How to go from Hanoi to Sapa

Best Way to go from Hanoi to Sapa

If it’s your first time visiting Vietnam, or even planning a trip, you might have heard a fuss about Sapa being among the top places to visit. The question frequently asked is what the best way to go from Hanoi to Sapa is. The reason for this is there are no flights from Hanoi, the capital, to Sapa. Therefore, tourists have to rely on local transportation make the 320 km stretch. We’ll explore the four alternatives, highlighting the pros and cons of each. In the end, we hope you’ll then be able to make an informed decision.

Road from Hanoi to Sapa

Road from Hanoi to Sapa

About Sapa

It is a rural area and located on the northwestern part of the country. What makes it remarkable is the picturesque mountains covered in fog in the mornings and the rice terraces that create a picture worthy of a postcard. If you’re keen on nature, visiting Sapa accords you the opportunity to tour the scenic rice paddies and way of life. Those who love hiking get to enjoy the view that involves waterfalls, remote villages, and local cuisine. Sapa also acts an access point to climbing the Hoang Lien Son Mountains to get to the highest peak, Fansipan.

The description above gives you an understanding of why Sapa is famous. It is especially ideal for people who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi to somewhere quiet. There is, however, a caveat. Due to its fame, you’re likely to end up finding a horde of tourists. Therefore, if you want to experience it quieter and have an easier time getting transportation, consider going at the begging or end of the peak season.

Weather and potential transportation issues

Weather plays a significant role when it comes to how to go from Hanoi to Sapa. June to September is characterized as the wet seasons. That is something to keep in mind. Consider running by your tour company when is best given most tourist tend to travel in the summer months. Another ideal time is March to May and late September to mid-December. Read more here The best time to travel to Sapa (Vietnam)

Let’s look at your options


Most visitors choose to take the night train to Lao Cai, approximately 30 km from Sapa. You, therefore, have to catch a bus or taxi to get to your final destination. The train is not your standard Western one and is consequently narrow. If you’re looking to begin an early morning in Sapa, then train makes sense as you might be able to catch a snooze on the way.

Time: The train leaves at 10:00 pm and arrives at the end of the line at about 6:00 am. That makes for an approximately 8-hour journey.

Pricing: The pricing varies according to the train you take. A seat goes for $7 with the cabin as high as $140 for four passengers.

Comfort: There are mixed reactions when it comes to how to go from Hanoi to Sapa by train. Across the board, cabins are clean and comfortable, and though the track is not entirely smooth, the rhythm can lull them to sleep. They also don’t mind the noise or even the number of times the train stops. However, if you’re looking for comfort, there are tourist trains that, though pricier, offer the added comfort.  

Disclaimer: Most opt for the night train to save up on hotel costs. The drawback, however, is that getting a full night’s rest is difficult due to the noise and train motion.

Bus/ coach

Another alternative of how to get to Hanoi to Sapa is taking the bus or a couch. There are plenty of other options, with the pickup locations being different.

Time: On average, the trip to Sapa takes between 4-5 hours. Multiple bus companies are offering their services to tourists, each with the own schedule running from morning to evening. You can book a bus at any time of day or night.

Pricing: Various travel offer bus rides, each with slightly different pricing. The range is $10-20. Get an e-ticket to avoid finding the bus all booked.

Comfort: There are various bus options to suit each person’s preference. Most have comfortable reclining seats allowing you to travel and even sleep comfortably.

Private taxi or van

For those wishing to have a drive down to Sapa with less hustle can take the alternative and hire luxury taxis or vans. Private companies offer these. One can get these either from Hanoi city or the airport.

Time: Using private transportation makes you more flexible as you can pick a travel time that works for you. Depending on your choice, the trip to Sapa can take anywhere between 4-5 hours.

Pricing: These vary as it depends on the van or taxi size and the comfort features it comes with. The average range is however anywhere between $16- $300 depending on size.

Comfort: Whether you’re two or nine people, there is something for everyone. A taxi works for those in a smaller group while those in a larger group can take a minivan. As mentioned, there are different luxury options and are therefore as comfortable as you wish to be. Overall, however, you’ll have a smooth ride down.

General information

Each of the transportation choices given provides the option of paying online. All that’s requires is that you print your e-ticket or show it on your mobile device. To avoid hustles before landing or leaving Hanoi, or getting conned, do all your transactions online.

Pro tip: Don’t rely on the tour company to arrange all your transportation needs on how to go from Hanoi to Sapa as they place a high markup. Purchasing tickets online for trains, buses, taxis or vans is quite easy. Where you can, use public transportation.

Wrap up

We hope that with the information provided you’ll be able to select the best way to go from Hanoi to Sapa for you and travel companions. There are plenty of options accommodating your budget, timing, and comfort.

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