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Comparing Yangshuo and Sapa region

New York
Level Contributor
8 posts
3 reviews
Comparing Yangshuo and Sapa region

Hi all -- my wife and I will be visiting SE Asia for five weeks following a trip to China. Initially the rural highlands in northern Vietnam were high on our list, but we've decided to spend a week just prior in Yangshuo and surrounds, exploring villages by bike and taking in rural life.

My question is: how similar or dissimilar are the general sights/experiences in Sapa from the area around Yangshuo? Since our time in SE Asia for this trip is somewhat limited, and we'd like to fit in a diversity of experiences, are we better off passing up Sapa and Vietnam's rural north this time around?

Thanks for your insights,


Boca Raton, Florida
Level Contributor
310 posts
3 reviews
1. Re: Comparing Yangshuo and Sapa region

Great question. We spent time in sapa and it was one of the highlights of our VN trip. This October we are going to china and will unfortunately miss out on theYangzhou area. My husband wants to save it for the next trip. I'm most interested to hear responses from those that have done both.

Luang Prabang, Laos
Level Contributor
1,353 posts
1 review
2. Re: Comparing Yangshuo and Sapa region

If you'll already be in China, traveling en route to SEA, then yes, I do recommend a visit to the Yangshuo area. Yangshuo/Guilin area is known for it's karst scenery but is not in the mountains, per se, like Sapa from where you look down the slopes at terraced rice fields (depending upon the time of the year).

However, if this is a side-trip just for a place similar to Sapa, and you're already planning a visit to Vietnam, then I'll advise going to Hanoi, Sapa (and/or Bac Ha) and possible even Halong Bay.

One major factor is the cost for an American to get a visa for China at U$140. The Viet visa is less than half the cost.

Yangshou is a great place to visit and if you're seeking a destination similar to Sapa, then you can head up from Yangsho to the Longji/Longsheng/Dragon's back terraced fields. Stunningly beautiful like the terraced rice fields southeast of Ubud, Bali. And the wood cabins that you can 'home-stay' in are like large Swiss chalets, minus the amenities. If time permits, spend at least a night so that you'll be able to hike from village to village. If memory serves, the ethnic group here are the Yao/Dzao which are also in the Sapa area.

But Yangshuo area is also stunningly beautiful and very easy to rent a bike and ride into the country-side. Also take a slowboat along the Li River near Yangshuo.

Level Contributor
1,043 posts
3 reviews
3. Re: Comparing Yangshuo and Sapa region


Have been to Sa Pa and Yangshou on a number of occasions

Both fabulous places and different.

Sa Pa is at an elevation of around 1300 metres so it might be considered mountainous where as Yangshou is around sea level

Bike riding in Yangshou and surrounds is excellent and though it is surrounded by the karst mountains it is relatively flat going anywhere.

Sa Pa on the other hand has very little to no bike riding.

Sa Pa is perched on a ridge so to speak and then drops away to the valleys below.

Hard to beat having breakfast on a balcony in Sa Pa and taking in the vistas

Though there are minorities around Yangshou you are not aware of them as they are not wearing their Traditional clothing

Sa Pa on the other hand has the Black H'Mong and the Red Dzao who still for the most part wear their traditional clothing but that is changing .

Both are fabulous people

Walking in Sa Pa varies from undulating to straight up and down whilst in Yangshou it is flat.

For starters in around Yangshou you have the Yulong River and then the Li River walk from Yangdi to Xingping

Sa Pa is certainly the place for visiting markets , Sa Pa, itself , Bac Ha , Coc Ly , Muong Hom to name a few .

Sa Pa markets are a blaze of colour , much more so than markets around Yangshou.

An interesting way to reach Sa Pa is via the north west loop from Ha Noi to Mai Chau Song La etc .

They are chalk and cheese and to pick one over the other , well I am a mountain person.

Oh by the way as the moaners say , they are touristy but once you cut through the tourist layers , well


New York
Level Contributor
8 posts
3 reviews
4. Re: Comparing Yangshuo and Sapa region

Thanks all for your replies, I'm very grateful for the advice and information.

5. Re: Comparing Yangshuo and Sapa region

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