Sapa, located in the mountainous province of Lao Cai, is the tourism center of the northwest. It is well famous in the eyes of international visitors as the “town in clouds”.

During the construction process, images of Elsa statue located at AnSapa Tourism Complex leaked out and quickly became a topic of discussion and ridicule on forums. People commented that the construction is reckless, and the statue is an ‘outrage’ to viewers with ‘big breasts’, ‘big hands’, and ‘crossed eyes’, while Elsa's face is old and looks ferocious, and the costume is colorful.

Do Van Tan, Deputy Chair of Sa Pa Town, said after the meeting on July 20, the local authorities decided to ask the tourism complex developer to remove the statue.

Explaining the decision, Tan said the investor applied to set up a new tourism site, but the dossier is still under consideration. The provincial tourism department told the investor to provide more documents to complete the dossier. Executing the items in Ansapa complex when the competent agencies have not granted license is illegal.

Prior to that, after the preliminary examination, the Sa Pa Town People’s Committee found that An Sa Pa Queen Investment brought a ready-made statue. The statue is on the second-floor roof of the old building. It is 3 meters high and 3 meters wide.

The Phan Si Pang Ward People’s Committee ordered to suspend all activities of the company and called the director of the company to a working session. Meanwhile, the town authorities instructed relevant agencies to consider current laws and regulations to give advice on how to handle the case.

Nguyen Ngoc Dong, Director of AnSaPa Company Ltd, the owner of the tourism complex, said the project kicked off in mid-2020, covering an area of 1.7 hectares and opening in late 2020. There are simulations of famous statues and miniatures of the world’s wonders.

“These are just models for visitors to take pictures and they will be removed when they are out of fashion,” Dong said.

“Regarding the plastic composite Elsa statue, it may exist there for several years only. By that time, it would be replaced by another statue suitable to new trends among youth,” he said.

The investor agrees with the view that only construction works suitable to the natural landscapes of Sa Pa which have strong attachment to the local culture and the villages around Sa Pa are doing this well. However, he said the development of a new check-in point, Ansapa, aims to create a new tourism product for Sa Pa and serve the diverse demand of travelers.


The statue of Disney princess Elsa in Sa Pa has faced criticism from people who believe that it doesn’t fit the natural landscape in the tourism spot.


If travelers want to discover nature, and traditions and cultures of ethnic minorities, they have many other choices, including the villages of Cat Cat, Ta Van, Ta Phin and Lao Chai.

Meanwhile, his business model mostly targets Vietnamese travelers and the complex is located separately at the quarry which has stopped the exploitation, so it won’t spoil the natural landscapes of Sa Pa.

According to Giang Nguyen, CEO of The Ivy-League Vietnam, who has been to many countries and lived for many years in the US, there should be original ideas in tourism to attract travelers.

The tourism products in Sa Pa remain modest and tedious (visiting mountainous villages, going on cable car, eating grilled food for dinner and drinking liquor). Young travelers want to check in at famous points of the world within 80 minutes through simulated models.

That was why the site once attracted a lot of young people who came there to take photos and selfies before the pandemic broke out.

“The models there are made of lightweight materials, easy to move and change. They are not solid construction works on earth,” he commented.

However, he said the investor needs to reconsider the Elsa statue which has been criticized because it is not beautiful.

The Deputy Chair of Sa Pa affirmed that the building of check-in tourism points such as Ansapa needs to come in line with the Sa Pa tourism development plan. The design and installation of statues not only need to satisfy aesthetic requirements, but also fit the local culture.

“Sa Pa authorities don’t prohibit the development of check-in points, but the projects need to fit the development plan and can be implemented only after licensing,” Tan said.

Regarding the 21 arbitrarily developed check-in points in Sa Pa as shown in the town’s report last April, Tan said the authorities have requested commune and ward people’s committees to inspect construction sites to find if the investors strictly follow the regulations and if the works have been licensed.

Le Trung Nguyen, the representative of the group of artisans making Elsa statue, wrote on his Facebook page that construction began in February. The construction was initially planned to take one month, but because of the pandemic, the statue has not been completed. 

Ng. Tung

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