Sapa is known mostly from backpackers and travellers interesting with ethnic community/voluntary tourism. The small city is a frontier township and capital of Sa Pa District in Lào Cai Province in north-west Vietnam. It has been well known since the early years of the 20th century as French colonial power praised its cool climate. They turn the 1,500 m. elevated city into a medical destination with a military sanatorium followed by private clinics.
In the 1920s, Sapa turned then into a favourite retreat for French and wealthy Vietnamese looking to enjoy fresh air.Today, tourists enjoy trekking in the surrounding mountains and the beautiful landscapes of rice terraces of a transluscent green. Over a million travellers discover every year Sapa, of which 750,000 are domestic holidaymakers.
Of the 36,000 inhabitants in town, Sapa is mostly populated by ethnic Hmong (52%) and Dao (25%) while a typical handicraft market is a main attraction in the small town.
Sapa is rather far away from Vietnam large metropolis and this enclaved geographical situation has helped preserving the slow pace of life of the hill town. it takes eight hours by train from Hanoi to Sapa and close to five hours by car to cover the 317 km linking both cities.