A taste of Vietnam
The lofty hill town of Sapa is Vietnam's number one trekking spot, but it offers travellers much more than scenic walks.
Numerous restaurants and bars give patrons spellbinding vistas of the mountains and delicious dishes featuring local produce.
Sapa's culinary scene is flavoured by fresh vegetables and fruits, locally caught game meats - deer, wild pork, goose and duck - along with mountain herbs and spices.
The service at most bars is exceptional and although locals tend to serve cocktails and spirits on the stronger side, there's a plethora of ice-cold beers and international wines on offer.
Here are some of Sapa's best eats and drinks:
THE HILL STATION
These laid-back, western-style cafes are particularly good for breakfast, with excellent coffee, but also offer cheese boards, wine and ice cold beer in the afternoon.
Find it at: 7 Muong Hoa St and also a second location on Fanxipan St.
This small restaurant on the main tourist strip offers tasty dishes with local produce, including wild mountain mushrooms, deer and wild pork. Mains are quite cheap and service is great. If it's just you and one other person, take the only outdoor table and soak up the Sapa street life.
Find it at: 30 Chau May St.
An old tourist favourite across the road from Red Camellia, this restaurant offers similar fare to its neighbour, but an extensive outdoor deck overlooking the main drag gives a great view of the action. The food is local and delicious: the goose sauteed with lemongrass, black pepper and chilli is a must.
Find it at: 31 Chau May St.
This bar next to the Chau Long Hotel is a hidden gem. The Thang Long has arguably the best view in Sapa: perched on a cliff, it gives patrons a jaw-dropping view over the Muong Hoa Valley. Friendly staff are English-speaking and serve guests cheap, strong cocktails as well as a complete restaurant menu.
Find it at: 23 Dong Loi St.
THE BELLA VISTA
This European-style restaurant has a great bar with almost floor-to-ceiling windows looking over the Muong Hoa Valley. The cocktails are a touch strong, but the service is exceptional and there is a restaurant too.
Find it at: 41 Fanxipan St.
THE NATURE VIEW
This little restaurant has fine views over the valley and friendly, attentive staff. With two balconies on the valley side and two on the street side, it's a great place to kick back with a cool afternoon drink.
Find it at: 51 Fanxipan St.
A few doors up the street from Gerbera is the eclectic Bebop Bar. The loudest place on the busiest street in Sapa, it's a smoke-filled cross between a pool hall and karaoke bar. Drinks, like most in town, are mixed strong. Emotional wannabe pop stars take the small stage to blare out their favorite numbers, so it's one for the brave.
Find it at: 21 Chau May St.
The writer travelled as a guest of Intrepid Travel.