How to travel from Cat Ba Island to Sapa

Cat Ba Island and Sapa are two of the most attractive destinations in Northern Vietnam. If you are planning to visit them both during your trip in Vietnam, check how to travel from Cat Ba to Sapa and vice versa.

Located in Haiphong, Cat Ba is the largest of islands in Halong Bay, which was recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage and is a top tourist attraction in the country.

How to travel from Cat Ba Island to Sapa

Sapa is not only famous for its beautiful mountains and rice fields but also for region’s people and culture, which is unique and different from other places in Vietnam.

How to travel from Cat Ba Island to Sapa

Now traveling between Cat Ba and Sapa is a lot easier as there are several bus routes connecting these two amazing destinations. Best ways for traveling from Cat Ba Island to Sapa are detailed below.

1. Travel by bus and ferry

Traveling by bus from Cat Ba to Sapa is the most popular option even if the journey takes approximately 10-11 hours. Most of the buses provide pick up service from the hotel in Cat Ba Town and drop off at the hotel in Sapa. Bus and ferry fees are included in one combined ticket.

Route 1: Cat Ba - Haiphong - Sapa

When traveling on this route, the bus picks up passengers in Cat Ba, crosses the sea to Haiphong on a ferry and then runs directly to Sapa. The route is as follows:

1. The bus picks up passengers from the hotels on Cat Ba Island and brings to Cai Vieng Pier.

2. Take a ferry from Cai Vieng Pier on Cat Ba Island to Got Pier on Cat Hai Island. The travel time is about 20 minutes.

3. The bus passes through Tan Vu - Lach Huyen Bridge, Vietnam's longest bridge, which is the bridge connecting Haiphong and Cat Ba.

4. The bus makes rest stops along the way.

5. Approximately 10-11 hours after starting the trip in Cat Ba, the bus arrives at Sapa. However, it might take more than that if the bus will be stopping to pick up passengers on the way (sometimes they do).

Company: Ket Doan

Duration: Approximately 10-11 hours

Departure time: 08:30 and 16:00

Arrival time: 18:10 and 02:00

Vehicle type: Bus + Ferry

Pick-up point in Cat Ba: Bến xe TT Cát Bà

Drop-off point in Sapa: No. 573 Dien Bien Phu Street - Sapa town

Tickets: Bus tickets from Cat Ba to Sapa can be booked here: Cat Ba - Sapa bus tickets

Route 2: Cat Ba Island - Hanoi - Sapa

Another route is to take a bus from Cat Ba to Hanoi and to make a stop in Hanoi before taking another bus to Sapa. This route is more popular between tourists because the trip is less tiring than taking a direct bus and also you get a chance to visit the capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi.

How to travel from Cat Ba Island to Sapa

There are many companies offering trip by a bus on Cat Ba-Hanoi-Sapa route. Most of the companies will tell you that this is a direct route from Cat Ba to Sapa. Actually, when traveling on this route, you will have to take a bus from Cat Ba to Hanoi and will stop in Hanoi first. There you will need to wait for another bus (can be a bus of another company) to take you from Hanoi to Sapa. The tour company will arrange both buses for you, but sometimes waiting in Hanoi might take few hours.

You can easily book a bus ticket from Cat Ba Island to Hanoi and from Hanoi to Sapa by yourself. It can actually be even better as you can choose your travel schedule. The important thing is to check the time of departure and arrival (leaving flexibility for potential delays) as well as pick up and drop off points because each bus company uses different locations, meaning that your arrival and departure points in Hanoi might be quite far away.

There are other ways to travel both parts of this route so you combine them according to your preferences.

Find the best way to travel from Cat Ba to Hanoi here: How to travel from Cat Ba Island to Hanoi.

From Hanoi to Sapa, you can travel not only by bus as you can take a train to Lao Cai station which is located not far from Sapa. There is a local bus connecting Lao Cai and Sapa.

How to travel from Cat Ba Island to Sapa

2. By Private Transfer

Booking a private transfer is the most convenient way to travel from Cat Ba to Sapa. A private transfer will normally pick you up from Ben Binh Pier in Haiphong, which can be easily reached from Cat Ba by hydrofoil.

How to travel from Cat Ba Island to Sapa

The car will drive you through Hanoi area before heading directly to Sapa. The distance from Cat Ba to Sapa is about 500 kilometers and it takes about 6 hours to get there. Taking a private transfer has many advantages as most of them come with English-speaking drivers and you can also stop by to visit various places along the way if you wish.

Private transfer is the best choice for people traveling as a group or family. But if you travel alone or with a small group, it might be too expensive.

3. By motorbike

Riding a motorbike is a normal way of traveling in Vietnam. The locals tend to travel this way, even on long distances.

You can rent a motorbike from a tour company on Cat Ba Island to drive to Sapa and back. This way is suitable for those who are good drivers and want to enjoy the scenery along the way. Make sure to drive carefully and choose a good motorcycle because it is quite a long route and the last part of the route is a hill up. In addition, you should carefully check if there is a mechanic service in the event that your motorbike has a problem on the way.

Motorbike rental fees are approximately 10 USD per day for a motorbike, which can seat 2 people.