The town
sapa has the feel of an alpine resort. The architecture is a mix between French colonial and traditional Vietnamese (often painted in a bright ochre or mustard) derived styles. It's common to arrive early in the morning and there's often a very enthusiastic welcome awaiting the sleepy tourist, providing an opportunity for a rapid acquaintance with the local minority people.
Many of Sapa's hotels offer stunning views across the valley showcasing the incredible heights of the mountain opposite. If you catch mount Fansipan on a clear day, ensure that you take photographs as the cloud can sweep in, obscuring the view.

Be prepared for sudden shifts in the weather, as it is very changeable. Try visiting Sapa during the dry season if possible, otherwise take care in bringing a change of shoes, and definitely check with your hotel that you can dry your shoes off overnight if they do get soaked.

Later, have a trawl through the many shops selling traditional craftware and then toke a walk further up the hill that Sapa rests on to the 5 star Victoria Hotel, which offers a beautiful bar with raging wood fires and cosy decor. 
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Sapa town (01/09/2008)