How To Get From SaPa to Hanoi?
We recommend traveling by train from SaPa to Hanoi, instead of taking a direct bus for this route. Taking the night train saves you a day on travelling and is also a great experience. Since SaPa does not have a railway station, you have to take a (shuttle) bus to Lao Cai railway station. From here you can take the night train to Hanoi.
Buses are a faster and a better option if you want to travel during the day. However, keep in mind that traveling during peak hours can result in several hours of delay. Also, be aware that traveling by train is much safer and a more convenient option for long distances.
PRO-TIP: After your visited the North of Vietnam, it’s time to explore Vietnam’s beautiful karst mountains on the coast of Halong Bay or Cat Ba. Use the search tool on top of the page to see the route overviews or book a Halong Bay boat cruise directly with Kook.
At this moment flying to SaPa is not an option, but there are plans to build an airport close to Lao Cai. The plan is still awaiting approval from the prime minister. Construction is scheduled to start in 2019 and be completed in 2021.
|Train||8.5 hours||415,000 VND ($18.50)||Check train tickets|
|Bus||5.5 hours||260,000 VND ($11.50)||Check bus tickets|
View itinerary from SaPa to Hanoi
- 45 min
- Lao Cai Railway Station
- 7h 50min
- 5.5 hours
SaPa to Hanoi by Train
Duration: 8.5 hours
Costs: 415,000 VND ($18.50)
You can either take the public bus or take a shuttle bus organized by your hotel from SaPa to Lao Cai. From this railway station, you can continue by night train to Hanoi.
Since there is not much to do around Lao Cai railway station, we advise to spend the afternoon in SaPa and take a van around 17:00 or 18:00 to Lao Cai. In Lao Cai, you can have dinner at one of the local restaurants around the train station and then hop on your train which will leave at either 20:55 or 21:40.
Be aware that there are no local buses leaving from Sapa to Lao Cai after 18:00!
In case you missed the last bus, you can take a taxi which will bring you for about 250,000 – 300,000 VND ($11 – $13) to Lao Cai railway station.
Step 1: Sapa to Lao Cai by Bus/Van
Costs: 30,000 – 60,000 VND ($1.40 – $2.60)
Booking a minibus/van to Lao Cai is the easiest option because these buses will pick you up at your hotel. The other option is taking the public bus but be aware that the bus schedules are not always reliable.
Minibus from hotel
Most accommodations in SaPa can arrange your transport to Lao Cai railway station for about 60,000 VND ($2.60). The latest van leaves between 17:00 and 18:00 and the ride should take about 45 minutes.
Taking the public bus to Lao Cai is also a good option. According to the timetable, public buses leave every 20-30 minutes from 7:00 till 18:30. However, don’t rely too much on the board with the blue timetable. Buses often leave later than planned or the last buses can even get canceled without notice. This was what happened to us, but luckily we could take a taxi instead. A public bus ride will cost 30,000 VND ($1.40).
You can find the public bus station in front of “Khach San Hong” hotel (which is at the main square next to the Church).
Step 2: Lao Cai to Hanoi by Train
Duration: 7h 50min
Costs: 385,000 VND ($17)
|SP2||20:55-04:32||7h 37m||385,000 VND ($17)|
|SP4||21:40-05:30||7h 50m||385,000 VND ($17)|
With both trains, you can book a bed in a 4-person cabin for 385,000 VND ($17). More luxurious options are available from 815,000 VND ($35.50). Book your tickets or check availability by clicking the booking button.
SaPa to Hanoi by Bus
Duration: 5.5 hours
Costs: 260,000 VND ($11.50)
The bus is a cheaper and faster option than the train but doesn’t have convenient departure/arrival times. When you take the bus, you either have to travel during the day or take an evening bus that arrives in the middle of the night in Hanoi.
Sleeper buses in Vietnam have quite a good standard compared to buses in the rest of SEA. However, sleeping on a train and having some extra services offers a lot more comfortable and is much safer!
There are several bus companies leaving from SaPa to Hanoi every day and one of the bus companies we recommend is Inter Bus Line.
Another bus company with a good reputation is ‘Good Morning Sapa’. This bus leaves from SaPa bus station at 15:30 and arrives at 21:15 in Hanoi. Bus tickets cost 260,000 VND ($11.50) and the journey will take about 5 to 6 hours depending on the traffic. Check the availability for Goodmorning Sapa at Baolau.
|5h 30m||260,000 VND ($11.50)|
|5h/6h||305,000 VND ($13.50)
465,000 VND ($20.50)
305,000 VND ($13.50)
305,000 VND ($13.50)
305,000 VND ($13.50)
|Queen Cafe |
|6h||235,000 VND ($10)|
|6h 30m||260,000 VND ($11.50)|
|5h 45m||495,000 VND ($22)|
|Green Sapa Bus||08:00-13:30|
|5h 30m||305,000 VND ($13.50)|
|5h 30m||279.000 VND (€11)|
|Go Asia Travel||13:30-19:00|
|5h 30m||302.000 VND (€11,50)|
|Good morning Sapa||15:30-21:30||6h||260.000 VND (€10)|
Where to travel next?
- Hanoi to CatBa: 3.5-4 hours
Enjoy the stunning views of the karst mountains
- Hanoi to Ninh Binh: 2-3 hours
Paddle through the Tam Coc or Trang An river while passing karst mountains and rice fields
- Hanoi to Phong Nha: 3.5-11 hours
Visit the world largest caves in Phong Nha
- Hanoi to Hoi An: 3-17 hours
Enjoy the great atmosphere of Hoi An with a mixture of Japanese, Vietnamese and French influences
My favourite places to stay in Hanoi
Looking for a room in the middle of the Old Quarter? Ancient Lane Hotel offers very clean rooms nicely decorated with ancient attributes. The hosts Thuy and Tuan will make sure you'll have a great stay!
Double room from: $28
Just landed in Hanoi? In this hotel, you will get the best night of sleep you had since ages. The friendly staff will give you a warm welcome and serve a wonderful breakfast buffet the next morning! Located in the middle of the center, but completely isolated from all the noise.
Double rooms with city view from: $42
Visiting Halong Bay
Halong Bay and Cat Ba are one of the highlights of Vietnam. From both locations, you can make beautiful boatrips and cruise through the beautiful landscape filled with karst mountains.
You can opt to travel to Halong Bay by bus. but also book an organised tour including transport from Hanoi. We recommend to book a boat cruise incl. transport from Hanoi as you will have more choice and tours are often cheaper in Hanoi than tours sold by agencies in Halong Bay.
Tours sell as cheap as $39 for a day-trip and $132 for a 2D1N cruise.
See here our 2 favourite tours from to Halong Bay:
*Both tours include free pick-up and drop-off in Hanoi.
If you have a few extra days to spend, you can also visit Lan Ha Bay from Cat Ba. But if you are short in time, Halong Bay is definitely a better option.
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