Skip to main content
Trekking Sapa Vietnam

Easy guide to Sapa mountain trekking

As soon as you set foot on Sapa, you’ll be bombarded on all sides by trekking opportunities. So there’s no need to book a trek in advance because resources abound.

In this guide, we will delve into the whole Sapa trekking tour process:
– How to book it
– Treks to choose from
– Prices
– Equipment
– Our experience at it


Booking a trek in person or by phone

Two months before arriving in Sapa, we were recommended a local guide by a Portuguese backpacker we met in Kampot. So even after a few touts from guides that approached us on the street, we followed the suggestion of our compatriot and called Mama Mae—the local Hmong guide she recommended.


Sapa, Vietnam


The booking process is simple. You can do it directly with the local guides or by phone since they’ll hand out their numbers when you’re not ready to commit on the spot. Through your hotel, the Sapa tourism office or any tour operator around town.

You can choose one of the following options:

– Half day trek
– Full day trek: includes one meal
– 2-day trek with homestay: includes two meals and a few drinks, a bath and a bed for the night (usually at the guide’s family house)
– Some tour operators like Buffalo Tours or Sapa Sisters offer up to 5-day trek options

Then you’ll set up the day, time and spot where the trek starts.
The payment is usually done at the end of the trek.


Price tables

Booking directly through a local guide will cost a fraction of what you’ll pay to a tour operator. Still, every guide has her own fee and these are some of the offers we got:

Mama Bau: 14€ for one day trek and 28€ for 2 days + homestay.
Mama Susu: 11,50€ for one day and 28€ for the 2 days + homestay.
Mama Mae: 11€ for one full day
Tour operator fees start at: 35€ for one day




If you’re an experienced hiker you could do the trek on your own, but by hiring an experienced guide you’ll be helping the local communities and learning about them. Besides, no one knows the hillside like they do.


Let’s do this!

Nuno and I met Mama Mae at 9 in the morning, near the Gothic church in the city center. The two of us joined a group of four American girls and three other Hmong women that walked alongside us the entire trek.

Mama Mae spoke very good English but the other Hmong women did not. We figured that they must accompany tourists as a way to practice their English, so eventually, they can become guides themselves.


Hmong women showing us the way through the Sapa moutains in Vietnam

Take plenty of water

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day in opposition to the stormy days before. We were super excited to be out and about exploring nature, and having a genuine taste of the Vietnamese rural life.


Rice paddies at Sapa


However, two hours in, we realized that 1,5L water bottle wouldn’t last long for two grown men hiking a mountain and descending through muddy rice terraces. Not to mention that Mama Mae got thirsty too, so we ended up sharing our water with her—because we’re gentlemen.


Mario trekking the mountain in Sapa


Take plenty of water, you’ll need it. There aren’t any shops in the hills, only in the villages.


Soul cleansing views

The scenery was breathtaking—everywhere we looked was like a panoramic screensaver!
Not only Mama Mae took us to the best lookout spots in the mountains, but we also saw water buffaloes, piglets, tea and cannabis plantations. We talked for hours about Vietnam, her family and ours. She was like an open book.


Water buffalo and farmer at a Sapa rice paddie

Mama Mae holding cannabis leaves


Meanwhile, the other 3 Hmong women kept walking by our side asking time and again:
– Where are you from?


Vietnamese Hmong women with Mario and Nuno


At noon, we stopped for lunch at a humble restaurant where other hikers were. Mama Mae provided us with a noodle soup and some pieces of fruit, the drinks we paid ourselves. After lunch, we walked a few more hours to her house where the first day of trekking ended. We met the husband and granddaughters as she prepared some tea for us: Lipton, believe it or not.

After tea, she explained to us how she makes indigo blue from the plants and dyes the fabrics.


Hmong fabric dye

Indigo dyed fabrics drying in the sun


True colors

The other 3 Hmong women that followed us around came with a goal in mind: to sell. To sell as much as possible.
After a subtle sign from Mama Mae, they pulled out all sorts of knick-knacks from their wicker baskets: bracelets, wallets, shawls and whistles, along with an aggressive selling tactic. They turned into unfazed vending machines, that didn’t take “no” for an answer.


Back to Sapa

Having finished our full day trek, Mama Mae took us to the center of her village, calling two motorbike taxis to take us back to Sapa: 2.00€ each, paid by ourselves.
The ride back to Sapa alone was amazing. It’s not every day that someone can ride through valleys in Vietnam, with the sun setting behind the mountains and the last sunbeams reflecting on the rice paddies. That’s something we’ll never forget.


Mountains, Sapa Vietnam


Trekking equipment

Keep it light and simple.
All you’ll need is a comfortable pair of sturdy shoes, light clothing, and a camera. Remember to take plenty of water, snacks, sunblock and you’ll be good to go.

As a side note, Sapa has plenty of shops that both rent and sell trekking gear.


Sapa trek guide walking


Full day trek expenses

Full day trek: 11€
Motorbike taxi: 2€
Water bottle: 0.60€


If you’re planning a trekking tour on Sapa we still have Mama Mae’s, Mama Bau’s and Mama Susu’s phone numbers and will gladly share them with you. Leave a reply down here or at any of our social media outlets and we’ll send it to you via email or PM.



Related Posts

55 thoughts on “Easy guide to Sapa mountain trekking

  1. HI there ! Love your blog ! So useful ! I would really like the numbers of the mama, that would be really useful . THanks a lot in advance !

    1. Hi, Marie 🙂
      Thanks for your feedback! Glad you find the blog useful.
      Check your email inbox for the phone numbers, we sent you the numbers of Mama Mae, Bau, and Susu.

      Have fun in Sapa!

  2. Hi,

    We enjoyed reading your blog! We are planning on visiting Papa in February. Could you send us the numbers of Mama Bau, Mama Susu and Mama Mae?

    Kind regards,

    Veerle and Oscar

    1. Hi guys!

      Thanks for your feedback, we really appreciate it. 😉
      Check your email inbox for the phone numbers. Have a great trip!

  3. Hello! Could you please send us the phone numbers of the guides? We would love to give one a shot, as we will be going to Sapa in the coming week. Thank you!


  4. Hi Nuno and Mario,

    Your blog has been really helpful!
    I’m going to be in Sapa in about a week and would love to get the contact information of the 3 women to organize a trek.



    1. Hi Ciela,

      Thank you! We’re glad you found it helpful. 😀
      Check your email inbox for the phone numbers and have a blast in Sapa!

  5. What a wondefull wxperience. We would love to do the trekking with mama mae in two days. Would you like to share the contacts with me? Thanks a lot!

  6. Hi Nuno & Mario. Thank you for your blog, definitely informative so that now I can decide among the vast option of tours available in Sapa.

    On a side note, could you please share the contacts so I can book a tour with one of the ladies?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Hana,
      Thanks for your feedback!

      We just send the phone numbers to you, check your email inbox.
      Have fun on in Sapa. 😀

  7. Hi!
    We are thinking of heading to Sapa in the next week or two, please can you send me the numbers of Mama Mae, Bau and Susu? Thank you!

  8. Hi Nuno and Mário,

    Thanks for the great sharing, we will be going to Sapa on next month & on a budget trip. Appreciate if you can share the telephone no. of the 3 great mothers of Sapa with us.

    Thanks and have a nice day.


  9. Hi Nuno & Mario,

    We will be going to Sapa on 25 Nov and planning for trekking. could you share Mama Mae, Mama Bau and Mama Susu contact number. As we would like to book these ladies for trekking.


  10. Hello Nuno and Mário,
    We are Jan and Yvonne and we are now doing some travelling around Vietnam and will be heading to Sapa soon. Those tour guides sound incredible! Would it be possible to have the numbers of Mama Mae, Mama Bau and Mama Susu please?

    Thank you 🙂

  11. Hi Nuno and Mario,

    nice blog !! 🙂
    Next week I’m going to Sapa would like to go with those guides 🙂 Could I ask you to send me phone numbers ?

    Thanks a lot

    1. Hi Robert,

      Glad you find the blog useful! Thanks for your feedback. 😀
      We just send the phone numbers to you, check your email inbox.

      Have fun in Sapa! 👊

  12. Hi!

    Im headed for Vietnam in a couple of days and would love to stay with one of these guides. Could you share their contact information?



  13. Hi Nuno and Mario,
    It was such an informative posting!
    As I am also planning a trip to Sapa, could you please send me an email with contacts of local guides?
    Thank you very much!

    Kind regards,

  14. Hi Nuno & Mario
    Impressed blog, I enjoyed and learnt from you a lot, thank you
    I’ll be travel to Sapa next November and will take my first epic trekking to Mt Fansipan, would you pls give me some advises on how to make it my own and contact the local guides pls

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon
    Thank you

    1. Hi, Jenny!
      Glad you’re finding the blog helpful, we really appreciate your feedback. 😊

      Check your email inbox, the guide’s phone numbers will be there.
      Call Mama Mae at least one day prior to your desired trekking day to confirm if she’s available – you can ask at the hotel to call from there.

      If you have any more questions, let us know.
      Have fun and be safe! (It’s going to be awesome 😃)

      1. Hi Nuno & Mario
        Got it, how quick action you are 🙂 thank a million
        I’ll call all Mamas and send them best regard from you for sure 🙂
        Yesssssssssss, it’s going to be awesome trek I suppose, first time in my life I decided to do something crazy dear :)))

        Take care whenever you are

  15. Hi Nuno, Hi Mario we’ll ( my wife and me) visit Vietnam next December and going around in the net I met your blog. As we are plannig our stay in Sapa I found interesting reading your tour experience with Mama Mae.
    The question is : How different is Mama’s (….one of the three) tour compared to the most famous operator ones, for istance Sapa O’Chau ? Do they visit the same places ? I’ve read Sapa O’Chau one day trek programs and seems interesting but now I’d like to learn more about these possibilities. How can I conctat the Mamas ?
    Thank You
    Umberto (from Roma)

    1. Ciao Umberto!
      Well, one of the reasons we like to book directly with the local guides (the Mamas) is to make sure that the money goes to them. Also, booking a trek with an agency is always much more expensive, and the Mamas only get a small commission.

      However, I bet there are many tour agencies offering great quality trekking experiences. One of them is Sapa sisters

      If you still want Mama Mae’s phone number, let us know. We would gladly send it to you by email.😉

      1. Thanks fo answering and yes of course I’d like to have their numbers (Mama Mae’s, Mama Bau’s and Mama Susu’s ). I’ll stay there at least three days so I could choose for the best and cheap trek and perhaps homestay too.
        Grazie e arrivederci ragazzi!

  16. Hello Nuno and Mário,

    My name is Lúcia and I’m now doing some travelling around Vietnam and will be heading to Sapa soon. Those tour guides sound incredible! Would it be possible to have the numbers of Mama Mae, Mama Bau and Mama Susu please?

    Thank you 🙂

  17. Hi Nuno and Mario, we are a family of 4 (two adults + 2 kids (10 & 7 years old) from Barcelona, Spain. We will be travelling in August to Vietnam and would like to have the phone numbers of Mama Mae to do the trekking with her in Sapa.

    Many thanks.


  18. Hi Nuno and Mario, excellent blog , we enjoyed reading about your travels ,

    we will be in Sapa in April and would love to get contacts for Mama Mae, Mama Bau and Mama Susu, so we can book a tour with one of these ladies.

    Happy travels

    Craig and Jacqueline

    1. Hi Craig and Jacqueline, you’re very kind. Thank you!

      We just send you an email with the guides contacts.
      Have fun in April! 👍

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *