Located in the northwest of the country, Sapa has many natural wonders as well as the vibrant local culture of the ethnic community. "The town of clouds" is about 38 km from Lao Cai city and about 370 km from Hanoi, and fortunately, there are a host of options to get from Hanoi to the magnificent Sapa.
Traveling by motorbike to Sapa is an appropriate choice for backpackers. With a cost of less than 150,000 VND of petrol for a distance of nearly 400km, backpackers can explore the dangerous yet exciting roads, take in the perfect scenery and take beautiful photos.
However, traveling by motorbike requires masterful driving skills and depends greatly on weather conditions as it's hazardous to drive in the mountain loops during rainy seasons and foggy days.
See more Can Tourists Drive in Vietnam?
Traveling by motorbike is the most dangerous, yet the most exciting way.
There are two routes to travel by motorbike from Hanoi to Lao Cai province.
• Through Lao Cai:
Option 1: Hanoi - Vinh Phuc - Viet Tri - Phong Chau - Doan Hung - Yen Bai - Lao Cai - Sapa (Total: 360km)
Option 2: Hanoi - Hoa Lac - Son Tay - Trung Ha Bridge - Phong Chau Bridge - Phong Chau - Doan Hung - along Road 70 - Lao Cai - Sapa (Total: 370km)
Traveling note: Road 70 is dangerous as there are usually many trucks and containers.
• Through Lai Chau:
Route: Hanoi - Hoa Lac - Son Tay - Thanh Son - Along NH32 - Sapa (Total: 420km).
Limousine is a popular tourist bus in Vietnam nowadays, especially for traveling far distances like to Sapa. The popular type is the 9-seat car. Its high quality, comfortable seats will less likely to give you car sickness, especially on zigzag trails like the road from Lao Cai City to Sapa Town. Not only that, but the Limousine car also has other necessary facilities such as wifi network, phone charger, TV ... The car will pick the passengers up at the requested location, instead of having passengers gather at a specific station, giving you more flexibility and options.
Traveling by limousine is widely chosen by tourists.
Traveling by limousine doesn't give you absolute privacy as renting a private car or a motorbike. Another minus point is that limousine fares are slightly more expensive compared to passenger buses, ranging from VND 350,000 / person. With all that said, limousines are the most comfortable and reliable option for a long and not so smooth way to the mountains.
Passenger bus is also a frequently used kind of vehicle to travel from Hanoi to Sapa. Passenger buses from Hanoi to Sapa takes about 8-9 hours, and the fares range from VND 200,000 - VND 250,000. Tourists can catch the bus from big stations in Hanoi such as My Dinh Station, Gia Lam Station...
A plus point of passenger bus is that visitors can go straight to the final destination without stopping at any station, as the bus also runs continuously overnight like a train.
Passenger buses are cheap but still offer good quality.
However, the bunk-bed passenger buses, though seemingly comfortable, are actually more likely to give you car sickness on the long road. In addition, you may have to wait for a long time or have to change the bus if there is not enough passengers.
Traveling by train from Hanoi to Sapa is popular with many people because of its reasonable cost and safety. There are usually two types of trains: SP (fast) and LC (slow) trains, departing from Hanoi Station in the evening (7 PM - 10 PM), and arriving at Lao Cai Station in the early morning (5 AM - 7 AM).
There are many types of chairs to choose from hard seats, soft seats to air-conditioned beds. The hard seat type is about VND 150,000 / person, and the soft seat is VND 280,000 / person. A 6-bed is about VND 480,000 / person. For a 4-person capsule bed, the price is VND 560,000 / person, and a high-class 2-person berth is VND 3,200,000 / person (all from Hanoi).
Visitors can also choose trains for their trip to Sapa.
However, traveling by train takes a lot of time and must catch an additional bus for about VND 50,000 / person to reach the beautiful Sapa town. Besides, train tickets on weekends are often sold out and must be booked in advance.
See our guide on Taking your Motorbike on the Train in Vietnam
Book your tickets to Sapa on 12GoAsia:
It's not that hard these days to get from Hanoi to Sapa like it used to be years ago. However, to enjoy the trip to the fullest, visitors should carefully choose an appropriate way that meets your needs.
Get your travel insurance to travel further in Vietnam:
© Written by Emily Le for itourvn.com