From Hanoi to Sapa

From Hanoi to Sapa
If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, take a trip northwest to the mountains, where the beautiful town of Sapa is located. This former hill station was founded by the French in 1922 and today is one of Vietnam's popular tourist destinations.

Sapa is known for its striking scenery and rich cultural diversity. It is easy to get here from Hanoi, as there are many different travel companies serving this route.


Route options between Hanoi and Sapa

You can get from Hanoi to Sapa by train or by highway. This does not limit your options when it comes to choosing what suits your budget and schedule, because there are many different companies operating both trains and buses.

By track, the journey from Hanoi to Sapa is about 317 kilometers (200 miles), which should take about 5 hours. Trains to Sapa take somewhat longer, but most, if not all, leave at night so you can get some sleep. More information on trains and buses can be found below.

By bus from Hanoi to Sapa

There are three advantages of traveling by bus or minibus from Hanoi to Sapa: first, it is cheaper, second, it is faster, and third, the fact that buses and minibuses will get you to Sapa in a way that trains cannot.

How to get to Sapa by bus

Grouptour operates both buses and minivans on this route, and there are about six different flights each day. The company has more minibuses than buses, so you have a better chance of getting a seat on a minibus, but they cost more and you will have less comfort during the trip.

Minivans are considered VIP service and are comfortable with their reclining seats and air conditioning. Plus, they have fewer passengers if you prefer a quieter ride. Still, no drinks, snacks or toilets on board. You'll have to make a few stops along the way to get out and stretch your legs.
The buses also offer VIP service.

These are sleeper buses with reclining seats so you can take a nap if you want, but they also have many more amenities on board, including air conditioning, as well as snacks, TVs, restrooms and steward service.

There is only one bus that departs at night from Hanoi, arriving in Sapa around 4:30 am, and of all the bus services it is the cheapest option. Buses travel for 6.5 hours, while minibuses travel for 5.5 hours. Keep this in mind when deciding how to travel.

Take the train to Sapa from Hanoi

A trip from Hanoi to Sapa

Many travelers will say that the train to Sapa from Hanoi is the best way to travel between the two destinations because the road is long and traveling on Vietnamese roads is not always safe. This was true in the past, but the new highway has greatly improved this route, making it faster and safer. But in the end, it really comes down to personal preference and budget.

Most train options are significantly more expensive than a bus or minibus, but you can argue that you're getting better service for that money - trains should be more comfortable than a bus because you have a lot more room to move, and if you choose a sleeping car, you can use a bed rather than just a reclining seat.

Besides being more expensive, another disadvantage of the train is that you still have to take a bus to get to Sapa. The train station is in Laocai and there is a very winding road that you have to travel by minibus or private transfer. It's only about 35 kilometers (22 miles), but because of the curves of the road, it will take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

To travel by train from Hanoi to Sapa, you have many different route options. The trains all run on the Vietnamese state railroads, but each train has different cars owned by private companies that compete for your money. Whichever option you choose, you will probably get a sleeping car ticket, but they vary greatly in price, so look at the different options.

The cheapest option is to stick with the Vietnamese railroads: they have first-class sleepers that are only slightly more expensive than a minibus from Hanoi to Sapa.

In the carriage.

But if you prefer something more upscale, you can travel with one of the following campaigns: Fanxipan, Livitrans Express or Violette Express. Orient Express, King Express and Pumpkin Express offer services of about the same quality and price, while Chapa Express and Victoria Express are usually much more expensive, but apparently more convenient.

Whichever option you choose, you'll have access to bathrooms, steward service, and food on board the train, and the entire train ride from Hanoi to Sapa takes about 8 hours.

With the new highway, getting from Hanoi to Sapa by road is not such a big challenge, and if you are trying to get to Sapa a little faster and for less money, buses and minibuses are a very good option. However, trains to Sapa from Hanoi are also popular, so which one will you choose?

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