The most popular way to getting Sapa from Hanoi is by overnight train. However, thanks to a new highway opening in 2014, Sapa can also be reached by bus which is faster.
Getting to Sapa from Hanoi by train
Traveling by train takes about 8-9 hours and the train only stops in Lao Cai, the province which Sapa belongs to. It then takes another hour to get to Sapa from Lao Cai station.
There are a number of tourists train operating the route from Hanoi. Each of these companies run a carriage which are all attached to the national train carrier. It is suggested that you book your ticket in advance, especially during peak time of the week such as Hanoi to Lao Cai on Thursday and Friday; Lao Cai to Hanoi on Sunday and Monday. This is normally due to the weekend retreat of local tourists, and also on Sunday there is a special market fair in Bac Ha which attracts many visitors.
- Train often departs at between 8:00pm and 10:00pm, and you can catch a good sleep before getting woke up by the beautiful mountain scenery at dawn.
- There are also day trains which are not as comfortable as night train. It also takes longer time to travel as it makes more stops.
- Ticket for night train is $35-180/person/way (the most expensive one is Victoria express which is exclusively for in-house guests)
- Ticket for day train is $10-20/person/way.
There are daily bus departing Hanoi at 6:30am or 10:00pm. One way trip takes between 6 and 7:00 hours.
Traveling by bus is both fast and it goes direct to Sapa without stopping in Lao Cai as by train. If you take a private car ride, you can even reach Sapa in 5 hours.