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How to get to Sapa from Hanoi by train, bus, limousine & taxi

Are you planning a trip to Vietnam and eager to visit the charming town of Sapa? In this article, I’ll show you the best ways to get there from Hanoi, whether it’s by taking a BUS or SHUTTLE (👉price) or a TAXI (👉price) from the city center or by catching a BUS or SHUTTLE (👉price) or TAXI (👉price) directly from Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.

Just a heads up, there’s no direct train from Hanoi to Sapa. However, if you’re interested in spending a few days in Lao Cai, the province’s capital, I’ll also provide tips on how to get there by taking either a TRAIN or BUS (👉price) and then continuing your journey to Sapa by SHUTTLE or TAXI (👉price).

Moreover, you’ll also find recommendations on the BEST HOTELS to stay in Sapa, as well as the different neighborhoods to consider.

Here is what you will find:

Transportation options to get to Sapa

If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, you absolutely can’t miss the charming town of Sapa, located in the mountainous region of the north of the country. To get there from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, you have several transportation options available, each with its own advantages and price points. Below, I’ve listed these options for you:

  • By BUS or SHUTTLE (👉price and schedule): Getting to Sapa by bus or shuttle (like a vip bus or shared limousine) is the most common and affordable option to get to Sapa from Hanoi. Several companies offer this service throughout the day, with varying prices and schedules. The journey usually takes around 5-6 hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions.
  • By TAXI or PRIVATE TRANSFER (👉price): If you prefer more comfort and flexibility, you can take a taxi or rent a private car with a driver to get from Hanoi to Sapa. While this option is more expensive, it’s also more practical and comfortable. You’ll also make fewer stops along the way, allowing for a faster journey.
  • En TREN (👉precios y horarios): solo te recomendaría esta opción si planeas pasar unos días en Lao Cai (puedes llegar en tren o bus). El tren parte desde la estación de Hanoi y llega hasta la estación de Lao Cai, desde donde deberás tomar un autobús o taxi para llegar a Sapa, que se encuentra a unos 50 km de distancia. El trayecto en tren dura alrededor de 8-9 horas.
  • By TRAIN (👉price and schedule): I only recommend this option if you plan to spend a few days in Lao Cai (which can be reached by train or bus). The train departs from Hanoi station and arrives at Lao Cai station, from where you’ll need to take a shuttle or taxi to reach Sapa, about 50 km away. The train journey takes around 8-9 hours.

How to get to sapa by taxi or private transfer

If you’re looking for the quickest and most comfortable way to reach Sapa from Hanoi, then a taxi or private transfer might be your best bet.

Your driver will either pick you up from your hotel (👉HOTEL PICKUP) or meet you at the arrivals terminal at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi (👉AIRPORT PICKUP), and take you straight to your hotel in Sapa.

This way, you won’t have to worry about changing transportation, sticking to strict schedules, or finding a taxi to take you from the station to your hotel. Plus, by traveling in a private vehicle, you’ll be able to avoid the possibility of theft or robbery that can happen on public transport.

There are different types of vehicles available, and prices may vary depending on capacity and amenities. You can check out the links above for prices and information about the different vehicles.

The journey from Hanoi to Sapa typically takes about 5 hours by taxi or private transfer, covering approximately 300 kilometers of Vietnamese geography.

Getting to Sapa by bus and shuttle (limousine)

One of the cheapest and most popular options for traveling from Hanoi to Sapa is by bus and shuttle. The journey takes about 5 to 6 hours and covers roughly 300 kilometers, so it can be a bit tiring, and it’s a good idea to bring water and snacks. Once you arrive in Sapa, you’ll need to walk or take a taxi to your hotel.

There are two different types of buses available: regular buses and shuttles. Shuttles (or limousines) are minivans that carry fewer passengers and usually reach their destination faster.

The road leading to Sapa has many curves, so if you’re prone to motion sickness, I suggest taking the Sleeper Bus. It’s a bus where you lie down instead of sitting, which will make you less likely to feel dizzy and make the journey more comfortable (this is actually an overnight bus, bus also work during the day).

Sleeper bus from hanoi to sapa

¿Where do the buses depart from in Hanoi?

There are various places in Hanoi where buses depart from. In both cases, minibuses and standard buses have departures throughout the day.

If you arrive in Hanoi by plane, there are buses waiting for you at Noi Bai International Airport (👉AIRPORT BUSES). This is a very convenient option to go straight to Sapa without wasting time by passing through the city of Hanoi first.

There are other departure points and terminals from where buses leave in the city of Hanoi (👉CITY BUSES), and there’s probably one near your hotel. I recommend checking the departure point before buying the ticket. For example, there are various points in the Old Quarter, near the Dong Xuan market, and at the My Dinh station.

How to go from Hanoi to Sapa via Lao Cai (train and bus)

This option is only recommended if you want to spend a few days visiting the city of Lao Cai. Otherwise, I recommend using one of the aforementioned transportation methods, as they are more direct and faster.

You can travel from Hanoi to Lao Cai by train, bus, or taxi. I’ll focus on the train, but in the following link (👉TICKETS to LAO CAI) you’ll find prices and schedules for all three options.

The train departs from Hanoi Railway Station and arrives at Lao Cai Railway Station in 8 hours. From there, you can take a SHUTTLE or TAXI (👉prices) to Sapa, which is about 50 kilometers away.

In Vietnam, trains have seats and beds for comfortable travel. Or in case you want to take a night train.

Where to stay in Sapa

When it comes to Sapa, choosing the right area to stay can significantly impact your overall experience during your stay.

There are three areas that are particularly interesting for accommodation in Sapa, although none is better than the other; it all depends on your preferences. The recommended hotels offer options in all three areas:

  • Right in the heart of the city, close to the lake and restaurant area.
  • In Sapa, but strategically positioned to offer breathtaking views of the surrounding rice fields.
  • A little further away from Sapa, nestled amidst the stunning rice terraces.
Cheap & dormsHeart of SapaSymphony HotelMega ViewZiZi Mekhoo
Hmong SisterAmica House
Mid rangeSapa Hotel & SpaMoc HotelBotanic Sapa
High BudgetHôtel la CoupoleKK Sapa HotelPao’s SapaSilk Path Resort

Tours and activities in Sapa

Sapa is a popular tourist destination in Vietnam, renowned for its spectacular mountain landscapes and home to several ethnic minority tribes. Moreover, it offers a wide variety of ACTIVITIES AND TOURS for visitors that are sure to keep you entertained.

Popular transportation routes in Vietnam

If you are planning your trip to Vietnam, here you will find some of the most popular transportation routes to visit the country.

What is the best time to visit Sapa?

If you are planning a trip to Sapa, it’s important to know that the weather can vary significantly depending on the time of year. The coldest months in Sapa are from November to March, with lows of 9°C and the possibility of snow in the higher areas.

If your idea is to see the rice terraces and go trekking among the fields, the best months to see the rice paddies are from June to early August/late September, which is when the fields are harvested.

During these months, the mountain views are spectacular and the rice fields are at their best; although you should keep in mind that it tends to rain more between June and August.

Is it safe to travel to Vietnam?

If you’re considering traveling to Vietnam, it’s important to be aware of certain risks to ensure your safety. Although Vietnam is generally a safe country, theft is common in big cities, public transportation, crowded markets, and tourist areas.

It’s recommended to ask for the price before buying anything and negotiate if necessary since it’s common to be charged higher prices for taxis, souvenirs, products, or services, especially in the more touristy areas of Vietnam, if you’re a foreigner.

In addition, some areas of Vietnam, especially in the central region and near the border with Laos, have landmines that can pose a danger to travelers. If you plan to visit these places, it’s important to inform yourself in advance about the mined areas and follow the recommendations of local authorities.

Safety for Women

I spent a year and a half traveling in Vietnam and never encountered any truly unpleasant situations. It’s common for men to want to take pictures with you or even blatantly put their phone in front of your face and record videos.

That being said, Vietnam is not free from sexual assaults, verbal harassment, or unwanted groping. I recommend that you:

  • Be cautious at night, especially if you plan to drink at a bar (which is not advisable).
  • Use Grab to move around safely at night and always avoid taxis and motorbikes you find on the street.
  • If you become a victim of sexual assault, seek immediate medical assistance, contact the local police, your embassy, and make sure to file a report.

FAQ’s about traveling to Sapa

Are there flights to Sapa?

There are no direct flights to Sapa as it doesn’t have an airport. The nearest airport is Noi Bai in Hanoi. From there, you can reach Sapa by bus, transfer, taxi, or train.

Is it possible to visit Sapa on a one-day tour?

It’s technically possible, but not recommended. This is because Sapa is located around 5 hours away from Hanoi, and it would be a long and tiring journey just for a few hours of sightseeing. The best option is to spend at least one night in Sapa and go trekking to fully enjoy the mountains and rice fields.

Is it worth visiting Sapa?

Absolutely, yes! Without a doubt, Sapa offers some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country, and is home to some of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities. Not only will you enjoy the mountains and rice fields, but you will also have the opportunity to learn about their traditional clothing and customs.

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