Sam Nguyen

Travelled to 6 countries / regions

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I'm a Vietnamese local



Asia > Vietnam > Sapa > Useful Info
Submitted on Sep 03, 2019 Useful Info

Best way to get to Sapa from Hanoi, Vietnam

  • Sapa is 250km northwest of Hanoi
  • Because it's a tiny town nestled in the mountains, Sapa does not have an airport
  • There are two ways to get to Sapa from Hanoi: 1) train and 2) bus. I personally prefer to take a train because it's much more comfortable and is overnight, but buses are cheaper, faster and actually more convenient

  • How to take train from Hanoi to Sapa:
  • There is no train station in Sapa itself. The train station that serves it is located 35km away in the town of Lao Cai. This means you have to transfer after the train
  • There are numerous train operators that serves the Hanoi-Lao Cai route, ranging from basic state-operated Vietnam Railways to luxury sleeper train Victoria Express. More details on each of these train operators below
  • Prices: varies significantly, ranging from 165,000 VND ($7.15USD) per person for a seat on Vietnam Railways to $160USD per person for a bed on Victoria Express. Most train options will be around $35-$40 USD per person
  • Total travel time is around 11 hours, including 8 hours of overnight train travel and another 2-3 hours of bus transfer time
  • Schedule: all trains are overnight and they all depart around 9:30pm-10pm and arriving 5-6am next morning
  • Departure station: all trains depart from Hanoi Railway Station
  • Arrival station: all trains arrive in Lao Cai Railway Station
  • After you arrive at Lao Cai train station, you have two options to finish the remaining 35km to Sapa:
  1. Take the Lao Cai public bus from the train station to Sapa Notre Dame Cathedral. This costs 30,000 VND ($1.3USD) and takes 1h20min. Bus runs every 30 minutes between 5:20am and 5:00pm. This is the most popular options. The bus looks like this:User submitted photo of Sapa
  2. You can also take a taxi to Sapa, but this will cost you around 450,000-500,000 VND ($20-$22USD). You will be able to easily hail a cab at the train station, or you can use Grab to get a taxi as well. For this route, do not use the meter. Agree on a fixed fare before you get on (ironically if you use a meter you have a higher chance of getting scammed. Taxi meters are not regulated in Vietnam so you will likely get a meter that moves up extremely quickly to rack up a very large bill). Don't agree to anything over 500k VND
  • Hanoi-Lao Cai train operators (each operator only has one departure per day, except Vietnam Railways which has 2 trains per day):
  • Vietnam Railways: Tripadvisor reviews, website. Fare is 165,000 VND ($7) for "soft seat" class, which is equivalent to a standard 2nd class seat in Europe. Fare is 385,000 VND ($17USD) for a bed in a 4-bed compartment
  • Orient Express: Tripadvisor reviews, website. $36 USD per person for a bed in a 4-bed compartment
  • Fanxipan Express: Tripadvisor reviews, website. $38 USD per person for a bed in a 4-bed compartment, or $82 USD per person in a 2-bed compartment
  • Livitran Express: Tripadvisor reviews, website, $36 USD per person for bed in 4-bed compartment
  • Chapa Express: Tripadvisor, website, $46 USD for a spot in 4-bed compartment and $102 USD for a bed in 2-bed compartment
  • King Express: Tripadvisor, website, $36 USD for a bed in 4-bed compartment and $71 for a bed in a 2-bed compartment
  • Violette Express: Tripadvisor, website. $40 USD for bed in 4-bed compartment
  • Victoria Express: Tripadvisor, $112 USD for bed in 4-bed compartment, and $164 USD for bed in 2-bed compartment
  • There are other operators like Pumpkin Express, Sapaly Express, Tulico VIP Train, and TSC Express
  • Where to book: the cheapest way to book the train is to book through the operator's website directly. You can also use 12Go to compare departure times and prices for most of these trains, and easily book with credit card on 12Go. But be warned that you will pay higher price on 12Go because it's a 3rd party agency that will mark up the fare

  • How to take bus from Hanoi to Sapa:
  • Train is very comfortable, by taking a coach bus to Sapa is cheaper, quicker, and is direct (unlike trains which get you to Lao Cai which is 35km away from Sapa so you have to transfer to a bus)
  • Buses take 5.5-6.5 hours in total travel time, almost half the amount of time it takes than trains
  • Fare: ranges from 220,000 VND ($10USD) to 500,000 VND ($22 USD)
  • Departure station: varies by bus operator, but all located in central Hanoi. Best to confirm with the operator once you book the ticket
  • Arrival station: varies by bus operator, but all located in central Sapa. Best to confirm withe bus operator once you book the ticket
  • Schedule: most of the options day buses rather than overnight buses. They usually leave between 6am-8am, and arrive in the mid afternoon. There are also a couple that leave mid afternoon and arrive by 9pm-10pm. Hung Thanh has an option that leaves at 10am and arriving at 5am the next day
  • Operators:
  • Sapa Express (rated 4.5/5 on Tripadvisor): website. They're by far the most popular operator among foreign tourists. Their fare is $16 USD for a regular coach and $18 USD for a VIP bus. I recommen the VIP bus because the seats are much more comfortable for not much more money. No overnight option
  • Hung Thanh (rated 1/5 on Tripadvisor): website. They're the cheapest bus operator at 220,000 VND ($9.5 USD) per person. Has an overnight option
  • Eco Sapa (rated 4/5 on Tripadvisor): website, fare is 500,000 VND ($22USD) per person. These buses are much more expensive than others because they're actually VIP vans than coach buses. Although for the number of hours you're sitting. No overnight option
  • Good Morning Sapa (rated 4.5/5 on Tripadvisor): website, fare is 260,000 VND ($12USD) per person. No overnight option
  • Where to book: similar to with trains, try to book through bus operators' websites because that enables you to get the lowest rates. Alternatively, use 12Go and Baolau to book, but these are 3rd party agencies so they will charge a premium (on these sites you just need to put Hanoi as the origin and Sapa as the destination)