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How to get to Sapa?

Sapa is a quiet mountain town and home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. The total population of 36,000 consists mostly of minority groups. It hosts beautiful rice terraces, lush vegetation, and Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam. With the development of tourism, Sapa has become a new hot spot for tourists all over the world, both domestic and foreign travelers.

Sapa is in Lao Cai Province, 380km from the northwest of Hanoi, and close to the Chinese border. Situated at 1500 meters (4921 feet) above sea level in Vietnam’s remote northwest mountains, Sapa is popular for its magnificent scenery and rich cultural diversity. Sapa is an astonishingly picturesque town that lies in Hoang Lien Son range, in the Northwest of Vietnam and known as the “Tonkinese Alps”.  

When going to Sapa you have several options that vary greatly in terms of comfort, cost, and time spent on the road. Since there is no airport in this region, the possible ways to reach Sapa are by bus, car, motorbike, or a combination of train and van.

Get to Sapa By Train

Sapa is only a small hill town up in the mountains and it doesn’t have its train station, so if you travel from Hanoi to Sapa by train, you will need to take the train to the closest station which is in Lao Cai City and from Lao Cai City, you can continue by mini-bus or van to Sapa.

There are several trains a day with the overnight train being the most popular and considered to be the safest transportation to Sapa. The journey duration on an overnight train is about nine-hour, it departs from Hanoi Station around 09:30 PM and arrives at Lao Cai Station around 5:30 AM the next morning.

The train consists of a single dragging engine head carrying cars operated by Vietnam Railways and some cars are operated by private railway companies such as Fanxipan, Orien Express, Sapaly, Chapa Express, and Victoria,... As they provide luxury private sleeping cabins, the price can generally range from $30 - $145, depending on the soft sleeper with 2-berth or the one with 4-berth compartments.

 

Get to Sapa by Bus

Unlike trains that can go only as far as Lao Cai Station, buses will take you directly into Sapa town which is a huge advantage.

Sleeper Bus

If you are budget traveler and want to save an overnight stay, taking a sleeper bus to Sapa is another way of transportation. The ticket for one person/ way costs around $11 to $15 It takes 6 hours to get from Hanoi to Sapa, the departure time is around 10:00 PM and it will arrive at Sapa around 4:00 in the morning and they regularly let you rest in the bus till 06:00.

The sleeper bus is very good quality, clean, equipped with full modern facilities such as Wifi, free drinking water, some of the bus companies also provide flat-screen TV and toilet inside the bus with European standards. Some of the trustworthy buses can be named Green Bus, Fansipan Express Bus, Good Morning Sapa Bus,...

get to Sapa in a sleeping bus

Get to Sapa in a sleeping bus

 

Limousine Bus

You want to enjoy the view of the Vietnamese countryside along the road, traveling to Sapa by limousine bus is considered to be the most suitable and easiest way. Luxury Limousine Buses depart daily and get to Sapa through Hanoi – Lao Cai Highway. It takes 5 to 5.30 hours of driving, depending on traffic and weather. The tickets cost about $16 to $20/ person/ way according to different operators. Some well-known companies operate this type of transportation to Sapa such as Eco Sapa, Luxury Van, New Enjoy, Sapa Limousine VIP….

Limousine bus to Sapa

Get to Sapa By Taxi or Private Car

Traveling by Taxi or a private car might be the most comfortable and fastest method of Sapa transportation. You can stop anywhere you like on the way and the timing is flexible. However, it is a bit more expensive than the bus or train though. The price to arrange a private car ranges from range from 169 USD to 399 USD for a single trip, but it also depends on the quality and capacity of the car. Some car companies do have English operators and drivers, for instance: Vietrapro, Hanoi Transfer Service,...

 

Get to Sapa by Motorbike

Sapa can also be reached by motorbike from Hanoi by a variety of routes. The most direct route takes approximately 8 to 9 hours for experienced riders and ten hours for first-time riders. You can take tours with local guides who are also your drivers. Or if you want to spice up your journey, you can rent bikes in Hanoi Old Quarters and drive to Sapa yourself. Along the way be sure to top up with fuel regularly, as petrol stations are sometimes less dense and far between.

You can buy fuel from small vendors as an alternative, yet it’s not highly recommended as they could mix up the fuel and it could be bad for your bike. It’s useful to note that driving a motorbike to Sapa could be a little challenging yet it would be a wonderful way to experience the Vietnamese countryside and immerse in the stunning view on the way.

If you are overwhelmed by the options and have no idea of which transportation you should choose, you can take a look at our guide on how to get to Sapa from Hanoi 

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