Vietnam’s Sapa Airport gets Green Light

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) reported the successful appraisal for the investment planning of Sapa’s own airport located in the North of Vietnam. The approval of the construction of the Sapa airport was approved back in 2021 by the Prime Minister. The appraisal strengthened the prospects by approving a public-private partnership (PPP) as the appropriate approach for the project.

The appraisal held in late April highlighted that the feasibility study report shows an apparent need for Sapa’s own airport in the area of socio-economic development as well as ensuring high mobility in air defense as part of the development planning of Lao Cai province in the long run. The closest airport now to Sapa is Noi Bai International Airport, located in Hanoi, which is 6 hours away from Sapa by bus.

Sapa Airport Vietnam ICAO

The construction of Sapa Airport was scheduled to commence in Q4 2021|©CAAV

Two-Phase Construction

The construction of Sa Pa Airport is expected to have 2 phases. Phase 1 is to build the airport to meet the standard of a grade 4C airport in accordance with ICAO classifications and a military-grade II airport. An expected capacity of 1.5 million passengers per year involving an area of 295 hectares is to be targeted. Phase 2 will consist of an expansion of the terminal which would increase the capacity to 3 million passengers per year with a total area of 371 hectares.

Sapa, the terrace of Vietnam

Sapa is a town located in Lao Cai Province, in Northwest Vietnam. It was promoted to a tourist destination in 1993, and exponential growth in tourism has been recorded since then. The high elevation of 4921ft combined with the geography results in a unique ecosystem within the region and it is the only region where snowfall is recorded occasionally in Vietnam. Mountainous terrain makes accessibility a huge problem for tourists and the most popular way of transportation is an overnight train that allows you to overlook the magnificent sceneries in the morning.

Rice terraces are the most iconic scenery of Sapa. The best time to visit the rice terraces would be around September to October, when the terraces will be in full bloom. Sapa is also home to a great diversity of ethnic minority groups with the most authentic culture and cuisine. Bac Ha market bursts into life every Sunday with colorful traditional garb and accessories up for grab.

Fansipan Vietnam Sapa
Fansipan, the highest point of Vietnam is accessible via cable car|©

Being at the Eastern edge of the Himalayas, the topography of the region records Fansipan mountain to be the highest point in Vietnam. The Fansipan, located just 9km from Sapa city, has an elevation of 10,326ft and is also the highest mountain in the Indochinese Peninsula. The mesmerising views are also what bring tourists to Sapa; activities such as cable car rides, trekking, and hiking make Sapa one of the most sorted out destinations for adventurers.

ICAO Category 4C Airport

Sapa Airport will be built to grade 4C in accordance with ICAO standards according to the CAAV. This denotes the physical capability of the runways and airport will allow the operations of the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 family or smaller, which is the main fleet of most Vietnamese airlines. Local airlines are expected to play an important role in the development of Sapa as an international tourist destination.

Airbus 320 Vietnam airlines
The Airbus 320 family is a popular choice among Vietnamese airlines|©TravelRadar

Did you know Vietnam snows? Would you be interested to visit Sapa by air transport instead of hours of a bumpy car ride? Let us know in the comment below. Click here for more aviation news in the APAC region here.

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Leo Cheung
Leo Cheung
Aviation Reporter - Born and raised in Hong Kong, Leo has decided to pursue a career in aviation under the influence of the old Kai Tak Airport back in the days. With a degree in aviation, he has joint Travel Radar as an aviation reporter to diversify his views and apply professional knowledge to anyone who is interested in commercial aviation. He regularly contributes articles with 'inside the cockpit' knowledge.



  1. Dear Leo,

    In februari and march 2023 we are traveling with our familie through Vietnam. We have been searching but could not find the date the first flight arriving en leaving from Sapa airport.
    Or when the airport is open for (public) transport and to book flights from. Please could you inform us?

    We would like to hear from you. Thanks!
    Regards, Igor
    (the Netherlands)


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