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Tips on Avoiding Sapa Tourist Traps

Sapa Tourist Traps

Sapa attracts tourists looking to view its beauty and the historical way of life for its citizens. However, visitors should be cautious. Locals looking to profit off the town’s recent notoriety as a tourist attraction are known to be persistent and intrusive, while local tour guides may be unreliable.

Only Choose Reputable Tourist Agencies

If you’re planning to travel to Sapa, the small market town North of Hanoi, you’re likely looking for an authentic, Vietnamese experience. Tourists have been flocking to the town to get a glimpse of traditional Vietnamese rice farming, native attire, and historical lifestyles. Still underdeveloped from a tourism perspective, travelers should be wary of local tour guides and agencies offering day trips to the region’s markets, mountains, and rivers.

Agencies that are not well-established and reputable may not offer well-organized excursions, safe food, or even deliver on promised experiences. What you don’t want, is to pay for tours and accommodations in advance, only to have them canceled by dishonest tour guides offering only vague excuses and pointing to non-refundable policies.

Be Prepared for Panhandling Locals

Looking to profit off of the growing number of foreign tourists, many locals in Sapa will intrusively insert themselves into tour groups, demanding payment for their unsolicited assistance, or relentlessly push low-quality goods. If you choose to take a hike, you may be accompanied by locals, attempting to offer support and guidance, who, despite your polite refusals, will still demand payment for their “assistance.”

The town itself is mainly lined with stores selling souvenirs, a few cafes, and lots of hotels. If you travel to the region’s market, be prepared for street vendors who are insistent that you purchase their wares. At the market, you may see numerous Hmong women trying to sell handicrafts who may follow you, even great distances, presenting you with blankets, bracelets, necklaces and other goods, many of which may not be high quality, new, or even clean. If you’re looking for higher quality souvenirs, you may want to do your shopping inside retail stores, rather than at the market. Higher quality goods will be more expensive, but they are likely to last longer.

Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about Sapa Tourist Traps.

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