Sapa is a picturesque small mountain town northwest of Hanoi that was once a French colonial hill station. Green rice paddies and local tribes wearing colourful embroidery make it a must-visit place for anyone travelling through Vietnam. But how to get from Hanoi to Sapa? You’ve a few options…
How To Get From Hanoi To Sapa
1. Take the Train from Hanoi to Sapa
The train is the best way to reach Sapa from Hanoi – you take the overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, and from there you take a minivan to Sapa town itself. The train takes about eight hours and there’s various levels of comfort to choose from: a normal shared sleeper carriage or you can go all out with a luxury cabin to yourself.
There’s two sleeper trains that depart from Hanoi daily at 9.35pm and 10pm, and they arrive in Lao Cai at 5.30am and 6.05am respectively. You’ll be in Sapa town before 7am.
2. Get a Minivan
Most tour agencies in Hanoi sell minivan tickets from the city to Sapa, a six-hour or so journey in total. It’s cheaper than the train, and takes less travel time, however the vans generally leave in the evening and arrive into Sapa at 3am in the morning. So, you either wander the town all night or have to pay for a night in a hotel to check into as soon as you arrive.
3. Book in Advance with Bookaway
Use Bookaway to reserve your tickets in advance for a number of transport options, including standard buses and VIP buses. Not only can you be assured that you have a guaranteed ticket, you can also make use of the handy filters for finding the best transport option.
Can’t live without air conditioning? Check. Absolutely need to have a toilet on board? You can choose the exact features you need your transport option to have.
4. Drive on a Motorbike!
If you’re feeling brave enough to drive the 320km distance when planning how to get from Hanoi to Sapa, then it’s an unforgettable drive. The scenery changes dramatically as you drive up into the mountains, with views of rice terraces all around you.
We will say that this is not for the faint-hearted: the trip will take up to 10 hours and we don’t recommend you do this during wet season as the roads are windy and can often be flooded. Bring a 1.5-ltr empty bottle to fill up with fuel in case of emergency, and make sure your bike is in perfect working order before setting off.
5. Hire a Private Car
Renting a private car is a decent option if you’re looking to enjoy a bit of comfort during your trip from Hanoi to Sapa. The trip will take about six hours and while it’s a lot more expensive than other options, you’ll enjoy some luxurious advantages. Not only will your driver pick you up from wherever you are, but they will stop whenever you need to for a break.