Most people who travel to Vietnam know that the top two places to visit are Hanoi and Sapa. Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam and is a cultural hub bustling with activity. Sapa, on the other hand, is known for its natural beauty and more peaceful environment. Sapa also happens to be home to the highest mountain in all of Vietnam, the Fansipan Mountain.
The two cities are approximately 316 km apart and have several routes that you can take to travel from one city to the other. Since there are no airports in Sapa, and the cities are landlocked, the only way to travel from Hanoi to Sapa is by road or train.
Most trains that travel from Hanoi to Sapa operate overnight, arriving at their destination early in the morning. This means you won’t miss out on precious touring time and can sleep through the journey. However, you will miss out on most of the beautiful scenery that lies between the two cities since it’s pitch black outside.
The trains leave from Hanoi but don’t directly stop at Sapa. Instead, they arrive at the station in Lao Cai, a town 35 km away from Sapa. From here, you will have to take either a minibus or private transfer to Sapa. The journey by train is around 9 hours, with another 45 minutes to travel from Lao Cai to Sapa.
There are various company’s operating trains that travel from Hanoi to Sapa. You can find one that’s remarkably comfortable or just enough to get you from one town to the other, depending on your budget. Overall though, trains are considerably more expensive than buses and also take more time.
When traveling by train, you also have the option to book an entire cabin room. To do so, you have to pay the equivalent of four tickets, since that is usually the number of passengers in a single cabin. The cabins are well decorated and cozy, and you can have one all to yourself! Most trains have comfortable beds and provide snacks, TVs, and steward services as well.
If you choose to travel by train, you can either use The Vietnam Railway Services, or one of the local tourist trains such as Sapaly, Fansipan Express, Victoria Express, King Express, Violet Trains, Livitrans, Oriental Express, and PV2.
Taking a bus to travel from Hanoi to Sapa is one of the best ways to get from one city to the other. The company Grouptour owns the buses and minivans that operate on this route. These buses run numerous times a day and also offer pick-up services directly from your hotel.
The buses directly travel from Hanoi to Sapa and only take around 6.5 hours, compared to almost 10 hours by train. They are also much cheaper than trains and offer luxury services as well. Depending on your budget, you can book some of the most spacious buses available to ensure maximum comfort.
Most of these buses are sleeper buses that have reclining seats so you can nap comfortably. They also offer many other facilities such as air conditioning, snacks, TVs, a toilet, and even steward services.
Other than being faster, cheaper and more direct than the overnight trains, buses also let you experience the scenic beauty of the area. However, if you don’t want to waste precious day time hours traveling, you have the option to book a bus that travels overnight as well.
Minivans are more expensive than buses but can be cheaper than trains. They usually operate for a small number of people and are, hence, considered a luxury service. They are much faster than both trains and buses, covering the journey between the two cities in a mere 5.5 hours.
However, since the minivans don’t have any bathrooms or other amenities such as snacks and TVs, they tend to make a few pitstops along the way. This gives you a chance to get out and stretch your legs and also to enjoy the natural beauty of the route.
Unlike the trains and buses, these minivans only operate during daytime. They are one of the fastest and most convenient ways to get to Sapa. The minivans are comfortable and have reclining seats as well as air conditioning.
The cheapest yet most comfortable, and direct way to travel from Hanoi to Sapa is by bus. The buses are luxurious and offer a wide range of amenities so your journey can be enjoyable. They also allow you to enjoy the scenic beauty of Vietnam and give a unique experience that every tourist must have.
Minivans are much faster than buses but offer fewer perks and are also more expensive. Trains, on the other hand, can give you the ultimate luxury experience if you want to travel peacefully. However, this is only if you don’t mind spending a little extra or travelling a few extra kilometers separately.
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