Has anyone been to Sapa in the past year?
What company did you go with, If any?
Is it possible to go it alone? Get train and book accom seperate?
How much did it cost?
Im happy to go and get imersed in the culture but i think my friend wants more than this. What is there to do there? Treks? Hot springs?
I would really appreciate some help on this one.
check into the kangaroo cafe http://www.kangaroocafe.com/ (ran by an Australian couple) located in Hanoi, Vietnam. I did not take the sapa trip with them but did the Halong Bay trip and several with me on the Halong Bay trip also used them for Sapa and were very happy with the trip.
Its possible to do it alone - you can get the train tickets (to Lao Cai at the foot of Sapa) at the station itself or through pretty much any guesthouse/travel agency... From Lao Cai station buses and vans run up regularly to Sapa. As for accomodation theres plenty of guesthouses and mini hotels once you reach Sapa.
Id recommend doing it alone, actually, having paid 90 over dollars for a 3day/2night "tour" and felt i was being shortchanged at every opportunity - treks were short and brief (could have done it alone, in any case), food is included but... well you are given food coupons and you use them to redeem bowls of instant noodles.
Theres plenty to do when you get up there - trekking etc, even if you need a guide you can always arrange for one once you are up there, theres more freedom and competition which works out better for you as you get to pick and choose. Theres a few treks that go around the hills, the rice terraces and the villages, and Sapa itslef is a nice place to just wander about, walking through the town and the markets...
Oh yea and if you want to cut costs and make sure you get a room, avoid the weekends where package tour groups from Hanoi descend upon Sapa in huge numbers...
Very easy to do Sapa DIY - I did it in March '08. It's a very small town, and you can get whatever you want just by asking. I would reserve a room B4 you go, but otherwise you can book a trek right there. Caution, the trails are hell there, so bring good boots. I like the Cat Cat Hotel for rooms and treks.
I went with the Kangaroo people to Sapa a few years ago now. It was good to have someone organise everything for you, but really could do it alone. Would definitely recommend a trek and a homestay whilst you're there. You could always get a guide once you arrive there, not sure I would know where to go by myself...but yes, definitely need good shoes...I was there around February I think and it was absolutely freezing so pack layers if you are going in the winter. My favourite place in Vietnam. Have fun!