Regarding travelling in the Northern of Vietnam, Sapa is considered as the most popular destination for travelers but no nearby airport and the only option for getting from Hanoi to Sapa is to travel by road or rail. The distance from Hanoi to Sapa is almost 380 km which is time-consuming trip whichever route you take, so let’s choose carefully based on your demands.
Most visitors choose to get from Hanoi to Sapa by overnight train; it’s more comfortable and safer than a bus or motorbike, and a lot cheaper than hiring a car.
The Hanoi to Sapa train leave Hanoi’s Main Station each evening, at around 9pm to 10 pm and arrive Lao Cai train station at the next morning, around 5-6 am. The final 30 kilometres to Sapa is travelled by minibus (50,000 – 60,000 VND), taxi (350,000 VND) or private transfer. The return journey departure times are 19:40 (SP8), 20:35 (SP2) and 21:10 (SP4) (trains have even numbers in the return direction). Buses leave Sapa at about 17:00 from near the church. If you want to go by private operators you can choose King Express, Livitrans, Tulico and so on. Or you can choose to go with hard seats like local people which can be an interesting experience for you. Normally, when you choose a private operator, you will sleep in private, clean and comfortable cabin with four berths and fully equiped. Seats/beds can be booked through travel agents in advanced so it’s very convenient for you. Although the overnight sleeper trains can be good fun, while also saving time and hotel bills, many people find it hard to get any decent rest on-board and therefore waste the next day catching up on sleep. Bear this in mind when planning your trip.
The Sleeping Bus to Sapa is an alternative but is less comfortable and less safe — although there have been no reported serious accidents on that particular route, if you can’t get booked on the train or want a cheaper option, . There are two options for you: by sleeper bus or express Hanoi to Sapa bus. By sleeper bus, it takes you 8-9 hours to go directly to Sapa town. You can catch the bus at My Dinh, Gia Lam or Luong Yen bus station with the bus named Hung Thanh or Hai Van. The price is around 250,000 – 350,000 VND. By Sapa express bus, Hanoi – Sapa – Hanoi departs daily at 7 AM via the newly built Hanoi – Lao Cai highway. It takes about 6 hours of driving from Hanoi to Sapa, depending on traffic and weather. You will enjoy the view of the Vietnamese countryside along the road and it is by far the quickest and easiest way to travel between Hanoi and Sapa.
Finally, there’s getting to Sapa by motorbike. I wouldn’t recommend driving direct to Sapa from Hanoi by bike because of your safety. If you want to visit Sapa by motorbike, you can put your bike on the train, then driving to see amazing scenary around you. Visting Sapa at this time, from September to November, is a very beautiful time in Sapa with stunning yellow winding rice padderfields, the leaves trumpet and the love market. If you’re in Hanoi now, don’t miss your chance, let’s move from Hanoi to Sapa to visit the beautiful landscapes here.