Vietnam is a long and narrow strip of land between Laos, Cambodia, and China. This country packs a collection of scenic views, from misty peaks and picturesque valleys to beaches and lush rice terraces. Known for its diverse range of natural landscapes, Vietnam is dotted with must-see destinations that have attracted tourists near and far.
Close to its capital of Hanoi, you’ll find scenic views of nature that brings you close to the mountains in a matter of hours. In this article, we’re going on an adventure ride outside of Hanoi, to Sapa. A world away from the skyscrapers and bustling roads, this amazing destination offers stunning backdrops you won’t want to miss!
Photo source: Flickr | Kristupa Saragih
Sapa is a popular district of Lao Cai province. It is a mountainous region, located in the northwestern part of the country. Interestingly, it has also been called ‘the city on the clouds’ for the amazing sea of clouds that surround the Hoang Lien Son Mountain and Muong Hoa Valley year round.
Here, you’ll find magnificent rice terraces, white-water rivers rushing among the rice fields, and lush green mountains stretch as far as they eye can see. Sapa also offers some of Vietnam’s best trekking locations where you can peacefully wander, swim by the waterfalls, and experience the ethnic culture first hand.
With the area’s cultural diversity, you’ll find accommodations which are modern and have international influences, yet still incorporate architecture of the surrounding villages. As expected, these homes are well-integrated in the natural environment, with the architectural structure adding to the beauty of the surrounding scenery. They combine indoor-outdoor living through its seamless flows, views of the landscape, and use of greenery.
You may have noticed that these are all design principles of biophilic design – one that seeks to reconnect us with nature by integrating natural elements into our built environment.
Photo source: Topas Ecolodge Booking Page
Choosing where to stay is essential in planning a fun trip to this town. Believe us when we say that there’s a lot to choose from. So, we gathered five locations to narrow down your options. If you are looking for a leisurely getaway, then keep reading to find a home away from home that can truly give you an authentic experience of Sapa.
We also took into consideration some sustainable stays so you can feel more immersed with the local life, taste delicious ethnic dishes, learn about the culture, and make new friends in the process.
1. Topas Ecolodge
Photo source: Topas Ecolodge Booking.com Page
Bask in the stunning views of Sapa while enjoying the comforts that Topas Ecolodge can offer. Located on a beautiful hilltop deep in the mountains of Hoang Lien National Park, this charming lodge is a step into luxury while enjoying the beauty all around.
Here, 41 mountain bungalows are built as rustic chalet-style single bedroom houses made from local white granite. Each home has a private balcony and a spacious terrace offering panoramic views where you can enjoy the towering peaks and endless valleys.
These bungalows combine the contemporary Scandinavian minimalism and the rustic texture of the ethnic minority to bring a comfortable, luxurious stay in the mountains.
Similar to traditional Vietnamese homes, the smaller bungalows feature a thatched roof which acts as a natural insulator that keeps the home cool in the summer and warm in the cold season. Best yet, this is sustainably made, making it extremely environmentally-friendly. Moreover, it is an intentional design choice to make the homes blend more harmoniously with the surrounding landscape such as the glass sliding door which promotes airflow while giving you an uninterrupted view of Sapa.
The Topas Ecolodge has also become an icon for sustainable tourism in remote areas. For conscious travelers, you’d be glad to know that the Ecolodge “employs more than 100 staff from nearby villages, recycles its wastewater and glass, reduces plastic and packaging, and buys from local suppliers.”
The most recent addition to the Ecolodge family is their Deluxe Suite which features the latest in modern sustainable technologies. It is outfitted with heated floors and water heated via underground air pumps. All in all, making it a great choice if you want to indulge in a beautiful resort that strives to protect the environment and the local culture.
We also recommend you dip your toes into the herbal bath just nearby – a must do to complete your Sapa visit. Take a healing soak that uses a recipe perfected by the Red Dzao women. They use bark and leaves harvested in the forests to create an aromatic, steamy blend used to soothe tired muscles. Or, dive into their saltwater infinity pool that overlooks the striking views of the landscape.
2. Deja Vu Sapa Homestay
Photo source: Deja Vu Booking Page
Experience the peacefulness of a mountain getaway in this newly opened spot. The Deja Vu is the place to be if you want to stay somewhere a little farther from the Sapa town, yet still close enough to a couple of restaurants, local bars, and untouched nature. Just like the name suggests, the Deja Vu will remind you of cozy spaces that feel like home.
Similar to traditional Vietnamese houses, the structure is made of local materials such as bamboo, wood, stone, brick, and tile. The natural colors from these organic materials are retained to show the brown natural hues.
Inside the main hall are high ceilings with skylights to welcome light in and illuminate the space. An indoor tree stands tall in the middle to create an eye-catching, light-filled space and gives the feeling of being close to nature and living in harmony with it.
If you’re familiar with traditional longhouses, you’ll notice that wooden beams are positioned parallel to each other along this structure as well. Wood furnishing, warm lighting, and natural materials are used for the bedroom interiors to create a cozy haven – a perfect place to unwind after a long day trekking around Sapa.
The Deja Vu features floor-to-ceiling glass windows that give you a panoramic view of the greenery all around. Taking a step outside to the sun-drenched terrace gives an even more open view of nature. You’ll be happy to know that in each room, you’ll find a generous-sized living space and bathroom too; this, coupled with wide, expansive views means you won’t feel cramped in any way.
And like a bonus, the Deja Vu is situated near a lake and offers a camping area where you can gather around the fireplace, grill some meat, play some music, and tell stories under the stars.
3. Cloud Village Sapa, Duplex Villa
Photo source: Cloud Village Sapa Airbnb Page
Discover this relaxing farm overlooking the majestic views of the Muong Hoa Valley. Located atop the beautiful Jade Hill, just a short distance from Sapa, this hidden gem gives you the perfect escape from hectic city life. Here, you’ll see the sunrise illuminate the Hoang Lien Son mountains and a wistful sea of clouds soften the landscape.
Complete with restaurants, a spa, bar, and swimming pool. This impressive resort gives you the best of both worlds that you will surely want to keep coming back to.
The villas are made of a fusion of traditional Vietnamese architecture with its sloped roof and ventilation, while embracing European influences in its interiors. In North Vietnam, the roof structure is typically made of bamboo or wooden structures, evident in the Cloud Village homes. Its noticeable slope is made to drain water off and avoid leakage. At the same time, the roof is placed away from the wooden columns to create shade and protect them from rain.
Usually, the space beneath the large slope is cleverly used to create storage. But, in this case, the space is used as a bedroom, while the slats allow light to pass through and air to move in and out the home.
The exterior of each home is predominantly made with wood and stone, allowing it to blend with the lush landscape. Each home is also slightly elevated on low stilts reminiscent of traditional stilt houses throughout Vietnam. Since Northern regions like Sapa don’t experience much flooding, simple wooden slats are used to establish a better foundation when building on rocky surfaces.
Inside, the wood and stone continue to be used for the walls, staircases, and fireplace to create a cozy and natural ambiance. The first floor features the kitchen and a spacious living room for the family to gather. This open space with a sliding glass door leading to a patio creates a welcoming area to appreciate the view and just be.
The bedroom occupies the second floor where it is also kept open. It has a curtain to create some privacy and promote socialization among the family members.
4. Indi House – A Chill Room
Photo source: Indi House Airbnb Page
Unplug and unwind in this “Chill Room” located in Ta Van Village. This home allows you to venture away from Sapa town and live up close and personal with nature, all in the comforts of a simple traditional house.
The key element of this humble home is its liberal use of wood, which creates an intimate and cozy feeling throughout the space. Besides the walls and floor coverings, interior furniture like tables and chairs are also built with different types of wood accessible in the area.
It doesn’t stop there. For its unique, colorful interiors, the Indi House is clad with a combination of other materials such as tiles, bricks, and corrugated metal. The pillars and beams form a pitched roof and are visible in the interior. Exposed bricks are also used for the walls to create an inviting and warm feeling.
Additionally, and most importantly, traditional decor and the bright ethnic fabric used for the pillows, table runners, and wall decor is lovingly made by the locals in the nearby villages to create an authentic experience for visitors.
As a guest aptly summarized: “The area is unbelievably beautiful and relaxing. Great for an emotional recharge and doing some hikes, connecting with locals.”
P.S.: For the wine lovers, the host also has a homemade apricot wine that we hear is very delicious. If you like your wine with vegetarian and local food, then this could be the place for you.
5. Plum Eco House
Photo source: Plum Eco House Booking.com Page
This peaceful and rustic house makes for an excellent stay while touring Sapa. Located at the center of Ta Van village, this charming abode gives you a peaceful view of the Muong Hoa Valley.
Plum Eco House follows the structure of stilt houses or Vietnamese traditional wood architecture. Similar to house structures of the past, the Plum Eco House also dons a simple thatched roof. This is a classic example of building with natural and sustainable materials found in Northern Vietnam to this day. Plus, it provides good insulation from the climate.
As Sapa is home to Vietnam’s different minority groups, each with its own distinctive custom and dialect, the interiors of the house aims to reflect this. Inside, vibrant colors and patterns inspired by the local tribes are used to brighten up the space. While the walls, staircases, furniture, and flooring is made of sturdy wood, bricks, and cement for a simple finish. The combination of these materials creates a balanced space that feels cozy and lived-in.
Inside, the rooms are spacious and cozy. Some bungalows have two floors and a balcony, extending the space further and opening it up to nature outside. The bed and curtains are also adorned with the local fabrics.
As you can probably tell from the different accommodations in this list, the access to nature through glass windows, balconies, and terraces are key elements for homes in this area. The Plum Eco House also promotes a connection to the surrounding environment through its open outdoor spaces connected to the rooms.
By simply taking one step outside, you can lounge and enjoy the endless views that Sapa has to offer. Plus, there are plenty of seating areas around the property for guests to relax and face the views outside. If you’re looking for a space to relax with a group of friends (or even meet new ones), then this homey and humble abode could be for you. And, if you still aren’t convinced, then perhaps the raving reviews would do the trick!