SaPa to Hanoi

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How to get from SaPa to Hanoi

You have 3 options when travelling the 315 km distance from SaPa to Hanoi: a 9-hour train, a 6.5-hour bus, and a 5.5-hour private transfer. Rates range from 226,000 VND ($9) to 2,824,000 VND ($110).

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Train9 hours375,000 VND ($15)Check train tickets
Bus6.5 hours226,000 VND ($9)Check bus tickets
Private Transfer5.5 hours2,824,000 VND ($110)Book a private transfer

We recommend travelling by train from SaPa to Hanoi. Taking the night train saves you a day of travelling and is also a great experience. SaPa does not have a railway station, so you will first take a bus to Lao Cai Railway Station. From here, you can take the night train to Hanoi.

Buses are faster but do not have convenient travel times. Either they travel for an entire day or from evening until very early morning. You won’t be able to save on accommodation, unlike when you take the overnight train. Also, travelling during peak hours can result in several hours of delay due to traffic.

For a door-to-door ride, you can also get a private transfer from SaPa to Hanoi. Prices start from 2,824,000 VND ($110) for a 3-seater car.

PRO TIP: After visiting the North of Vietnam, it’s time to explore the 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.

Flying from SaPa to Hanoi is not an option, yet. But there are plans to build an airport close to Lao Cai. This plan was officially approved by the prime minister in 2019 and the airport is expected to be completed in 2025.

Itinerary from SaPa to Hanoi

Sapa to Hanoi travelroute

SaPa to Hanoi by Train

Duration: 9 hours
Cost: 375,000 VND ($15)
Duration: 9 hours
Cost: 375,000 VND ($15)

When travelling from SaPa to Hanoi, the train is always our first choice. Why?

First, trains are generally safer and more comfortable than buses. Second, with the train, you can enjoy a good night’s sleep and also save one night on accommodation.

A few tips, though. There is not much to do around Lao Cai Railway Station, so we don’t advise arriving here too early.

Instead, make the most of your stay in SaPa and take a van/bus around 17:00 or 18:00 to Lao Cai. Have dinner at one of the local restaurants near the train station before hopping on your train, which leaves at 21:30.

Step 1: Sapa to Lao Cai by Van/Bus

Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: 60,000 VND ($2.40)
Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: 60,000 VND ($2.40)

From SaPa, you can take either a van or a public bus to Lao Cai.

We recommend booking a minivan through your hotel. These vans pick you up from your hotel and take you to Lao Cai Railway Station for about 60,000 VND ($2.40). Travel time is about 45 minutes.

Public buses are cheaper at 30,000 VND ($1.20), but not as reliable as the vans. In theory, they depart from the bus station at the main square every 30 minutes from 07:00 to 18:30. However, bus trips can get cancelled without notice.

Be aware that there are no local buses leaving from SaPa to Lao Cai after 18:30!

In case you miss the last bus, you can take a taxi to Lao Cai Railway Station for about 250,000 VND ($10)300,000 VND ($12).

Step 2: Lao Cai to Hanoi by Train

Duration: 8 hours
Cost: 315,000 VND ($12.50)
Duration: 8 hours
Cost: 315,000 VND ($12.50)

Starting October 2022, Vietnam Railways has returned to its nightly operations from Lao Cai to Hanoi. It previously reduced its trips to a few times a week due to the pandemic.

Train SP4 departs from Lao Cai every night at 21:30. It arrives in Hanoi around 05:25 the next day.

You can get a bunk in a 4-berth sleeper for 315,000 VND ($12.50). Cheaper 6-berth sleepers are also available, but they are less spacious and may not be as comfortable.

Train schedules from Lao Cai to Hanoi (Sleeper berth)

TrainScheduleSleeper berth
SP421:30-05:25315,000 VND ($12.50)
Check Train Tickets

Trains arrive at Hanoi Railway Station, 1 km southwest of the Old Quarter.

SaPa to Hanoi by Bus

Duration: 6.5 hours
Cost: 230,000 VND ($9)
Duration: 6.5 hours
Cost: 230,000 VND ($9)

Buses are cheaper and faster than the train, but do not have convenient departure/arrival times. When you take the bus, you either have to travel for an entire day or take an evening bus that arrives in the middle of the night in Hanoi.

Also, travelling by bus doesn’t beat sleeping on a safer and more comfortable train. But if you really want to take the bus, you’ll be happy to know that there are a few highly-rated companies operating from SaPa to Hanoi.

Some of the main operators for this route are Sapa Dragon Express, Interbus Lines, Sapa Grouptour and Sao Viet. Bus fares start from 226,000 VND ($9).

Which bus to take?

There are 3 types of buses you can choose from when travelling from Sapa to Hanoi. It’s a 6.5-hour ride, so it’s important to pick a bus depending on your preferred level of comfort.

  • Sleeping Bus: The most basic, these usually come with sleeper bunks, blankets, as well as food & drinks. Rates start from 226,000 VND ($9).
  • VIP Cabin Bus: An upgrade to the sleeping bus, this comes with cabin-type bunks with curtains that you can close for privacy. Fares are from 377,000 VND ($15).
  • Limo Bus: Airconditioned buses with reclining seats – an alternative if you don’t want sleeper bunks. Prices start from 422,000 VND ($17).

Departure and arrival station

Most buses depart from Sapa Bus Station or around Sapa Lake in the city centre. In Hanoi, buses mostly park around the Old Quarter, but that is not always the case.

Double-check the departure and arrival points of your chosen bus. This way, you won’t end up spending a fortune on taxi rides to get between the bus station and your hotel.

Bus schedules from SaPa to Hanoi

Bus CompanySchedulesDurationCosts
Sapa Dragon Express2x a day from
6.5 hours226,000 VND ($9)
Check Bus Tickets
Interbus Lines3x a day from
6 hours295,000 VND ($11.50)
Check Bus Tickets
Sapa Grouptour3x a day from
6 hours450,000 VND ($18)
Check Bus Tickets
Sao Viet11x a day from
06:00 to 22:30
8.5 hours461,000 VND ($18.50)
Check Bus Tickets

SaPa to Hanoi by Private Transfer

Duration: 5.5 hours
Cost: 2,824,000 VND ($110)
Duration: 5.5 hours
Cost: 2,824,000 VND ($110)

Looking for a private transfer from SaPa to Hanoi? You can book one through BookAway, which offers comfortable cars with professional drivers.

Rates start from 2,824,000 VND ($110) for a 3-seater sedan. You can also get a minivan that can fit up to 12 people for 4,857,000 VND ($195).

Book a Private Transfer with BookAway

Where to travel next?

Enjoy the stunning views of the karst mountains

Paddle through the Tam Coc or Trang An River while passing karst mountains and rice fields

Visit the world’s largest caves in Phong Nha

Enjoy the great atmosphere of Hoi An with a mixture of Japanese, Vietnamese and French influences


Our favourite places to stay in Hanoi

Nova Luxury Hotel

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

Read More


Visiting Halong Bay

For many travellers, Halong Bay is one of the highlights of Vietnam. The stunning landscape and breathtaking views over the limestone rocks look almost unreal!

To experience Halong Bay in the best way, you can book a boat cruise departing from Hanoi. Organized tours departing from Hanoi are often cheaper than tours sold by agencies in Halong Bay and another advantage is that you don't need to organize your transport to get there.

We recommend to book your boat tour online to get the best prices and be certain that you book with a trusted company. I already spoke to many travellers who booked boat trips from a random agency on the street and were very disappointed by the service and conditions of this boat.

See here our recommendtion of well-rated boat cruises

*Both tours include free pick-up and drop-off in Hanoi.

Want to have a broader choice of tours? Check out Halongbaytours for more boat cruises around Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay (Cat Ba).


More routes to Hanoi

Hanoi Airport

CatBa to Hanoi

Ninh Binh to Hanoi

Phong Nha to Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi

Hoi An to Hanoi

Hue to Hanoi

Halong Bay to Hanoi

Ha Giang to Hanoi

More routes from SaPa

SaPa to CatBa

SaPa to Ha Giang

SaPa to Ninh Binh

Halong Bay to Hanoi

Hanoi to Halong Bay

Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh

Hanoi to Sapa

Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh to Hoi An

Ho Chi Minh to Phu Quoc

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