How to get from Hanoi to Sapa? By different transport
Need tips on how to get the Hanoi to Sapa bus and other routes such as the train to Sapa?
When visiting Vietnam most travellers start their journey in Hanoi, a vibrant multi-cultural city filled with tasty street food, incredible night markets, unique architecture and friendly locals. Most people tend to make the onward journey North West to Sapa, a beautiful mountain region famed for its picturesque rice fields, mammoth hikes, magical waterfalls and ethnic minority hillside tribes. But what’s the best way to get there?
Don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Due to mass tourism, more methods of transport have become available, compared to other regions in Vietnam. This post will give you a detailed insight into all your travel options to make this 316km journey as stress-free as possible!
Hanoi to Sapa Day Bus
By experiencing the Hanoi to Sapa day bus, you’ll get to witness the incredible scenery that Vietnam has to offer, as well as making for some epic insta shots. The bus takes around 6 hours to reach Sapa and will pick you up from your hotel in Hanoi and drop you off just outside the village centre. As you step off the bus you’ll be welcomed by numerous trekking guides offering bespoke tours, we decided to head straight to our hotel and book directly with them which inevitably saved us money and we had a chance to choose the best tour that suited us.
I’d recommend catching the 07:00 bus from Hanoi, which arrives in Sapa around 1 pm, giving you the afternoon to explore the village. There is plenty of rest stops along the way for toilet breaks and to grab some snacks, but I’d take your favourite goodies, as well as toilet paper, hand sanitizer and headphones to keep you entertained. There’s also free WIFI (if it works) and charger points on board so you can make use of all your gadgets and be ready to explore Sapa straight off the bus.
Research each individual company to what suits you best – even though we booked a day bus, we still had the sleeper seats so we’re able to catch up on a few hours’ sleep on the route – winner!
There are plenty of storefront shops dotted throughout Hanoi where travellers can purchase tickets or you can easily book online at ….
Top tip – if you suffer from travel sickness, taking the bus may not be the best option for you, as roads to the latter end of the journey are very windy and the drivers don’t seem to slow down when hitting the bends, making for an intense drive at times.
Average Price = $11-$13
You can book the Hanoi bus to Sapa here!
How to get the overnight bus?
As you’d expect the only difference between the day bus and night bus it the time of departure. Most of the overnight buses depart from Hanoi between 21:00-22:00 and arrives in Sapa between 03:00 and 04:00. Yes this may save you time, but also means searching for your hotel in the early hours of the morning in darkness and some hotels may not let you check in until later in the day, which one means you’re stuck until daylight arrives and the village starts to wake up or you fork out for an extra nights accommodation that you may on need to use for a few hours. If you’re lucky some bus companies stay in the village until 6am to let travellers have a few extra hours of sleep but as this is Asia, anything can happen so don’t rely on this when booking the Hanoi to Sapa overnight bus.
Passengers aren’t always that considerate so too make the journey as comfortable as possible, take an eye mask to block out the rest of the world, play relaxing music through your headphones, take extra layers of clothing as the air conditioning can get nippy and purchase a blow-up pillow to prevent your neck going stiff. If you’re like me and struggle to sleep with the faintest of noise or light why not buy some sleeping aid tables to help get a good night’s sleep.
Average Price = $11-$22
You can book the Hanoi bus to Sapa here!
Getting the overnight train!
If you’ve only got a limited amount of time why not take the overnight train, which inevitably saves money on a night’s accommodation and means you have more time to explore Sapa and trust me you’ll need it, there are so many incredible things to do.
There are several different overnight trains to choose from;
- all departing from Tran Quy Cap (Hanoi Station B) and takes around 8 hours
- Sapa doesn’t have its own train station, so you’ll arrive in Lao Cai where you can easily catch a taxi or bus into Sapa Village, which takes around 45 minutes, or your accommodation may offer to pick you up for a small fee
- These trains depart at night, at 10:00 p.m., arriving in Lao Cai at around 6:00 a.m. Just make sure you arrive at the station an hour before the scheduled departure.
If you’re travelling as a couple and want some privacy there are options to book 2 berth cabins or if you’re travelling as a group, 4 berth cabins are also available. The cabins are super cosy and passengers receive soft pillows and mattresses and slippers under the bed – you’ll be sure so have a good night’s sleep readily for your adventure. Most travel companies also provide free water, snacks, and toothbrushes in each cabin, but there’s no harm in stocking up beforehand at the train station with all your favourite goodies.
There are also plenty of electrical points to charge all your digital belongings so you can start exploring straight away! Trains also have western-style toilets so you don’t have to balance and squat at the same time. Even though the toilet was fairly clean, I always recommend to bring your own hand sanitizer and toilet paper in case they run out – they don’t take up much room and can definitely be a lifesaver. I’d also recommend taking headphones as the train running along the tracks can be noisy at times.
The only downside of taking the overnight train is missing out on the beautiful scenery on route, so it might be an option to take the overnight train there and the day bus back to Hanoi so you get to experience both. I’d also recommend booking early as seats fill up quickly, which may not always be beneficial for those don’t like to plan ahead.
- 4 Berth Cabin = $22- $46 per person depending on the train company
- 2 Berth Cabin = $71 to $88 per person depending on the train company
You can book the Hanoi to Sapa train here!
Hanoi private car to Sapa
If you have the cash to splash and want a total stress free journey you can book a private car from Hanoi to Sapa from any local travel agent in the Old Quarter, directly at your hotel or easily online using 12 Go Asia. By booking a private car you have the total freedom to choose your departure time, have multiple pit stops along the way and take detours to other nearby villages if you’re feeling adventuress.
Average Price = $150 – $200 depending on the quality of car!
You can book the Hanoi to Sapa taxi here!
Hire a motorbike and see the lush scenery
Advised only for experience hardcore riders, renting a motorbike to take on the mammoth route from Hanoi to Sapa is certainly a once in a lifetime adventure, but not for the faint-hearted. There are plenty of motorbike rental shops in Hanoi to choose from, but do your research to source out the most reliable ones.
Before heading out on your 316km voyage thoroughly check the bike for any defects, scratches or dents. Top tip – Take pictures beforehand as evidence of the condition of the bike and keep safe until you’ve completed the return trip back to Hanoi. It’s a good idea to bring along an extra fuel bottle as petrol stations are far apart and the last thing you want is to run out of petrol in the middle of nowhere.
There are several different routes to choose from that take anywhere from 2-4 days winding through some of Vietnam’s most picturesque countryside. Most companies will give you expert guidance in choosing which route best suits your skillset, the type of bike you’ve rented and any time restraints.
Some companies also offer one-way rentals where they’ll send your luggage onwards to the next destination for free and choose either the bus or train to travel back to Hanoi at the end of your Sapa adventure.
Remember to always wear a helmet and abide by the road signs both for your own safety and others. It’s also important to be aware that the rainy season lasts from June to September where roads can often become slippery so extra care may be needed.
Average price = $10 per day (Helmet included)
So there you have it our complete guide of ‘How to get from Hanoi to Sapa?’ Whatever option you choose you’ll be sure to have a great time in Sapa, one of Vietnam’s most beautiful picture-postcard destinations.
Check out all the Sapa to Hanoi journeys here!
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