The Vietnam Mountain Bike Marathon 2017 will take place in Sapa and surrounding areas in northern Lao Cai province from November 3 to 5. Started last year by Topas Travel, the race proved to be an international event and more than 100 riders from 20 countries are registered this year.
The combination of sporting events and tourism has potential to attract tourists and contribute to Sapa’s tourism development and is an opportunity to introduce and promote the image, culture, life and people to international friends.
The race will take place in the mountainous region surrounding Sapa. With a backdrop of the highest peaks in Indochina, pretty terraced rice fields and peaceful ethnic minority houses, racers will test their skills on everything from smile-inducing single tracks and flowing descents to killer climbs as they pass through stunning landscapes such as the villages of Ban Khoang, Ta Giang Phinh, Ban Phung, Suoi Thau, Ma Tra, Ta Phin, Xa Xeng, Nam Pung, Muong Hum, Sang Ma Sao, Den Sang and Den Thang.
The race has three stages. The 48-km Stage One is in the beautiful and rarely visited Muong Hum area north of Sapa, 1,350 meters above sea level. The 68-km Stage Two moves down to the Thanh Phu area to the south, populated by the Tay and Red Dao people, at 1,800 meters above sea level. The 27-km Stage Three caps the race off, with a shorter sprint from an elevation of 750 meters to Sapa town, passing through Black Hmong villages.
Over the last few years, Topas Travel has successfully held many running marathons and mountain bike marathons. The Vietnam Mountain Marathon in September attracted 2,500 runners.
Sapa was recently listed among the 50 most beautiful places in Asia by Condé Nast Traveler and was named by tourism website Lifehack as among seven reasons tourists should holiday in Vietnam.
Lao Cai province is also making an effort to develop tourism in Sapa in particular and the province as a whole. It is planning to build the Sapa cultural park, on 118 ha, in the style of Disneyland but with ecotourism and luxurious international-standard resorts.
It has a number of large projects on the drawing board in the 2016-2020 period, such as building three- to five-star hotels with a total of 6,000 rooms and shopping and conference centers with total investment of VND10 trillion ($448.3 million).
970,000 tourists visited Sapa last year and it expects to welcome 2 million and 5.2 million tourist arrivals by 2020 and 2030, respectively, according to the general master plan for development for the Sapa National Tourism Area to 2030. An airport is planned in Lao Cai city, which will help increase the number of tourists.