Located in the northwest of Vietnam, Sa Pa town is 1,600 meters above sea level, 33 km from Lao Cai city and 317 km from Hanoi. In addition to the main road from Lao Cai city, to Sa Pa, there is another traffic route, Highway 4D connecting from Binh Lu commune, Tam Duong, Lai Chau. Although the majority of Sa Pa district residents are ethnic minorities, the town concentrates mainly Kinh people living on agriculture and tourism services.
In 1897, the French colonial government decided to open an investigation on ethnic minority people in the mountainous areas. The first investigation teams arrived in Lao Cai in 1898.
In the winter of 1903, while conducting a mapping survey, the expedition of the Indochina Geography Department discovered the landscape of Lo Suoi Tung and Sa Pa villages. This event marks the birth of Sa Pa town.
In 1905, the French collected the first information on geography, climate, vegetation … Sapa began to be known for its cool, fresh air and beautiful landscape. In 1909, a sanatorium was built. In 1917, a tourist office was established in Sa Pa and a year later, the French began building the first villas. In 1920, the Hanoi – Lao Cai railway was completed, Sa Pa was considered as the summer capital of Tonkin. In total, the French built in Sapa nearly 300 villas.