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Halong Bay to Sapa: 3 Best Ways to Travel

February 27, 2024 - 447 views

Halong and Sapa are two of the most beautiful destinations everyone must visit in north Vietnam. The transfer between these two places is quite convenient and here are 3 best ways to travel from Halong Bay to Sapa

Sapa is an interesting destination possessing the beauty of nature, culture, and the magnificent life of people in northern Vietnam. With romantic sceneries, fantastic regional dishes, and comfortable weather all year round, Sapa never fails to impress tourists from all over the world. Sapa is like a mountainous girl, gentle and mysterious, rustic, and simple at the same time. Quang Ninh, home to Halong Bay, a natural wonder with many virtual caves, a scenic place recognized as the world's natural heritage.

Halong Bay to Sapa

Travel from Halong Bay to Sapa

Halong Bay to Sapa distance and travel time

The distance from Halong to Sapa is about 475 km with a travel time about 7.5 hours by car & 12 hours by train (including 2.5 hours car from Halong to Hanoi and 9.5 hours train from Hanoi to Sapa). The fastest way to get to Sapa from Halong is by the following route:

From Halong city, you will enter Ha Long – Hai Phong Highway then pass the National Highway 5B and Expressway CT05 to Sapa, Lao Cai. The new highway, which is provided with modern infrastructure and facilities, only allows four-wheel vehicles to get in. Needless to say, the travel cost will include toll fees via the expressway

Halong to Sapa travel route

Halong to Sapa travel route

How to travel to Sapa from Halong Bay

There are several ways of transfer between Halong Bay and Sapa, including the night bus, train over Hanoi, private car... Let’s spell out the best ways to tranfer from Halong to Sapa to decide on the most suitable one for you.

Halong Bay to Sapa bus

  • Price: 25 USD 
  • Duration: 9 - 10 hours
  • Travel distance: 475 km

Halong Bay to Sapa bus is the best choice which is not only economical but also convenient compared to other means of transportation. Phuc Xuyen is a shuttle bus brand that first operates the travel route between Halong and Sapa with the aim to connect the two regions of the Northeast and Northwest. It is also the only shuttle bus to run straight from Ha Long to Sapa, giving passengers a direct trip without having to go through a transit point such as Hanoi. 

The night bus (sleeper bus) is a high-class shuttle bus with full services and facilities like leather sleeping berths, air conditioner, LCD screen, free wifi, blankets, bottled water, and other necessaries, giving tourists the best experience. Every day, the Phuc Xuyen shuttle bus offers 4 departures that travel between Halong and Sapa with schedules at 6:45, 11:00, 15:00, and 21:15. The fare is 370,000 VND/ticket and the pickup point is at Bai Chay Station.

Halong Bay to Sapa bus

Halong Bay to Sapa night bus


Why you should travel by bus?



  • A bus is a budget option offering direct transfer from Bai Chay to Lao Cai bus station and from the station to your hotel in Sapa.
  • There are comfortable and essential amenities at a reasonable price.
  • Cancellation is possible as long as you notify 48 hours (depending on bus providers) before departure time. However, a handling fee of 2 USD per ticket will be charged.
  • There is no English speaking guide on the bus so you have to deal with the language barriers on the ride.
  • Some local buses might stop along the way to pick up more passengers.

Read more about Halong Bay to Sapa bus for more detail.


Halong Bay to Sapa train

  • Price: 20 USD ++
  • Duration: 12 hours ++
  • Travel distance: 515 km

Traveling from Halong Bay to Sapa by train is ideal for those who have a carsick and in search of a good night’s sleep. Nevertheless, there is no direct train from Ha Long to Lao Cai. It is so tedious to take 2 trains: Halong Station to Yen Vien Station (7 hours) & Hanoi Railway Station to Lao Cai Train Station (8.5 – 11 hours). Not to mention, you have to transfer between two train stations in Hanoi, as well as from Lao Cai Station to Sapa town center.

There is one option of Halong – Hanoi train provided with only hard seat choice. Meanwhile, you can have a variety of Hanoi – Sapa trains to opt for, including regular trains (LC) and express trains (SP).

Halong to Sapa train

Two routes of Halong to Sapa train

Why you should travel by train?



  • The train is the cheapest way & travel like a local in Vietnam.
  • Hanoi to Sapa luxury train is worth-trying to experience fully equipped amenities and have a good sleep in the berth room. 
  • Halong to Sapa train is really time-consuming for a short trip. It is only advisable for those who have plenty of time and don’t mind traveling around in Vietnam.
  • The inconvenience of the Halong to Hanoi train is such a big drawback because of the low quality and only hard seats.


Halong Bay to Sapa private car

  • Price: 210 – 300 USD ++ 
  • Duration: 7.5 hours
  • Total distance: 470 km

If you are an adventurous tourist, you can conquer this trip with challenging roads by car rental to Sapa. However, you need to be well prepared with a very good health condition to be able to explore this route. Additionally, the travel between Halong - Sapa is more than 400km, which will take a lot of time and effort to conquer the winding mountainous roads.

The whole travel Halong to Sapa is among the most beautiful routes in the north of Vietnam with countless destinations that tourists can stop by for sightseeing. Therefore, car rental to Sapa will be of many conveniences for tourists who like to stop along the road for taking pictures or enjoying the magnificent landscapes. However, one slight disadvantage of car rental to Sapa is the relatively high price.

Halong to Sapa private car

Private car to Sapa from Ha Long Bay

Why you should travel by private car?



  • A private transfer is much more comfortable and proactive than other means of transportation. You can get to Sapa from Halong directly with pick-up and drop-off services right at your accommodation.
  • It is really flexible to travel without time constraints. Whenever you are tired of the long journey or you want to stop by for sightseeing, a rental car is always the best choice.
  • The high price of a Halong – Sapa car is the first drawback for those who are budget travelers or backpackers. However, if you travel in a group of 4 people or more, car rental is not expensive at all.
  • Traveling by car is inadvisable for those who have a carsick or not good health condition due to the challenging road to Sapa.

Suggested Halong to Sapa itinerary

If you don’t have any idea of planning a Halong – Sapa trip, take a look at this recommended itinerary. It is suggested to spend 5 days in Halong Bay and Sapa but you can stay longer to explore further.

Day 1: Night train from Hanoi to Lao Cai

The excursion departs from Hanoi Railway Station to Lao Cai. Take an overnight train at 8:00 pm, you will spend a night in a sleeper sharing cabin or a private one (if requested) provided with all the essentials. Maybe you don’t know that Hanoi – Lao Cai express train is the most luxurious train journey in Vietnam. Surely, you can get a great experience to travel like a local to Sapa.

Day 2: Lao Cai – Sa Pa – Y Linh Ho – Lao Chai – Ta Van

Upon your arrival at Lao Cai Train Station, you will get a ride uphill to Sapa town center. Don’t forget to behold the awe-inspiring mountain ranges and rice terraces on the way.

The first day starts with a trek to some hill tribe villages in Muong Hoa Valley. You will pass Y Linh Ho Village, Lao Chai Village – the community of Black Hmong ethnicity, and Ta Van Village to visit Zay people. It is a perfect chance to get a deeper insight into the locals and get closer to the rustic scenery.

Sapa Halong tour

Go trekking to hill tribe villages in Sapa

Day 3: Cat Cat – Sin Chai – Sapa – Hanoi

Go trek to Cat Cat Village and let your hair down at the foot of the captivating waterfall. It would be a big mistake to visit Sapa without calling on hill tribe villages. The itinerary in Sapa ends with a visit to Sin Chai Village, located at the foot of Fansipan Mountain. Then transfer from Sapa to Hanoi by bus.

Day 4: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on cruise

The 4th day is a journey of an overnight cruise among the impressive karst formations. It is a perfect seascape for you to enjoy wonderful sightseeing and join interesting activities like swimming, kayaking, cycling, cooking class, sunset party, etc.

Halong Sapa tour

Take an overnight Halong Bay cruise

Day 5: Halong Bay cruise – Hanoi

On the last day of the Halong – Sapa tour, you will spend the morning doing Tai Chi exercise onboard. Sit back and relax on the sundeck. The itinerary ends on arrival in Hanoi.

For further details, see what to expect in North Vietnam at a Glance: Halong bay & Sapa 5 days

Halong to Sapa tour

Package tour from Halong to Sapa

How to book a Halong - Sapa tour

In Vietnam, there are numerous travel operators offering a tour package to take an overnight Halong Bay cruise and admire the spectacular limestone karsts, as well as go off-road to the hill tribes in Sapa and get to know the local communities. Without doing any research, BestPrice Travel is a great source of Halong – Sapa tours and other destinations in Vietnam. You can either choose an arranged tour or request a tailor-made tour to draw up your own trip.



  • The best way to transfer between Halong and Sapa, two famous destinations you should visit at least once in Vietnam.
  • Beyond transportation, you will have the opportunities to enjoy a few-day trip with a wide range of interesting activities and stunning attractions. It is all about sightseeing, cuisine, culture, relaxation, and soft adventure.
  • There are various choices of excursion length (3 – 6 days), types of tour (small group, private, honeymoon, etc.). Outstandingly, the travel consultants can help you tailor-make your own trip.
  • The only disadvantage is the high cost and length of days spent in Halong and Sapa. But wait! Let’s take everything into account. This amount of money covers an all-inclusive tour which handles the transportation and all you need for a trip.

Local tips to get from Halong to Sapa

  • If you plan to visit Ha Long and Sapa during the tourist season, you should better book 1 – 2 weeks in advance to make a reservation. It is guaranteed that you have better options while booking ahead.
  • For families with kids, it is much more convenient to book a Halong – Sapa tour instead of booking transportation only. When everything is well arranged, you don’t have to wonder if this way is kid-friendly or not. Let the travel agent take care of your vacation.
  • If you are a solo traveler or backpacker, the bus and train are among the best choices. Or else, go find some companions in a travel group/ forum to share the car ride from Halong to Sapa.
  • The luggage size also affects your choice of transportation. The train and bus give more space to keep large suitcases, while the car trunk is big enough to store 3 large ones.
  • Unless you stay nearby the bus/train station, you should consider the pick-up and drop-off services. So do people who stay far from the center.
  • To estimate the budget of private transfer, you can use the Grab app (an online transport booking service) for an upfront price quote.
  • The weather must be taken into account. If you travel to Halong and Sapa in the winter (December – February), it is expected to be misty and drizzling. In these weather conditions, traveling by train is much more preferable than traveling by bus or car due to its safety.

All in all, choosing the best way to get to Sapa from Halong Bay is as easy as pie if you have an understanding of transportation service. It would be much easier if you had a travel consultant who helps you plan the whole trip.

For those who may concern Sapa to Halong Bay

Hong Nhung

(Image sources: BestPrice Travel & Internet)

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