Travel from Hanoi to Sapa – Useful tips for North Vietnam tours


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Travel from Hanoi to Sapa – Useful tips for North Vietnam tours

Just by spending about 3 days of your Vietnam tours in the Northern part, you are able to gain unforgettable experiences of the beauty of Hanoi, the city with longstanding development of culture as well as refresh yourself in a magnificent Sapa. There are many approaches for you to travel from Hanoi to Sapa. Since each one has its own features, you will need to consider carefully before making a suitable decision.

Overview of Hanoi and Sapa


Hanoi, located by the banks of the Red River, is known as the second biggest city of Vietnam; as well as one of the hottest travel destinations. Enduring thousands of years, the city bears its own historical characteristics; which are influenced by both Eastern and Western cultural values. Therefore, travelers can easily find structures varying in architecture and historical sites representing the past of Vietnam. Besides, Hanoi Old Quarter is also the place where you can find things like water puppet show, calligraphy pictures or traditional festivals. Moreover, one thing that attracts foreigners need to be mentioned here is the local cuisine. Vietnamese street food seems to be popular when visting Hanoi. You can try different delicious dishes like Pho, Bun Cha, Nem Cuon, etc. while taking a Hanoi street food tour. So, if you are interested in Vietnamese culture, Hanoi should be the top destination on the shortlist of your North Vietnam tour.

The Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature – the first university of Vietnam


Being a far cry from a noisy, busy Hanoi, the mountainous area located at 1500 meters (4921 feet) above sea level in Vietnam’s remote northwest mountains is famous for both its fine, rugged scenery and also its cultural diversity. During Sapa Vietnam tours, visitors will have a chance to gaze with veneration the allure of this quiet town changing in different seasons; such as full of vitality with blooming flowers in spring, be covered with the lime-green smooth color of terraced rice fields, turn into a yellow carpet in fall and be in a mysterious mist in winter. Conquering Fansipan, the highest mountain peak in Vietnam; trying various dishes of local food, or hanging out with members of ethnic tribes; joining Sapa love market are the things that you should not miss when coming to the valley.

Sapa in a mysterious mist

How to travel from Hanoi to Sapa

Hanoi is located in Vietnam with (21.0245,105.8412) coordinates while Sapa is located in Vietnam with (22.3402,103.8442) coordinates. The calculated flying distance from Hanoi to Sapa is equal to 157 miles which is equal to 253 km. There different kinds of transport that you can use to go to the mountainous countryside from the heart of Vietnam; here we put together three popular ones for you:

Overnight train

Traveling by train brings great advantages, especially for those who want safety and comfort with a modest budget. Since trains have their own tracks, the ability of collision with other vehicles can be decreased significantly. Besides, you can sleep in a convenient way on the train without the fear of losing way in the dark. Furthermore, if you are facing up to the problem of luggage, the train will help you to deal with your heavy and stuffy things. In addition, the amount of carbon footprint the train releases into the air is less than other means of transport, which is better for the environment. However, one shortcoming is that it will take you more time to travel from Hanoi to Sapa by train.

travel train
The space inside a travel train

There are three sleeper trains leaving Hanoi’s Main Station each evening, at 20:35 (SP7), 21:10 (SP1) and 21:50 (SP3). You will set your foot in Lao Cai at about 5 or 6 am of the following day. The final 34 kilometres to Sapa can be traveled by minibus or private transfer. The ticket price for Vietnam Railways generally ranges from VND 150,000 – 385,000 (approx US$6 – 7 ), depending on the types of seat or bed. You can choose to buy offline a ticket at Tran Quy Cap station or to book online through the website of Vietnam Railways Corporation. It is highly recommended that you should book your ticket in advance about 1 month before your North Vietnam tour during tourist season and 1 week if your tour is not in the height of tourist time.


Buses would be a wonderful alternative if you can not book your train ticket in advance. Going by buses, you don’t need to care much about the weather or other factors outside; you can enjoy the view of the Vietnamese countryside along the road from Hanoi to Sapa. What’s more, you are likely to make friends with new people during your bus journey. Features that make buses better than trains is that they take you less time to travel (about 5 hours); and the number of buses is various, compared to trains: sleeper bus, express bus, night bus, etc. Yet, the space on a bus is normally smaller than that on a train. And there are also pickpockets so it is not a good idea to keep your all valuables in one place.

Sapa sleeper bus
Hanoi to Sapa sleeper bus

From Hanoi, it is possible to start your Sapa tour at My Dinh station or Gia Lam station. The ticket fare and the depart time of each bus are different from the others. You are able to select a suitable time to begin your trip with the ticket fare ranging from VND 250,000 to 400,000.

Private car

Free and flexible are the first two words to describe when referring to commuting by private car. You could contact Vietnam tour companies for private car arrang start to move every time you feel ready; and also, you would feel free with your luggage as the trunk would deal with this. One outstanding feature of using a car is that it helps travelers to go directly to Sapa town from Hanoi. In case of taking a tour with the whole family, parents don’t have to be afraid that their children would disturb other passengers and that they would become lost. Nonetheless, fuel is an issue that the driver needs to care about as petrol stations sometimes prove few and far between.

Noi Bai - Lao Cai Expressway
Noi Bai – Lao Cai Expressway completed in 2014

If getting Sapa by private car is your choice, then here are the suggested route for you: Centre of Hanoi – Thang Long Bridge – Noi Bai Airport – Noi Bai – Lao Cai expressway – National Highways 4D – Sapa town. The distance between Hanoi and Sapa has been reduced significantly thanks to the completion of Noi Bai – Lao Cai expressway in 2014.

Suggestions for best Sapa tours

Above is three main kinds of transport that are often used to travel from Hanoi to Sapa. If you don’t find them suitable, you can think of other types of vehicles for your North Vietnam tours like motorbike, taxi or rental car. By providing useful information, we hope that you will be satisfied with your decision!

Toan Do – Travel Lover

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