Sapa is one of the main destinations for tourists visiting northern Vietnam that is famous for its beautiful mountain views, cool weather and outstanding culture. There are many ways to travel to Sapa and the most popular and easiest way is to travel there from Hanoi. Here is our complete guide on how to travel from Hanoi to Sapa by train, bus, car, etc.
Due to the distinct location of Sapa, which is about 350 km away from Hanoi, many tourists think that traveling to Sapa is difficult. In this article, we have listed all the main means of transportation that are suitable for traveling between Hanoi and Sapa in order to help everyone to choose the right way for getting to Sapa.
Price: starting at 250,000 VND per person
Duration: 7 - 9 hours
Even though Sapa doesn't have a train station, many people still choose to take a train for traveling from Hanoi to Sapa because the overnight journey by train from Hanoi to Sapa is very convenient and comfortable. It also helps to save money as you don’t need to book accommodation for 1 night. Taking a train is suitable for those who want to have a unique experience of traveling by train in Vietnam.
For those traveling from Hanoi, you must take a train from Hanoi Train Station or Tran Quy Cap Train Station to Lao Cai Railway Station. Lao Cai is located about 40 kilometers from Sapa. After arriving there, you need to continue your trip to Sapa by taking a local bus, jeep or taxi that normally takes about 1 hour more. Detailed information about taking a local bus from the railway station to Sapa can be found here: Bus Lao Cai to Sapa.
The journey from Hanoi to Sapa by train takes around 7-9 hours, depending on the train type you will choose. There are trains available for both daytime and nighttime travel as normally trains to Lao Cai depart from Hanoi from 9:00 to 22:00.
There are several companies providing the train service and plenty of options to choose from.
Trains of Vietnam Railways
Vietnam Railways is the state-owned operator of the railway system in Vietnam. The recommended trains of Vietnam Railways for traveling from Hanoi to Sapa are the express trains with the codes SP1, SP3, SP7 and LC3. These trains stop at major stations only. During high season and holidays, there are normally additional trains provided such as the SP5 train.
These trains have many types of seats to choose from. The trains that run during the day usually have only hard seats. While the trains that run during the night, offer more options as you can choose from a soft seat, hard sleeper (6-berths cabin) and soft sleeper (4-berths cabin).
Vietnam Railway train ticket price for a trip from Hanoi to Sapa (Lao Cai) starts at around 250,000-540,000 VND per person, depending on the comfort of the seat.
Since Sapa is a very popular tourist destination, many ticket agents and travel companies buy the best seats in advance for resale to tourists, especially during weekends and high season. If you are planning to buy a ticket at the train station, there will be a high chance to get the hard seat only. If you want a more comfortable seat or sleeper, you should book it online in advance. Train tickets for a trip from Hanoi to Sapa can be booked here: Train Tickets from Hanoi to Sapa.
As the train route between Hanoi and Lao Cai is one of the most popular routes among tourists, many private companies design special train carriages for tourists. These train carriages are more luxurious than the ones of an ordinary train. Private trains usually have private cabins with 2 berths or 4 berths and ensure much higher comfort.
Private companies that provide train services between Hanoi and Sapa include Violette Express Sapa, Oriental Express, King Express Sapa, ET-Pumpkin Sapa, Victoria Express, Sapaly Express, Fansipan Express, etc. For more details about private trains operating on this route check: Train from Hanoi to Sapa: 9 Best Luxury Trains.
Train ticket price of private trains normally range from 660,000 VND to 3,300,000 VND per person. Ticket prices vary significantly, depending on the operator and quality of service. Current ticket prices of various companies can be compared here: Hanoi - Sapa Train Tickets.
If you want to take a train back from Sapa to Hanoi, you should book train tickets in advance as trains running on this route are normally fully booked.
Price: starting at 250,000 VND per person
Duration: 6 - 7 hours
In the past, traveling to Sapa by bus took very long and made tourists tired because the quality of the roads on this route was really low. However, in 2014 Vietnam built a highway that makes traveling from Hanoi to Sapa by bus much more convenient than before. Lately more and more tourists choose to take a bus instead of a train.
Most of the bus companies covering this route pick-up passengers from their hotels in Hanoi Old Quarter and drop off in Sapa. When taking a bus, you don’t need to travel to Lao Cai first and then transfer to Sapa, like you must do when taking a train.
There are many bus companies operating on Hanoi – Sapa route. The most famous bus companies serving tourists on this route are as follows:
For more details about taking a bus from Hanoi to Sapa check here: How to Travel from Hanoi to Sapa by Bus.
Our experience of travelling by bus from Hanoi to Sapa is briefly described here: From Hanoi to Sapa by Bus [Review].
Normally, the journey from Hanoi to Sapa by bus takes about 6-7 hours. Buses on this route are available for both daytime and nighttime travel. The average bus fare is lower than the fare of a train with bus ticket prices starting at around 250,000 VND per person.
Price: starting at 300,000 VND per person
Duration: 5.5 - 6 hours
Another way to travel between Hanoi and Sapa is by taking a limousine, which is a luxury van offering better service than the bus. Limousine is a 9-seat van with reclining seats. The interior is spacious and airy with a luxurious decoration and modern amenities such as LED TV, Wi-Fi, power plug, cup holder. Aside from this, in most cases the drivers can communicate in at least basic English.
The journey from Hanoi to Sapa by limousine takes about 5 hours 30 minutes - 6 hours, depending on traffic conditions. Limousine should be booked in advance and normally costs more than a bus.
There are many limousine companies operating between Hanoi and Sapa daily. The most reputable companies on this route are as follows:
1. Eco Sapa Limousine
Departure time from Hanoi: 6:30, 6:40, 6:45, 6:50, 7:00, 14:45, 15:00
Departure time from Sapa: 7:00, 7:30, 14:30, 14:40, 14:45, 14:50, 15:00
Price: 300,000 - 450,000 VND per person
Tickets: Eco Sapa Limousine Tickets
2. Sapa Luxury Van Limousine
Departure time from Hanoi: 6:30, 7:00, 7:30, 15:00
Departure time from Sapa: 8:00, 14:30, 15:30
Price: starting at 500,000 VND per person
3. Daily Limousine
Departure time from Hanoi: 7:45, 15:45
Departure time from Sapa: 8:00, 8:30, 15:00, 15:30
Price: starting at 480,000 VND per person
4. Dream Transport Limousine
Departure time from Hanoi: 6:30, 14:30
Departure time from Sapa: 7:30, 14:30
Price: starting at 400,000 VND per person
5. Green Lion Bus
Departure time from Hanoi: 7:00
Departure time from Sapa: 14:45
Price: starting at 470,000 VND per person
Price: starting at 3,600,000 VND per car
Duration: 4.5 hours
If you are traveling with your family or as a group of friends, the most convenient option for getting from Hanoi to Sapa is taking a private transfer as you won't have to go to pick-up point or to worry about transferring to your accommodation in Sapa. When choosing a private transfer, the driver will pick you up from the hotel or airport in Hanoi and drive you directly to you hotel in Sapa.
The most important thing is that you can depart from Hanoi to Sapa at any time you want. The only downside of the private transfer is the price so it is not suitable for solo travelers.
If you are planning to use private transfer for getting from Hanoi to Sapa, some of the best deals for this transfer can be found here: private transfer service between Hanoi and Sapa.
Price: about 150,000 VND per day
Duration: 9-10 hours
Traveling from Hanoi to Sapa by a motorbike is suitable for people who are looking for adventures and love challenges. The important thing is that you have to be a good motorbike driver and dare to drive in Vietnamese traffic as well as on the mountain road leading to Sapa. Motorbikes can be easily rented in Hanoi and normally cost around 80,000 - 150,000 VND per day. Condition of the motorbike should be carefully checked when renting because you need to prepare for a long drive as the route from Hanoi to Sapa is almost 400 kilometers.
The route from Hanoi to Sapa is rural and sometimes even with no radio coverage. You should check the route details and map beforehand to make sure that you can drive without having to rely on Google Maps as you will have to drive on a normal road, not a highway.
Although Sapa is one of North Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations, it does not have its own airport. The nearest to Sapa airport is Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport (HAN).
You can book tickets for transportation between Hanoi and Sapa at a tour company in Hanoi or Sapa. However, we would recommend booking tickets online on a reliable website where you can check travel details such as schedules, pick up/drop off points, prices and facilities of all companies, and choose the most suitable transportation for yourself.
Tickets for trains, buses, limousines or private transfer can be easily booked online. We would suggest using these reputable websites:
- 12go.Asia: The main website that we used for booking our transportation in Vietnam. This website can also be used when travelling to other countries in Southeast Asia.
- Kook: Another website that we used for booking transfer, local SIM card, tours and activities in Vietnam.
Each mean of transportation used to travel between Hanoi and Sapa has different advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of what type of transportation you choose, we hope you will enjoy your trip. Be assured that this trip is worthwhile because Sapa and Hanoi are both really wonderful destinations.