SaPa to Ninh Binh

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How to get from SaPa to Ninh Binh

If you want to take in more of Vietnam’s natural wonders after exploring SaPa, then Ninh Binh is the perfect next destination.

You can find here the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, located in the tranquil town of Tam Coc. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trang An boasts of amazing viewpoints, limestone peaks, temples and pagodas.

Ride a boat along Trang An River. Surrounded by rice paddies and karst mountains, it is such a sight to behold!

3 ways to get from SaPa to Ninh Binh

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Bus7 hours414,000 VND ($17.50)Check bus tickets
Train11 hours470,000 VND ($20)Read article for more info
Taxi8 hours4,700,000 VND ($200)Book a private car

When travelling the 405 km distance from SaPa to Ninh Binh, you have 3 options. You can take a 7-hour bus, an 11-hour train (incl. transfers), or an 8-hour taxi. Rates range between 414,000 VND ($17.50) and 4,700,000 VND ($200).

Taking the bus is the fastest and cheapest option when travelling from Sapa to Ninh Binh. Fares start from 414,000 VND ($17.50) for the 7-hour journey. It’s worth noting that buses depart in the afternoon and arrive around midnight so you will still need an accommodation for that night.

Another good option is to go by train. We think that trains in Vietnam are safer and more comfortable than taking the bus. This particular route involves a few transfers and takes much longer than the other options. But with the train, you can save a night on accommodation and still get a good night’s sleep.

Booking a private car can be quite expensive, but also convenient if you’re travelling in a group. You can get a spacious 5-seater car starting from 4,700,000 VND ($200). This will pick you up at your hotel in SaPa and drop you off at your hotel’s doorstep in Ninh Binh.

Itinerary from SaPa to Ninh Binh

SaPa to Ninh Binh travelroute

SaPa to Ninh Binh by Bus

Duration: 7 hours
Cost: 414,000 VND ($17.50)
Duration: 7 hours
Cost: 414,000 VND ($17.50)

Taking a direct bus is a cheap and easy way to travel from Sapa to Ninh Binh. Buses normally depart in the afternoon and arrive in Ninh Binh around midnight or very early morning.

The fastest bus can take you from SaPa to Ninh Binh in around 7 hours. A bus ticket costs 414,000 VND ($17.50).

Departure and arrival station

The Long Travel and Ha Son depart from Sapa Bus Station in Sapa city centre. Grouptour departs some 350m away from its Sapa headquarters.

All buses drop off passengers in Ninh Binh city centre, but The Long Travel and Grouptour also bring passengers all the way to Tam Coc.

Bus schedules from SaPa to Ninh Binh

The Long Travel17:00-00:00414,000 VND ($17.50)
Check Bus Tickets
Ha Son16:35-00:50401,000 VND ($17)
Check Bus Tickets
523,000 VND ($22)
Check Bus Tickets

SaPa to Ninh Binh by Train

Duration: 11 hours
Cost: 470,000 VND ($20)
Duration: 11 hours
Cost: 470,000 VND ($20)

There are no direct trains operating from Sapa to Ninh Binh so you will have to make a few transfers for this route.

The journey by train takes 4 hours longer than the bus and is also a bit more expensive. However, unlike the bus, you’ll be able to save one night on accommodation with the train.

Step 1: Sapa to Lao Cai by Van

Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: 40,000 VND ($1.70)
Duration: 45 minutes
Cost: 40,000 VND ($1.70)

In SaPa, you can take a van or a public bus to Lao Cai Railway Station.

We recommend taking one of the last van or bus trips of the day so you won’t have to wait a long time at the train station. The last van/bus usually departs from Sapa around 17:00-18:30.

Fares start from 40,000 VND ($1.70) for the 45-minute journey.

Read more about this route on our page from Sapa to Hanoi.

Step 2: Lao Cai to Hanoi by Train

Duration: 8 hours
Cost: 330,000 VND ($14)
Duration: 8 hours
Cost: 330,000 VND ($14)

Starting October 2022, Vietnam Railways is back to its nightly operations from Lao Cai to Hanoi. This route previously operated with fewer weekly departures because of the pandemic.

Trains from Lao Cai to Hanoi now depart every night at 21:30 and arrive around 05:25 the next day. Travel time is around 8 hours, enough time for a good night’s sleep.

A bed in a 4-berth cabin costs 330,000 VND ($14). You can also get a bed in a cheaper yet less spacious 6-berth cabin for 240,000 VND ($10).

Check Train Tickets with Baolau

You are to get off at Hanoi Railway Station, the same station where you can catch your connecting train to Ninh Binh.

Step 3: Hanoi to Ninh Binh by Train

Duration: 2 hours
Cost: 100,000 VND ($4.25)
Duration: 2 hours
Cost: 100,000 VND ($4.25)

There is only one train that departs in the morning from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. This leaves at 06:00, which means you’ll have around 35 minutes to stretch your legs or grab a bite before boarding your connecting train.

The train journey from Hanoi to Ninh Binh takes a little more than 2 hours. Ticket prices start from 100,000 VND ($4.25) for a soft seat.

Check Train Tickets with Baolau

Trains arrive at Ninh Binh Railway Station, located within the city centre and 6 km from Tam Coc.

For more details, check out our page on how to get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh.

Optional: Taxi from Ninh Binh to Tam Coc

Duration: 15 minutes
Cost: 25,000 VND ($1.05)
Duration: 15 minutes
Cost: 25,000 VND ($1.05)

If you’re staying in Tam Coc, you have 2 ways to get to your hotel from Ninh Binh Railway Station: a motorbike taxi or a regular taxi.

If you’re travelling solo and don’t have a lot of luggage, you can take a motorbike taxi for 25,000 VND ($1.05) to 50,000 VND ($2.10). Alternatively, you can take a regular taxi with rates from 120,000 VND ($5).

SaPa to Ninh Binh by Taxi

Duration: 8 hours
Cost: 4,700,000 VND ($200)
Duration: 8 hours
Cost: 4,700,000 VND ($200)

For a door-to-door transfer, you can take a taxi from SaPa to Ninh Binh. Rates start from 4,700,000 VND ($200) for a 5-seater car. Travel time is around 8 hours.

We recommend booking your private transfer with BookAway, which offers nice cars with professional drivers.

Book a Private Car with BookAway

Our favourite places to stay in Tam Coc (Ninh Binh)

Ninh Binh Accommodation 1

Tam Coc Family Hotel

Want to know what it feels like to stay with a Vietnamese family? Tam Coc Family Hotel really does make you feel at home with the family.

The friendly owners will tell you all of the best spots to visit in Ninh Binh, and start your day right with a delicious home-cooked breakfast. It's a great example of why you don't have to spend a lot for a great guesthouse.

Another plus: It's a 1-minute walk from the Tam Coc river and drop-off point of the bus.

Read More

Ninh Binh Accommodation 2

Tam Coc Bungalow

Do you prefer to stay at the riverside of Tam Coc? Tam Coc Bungalow has spacious bamboo bungalows right next to the Tam Coc river. Bungalows start from $32 and dorm rooms from $6.

What we really liked about this place is their open-air restuarant. From the terrace you can watch the locals paddling back to Tam Coc town during sunset and in the evening you can play a game of pool at the open restaurant area.

Read More

More routes to Ninh Binh

Phong Nha to Ninh Binh

Hanoi to Ninh Binh

CatBa to Ninh Binh

Hue to Ninh Binh

Hoi An to Ninh Binh

More routes from Sapa

Sapa to CatBa

Sapa to Hanoi

Sapa to Ha Giang

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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About the author(s)

Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.

Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.