Getting from Hanoi to Sapa (and return)
Sapa is a picturesque village located in northern Vietnam, close to the border with China. It is a major travel destination and is appreciate both for its landscape and cultural diversity. The surrounding countryside is characterized by lush vegetation, rice terraces and you can also find the highest peak in Vietnam here. Along with Halong Bay, Sapa is another popular side trip from Hanoi.
Unless you plan to rent a motorbike and drive 10 hours from Hanoi to Sapa, the only way to travel between the two cities is by train (followed by a short bus ride).
Trains from Hanoi to Sapa
The trains to Lao Chai depart from part “B” of Hanoi’s main railway station. Lao Cai is about 40 km from Sapa and that’s where the train station is (Sapa doesn’t have one). From there you can take a shuttle bus for the remaining part of the trip (ticket: 40000 dong / about US$2, but you can bargain to 30000 dong).
The train journey – on tourist (private) trains – from Hanoi to Lao Cai is between 7 h 30 min and 8 h 30 min, depending on the type of train you choose. All are night trains (leaving Hanoi from 8:35 p.m. to 9:55 p.m.) and fares range from US$35 (4 berth cabin, AC) to US$85 (VIP cabin, express train).
The normal Vietnamese railways trains take 10 hours to get from Hanoi to Lao Cai. There are 5 (five) departures a day, the earliest at 6:10 a.m. There are also 3 night trains (9:10 p.m., 9:50 p.m. and 10 p.m.). The single adult fare on overnight trains ranges from 210000 dong / US$10 (soft seat AC or hard sleeper) and 450000 dong / US$21.60(soft sleeper, AC). The single adult fares on daytime trains are: 110000 dong / US$5.30 hard seat and 133000 dong / US$6.40soft seat.