Nestled in the north, near the border of China, Sapa is one of the prettiest towns in Vietnam. With lush hillside rice terraces, stunning valleys, and the highest peak in the country – Fan Si Pan, it’s a haven for nature lovers and culture seekers alike. Here are the best options for getting to Sapa from Hanoi – a journey of 318 picturesque kilometers northwest.
Bus to Sapa from Hanoi
The bus is by far the cheapest option to use when traveling from Hanoi to Sapa. The ride takes 5-7 hours in total with several different bus operators make the route each day. Tickets cost the equivalent of $11 USD one way and you can book online prior to departure via Baolau. The bus seats recline – perfect for overnight journeys! The bus ride from Hanoi to Sapa is actually quicker than taking the train (although the latter is a more comfortable option).
Train to Sapa from Hanoi
Experience old-world luxury and glamour on the Victoria Express train from Hanoi to Sapa. This deluxe sleeper train operates a night service to Lao Cai station, 50 minutes from Sapa. The train boasts atmospheric wood-paneled private cabins decorated in an elegant oriental design. Each cabin features modern amenities including air conditioning, reading lights, and wide-open views from large windows. There is onboard dining in the fabulous Le Tonkin restaurant, where you can sample Vietnamese delicacies, western dishes, and fines wines. The journey time to Lao Cai from Hanoi is at a relaxed pace – around 8.5 hours, giving you the opportunity to awake thoroughly refreshed at your destination. Ticket prices for 2 people in a private cabin on the Victoria Express costs around $285 USD for a one-way journey. It’s worth noting that several other trains operate this route that offer more cost-effective options- including Orient Express, Sapaly Train, and King Express. A comfortable VIP private 2-berth cabin on the Orient Express costs $130 USD for 1-2 people for a one-way journey.
Private car to Sapa from Hanoi
It’s possible to travel from Hanoi to Sapa by private car in approximately 5 hours. This is a superb option if you don’t want to waste precious sightseeing time on transfers from Lao Cai to Sapa. Traveling by private car is a popular choice for groups and families, as there is just one fixed cost to pay. Many private car companies in Vietnam have English speaking drivers who can point out local landmarks along the way, making this a great educational and cultural experience. Private car and driver hire from Hanoi to Sapa costs approximately $160 for a 4-seater vehicle one-way. Remember to book through a reputable company via your hotel reception, search online reviews, and always agree on the cost in advance.
Shuttle to Sapa from Hanoi
If you wish to get to know like-minded travelers throughout your stay, a shared shuttle bus to Sapa is a great choice. These buses depart from Hanoi between 6:00-6:30 AM and arrive in Sapa around midday. The cost is $15 USD per person for a single journey, and if you are just planning to spend the day in Sapa you can return on the 10 PM bus, which arrives in Hanoi at 5 AM the following morning. If you are traveling directly to Sapa from Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport, this is also a great option with a journey time of approximately 5 hours.
Driving to Sapa from Hanoi
Hiring a car and driving to Sapa can be a rewarding experience. Not only will you pass through the scenic provinces of Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho, and Lao Cai, you can now travel on the newly constructed highway! At just 245 kilometers in length, the highway shaves a lot of time off your journey so you can either arrive earlier in your destination or spend more time breaking for photographs at charming villages, lush waterfalls, and scenic landscapes en-route.