Best ways to travel from Hanoi to Sapa

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Best ways to travel from Hanoi to Sapa

If you feel like escaping the chaos of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, don’t hesitate to head northwest to the mountains and their magnificent town of Sapa.

This mountain resort was founded by the French in 1922 and is now a popular tourist destination in Vietnam, renowned for its breathtaking scenery and cultural diversity.

Known as both Sapa and Sa Pa, the town is easily accessible from Hanoi, with numerous travel companies serving the route.

Best options to travel from Hanoi to Sapa

  • – From Hanoi to Sapa by bus
  • – From Hanoi to Sapa by Train

There are two ways to get to Sapa from Hanoi: by train or by bus.

Having said that, this won’t limit your options in terms of budget and availability, as many companies offer these services.

By bus, you’ll need to travel around 317 kilometers to reach Sapa from Hanoi, a journey that takes an average of 5 hours.

The Train from Hanoi to Sapa, on the other hand, take longer, but note that most, offer overnight journeys so you can get some rest. More details on night trains and buses below…

Hanoi to Sapa by bus

There are three advantages to traveling by bus or minivan from Hanoi to Sapa: firstly, this mode of transport is very affordable, but it’s also faster, and lastly, buses and minivans will take you directly to Sapa; unlike trains, which can’t reach the mountain resort.

The Grouptour company operates both buses and minivans covering this route, and around six departures are scheduled each day.

Minivans are more widespread than buses, however, so you’re more likely to get a seat in one at the last minute. Note, however, that this mode of transport is more expensive and has fewer on-board amenities.

Minivans are considered a VIP service, but are still comfortable with reclining seats and air-conditioning, not to mention a limited number of passengers for a more individual and quiet journey.

Even so, with no drinks, snacks or toilets on board, the van will have to stop several times along the way, which isn’t a drawback in itself: you’ll be able to get some fresh air and stretch out.

The buses offer VIP service too, and are night buses with reclining seats so you can rest if you feel like it.

But it doesn’t stop there: you’ll also have air-conditioning, as well as snacks, screens and a steward service on board.

To date, there is only one overnight bus departing from Hanoi. It arrives in Sapa at around 4.30 a.m. and remains the cheapest of all bus services.

The bus journey generally takes 6.5 hours, while the mini-van journey takes 5.5 hours. Keep this difference in mind when booking your trip.

Find the cheapest Bus tickets from Hanoi to Sapa

If you want to book bus ticket from Hanoi to Sapa or from Sapa to Hanoi by us, let check the price here

Train from Hanoi to Sapa

Many travelers will tell you that it’s cheaper to take the train to Sapa from Hanoi, as the journey is long and the Vietnamese roads dangerous.

This may have been true in the past, but the inauguration of a new highway has greatly improved traffic conditions, enabling you to reach Sapa quickly and safely from Hanoi. In the end, you’ll probably make your choice according to your budget and personal preferences.

Most train journeys are much more expensive than bus or minivan travel, but it’s fair to say that at this price, you’ll enjoy greater comfort with more space to relax, and, if you book a cabin, the option of sleeping in a bed rather than on a simple reclining seat.

Beyond its higher price, another disadvantage of the train is that this mode of transport will force you to take a bus to reach Sapa itself. Indeed, the nearest station is in Lao Cai, in the heart of the valley below the mountains in which Sapa is located, so you’ll have to take a minibus or book a private transfer to cover the winding road to the mountain resort.

The journey is only about 35 kilometers, but the road has many curves and bends, so allow between 45 minutes and an hour to reach your destination. Another thing to bear in mind when estimating your travel time.

If you choose to travel by train from Hanoi to Sapa, you’ll have a variety of different options. These trains all run on Vietnam Railways government rails, but each train offers different carriages owned by private companies who want to make you their customer.

Whichever carriage you choose, we strongly advise you to book a cabin, but note that prices can vary greatly, so it’s important to do your research to get the best deal.

The cheapest option is to book with Vietnam Railways directly: the company offers first-class cabins for a price slightly higher than that of a minibus journey from Hanoi to Sapa.

But if you prefer an even more upmarket experience, you can also choose to travel in one of the Fanxipan, Livitrans Express or Violette Express carriages.

Orient Express, King Express and Pumpkin Express offer similar services, while Chapa Express and Victoria Express are much more expensive, though more comfortable.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll have access to toilets, steward service and food on board, with the train journey from Hanoi to Sapa taking around 8 hours.

Find the cheapest train tickets from Hanoi to Sapa

Thanks to its new, safe highway, getting to Sapa from Hanoi by road isn’t as difficult as it used to be, and if you want your journey to be slightly faster and cheaper, buses and minivans are the way to go. Even so, train travel from Hanoi to Sapa remains very popular, so what’s your choice?

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