Last updated: Oct 19, 2019

Contents

Overview | Train | Bus | Secret Escapes

 

How To Get From Hanoi to SaPa?

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Train9 hours460,000 VND ($20.00)Check train tickets
Luxury Train9 hours670,000 VND ($29)Check luxury train tickets
Bus6 hours260,000 VND ($11.50) Check bus tickets

We recommend to travel the 325-km journey from Hanoi to SaPa by taking the overnight train to Lao Cai and continuing by van to Sapa. The overnight train to Lao Cai takes about 8 hours and from there you can hop on a van that will bring you in 45 min to SaPa.

Travelling this route by train, is a very time-efficient way to travel and is a great experience for your Vietnam trip! Tickets for the sleeper train already start from 465,000 VND ($20.50).

The journey by bus only takes 6 hours. but they only go during the day or arrive in the middle of the night. This means you actually loose more time with the bus compared to taking the train. Besides that, buses are less safe and you might end up with several hours of delay during peak hours.

PRO-TIP: Consider to continue your journey to Ha Giang after you visited SaPa. Ha Giang is famous for its’ magnificant views on the highlands of Northern Vietnam.

View itinerary from Hanoi to SaPa

 

 

Hanoi to Sapa travelroute

 

Train icon

Hanoi to SaPa by Train


Duration: 9 hours
Costs: 460,000 VND ($20)

Keep in mind that SaPa doesn’t have its own train station. The closest railway station to SaPa is in Lao Cai, which means you first have to take the train to Lao Cai. From Lao Cai you can continue by mini-bus/van or public bus to SaPa.

See here an overview of the itinerary by train:

  • Hanoi
  • 8 hrs
  • Lao Cai
  • 45 mins
  • SaPa

The sleeper train from Hanoi leaves between 21:30-22:00 and you will arrive in the early morning in Lao Cai. And since you will arrive in the early morning in SaPa, you can still join a day tour on the day of arrival.

With a bit of luck, you can check-in early at your hotel and take a shower to refresh after your train journey from Hanoi.

PRO-TIP: If you are short in time, you can book the night train back to Hanoi for the next day. When doing this, you can do one day tour on the day of arrival (day 1), sleep one night in SaPa and do another day tour the next day (day 2). On the second day, you can take the night train back to Hanoi.

Step 1: Hanoi to Lao Cai by Train

Duration: 8 hrs
Costs: 420,000 VND ($18.50)

To travel the journey from Hanoi to SaPa, you can take one of the two-night trains to Lao Cai.

Notice that there are many different train companies you can book with, but they are all leaving at either 21:35 or 22:00. The difference between the companies are the comfort level of the matrasses, the inclusion of drinks and snacks and some even offer a breakfast uppon arrival in Lao Cai.

We recommend to get the train leaving at 21:35 so you will arrive around 6:30 in SaPa.

This gives you enough time to fresh up and get ready to join one of the trekkings which usually start around 8:00-8:30.

How to get to Hanoi railway station?

Hanoi Railway Station is a 20-minute walk or 10-minute taxi ride from the Old Quarter. The easiest way to reach this train station is to order a Grab (taxi), which won’t cost more than a few dollars.

Once you arrive at the station, you should enter the station on the western side (Tran Quy Cap). This is the platform from which the trains to Sapa leave.

Which train to book?

The cheapest train tickets are sold by Vietnam Railways ($18,50). However, keep in mind that this is the most basic option. If you want this option, make sure you book the 4-berth for a bit more comfort.

A much better option in our opinion is to book the Pumpkin Express train ($27,50). Tickets cost only $10 more compared to Vietnam Railways and offer more comfort and extra amenities.

As you already save a night on accommodation, we think it’s well worth the extra 10 dollars.

Besides the Pumpkin Express train, there are several other luxury trains you can book. See the comparison below to give you an idea of the differences between these trains.

Quick comparison of luxury train tickets

  • We think the Pumpkin Express ($27,50) train offers the best value for money, with more comfy beds, a good pillow and free water.
  • If you want to have some more extra’s like free drinks and snacks, we recommend to book the King Express VIP ($31,50), New Livitrans ($32,50) or Sapaly Express ($31).
  • If you are looking for a more luxious cabin, check out Chapa Express ($42).
  • And last, we have the Victoria Express Train ($103), if you want to travel like a real VIP.
  • Looking for a private cabin? King Express, Orient Express, Et-Pumpkin and Sapaly all offer the option to book a private cabin. Tickets for private cabins start at 2,450,000 VND ($105), or $52,50 pp.

Looking for more info?

Click here to see a more detailed description.

 

Vietnam Railways (SP1 and SP4) from Hanoi to Sapa

Costs: 420,000 VND ($18.50)

The Vietnam Railways trains are basic, but not a bad choice if you want to save some money.

If you book with one of these SP1 or SP3 trains, we recommend to book a 4-berth cabin instead of a 6-berth The beds of these 4-berth cabins are more comfortable as they have thicker matrasses.

TrainScheduleDurationSleeper berth
SP121:35 - 05:307h 55m420,000 VND ($18.50)
SP322:00 - 06:058h 5m420,000 VND ($18.50)

Indicated prices are for 4-berth sleeper cabins but you can also book soft seats from 155,000 VND ($7).

Sometimes there are small differences in departure times. The SP1, for example, leaves 20 minutes later on some days. Use the button below to check if there are any changes from the provided schedule.

Check Available Train Tickets

However, keep in mind that the Vietnam Railway trains, won’t be very luxurious. If you want a bit more comfort, we recommend to have a look at one of the options listed below.

Luxury trains from Hanoi to Sapa

See here an overview of the departure time, costs, and booking link for the more luxury tickets:

TrainDepartureSleeper berthCheck Tickets
ET-Pumpkin Express train21:35630,000 VND ($27)Check Tickets
Orient Express21:35630,000 VND ($27)Check Tickets
King Express VIP22:00720,000 VND ($31)Check Tickets
Violette Trains22:00720,000 VND ($31)Check Tickets
New Livitrans21:35735,000 VND ($33)Check Tickets
Sapaly Express Train22:00720,000 VND ($31)Check Tickets
Chapa Express train22:00975,000 VND ($42)Check Tickets
Victoria Express Train22:002,400,000 VND ($104)Check Tickets

If you already know which company you want to book with, you can use the button below.

Check Available Luxury Train Tickets

Below we will give a short description of all booking options.

ET-Pumpkin Express train

Costs: 630,000 VND ($27.50)

Hanoi to Sapa - Luxury Train by Et-Pumpkin_1

The luxury train of ET-Pumpkin is the cheapest luxury train available. For approx. 10 dollars extra, you get a lot more value compared to the train of Vietnam Railways.

Expect a good pillow, free water (hot&cold) and more comfy beds!

See available tickets for ET-Pumpkin Express train.

Orient Express

Costs: 630,000 VND ($27.50)

Hanoi to Lao Cai (Train)_0

The design of this cabin looks more deluxe, but the beds are unfortunately still quite hard.

See available tickets for Orient Express.

King Express

Costs: 720,000 VND ($31)

Hanoi to Sapa - VIP Train by King Express_2

King Express offers two different trains: A luxury version (which isn’t really luxury in our opinion) and a VIP train.

The VIP train, is where the luxury really starts. For 720,000 VND ($31) you get a nice cabin with comfy beds, free drinks (incl beer!) and snacks.

Keep in mind that you don’t get these extras with the non-VIP (luxury train). That’s also why we don’t think the King Expres luxury train offers extra value compared to the Pumpkin Express (the first option).

Another benefit of King Express is that they offer free cancellation up to 72 hrs in advance.

See available tickets for King Express VIP.

Violette Trains

Costs: 720,000 VND ($31)

The Violette trains look bit more luxury, but in reality there is not much difference with the cabins from Vietnam Railway.

Our 2 cents: Go for the King Express train or save a few dollars and go for more luxury with the ET-Pumpkin Express train.

See available tickets for Violette Trains.

New Livitrans

Costs: 735,000 VND ($32)

With the LeviTrans trains, you can expect a little upgrade in terms of the cabin.

In addition, you get free water, a banana and a sandwich during the ride.

See available tickets for New Livitrans.

Sapaly Express Train

Costs: 720,000 VND ($31)

Hanoi to Sapa - Express Train by Sapaly Express Train_2

The wooden design makes these cabins look a lot more luxury than the standard cabins!

Also do you get free drinks and snacks.

See available tickets for Sapaly Express Train.

Chapa Express train

Costs: 975,000 VND ($42)

Hanoi to Sapa - Luxury Train by Chapa Express Train_3

Cabins decorated with flowers, soft beds and clean and nice looking bath rooms.

Also do you get extra amenities like a welcome drink, free water, snacks and toiletries.

See available tickets for Chapa Express.

Victoria Express Train

Costs: 2,400,000 VND ($104)

And then you have Victoria Express.

This is the most luxurious train you can travel with when going from Hanoi to SaPa. If you want to travel like a real VIP you can go for this train. However, you have to put some money aside as tickets costs 2,400,000 VND ($104) per person.

Luxury trains (2 pers cabins)

Most companies also offer you the option to book a private cabin for 2 persons.

These cabins are actually the same as 4 berth cabins, but have the 2 upper beds turned up to provide more space.

You can book a private cabin with King Express, Orient Express, Et-Pumpkin and Sapaly, with ticekts starting from 2,450,000 VND ($105), or $52,50 pp.

Check Available Luxury Train Tickets

Step 2: Lao Cai to SaPa by Van or Public Bus

Duration: 45 mins
Costs: 40,000 VND ($1.60)

The easiest option to travel from Lao Cai to Sapa is to take one of the vans in front of the train station.

These vans cost only 40,000 VND ($1.60) and the drive won’t take more than 45 minutes.

Sometimes you have to wait a long time till the van is full and there are some drivers that might try to overcharge you. In that case, you can also take the public bus which leaves every 20-30 mins.

Buses or vans will drop you off around the square in SaPa, which is only a 5-minute walk to the main street where most hotels are located.

When you arrive at this square, there will also be many taxis waiting to bring you to your accommodation in case your hotel is located outside SaPa center.

Lao Cai to Sapa by Van/mini-bus

Costs: 40,000 VND ($1.60)
Vans are waiting at the train station so you don’t need to book them in advance. The ride from Lao Cai railway station to SaPa costs 40,000 VND ($1.60).

Bear in mind that most vans do not leave until they are full.

Lao Cai to Sapa by Public bus

Costs: 29,000 VND ($1.30)

You can find the public (yellow-red) buses on the opposite of the railway station, at the end of the parking area.

Buses leave every 20-30 minutes and will drop you off at SaPa bus station. The ride costs 29,000 VND ($1.30).

At this bus stop, you will also find a big blue timetable. Make sure to always ask if the bus is going to SaPa and not the other direction!

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.

 

Bus icon

Hanoi to SaPa by Bus


Duration: 6 hours
Costs: 260,000 VND ($11,50)

  • Hanoi
  • 6 hours
  • SaPa

A cheaper and faster option is taking the bus during day time.

The advantage of the bus is that you don’t need to change transportation in Lao Cai as buses go straight to SaPa.

However, we do not recommend to take a day 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.

Still want to travel by bus?

You can choose among several bus companies when you want to travel from Hanoi to SaPa. Be aware though that some bus companies drop passengers outside SaPa center, which means you still need to take a taxi from there to your accommodation.

Two companies which we recommend are Green SaPa Bus and Goodmorning SaPa as they are both known for their great service.

Both buses include pick-up in Hanoi and drop you off in or at the border of the center in SaPa.

Tickets for Green SaPa costs only 260,000 VND ($11.50), including pick-up. Goodmorning SaPa is one dollar more expensive and is a good option if Green SaPa is already fully booked.

Depending on the traffic, the journey by bus takes about 5 to 6 hours

Other companies you can book with are SaPa Express, Fansipan Express. If you are travelling with a larger group you can also book a private van with Vietnam Tourist.

BusScheduleDurationCosts
Green Sapa Bus07:00-12:30
14:00-19:30
22:00-03:30
5h 30m285,000 VND ($12.50) + free pick-up
Sapa Express07:30-13:00
22:00-03:30
5h 30m285,000 VND ($12.50) + free pick-up
Goodmorning Sapa06:30-12:00
13:30-19:00
22:00-03:00
5h 30m310,000 VND ($13.50) + free pick-up
InterBus Line 07:00-12:30
13:30-18:30
21:00-02:30
22:00-03:30
6 hour230,000 VND ($10)
InterBus Line
(Luxury)
07:00-12:00
22:00-03:00
22:15-04:15
5h
5h
6h
310,000 VND ($13.50)
310,000 VND ($13.50)
460,000 VND ($20)
Fansipan Express06:00-12:00
06:00-12:30
21:00-03:00
21:00-03:30
6h
6h 30m
6h 30m
490,000 VND ($21.50)
230,000 VND ($10)
230,000 VND ($10)

You can check the availability and book your bus tickets by using the button below.

Check Available Bus Tickets

 

Frequently asked questions


How to get from Hanoi to SaPa?

We recommend to travel by train from Hanoi to SaPa. A direct bus is also an option, but buses only go by day or arrive in the middle of the night. This means you still need to book an accommodation when arriving in SaPa. Booking the train will save you a night on accommodation and won’t waste your valuable day time.

Does SaPa have it’s own train station?

SaPa is a little mountain village that doesn’t have a railway station. Luckily, the nearby town Lao Cai has a railway station that connects directly with SaPa. From here it’s only a 45 mins van drive to SaPa.

How long does it take to travel from Hanoi to Sa Pa?

The journey from Hanoi to SaPa takes about 9 hours by train (including a 45 mins van ride). The journey by bus takes about 6 hrs.

Where can I book my tickets?

You can book the tickets for trains and buses with the buttons below each transport option.

  Hotel

My favourite places to stay in Sapa


Lodge D&D Eco 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! The adorable bungalows of Lodge D&D cost only $32 a night, including a fantastic breakfast! When you are travelling as a couple, this will probably be one of the best value deals you can find!

Read More

Eco Palms House – Mountain Retreat

Still not convinced with the previous listing? Eco Palm House offers even more luxious bungalows, starting from $90. But don't let this scare you of! Eco Palms House also offer something for travellers on a lower budget. For solo traveller, you can already stay in a dormitory for just $17 or when travelling as a couple, you can book a double bed in the open area for $33.

Read More

Little View Homestay Sapa

Want to stay around the center but prefer a homestay instead of a hotel? The rooms of Little View 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!

Read More

 

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