Trekking In Sapa During February
If you are in Northern Vietnam there is a high chance you will be going trekking in Sapa. It is an overnight journey from Hanoi, either by bus or by sleeper train. Once you get to Sapa one of the best things to do is go trekking, allowing you to explore the magnificent rice fields which line the hilly countryside make for the most picture-perfect opportunities. Though, the weather during February can be very different to the rest of Vietnam which is why you need to prepare yourself accordingly for trekking.
Sapa is on the main backpacking trail in Vietnam, making it a must not miss when planning your trip. No matter what time of the year you visit there will for sure be a large amount of tourists in the town, though some more prepared for the weather than others.
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The Weather In Sapa During February
Many people visit South East Asia during January and February, just like I did, and try and make the most out of their time by doing all these once in a life time activities. Having come from Laos where it was thirty degrees everyday, I had not seen one drop of rain in 2 months. I expected the whether in Vietnam to be similar. Well, it was similar, in the Southern Vietnam, but not in the North where Sapa is located. Actually it was closer to New Zealand in the wintertime dropping down to the negatives overnight and we were not prepared for this.
There was a constant fog over the town which never lifted and I swear I lost a couple shades of tan after not seeing the sun! Luckily, it did not rain during the day while we were there. Though, just like clockwork at about 6pm each night it would bucket down.
What To Pack For Trekking In Sapa
If you are just visiting Vietnam you should have room in your bag for a few thicker pieces. This will allow you to keep warm, snug and most importantly dry. Try pack a rain jacket, beanie, at least two jumpers and some thick socks.
Alternatively, if you have been traveling other places in South East Asia previously, then it is unlikely you will have warm clothes. Seriously, I had more bikinis than long sleeve tops. The best option here is to layer up! Oh, and I also purchased an overpriced $5.00 beanie that I quickly threw out after returning to Hanoi. Though, having something to keep my head toasty was honestly a lifesaver.
You will need lots of warm clothes as if you are planning to sleep in a homestay as they do not have heaters. Often though, the host will light a fire at night which the whole family crowd around to keep warm. Don’t let this put you off doing a homestay experience. It is a really awesome way to get away from the general chaos of Vietnam and live basically for a couple of days.
Also, a must is a waterproof pair of shoes. If you book a trek with one of the local guides you will be going off the main road and into the fields. With a constant moisture in the air and rainy nights the consistency of the ground is beyond mud. We saw so many people freaking out having to walk along these crazy sludgy paths in their white Nike sneakers. Just bring appropriate shoes.
Alternatively, you can stick to the main road and still get to the village of Ta Van where the majority of the homestays are. There is a lot less mud on the road as all the dirt has been compacted. This means having waterproof shoes are less necessary. There are a few waterfalls on the way though, but if you have good balance you can just jump along some rocks and keep dry.
What To Expect Trekking In Sapa During February
Trekking in Sapa during the month of February certainly is not what the pictures make it out to be like. Forget sun shiny days, lush green fields and beautiful views. I don’t mean to be a bummer, but there is more likely going to be fog, rain and mud. Though, as long as you dress appropriately and set your expectations accordingly you should have a good time.
Also, on the plus side, prices in Sapa during February are extremely cheap. From accommodation deals, to free food and cheap massages your money will go far in Sapa during your visit. Most restaurants will have free drinks or free meal signage outside their restaurant and you will see online prices plummet.
About Ta Van
Ta Van is a village where the majority of homestays are located. It is 9km outside of Sapa town and if you do not want to trek in you can also catch a taxi there for $11.00 / 250,000 Dong. This might seem like quite a large amount, but the roads down to Ta Van are horrible. Expect constant potholes and puddles, it is a slow 9km journey. Honestly, it makes a nice change getting off the main backpacking trail in Vietnam.
There is also a $3.30 / 75,000 Dong entry fee to get into the Ta Van area. If you book a taxi off the side of the street they will stop at the booth so you pay the money. Though, if the taxi is booked through your homestay your host will likely tell the driver not to stop as the fee is included in the room price. Well, this is what our host family said anyway.
Alternatively, you can do the cheaper option and walk to Ta Van. We did this and it is easy enough to follow the roads as it is all sign posted. It also gave us the trekking in Sapa experience as there was no way we were going into the muddy paths. There are also some awesome animals to see along the way. We saw herds of goats, horses, many dogs, ducks and pigs, both alive and dead strapped to the back of someones motorbike. The water buffalo also liked to stalk us along the road when we were trekking in and out of Ta Van.
In Ta Van itself there is an abundance of homestays as well as eateries. Which is perfect in case you don’t want to do the homestay meal every night. One night we stopped in at Lucky Daisys Bamboo bar for a meal which. It had super awesome relaxing vibes and a massive fire place. The town itself was a lot more happening than up the street. In my personal opinion I would recommend you book a homestay in the actual town of Ta Van.
Staying In Ta Van- The Homestay Experience
I stayed in a homestay slightly outside of Ta Van, though it only took about a 15 minute walk to be in the town. Unfortunately, I have looked online and it does not seem to be open anymore. Though, a lot of homestays are quite similar with facilities and what is included.
We paid $6.00 / 136,000 Dong each per night at our hometsay. This amount included breakfast each day and a basic private room, which had an amazing duvet cover! One of the nights we also decided to get the homestay dinner which was $3.30 / 75,000 Dong per person. These homestay dinners are always offered as an extra and I highly recommending doing at least one. It was the best tofu I have ever had in my life and I was able to question the chef on how it was done as she was sitting at the other side of the table.
We were the only people staying at our homestay during this time. Though, that makes sense because it was the low season. As previously mentioned the house was fairly basic, so if you cannot survive without heating and wifi this may not be for you. A fire was lit every night to crowd around inside the house. Though, because there is no insulation the warmth disappeared quickly. Our host family would always constantly be bringing us snacks and we even spent one night eating raw sugar cane which we heated up over the fire.
Should I Travel To Sapa In February?
In all honesty I would not recommend trekking in Sapa during February. Alternatively, I would recommend you visit Mai Chau instead. You can still do all the amazing hiking and get those awesome rice terrace photos. Though, as it is not so north as Sapa so the weather is warmer, there is less rain and there are still plenty of trekking companies where you can have the homestay experience.
How I Book Cheap Transport In Vietnam: 12.Go Asia
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