Sapa – a small town in the Northwest of Vietnam is an irresistible destination for tourists from every single part of the world. People come here by various means of transport, but a Sapa overnight train is considered the most common way.
Sapa – an attractive destination in Vietnam (Source: Internet)
Many travelers choose Sapa as their next destination after having explored the beautiful Hanoi – the peaceful capital of Vietnam. Though Sapa is on many bucket lists, a lot of people do not know how to go to Sapa from Hanoi. The following article from helloVietnam will briefly summarize some main points about the route from the capital of Vietnam to Sapa.
Travelling by train is the most convenient way to Sapa (Source: Internet)
Located in Lao Cai Province to the Northwest of Vietnam, Sapa town is more than 350 km from Hanoi city center. The distance from the nearest airport (Dien Bien Phu Airport, Dien Bien Province) to Sapa is approximately 300 km; in other words, though going by plane is the fastest way, it is still not suitable to get to Sapa. Instead, travelers tend to choose trains and buses.
Traveling to Sapa by train
Going by train is definitely the best way to get to Sapa – one of the most magical in Vietnam. There are daytime and nighttime trains from Hanoi to Sapa, and it takes about 8 hours to get there. Sapa does not have its own railway station, so visitors will stop at Lao Cai Station and take a transfer bus, jeep, or taxi to Sapa town. It takes nearly 1 hour to go by bus.
Night train from Hanoi to Sapa (Source: Internet)
Sapa overnight trains often depart between 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. There are several basic Vietnamese railway sleepers and a whole series of privately-run sleeping-cars of a higher standard aimed at tourists available to choose from.
SP1, SP2, SP3, SP4, SP7, and SP8 are some daily-run trains operated by national railways. There are many options for travelers to choose: air-conditioned soft sleepers, air-conditioned hard sleepers, hard sleepers, air-conditioned soft seats, soft seats, and hard seats. Also, these trains have very few stops along the way.
Privately-run sleeping-cars (Source: Internet)
In addition, these trains also convey privately-run sleeping-cars for tourists. They are not actual trains but just different cars attached to the train. They are well-equipped with full amenities such as an air-conditioner, a clean bathroom, and comfortable beds. There are also storage shelves for luggage but it is suggested that visitors keep their valuables by their side, especially when their cabin mates are strangers.
Some privately-run sleeping-cars available:
SP1/SP2: Fansipan Express, Ratraco Express, Orient Express, Royal Express, TSC Express, Tulico Express, Green Express, and Hara Express
SP3/SP4: Hara Express, Orient Express, Green Express, Sapaly Express Train, and Victoria Express Train
SP7/SP8: Livitrans Express and King Express
Among those sleeping-cars, Fansipan Express, Sapaly Express Train, Livitrans Express, and Victoria Express Train are recommended the most. These are well-known for their room quality and luxury services.
Livitrans Express Train – one of the most recommended trains to Sapa (Source: Internet)
The amount of money you need to spend depends on which type of seat or sleeper you choose. The price ranges from $35 - $300/person for a one-way ticket. The most expensive one is Victoria Express Train with prices up to $295 for a VIP 2-Berth. Of course, the services it offers are wonderful.
While taking a Sapa overnight train, all you need to do is to catch a good sleep before being awaken by the beautiful scenery of the mountainous Northwest.
There is also a daytime train named LC3 from Hanoi to Sapa. It is not a recommended option as it takes longer to travel and the train has more stops.
How to book?
Travelers may book train tickets online in advance through several websites or through local travel agencies in Hanoi. They can also go to gas stations to book directly. During peak season (winter and spring), tickets tend to run out fast so it is better to reserve them well in advance.
What to do after arrival?
Local market in Sapa (Source: Internet)
After reaching Lao Cai Railway Station, you need to take a transfer bus or taxi to go to Sapa, which is about 30 km from the station. While visiting Sapa, you will be amazed by the spectacular scenery of mountainous landscapes and colorful terraced rice fields. Moreover, travelers will have a chance to experience the daily life of tribal people in Sapa and try the unique Sapa cuisine when visiting some local villages.
Sapa is absolutely worth visiting. Believe me, the sheer beauty of this small town will leave you in awe!
Learn more about Sapa here: