Nam Cang Riverside Lodge – the best place to hide away from tourist trap in Sapa
How to get there: If you travel from Hanoi by an overnight train, upon arrival at Lao Cai railway station – you need a private transfer to Nam Cang which is 57km away. It will take you around 1 hour and 45 minutes up to 2 hours to get there depending on traffic. We were lucky enough to have lovely weather with sunshine and clear sky which made the journey to Nam Cang so beautiful. Besides the night train, the highway linking Hanoi to Sapa has made land transfer convenient than ever.
You can use the Topas Mountain Express – this comfy limousine bus picks you up at your hotel in Hanoi then takes you to Thanh Phu Bridge. From there, another awaited shuttle bus will bring you to Nam Cang Riverside Lodge which is around 12km far. The land transfer takes you approximately five and a half hours in total – much shorter than train option. For those who are sensitive to noises at night or want to save time, Topas Mountain Express is my recommendation. For me, I chose to reach Sapa by train then get back to Hanoi by bus to experience both ways.
Nam Cang Riverside Ecolodge
Nam Cang Riverside Ecolodge

About the lodge: It is located in Nam Cang minority village of Red Dao people. Searching about Sapa on the internet, you may miss the name of Nam Cang as it is the most remote area that situated deep inside the Sapa Valley. The owner of Nam Cang Riverside Ecolodge is a Red Dao minority families whose four generations have been living in the village. Before tourism knocked on their door, they used to live on agriculture and woodwork. The best thing that I love about this lodge is that it is built right next to a picturesque stream. You will cross a private bridge in order to reach your local homestay.

To be honest, I spent most of my time there just lying on an outdoor chair and listening to the stream sounds – there is nothing more relaxing than that. By the way, you should not expect luxury rooms there as all rooms are comfy and clean, yet very basic. In total, there are nine private double and twin. For those who travel with family, two family rooms with four single beds in each room can accommodate you very well. Another point you should know in advance is that there are shared bathrooms only.

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Refreshing stream next to the lodge
Refreshing stream next to the lodge-source: internet

Then what you can do when staying at Nam Cang Riverside Lodge? My answer is that there are so many exciting activities to discover the local lives of Red Dao people there as well as to learn about their rich cultures. Walking through small paths of Nam Cang village is my favorite. Different from other touristy villages near Sapa, Nam Cang remains its quiet atmosphere with little tourists can be seen. You will have the chance to see women sitting in front of their houses weaving handicrafts in a pattern while their kids playing around. I could not take my eyes off a boy who was playing with his “car” made from a water bottle, its wheels are 02 lids. I bet you never see this in big cities. If you are lucky enough to visit Nam Cang from late April to May, you are able to participate in real village work – joining local people on their rice paddy walks then taking part in planting. Late August to early September is also a great time to see yellow rice terraces and join the local harvesting.


I can stay for hours looking at these kids playing together
I can stay for hours looking at these kids playing together

Along with agriculture, there are some local families in Nam Cang who are living on making traditional bamboo paper. I can not remember exactly how they make the paper from raw bamboo, yet it was interesting to see the process – very unique way. Last but not least, you can also try jungle hiking there. Our local guide took us into the nearby forest and there we had a good time learning how people use herbal leaves as medicines for some common symptoms.


Unique handcrafted jewelry
Unique handcrafted jewelry

I have been in Sapa for many times for famous villages, weekly markets and staying at Nam Cang Riverside Lodge is a different experience – authentic travel

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