,500 metres (4,900 ft). Mean annual temperature for Sa Pa town is 15.4 °C (59.7 °F), with a maximum of 29.4 °C (84.9 °F) and a minimum of 1.0 °C (33.8 °F). The warmest months are July and August, and the coldest months are December and January. Snow falls in some years on the highest peaks. It has snowed in the town itself in 1983, 2000, 16 March 2011, 15 December 2013, and 19 February 2014.
In common with the rest of northern Vietnam, Sapa experiences a marked wet season from May to September, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in July and August. Mean annual rainfall is 2,763 millimetres (108.8 in), with a high of 4,023 millimetres (158.4 in) and a low of 2,064 millimetres (81.3 in). Humidity ranges from 75 to 91 percent with a yearly mean of 86 percent.
What to explore on your Sapa Vietnam bike tour?
Sapa hill tribe villages
Explore Sapa by bike to discover its hill tribe villages.
Ta Phin village
Ta Phin Village is located about 17km in the west of Sapa, and can be discovered by bicycle in a half day. Ta Phin is a village of Red Dao’s people possessing a rich culture that has not been damaged by the modern life.
Lao Chai village
Take a mountain bike to discover Lao Chai village is 6 km far from the centre town, you will see Lao Chai village where the black H’mong people are living, it is also the beginning of a valley which is called Muong Hoa valley. From a high point of the main road 8 Km from Sapa town, great view of the whole village open wide to offer the marvelous panorama of the village, backed by high mountains and facing the river.
Ta Van village
Ta Van is located far from Sapa less than 10 kilometers, and can be explored in a half day by bike. The road leads to Ta Van village that is small and narrow. Along two sides has a fertile terraced field which adorns by the green of corn and rice.
Cat Cat village
Cat Cat Village is located on the Muong Hoa Valley, this is the village of the H’Mong hill tribe. Taking a downhill ride to Cat Cat village is exciting. Visiting Cat Cat village, we can have a chance to visit a big waterfall on the stream and the old Hydro Electric Power Station built by the French here. That is the image of young women sitting by looms with colorful pieces of brocade decorated with designs of flowers and birds.
Ban Ho village
At the end of the motor way about 25 Km from Sapa town lies a vast and flat valley, circled by mountains and hills. It is Ban Ho valley home to the Tay ethnic. It is divided into three areas: Ta Trung Ho, Xeo Trung Ho and Hoang Lien, which is place of the Mong, Dao, Tay. Cycling to Ban Ho village takes one day with support vehicle. The 2 day bike tour offers the chance to explore in depth the area.
Bac Ha market
Being a minority ethnic people market, Bac Ha market is located in 80 km from Sapa, Bac Ha is famous for its Sunday market which is a trading center and meeting place for couples, friends, and relatives. Every Sunday, Bac Ha hosts the biggest fair near the mountainous highlands and the Chinese border. It is the largest and most colorful market in the area and attracts throngs of villagers from the surrounding hill tribes. Cycling to Bac Ha market from Sapa is quite hard but exciting.
Lung Khau Nhin market
The famous antique market in the Northwest of Vietnam is Lung Khau Nhin Market, it takes you more than two hours from Lao Cai by car. The market is opened on every Thursday. Lung Khau Nhin Market is filled with brilliant colors of the dresses, blankets, vegetables and local’s products, they are all minority people such as: H’Mong, Nung, Man, Kinh…This less-visited ethnic market can be discovered on a cycling tour from Sapa.
Muong Khuong market
Muong Khuong Market is a district of Lao Cai province, it’s far from Lao cai 50km and 90 km from Sapa. In here, there is special market on every Sunday, it’s Muong Khuong market. This is the biggest of the minority here, gathered many products to sell and trade such as: handicraft, cattle, vegetable, traditional incense and local products…
Tram Ton pass
The way up to Tram Ton pass is very tough. When reaching the pass, you will be finally at the peak of Hoang Lien Son Mountain, which is called Heaven Gate where great views will be waiting for you. Keep cycling through the pass, you will arrive in Lai Chau is less-visited than Sapa.
Sapa cycling routes
Cycling in Sapa
Ride from Sapa to Ta Van village, Lao Chai village, along Muong Hoa valley.
Cycling Hanoi to Sapa
There are about 400km to ride from Hanoi to Sapa. You should break this cycling route in 3 or 4 days with stops in Nghia Lo, Than Uyen. Support vehicle is recommended for cycling Hanoi to Sapa trip.
Cycle Lao Cai to Sapa
33km to cycle from Lao Cai city to Sapa (uphill) or vice versa (downhill).
Sapa to Bac Ha bike ride
Approximately 100 km to pedal from Sapa to Bac Ha. At Vietnam Cycling we recommend you to complete this route in 1 day with backup vehicle or 2 days with the chance to visit Bac Ha sunday market.
Sapa to Lai Chau cycling route
There are about 70km to ride with steep up climbs from Sapa town to the Heaven Gate. Backup vehicle is recommended as most of our customer take the van on the way bay (one day itinerary).
Sapa self-supported bicycle touring
If you prefer cycling without a guide rather than taking a guided bicycle tour, the Sapa region has many things for you to wander around. You can hire a bike in Sapa and head for one of the villages outside of Sapa.
You can buy a Sapa Map for location and routes. All of the main routes are marked. Some paths might be easy to follow and there are a lot of people around to help if you are unsure.
There are not many bike shops in Sapa where you can hire a good mountain bikes that we strongly recommend for any Sapa bike tour. We recommend you to make your reservation in advance, so that the bikes will be ready when you are there.
Sapa bicycle rental
Biking in Sapa requires good mountain bikes since the topography changes from one place to another. While most of the bicycles we stock for our Sapa bicycle tours, we have some other Trek bicycles to rent out at affordable price. The bikes come with various sizes including 15″(38cm), 17″(43cm), 19″(48cm), and 21″(53cm).
Trek series 4 mountain bikes are highly recommended for cycling in Sapa Vietnam as they have high quality, durable pieces of equipment. The Trek mountain bikes are designed to deal with different types of road and riding. Even on a road trip, the asphalt can often be broken or potholed, and there are usually unsurpassed sections included, so mountain bikes are the most suitable. The bike has 24 and 27 gears, which you can change easily when pedaling uphill or down trails.
Sapa cycling tours
Here is our great selection of best cycling tours we arrange in Sapa Vietnam – All these Sapa bicycle tours are provided with English-speaking biking guide, high-quality mountain bikes (Trek Series 4), support vehicle, and meals. We can also make the room reservations for your multi-day tours.
Please bear in mind Sapa is a hilly destination. Terrain vary very much, offering both exciting downhill ride and challenging uphill bike ride. The area is recommended for experienced cyclists.
Read more: Sapa bike tours
Additional questions about Sapa cycling?
Do you have any questions about bicycle touring in Sapa Vietnam that you want to ask us? Is there anything you think I should discuss about cycling around Sapa that we left out… that we should include in future updates to this article? Other Vietnam destinations for taking a bike tour?
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