Sapa is one of the most famous travel destinations in Vietnam thanks to its breathtaking scenery. Trekking through beautiful valleys, visiting cultural villages, and staying at homestays are great things to do in Sapa. The easiest way to get to Sapa is from Hanoi or Lao Cai.
How to travel from Hanoi to Sapa? Is it better to go to Sapa by train or bus?
Hanoi to Sapa overview
Sapa is a small town located at an altitude of 1500 to 1650 meters, 38km from Lao Cai city.
The travel distance from Hanoi to Sapa is approximately 320 km, and you can travel between the two cities easily by train and bus.
- Option 1: Take a direct bus to Sapa.
- Option 2: Take a train that stops at Lao Cai Railway Station, then a bus from Lao Cai to Sapa.
|Bus||6 hours||$16 (€15)||Check tickets|
|Train||9 hours||$16 (€15)||–|
|Car||12 hours||$166(€155)||Check availability|
Hanoi to Sapa Bus
- Duration: 6 hours.
- Cost: starts at $16.
Traveling from Hanoi to Sapa by bus is the fastest option. The journey takes approximately 6 hours with the Noi Bai – Lao Cai Express route.
You can book online bus tickets from several bus companies connecting Hanoi to Sapa, such as Sapa Express, Group Tour and Sao Viet.
When boarding, you will get a bottle of water and access to wifi. Please come at least 30 minutes before departure for check-in procedures.
Hanoi to Sapa Train + Bus
- Duration: 8 hours (Train) + 1 hour (Bus)
- Cost: starts at $16
The night train from Hanoi to Sapa is one of the most convenient and affordable options to get from Hanoi to Sapa.
Vietnam Railways operates daily trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai Railway station. Ticket prices start at $16.
The journey takes approximately 8 hours. If you take the night train, you will arrive around 5:30 or 6 am depending on your departure time.
Upon arrival, you can transit by bus or private car from Lao Cai to Sapa. It’s 30km from Lao Cai to Sapa, and it takes around 1 hour if you go by bus.
Read more: Check my Vietnam train travel guide for more tips.
Private trains to Sapa
Taking a private train or a tourist train from Hanoi to Sapa is one of the recommended experiences. Each car is decorated nicely, and the service has better quality.
Private train companies include Violette Trains, Fanxipan Express, King Express, Orient Express, Sapaly Express, Chapa Express, and New Livitrans Express, with Victoria Express being the most luxurious.
Passengers can select 2 or 4 beds per cabin. The price per person can start at 740 000 VND or $32.
Choose seats or berths.
You can select your seat or berths when booking online. A berth is a better and more comfortable option compared to a seat.
Select and reserve berths in Sleeper 4-berth to make your trip to Sapa easier
Tips for booking trains to Sapa
- Passengers can book 60 – 90 days in advance for a train to Sapa from Hanoi. The ticket sale opens up to 2 days before departure.
- The sleeping beds are quite comfortable, with a pillow and blanket fully provided on board.
- Food and drinks can be purchased on board.
- For the ticket, you should print it out. Please read carefully the note below.
- For bookings with Vietnam Railways and private railway companies New Livitrans Express and Violette Train, you will receive your e-ticket by email, ready to print and present when boarding the train.
- For bookings with private railway companies such as Victoria Express, Fanxipan Express, King Express, Orient Express, Sapaly Express, and Chapa Express, you will receive a voucher by email to collect the physical ticket at the station before boarding the train.
Seat reservations for children
- Children under 6 years old are exempted from buying the ticket and sharing the seat with their accompanying adult.
- From 6 to 10 years old, children get discounted 50% of the ticket fare.
- Children under 10 years old pay as adults and must be accompanied by an adult at the departure time.
Hanoi to Sapa by car
For flexibility, you can also book a taxi to get from Hanoi to Sapa. Due to the long distance, expect to pay about $155 to get there.
Hanoi to Sapa by bike
If you plan to travel by bike, you can choose these routes:
- Route 1 (Direction of Lao Cai): Hanoi – Vinh Phuc – Viet Tri – Phong Chau – Doan Hung – Yen Bai – Lao Cai – Sapa. Total distance is about 360km.
- Route 2 (Direction of Lai Chau): Hanoi – Hoa Lac – Son Tay – Thanh Son – Along Highway 32 – Sapa. Total distance is about 420km.
Due to the long distance and heavy traffic, you should be careful driving along these routes.
Because motorbikes cannot cross the highway, you’ll have to choose a longer detour route via national highway No. 7 or No. 32.
With an average distance of about 400km, it takes 10 to 12 hours to get to Sapa. Also, the road to Sapa passes through many mountains, passes, rivers and streams, so the travel time may be longer.
Best things to do in Sapa
Located in Northwestern Vietnam, Sapa is a town in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains. Sapa is a popular trekking base in Vietnam with beautiful terraced rice fields in the Muong Hoa Valley.
From Sapa, you can also visit the 3,143 m-tall Fansipan Peak with a cable car.
I recommend spending three days or more enjoying the beauty of this area and experience unique cultural activities. Taking a Sapa trekking tour is recommended.