Travel Guide

How to travel from Hanoi to Sapa?


After having a trip around Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam to see the natural and cultural values of a beautiful city with a thousand years of history, tourists tend to make their way to Sapa – an irresistible attraction in the Northwest of Vietnam.

Check out the guide from hellosapavietnam below to see the distance between the two destinations and how to reach that poetic land.

Sapa is located in Lao Cai Province, which is more than 350 kilometers far from the city center of Hanoi. The distance from the nearest airport (Dien Bien Phu Airport, Dien Bien Province) to Sapa is nearly 300 kilometers; in other words, traveling by plane is not a good choice. Hence, both Vietnamese and foreigners choose to use train or bus to get there instead.

Sapa terraced rice fields

Sapa terraced rice fields on harvest (Source: Internet)

How long from Hanoi to Sapa by train?

The train is the most popular and recommended ways of transportation to go from Hanoi to Sapa. Though Sapa does not has its own railway station, it is only about 40 kilometers from this town to the nearest station in Lao Cai City. From there, it is very easy to take a bus, taxi or even a jeep to reach Sapa. There are both daytime and nighttime train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, which would take you about 8 hours and 20 minutes. Among them, a night train is considered more comfortable and time-saving.

Night train from Hanoi to Sapa

Night train from Hanoi to Sapa (Source: Internet)

Regarding daytime train, there are SP1, SP2, SP3, SP4, SP7 and SP8 trains from Gia Lam Railway Station, Hanoi. SP1, SP2, SP3 and SP4 run every day, with many options to choose: Air-conditioned soft sleepers, air-conditioned hard sleepers, hard sleepers, air-conditioned soft seats, soft seats, and hard seats. Also, these trains have very few stops all the way long. SP7 and SP8 are the same with those, but the two trains also offer privately-run sleeping-cars for those wanting to get better services, namely Livitrans Express and King Express.

Sapa bus

Sleeper cabins on Privately-run Victoria Express Train (Source: Internet)

About nighttime trains – the more recommended ones, there are 4 trains in total: SP1, SP2, SP3, and SP4. In addition to the standard seats like other trains, these trains comprise a series of privately-run sleeping cabins including Fansipan Express, Ratraco Express, Orient Express, Royal Express, TSC Express, Tulico Express, SaPaly Express Train, Green Express, Hara Express and Victoria Express Train. These private cabins offer clean and comfortable rooms for a long journey with thick mattresses, lights and storage shelves. Though there are places to put your luggage you should keep your valuables by your side, especially when your cabin mates are strangers. Among the above sleeping-cars, Fansipan Express, SaPaly Express Train, and Victoria Express Train are recommended the most.

Seats/Beds can be booked through travel agencies in advance or right in Hanoi, but in case they do fill up, it is suggested that travelers should book in advance. You can go to the station to buy but do not feel surprised when there is no ticket available. Especially, with privately-run cabins, many tourists and travel agents have bought it in advance, which means there will be only a few of seats left to buy.

How long from Hanoi to Sapa by bus?

Sapa bus

Hung Thanh Bus from Hanoi to Sapa (Source: Internet)

In case you cannot book your train ticket or want to have a cheaper option, taking a bus is an alternative though it is less safe and comfortable than going by train. The most common type of bus has three rows of bunk beds running from the front to the back of the bus and a wide bed at the back. Beds on buses are much smaller than on trains and are not flat. Additionally, the storage is very limited: all bags are put in the under-bus storage. Travelling by bus may also lead to the lack of sleep.

Sapa sleeper car

Sapa Sleeper Car (Source: Internet)

There are some private-owned sleeper buses coming from Hanoi to Lao Cai in both daytime and nighttime. It takes more than 6 hours to reach Lao Cai, and one more hour from Lao Cai to Sapa Town. Buses depart from My Dinh Bus Station and Gia Lam Bus Station and a one-way ticket may cost about VND 300,000. You can book tickets online of some bus operators like Hung Thanh, Inter Bus Lines, EcoSaPa, SaPaExpress, TheSinhTourist, etc.

No matter how you go, once you reach Lao Cai City, all you need to do is to take a transport bus or taxi to Sapa Town. After about 1 hour driving, the beautiful Sapa with spectacular landscapes of hills and colorful terraced rice fields is right in front of your eyes!

Author Since: Jan 23, 2019

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