Train + Van (recommended)
9 hours, 455.000 VND (€17)
We recommend to travel by train from Hanoi to SaPa instead of taking a direct bus. The sleeper train allows you to travel by night (so you don’t lose a day of travel) and also saves you one night on accommodation. And besides these advantages, it is also a great experience for your Vietnam trip!
SaPa does not have its own train station so you need to book a train ticket from Hanoi to Lao Cai. From there, you can take a van or public bus to Sapa. The sleeper train from Hanoi leaves between 21:00-22:00 and you will arrive in the early morning in Lao Cai.
6 hours, 260.000 VND (€10)
Buses are faster and a better option if you want to travel during the day. However, taking the bus may result in delays during peak hours and is less safe than travelling by train.
Plane or Motorbike
At the moment flying to SaPa is not possible, but there are plans to build an airport close to Lao Cai which should be finished at the end of 2020.
To reach SaPa by motorbike you have to take a different route than the bus which will take about 10 hours.
Renting a motorbike in SaPa costs about $10 per day. This might be a better option if you are keen to explore the rice fields and mountains by bike.
Option 1: Train + Van
Route: Hanoi Lao Cai Sapa
Duration: 9 hours
Costs: 455.000 VND (€17)
Since you will arrive in the early morning in SaPa, you can already do one of the day tours on the day of arrival. With a bit of luck you can check in early at your hotel or take a shower to refresh after your train journey from Hanoi.
Train: Hanoi Lao Cai
Duration: 8 hours
Costs: 415.000 VND (€15,50)
Hanoi Railway Station is a 20-minute walk or 10-minute taxi ride from the Old Quarter. We advise you to take one of the two night trains to Lao Cai, which leaves at either 21:35 or 22:00.
|SP1||21:35 - 05:30||7h 55m||415.000 VND (€15,50)|
|SP3||22:00 - 06:05||8h 5m||415.000 VND (€15,50)|
Indicated prices are for 4-berth sleeper cabins but you can also book soft seats from 155.000 VND (€6). More luxurious options are available from 740.000 VND (€28) but don’t expect to much extra’s.
Note that this is the most common schedule. Sometimes there are small differences in departure times, like the SP1 which sometimes leaves 20 minutes later. Use the button to check if there are any changes from the provided schedule.
Van: Lao Cai Sapa
Costs: 40.000 VND (€1,50)
The easiest option is to take one of the vans in front of the train station which costs 40.000 VND (€1,50). When the drivers don’t want to leave soon or try to overcharge you, you can opt to take the public bus. This bus leaves every 20-30 minutes.
Buses or vans will drop you off around the square in SaPa. This is a 5-minute walk to the main street where most hotels are located. There are also many taxis waiting to bring you to your accommodation in case your hotel is located outside SaPa center.
Vans are waiting at the train station so you don’t need to book them in advance. The ride to from Lao Cai railway station to Sapa costs 40.000 VND (€1,50). Take in mind that most vans don’t leave until they are full.
You can find the public (yellow-red) buses on the opposite of the railway station, at the end of the parking area. At this bus stop you also find a big blue timetable. Make sure to always ask if the bus is going to SaPa and not the other direction! Buses leave every 20-30 minutes and will drop you off at SaPa bus station. The ride costs 30.000 VND (€1,10).
Be aware! Locals might tell you there is no public bus and point to the fake blue timetable next to the minivans. Don’t let them fool you and just continue to the end of the parking area.
Option 2: Bus
Route: Hanoi Sapa
Duration: 6 hours
Costs: 260.000 VND (€10)
A cheaper and faster option is taking the bus during day time. We do not advise to take a night bus as these buses leave by daytime and arrive in the middle of the night in Sapa. This means you still need to search for your accommodation in the middle of the night.
There are several bus companies going from Hanoi to SaPa daily. One of the companies which we recommend is Inter Bus Line, since they are known for their great service.
The bus departs from the Old Quarter in Hanoi and drops you off in the center of SaPa. Tickets for Inter Bus Line cost 260.000 VND (€10) and the journey takes about 5 to 6 hours depending on the traffic.
Other companies are Ha Son Hai Van and Hung Thanh, but they include a transfer in Lao Cai. The final bus stop of these companies is about a 15-minute walk from SaPa center.
|6h 30m||260.000 VND (€10)|
|5h 50m||220.000 VND (€8)|
|Ha Son Hai||06:55-13:55|
|6h 20m||260.000 VND (€10) / |
400.000 VND (€15)
You can check the availability and book your bus tickets by using the button above.
My favourite places to stay in Sapa
When visiting Sapa, there is no better way than waking up with a stunning view over the rice-fields while enjoying an outstanding breakfast. An experience not to miss and probably one of the best during your trip in Vietnam! Private bungalows start form €85, but you can already stay in a dormitory for just €15 or book a double bed in an open area for €30.
Looking for a great value deal? Olympia Sapa Hotel offers clean and spacious rooms for a budget below €15,a night. After a long day of trekking, you will appreciate the big quen-sized beds and airco to warm up your room (it can get pretty cold in the winterdays). The hotel is located next to Sapa lake which is a short 10 minute walk to the center.
Want to stay around the center but prefer a homestay instead of a hotel? The rooms of Little Viet Homestay are all made from pine wood and instead of a heating system, you will get a heated blanked that keeps you warm at night. The friendly owners and creative sapa style decorations will make this an extraordinary stay!
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