Sapả (or Sapá) means “sandy plain” is the marketplace where locals usually gather together for trading goods. Until its name was spelt incorrectly by the French, Sapa was a fantastic, romantic tourist attraction known as “The Earth’s Heaven,” and Fansipan peak was called “Roof of Indochina.”
Sapa is a small town situated in the Lao Cai province in northwest Vietnam at 1,500-1,800 meters (10,312 ft) above sea level. Sapa has one of the most favorable climates in Vietnam, with cool weather year-round and frost and even snow mid-December to mid-January. The average temperature falls in the range 15 – 180C.
The Earth’s Heaven
After finishing up work and family responsibilities, all kind of photographers gather annually in Sapa during September and October to start their “hunting journey” on Sapa’s picturesque terraced rice fields.
No one could resist the imposing scene of hills, valleys and mountains. No one could ignore the alluring beauty of rivers and springs. And no one could fail to notice the marvelous view of the terraced rice fields, which symbolize the ladder of heaven and are honored as one of the seven magnificent terraced rice fields in the world by the US Travel and Leisure Magazine. Mu Cang Chai and Ban Ho are notable for being favorite places to capture shimmering pictures of the fields during their harvesting seasons.
Shooting pictures in the snow has recently become a trend for many photographers, who choose the top of O Quy Ho mountain pass to be their gathering spot.
Fansipan is the highest peak of Hoang Lien Son mountain range at 3,143 meters above sea level. In order to conquer “Roof of Indochina,” hikers must climb 12,000 meters through mountainous terrain to reach the peak and then make another 12,000 meter climb down. The route still contains lots of wilderness obstacles and is one of the most adventurous and harsh climbs that challenges skillful hikers with slippy cliffs and landslides.
From Fansipan conquerors’ experiences, hikers should wear good shoes with stiff tips and soles, tough rubber and scree collars, a kind of special tights under your hiking pants to keep your legs warm. Shorts should be worn in the summer. A few pairs of socks should be carried to protect hikers from insects and itchy plants and should be available to change when they get wet. Leather gloves with water resistance will best support you on slippy cliffs. Scarves are also useful accessories to keep you warm when the temperature is below 80C. Finally, you are compelled to wear a thick jacket unless you want to be frozen to the bone.
Tourist are always looking forward to taking a picture with the pyramid stone that says “Roof of Fansipan.” Be sure to witness the sunrise or the sunset at the highest peak of Hoang Lien Son. Make a plan to assure that you can enjoy one of the most stunning moments in life. You have two options: wake up at 4 a.m. after spending a night at 2,800 meters to catch the sunrise, or enjoying the sunset before climbing down to 2,800 meters at 9 p.m.