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How to get from Sapa to Hanoi: A Detailed Guide

How to get from Sapa to Hanoi: A Detailed Guide

Vietnam is one of the most famous countries to tour in Asia. There are several cities and towns where you can experience the many different aspects of Vietnamese culture. Two of the most popular destinations in the country are Sapa and Hanoi. One is a town ideal for people looking for the tranquillity of slow-living; the other, for those who prefer the conveniences of a fast-paced city.

For people who refuse to be attached to these opposites of travel, those who are keen to experience all aspects of travelling, whether it be urbanity or rusticity, will most likely want to visit both. If you are looking to experience what these lovely destinations have to offer, read on because we’ll share with you a handful of helpful tips on how to get to Sapa from Hanoi.

ALSO READ: Educational and fun things to do in Hanoi


As always, we will start with the essential thing that you should know before venturing into the lands of Vietnam. If you are new to travelling, you’ll find these tips useful on your journey.

Even if you are a seasonal traveller, it is helpful to be reminded of the basics every now and then. So, without further ado, let’s talk about how to get to Sapa from Hanoi.

ALSO READ: Where to stay in Sa Pa? Here are the best accommodations that we recommend

Booking in Advance

Let’s admit it: there’s a certain charm in travelling without prior planning. But, as travellers with limited time. Minimising inconvenient experiences can make or break the positive mood that you should have during your time in Vietnam.

And that’s the magic that booking in advance can bring into your life. Especially when you want to go to Vietnam during the peak season and weekends when most hotels and accommodations may not accept walk-in customers.

You Can Book Online or via a Travel Agency

Saving a few quid means a lot for us travellers. We want to minimize our expenses so that we can travel more.

Here’s one trick: there is no need to bother booking directly at the bus/train companies to get a lower price, these companies offer a cheaper cost to online travel agencies. This trick saves you time and some money! After all, you would not get a thousand dollars if a buck is missing.

Comfortability vs Budget vs Speed

As a general rule, if you want to travel comfortably and fast, you might have to spend money. If you want to save money, the journey might be rough and long.

While I personally prefer the latter because, personally, I think it is the best way to ‘immerse’ myself in the ‘feels’ of a destination, there are times when I feel like travelling fast, especially when time isn’t on my side.

This rule doesn’t always apply when it comes to travelling from Hanoi to Sapa, though. For example, trains are slower and more expensive as compared to a bus, the train gives better view and comfortability since you can walk around the carriage which you can’t if you’re on a bus.


There are several ways to get to Sapa from Hanoi. It can be by bus, train, private van, and even a motorcycle. The choice is mostly dependent on your personal preference, budget, and time constraint. To help you decide which mode of transportation to ride, we’ve listed your options below.

Vietnam Sleeper Bus – Photo Credit: Felix Triller via

By Bus

One of the most popular and convenient ways to get to Sapa from Hanoi is via bus. It’s relatively cheap as compared to riding a train. To give you a rough idea of the travel time and the possible costs, check out the following list:

  • Travel time/how long is the journey: 5 – 6 hours
  • Range of cost (luxury): $20 – $22
  • Range of cost (cheap/economy): $10 – $12
  • Book your bus ticket online here


Bus companies

There are several bus companies that travel from Hanoi to Sapa to choose from. One of the most famous bus lines is Sapa Express which is known for its world-class quality from the friendliness of their staff down to their limousine-style VIP buses. Here are other well-known bus companies that travel from Hanoi to Sapa:

  • Sapa Dragon Express (Sleeper Bus; no restroom onboard; takes a short break at bus stops with bathroom).
  • GroupTour (Sleeper bus; no restroom; takes a short break at bus stops).
  • Fansipan Express Bus (Luxury sleeper & semi-sleeper bus; has a restroom on board; rests for a stop for a restroom break).

Bus schedule

Also, to help you plan ahead of time to get to Sapa from Hanoi, here’s a list of the bus schedules:

Bus CompanyDeparture from HanoiArrival to Sapa​PriceWhere to book
Sapa Express7:1512:30$16 per personBOOK HERE
Sapa Dragon Express22:004:00$11 per personBOOK HERE
Group Tour6:3013:00$11 per personBOOK HERE
Fansipan Express7:0013:00$11 – 20 per personBOOK HERE

By Train

Sapa has no railway station as of yet, and the nearest train station to the town is at Lao Cai. You will then need to ride another bus or a private van from Lao Cai to get to Sapa, which is why taking a train to get to Sapa from Hanoi is the least popular among the transportation options available.

Unless you want to go to Lai Cai first before heading to Sapa, I don’t personally recommend this route.

Train ticket cost and travel time

See the average cost of getting to Sapa from Hanoi via train, below:

  • Travel time/how long is the journey: 9 – 10 hours including travel from Lao Cai to Hanoi
  • Range of cost (luxury): $33 – $150
  • Range of cost (cheap/economy): $22
  • Book your ticket here


Train companies

There are several train companies that can get you to Sapa from Hanoi, albeit indirectly. Regular and luxury trains are available; if you want to save some money, go for the regular, however, if you have a few dollars to spare for the VIP train without feeling guilty, then, by all means, opt for the VIP option. Here are some of the train companies to name a few:

  • Vietnam Railways (First class sleeper, standard)
  • Oriental Express (4-berth sleeper, luxury)
  • Victoria Express (4-berth sleeper, luxury)

Train schedule

Let’s have a look at the schedule of these companies below. Please note that the time of arrival does not include the travel time from Lao Cai to Sapa (trains from Hanoi will only take you up to Lao Cai, and you will have to ride a bus there going to Sapa).

Bus CompanyDeparture from HanoiArrival to Sapa​PriceWhere to book
Vietnam Railways21:356:30$22 per personBOOK HERE
Oriental Express21:355:30$33 per personBOOK HERE or HERE
Victoria Express22:006:10$150 per personBOOK HERE

Discounts for children

Depending on the train company, if you are travelling with a child who is under the age of 5, you don’t need not pay for the child’s fare, provided that you and the child will share the same berth. On the other hand, children who are between 5 and 12 can get up to 25 to 50 per cent off, depending on the train company.

Please note that the amount of the discount that your children are entitled to receive differs depending on the train company. I would still recommend to directly inquire to the travel agency or the train company for a more accurate percentage of their child discount scheme.

By Van or Private Taxi

If you don’t feel like being surrounded by so many people because you’re an introvert, and you are willing to shell out extra cash, you can arrange for a private car or van to take you to Sapa.

The travel time will be faster than riding a train, and more convenient, too! And the driver will even pick you up from the accommodation you’re renting, so you need not bother to go to their station.

Also, going on a private car or van grants you the privilege of stopping at any place on demand, so if there’s the scenery that has caught your attention, feel free to ask the driver to let you experience its beauty for a few moments.

You can arrange for a private car via a travel agency or ask the owner of your accommodation if they can arrange one for you. Please note that there are cases when drivers will negotiate with you.

Cost and travel time

  • Travel time: 5 – 6 hours
  • Expected price: Between $150 – $200

By Motorbike

If you’re up for a more adventurous travelling option, you can rent a motorcycle to get you to Hanoi from Sapa for just as low as $7 – $10 per day. If this option is appealing to you the most, there are two routes that will take you to the town of Sapa.

The first route is through the Mu Cang Chai district. This route is for people who don’t mind a longer travel time as long as there are good sceneries to be seen.

The second option can be taken along the Red River. You’ll pass Lao Cai before finally reaching Sapa. This is the faster route, though, but it is more complicated.

Remember that the locals are generally friendly towards tourists, and are more than willing to point you in the right direction, so if you ever need help, ask away, and you shall receive.

ALSO READ: Motorbiking in Vietnam and how to convert to Vietnamese driver’s license

Travel time and distance on a motorbike

  • Travel time: 9 – 10 hours
  • Distance: About 350 kilometres (about 217 miles)


So, we’ve talked about the different options on how to get to Hanoi from Sapa. We’ve also talked about the potential costs, the distance, and some of the transporting companies you can book for your travels. I hope this information will help you to prepare for your upcoming vacation to Vietnam.

As always, you can leave your comment below. If, by any chance, you have been to Vietnam already and you’d like to share helpful tips for others, too, feel free to share through the comment section below. So, it’s time to wrap things out by saying happy travels!

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