Sapa is one of the most visited destination in northern Vietnam. Sapa has been known for its cool temperature, breath-taking landscape and culture authenticity. The easiest way to get to this dreamy highland town is going from Hanoi.
There are plenty ways to get from Hanoi to Sapa. The total distance between two cities is about 320km, taking at least 4 hours of traveling. Due to the long distance, travelers are suggested to spend at least two nights in Sapa to discover the town.
>> More on Sapa: 15 Top Things to do in Sapa Vietnam
Train to Sapa from Hanoi
If you don’t want to spend hours of your daytime on bus with lack of comfort, then a night train to Lao Cai is your best choice. Especially when you’re going with children or seniors, those who might find a bus ride too much for them to handle.
For the best comfort, meaning quiet, less bumpy and easy to sleep, you can book for a bed in a 2 to 4 bed cabin in train. These cabins are more expensive and often overbooked. However, if you book a Sapa tour with a travel agency, you’ll enjoy lower rate for the cabins.
Less expensive and more popular choice is the soft seats. You still can sleep on these but it’s certainly less comfortable during the night.
A ticket for a soft seat on train from Hanoi to Sapa costs about $7 per person. You can book online on website of Vietnam Railways.
To catch trains to Sapa from Hanoi, you go to Tran Quy Cap Station, the departing hours are varied but around 9:00 – 10:00PM.
- Vietnam Railway Trains – SP1, SP3, SP7, LC3 – hard, soft seats, hard berth (6-bed cabin) soft berth (4-bed cabin).
- Tourist and private train operators (added to SP1 + SP3) – Livitrans, Violette Train, Oriental Express, Oriental Express, King Express, Sapaly, PV2, Fansipan Express, Victoria Express.
Bus from Hanoi to Sapa
There are buses from Hanoi to Sapa available during daytime or nighttime with various levels of prices and services. Bus is the fastest way to get from Hanoi to Sapa, taking about only 4 – 6 hours thank to the new Hanoi – Lao Cai expressway.
You can catch buses to Sapa from Hanoi at various bus stations. Average ticket price for bus seat is about $9 per person. Luxury vans or minivans would cost more, about $16-$22.
Top companies: Hung Thanh, Inter Bus Lines, Ha Son, EcoSapa, SapaExpress, TheSinhTourist…
Most buses from Hanoi to Sapa are sleeper berth buses, so you can have decent sleep but of course the comfortability can’t compare to train cabins.
Unlike trains, the buses will take you all the way to Sapa.
Van/Limousine from Hanoi to Sapa
Luxury minivans, limousines are available at much more expensive prices. But these vans take only 4,5-5,5 hours to get to Sapa, saving quite a lot of your time.
The seats are more comfortable than other buses and there are more space you can easily sleep or move around without bothering other passengers.
A ticket for a luxury van or limousine costs around $16-$22 per person and about $160-$280 per car (for 9 passengers).
How to get from Lao Cai to Sapa
For those who travel by train, you’ll have to go from Lao Cai to Sapa which is about 40km in winding, steep roads. There are few options for you to choose from:
- By public bus, you can travel from Lao Cai to Sapa with cheapest cost. This is a private bus operating without state subsidy. A public bus has 29 seats, reaches Sapa in 30 minutes. Working hours is from 5:10AM to 8:15PM daily. Fare is 28,000VND per person.
Bus starts from Lao Cai Train Station Square. But beware of other bus services here which try to deceive travelers into believing they’re the public bus service, offering higher rate.
- You can also get from Lao Cai to Sapa by taxi but prepare to pay a quite an amount, about 400,000VND one way.
Tips when traveling from Hanoi to Sapa
- There is a plan to build a new international airport in Lao Cai in 2020 which promise to make transportation to Lao Cai even faster and safer.
- While travel by train, for security, watch your luggage and do not leave them alone.
- Always arrive earlier at least 15 minutes before departing hour.
- Always buy tickets from reliable sources, book online only on official websites.
- If you want to bring a motorbike from Hanoi to Lao Cai, it’s better to go by train.
- Tourists should avoid buying items and things from small children in Sapa or give them money or candies.
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