A beautiful view from within central Sapa-mobile

How to get from
Hanoi to Sapa

Hanoi to Sapa Trip Overview

Distance253 km (158.1 miles)
Price range$6-$251
Ride Duration Range4h 30m-8h 5m
Earliest Departure17:00
Latest Departure23:30

The nine-hour overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa may be an unusual way (and time) to travel, but it’s affordable and allows you to catch some sleep so you can maximize your day time. Private transfers are quicker but more expensive, while buses are slightly cheaper but less comfortable. Take advantage of the beautiful weather between February and May where you can watch the flowers bloom. Sapa offers you plenty of activities to keep you busy, from taking pictures of the incredible rugged mountainscapes to rafting down the Muong Hoa River.

Travel Schedule Options from Hanoi to Sapa



























































































Taking a bus from Hanoi to Sapa

Fastest bus: 5h

Cheapest bus: $6

The fastest: 5h

The cheapest: $6

Pros

Inexpensive

Lots of amenities

Incredible views

Replaces night accommodation

Partially refundable

Cons

Bumpy ride

Shared cabin: possibly noisy

Cramped quarters

Popular route, high demand: possible overbooking

POSSIBLE AMENITIES:

A/C

Wifi

Reclining Seats

WC

Food

Blanket

Charger

TV

English Speaking Staff

The fastest: 7h 19m

The cheapest: $24

Pros

Great Vietnamese experience

Clean accommodations

Modern train experience

English speaking services

Toilet on board

Cons

Sapa center far from train

Long journey

Makes no stops

Shared bathroom

Noisy

POSSIBLE AMENITIES:

A/C

Wifi

Charger

Food

Blanket

WC

English Speaking Staff

Wheelchair accessibility

The fastest: 4h 30m

The cheapest: $16

Pros

Consistent prices

Possible to cancel

Flexible pick up

Efficient service

Soft seats

Cons

Mountaneous road

Shared van: possibly cramped

A/C on high

Driver lottery

Speedy driving

POSSIBLE AMENITIES:

A/C

Charger

English Speaking Staff

Food

Reclining Seats

Wifi

Blanket

TV

The fastest: 5h 30m

The cheapest: $121

Pros

Quick

Pick up any time

Pick up from any hotel

Free cancellations

Very comfortable

Cons

Driver lottery

Possible delays

Price per car

Bumpy road

Expensive

POSSIBLE AMENITIES:

A/C

Reclining Seats

English Speaking Staff

A beautiful view from within central Sapa

About the journey from Hanoi to Sapa

Ready to travel from Hanoi to Sapa? This exciting journey takes you northwest from Vietnam's buzzing capital to the rugged mountains and terraced rice fields in Sapa. 


Since Hanoi to Sapa is a popular route, there are multiple transportation options to consider and lots of departure times. So, you don't have to get that morning ride if you don't enjoy early alarms.


The travel options on this route include trains, minivans, buses, and private cars. 


Traveling on an overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa may seem unconventional, but it's a cost-effective mode that lets you rest while moving. 


Private transfers and minivans are quicker but more expensive, and buses are slightly cheaper but less comfortable. 


No matter your chosen transport type, you'll likely arrive at Sapa Lao Cai Train Station, Sapa Bus Station, Sapa Stone Church, Bao Ha, or Pho Lu. 


Here's everything you need to know before going from Hanoi to Sapa…


Places to see between Hanoi and Sapa 

The journey from Hanoi to Sapa passes lush green Vietnamese countryside, quaint towns, bustling markets, farmland, and mountain views. The route is an adventure in itself! 


However, what you'll actually see depends on what time you travel and which transportation method you take. For example, a late-night sleeper train isn't the best for views. But it's perfect to catch some ZZZs while the sun's down. It's not all darkness on a train, though. You'll arrive to a Vietnamese sunrise over the lush Sapa countryside. Don't miss it!


Earlier buses and private cars are better options for taking in Vietnamese views while traveling. This way, you can sit comfortably and watch the world go by. Easy. There's sometimes traffic if you leave Hanoi during rush hour (4 to 6 p.m.). But this is part of the city experience!


The main sites you'll see on the way to Sapa are natural. Think of unending stretches of greenery, jagged mountains, and sprawling rice fields. 


If you drive, you'll pass through a few different provinces. These include:

  • Ten Bai

  • Lao Cai

  • Phu Tho

  • Vinh Yen

You'll also follow and cross the Red River. Although this route only passes a few major cities, visiting Sapa is about the provincial experience. 


Is Sapa worth visiting? 

Sapa is a place all nature lovers, hikers, and adventure seekers should visit. Known for its stunning scenery and vibrant culture, Sapa is a popular Vietnamese town that's invested in tourist amenities and comfort over the past few years. 


Don't assume it's busy, though! This northern town isn't as buzzy as other Vietnamese cities, meaning you can explore the beautiful countryside without stepping on other traveler's toes. 


Top activities in Sapa include:

  • Artisan & craft markets 

  • Rice field tours

  • Hiking

  • Adventure activities (rafting & cycling)

  • Relaxing 

Whether you're an adrenaline junkie, a foodie, or a slow traveler, Sapa could make your trip. It's also popular for solo and female travelers thanks to its tranquil atmosphere and safety. 


So, consider adding Sapa to your list. But make sure you know how to get there first!



How to get from Hanoi to Sapa

Intrigued? Here are the best ways to travel to Sapa. 


Take a bus

The fastest bus route from Hanoi to Sapa takes 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Buses are among the most popular ways to travel from Hanoi to Sapa — they're affordable, offer incredible views, and come with modern amenities. Most buses include WiFi, WCs, TV, reclining seats, A/C, chargers, blankets, and food. Always check your chosen transport's T&Cs to see what's included.


Different bus options:

  • Sleeping Bus — Lower deck seats have curtains, A/C, and WiFi available. They make toilet stops on the way. 

  • VIP Cabin Bus — WiFi, A/C, WC, TVs, and blankets available. Food and drink are also provided during the journey. 


A sleeper bus from Hanoi to Sapa is an excellent option to save on a night's accommodation or maximize your sightseeing time. Perfect if you're not fussed about the views and simply want to wake up in Sapa. 


Night buses have high demand. Book sooner rather than later to avoid delayed travel plans.

However, some consider buses too cramped or noisy to sleep on due to the shared quarters. This could be a problem if you're a light sleeper. So, pack some earplugs, opt for a daytime journey, or pick a more spacious VIP Cabin Bus.


Pro tip: Some sleeper buses to Sapa have massage seats. These are first come, first served. Don't be late if you want the VIP treatment. 


Take a train

The fastest train route from Hanoi to Sapa takes 6 hours and 13 minutes.

Taking the train from Hanoi to Sapa is popular as it's super straightforward. You leave Hanoi Central Train Station in the evening and wake up at Sapa Lao Cai Train Station feeling refreshed and pleased that you've saved on hostel costs. 


Different train options: 

  • Luxury Train 4 PAX— Comes with A/C, WC (shared), chargers, blankets, food and drinks, and English-speaking staff. You get a shared cabin with four berths. 

  • VIP Cabin Train 2 PAX — Includes A/C, WC (shared), food and drinks, blankets, and English-speaking staff. You get a private cabin with two berths. 


Pro tip: Sapa Lao Cai Train Station is a 20-minute drive from central Sapa. Have cash ready for a minivan or taxi to the city center.


Before you book: Trains to Sapa don't make any stops, and the fastest trains are over 6 hours. This journey is longer than most; be ready to hunker down for a few hours. However, trains are safe and reliable. So, you can rest easy.


Take a minivan

The fastest minivan route from Hanoi to Sapa takes 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Another great option to get from Hanoi to Sapa is via minivan. However, there are different types of minivans, so look before you book!


Different minivan options: 

  • VIP Minivan — Includes WiFi, food and drinks, reclining seats, A/C, WC stops and blankets. 

  • Standard Minivan — A/C, WC stops, and reclining seats. Note that standard minivans might be shared depending on demand.

  • Limo Minivan — This vehicle comes with WC stops, A/C, chargers, and drop-offs to any hotel in Sapa city center. 


Shared minivans are more affordable, but you must share the space with other travelers. For some, this is a great way to meet like-minded people. However, it may also feel cramped or less relaxing. 


If you'd prefer a quiet experience, a private minivan to Sapa might be your best route. Private minivans are available in all classes (e.g., VIP and standard). In these, you don't have to share with other travelers and can relax in reclining seats and A/C. Water, chargers, and toilet stops are provided. These are slightly more expensive than standard minivans, but the choice is yours! 


Both types of minivans provide:

  • Hotel pick-up services

  • The possibility to cancel

  • English-speaking staff

  • Excellent daytime views


Take a private car

The fastest private car route from Hanoi to Sapa takes 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Finally, the last option from Hanoi to Sapa is to go by private car. This is one of the most flexible ways to reach Sapa, as you can choose your pick-up time and location. Plus, you'll be able to stop when you please. Perfect if you want to capture the verdant countryside on your Instagram story.


Fun fact: Non-Vietnamese citizens can only drive in Vietnam with a temporary Vietnamese driver's license. 


Private car journeys have reclining seats and A/C, and most drivers speak a little English. Of course, there's no guarantee. But this comes with all transport methods. You'll be able to stop for bathroom breaks if needed.


Car journeys aren't best for sleeping, as you tend to feel more bumps in the road. They also have more potential traffic delays than trains and cost more. But with so much freedom and the chance to chat with a local, the benefits outweigh the cons!


About the ride from Hanoi to Sapa

The journey from Hanoi to Sapa is safe and, one tourists have been making for decades. So, don't worry if you're new to backpacking. This path is well-trodden and stocked with amenities.


For ultimate comfort, look for these features:

  • Reclining chairs 

  • A/C

  • WCs

  • English speaking staff

  • WiFi

  • Chargers


The distance between these two iconic locations is 252 km/157.5 miles, but it passes by quickly thanks to the stunning views you'll see on the way. 


The best time to travel from Hanoi to Sapa

The best time to see Sapa is from November to May, as the weather is warm, dry, and agreeable. Temperatures range from 22-29°C (77-84°F). You'll even see the local greenery and flowers in full bloom.


Plus, hiking is much more comfortable without the summer's intermittent downpours. However, this is the most popular time to visit, and travel tickets sell out fast. 


You might also want to consider visiting from September to October. The rice terraces look their best in these months. Bring your camera!


Regardless of when you visit, book ASAP to guarantee your seat.

Companies Operating from Hanoi to Sapa

Average time

6h 30m

Average price

$14 - $19

(9)

Average time

6h

Average price

$8 - $17

(12)

Average time

5h 30m

Average price

$121 - $208

(171)

Popular stations and stops in Hanoi and Sapa

Departure stations in Hanoi

Sao Viet office Hanoi, Old Quarter

26 Hang Tre, Old Quarter

Sao Viet Pham Van Dong office

Hanoi Train Station

Hanoi - Any hotel in the Old Quarter

View more

Arrival stations in Sapa

Sao Viet Sapa Office

Coffee FootBall

Lao Cai Train Station

Sapa - Any hotel in the city center

582 Dien Bien Phu

View more

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