The best way for tourists to travel to Sapa – one of the most attractive destinations in Vietnam – is to travel by train, thanks to its advantage of both time and money. Departing from Hanoi station during night time, the train arrives at Lao Cai station, a city adjacent to Chinese border, in early morning and vice versa.
To meet the needs of tourists, service providers have upgraded the train with full amenities such as air-conditioner, clean bathroom, and comfortable beds with different names for each type of cars. There are total of seven trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai, namely Livitran Express, Tulico, Panipan Express, Pumpkin, TSC, Ratraco and Royal.
Generally, it can be divided into three types of cabins: 4-berth cabin, 6-berth cabin and soft-chair cabin. The VIP rooms which costs $60 in Tulico and $80 in Livitran Express, the 4-berth wood panel cabin are the best choice for tourists for their cleanliness, spaciousness and convenience. The price per person in a 4-berth room ranges from $25 to $35 and 6-berth cabin is between $20-$25. A return ticket can also be bought right from Hanoi. Notably, children less than five years old will not be charged any ticket fee and will share beds with their parents.
Train Schedule and Sample Fare
|Hanoi (D)||9:10 P.M.||9:50 P.M.||8:35 P.M.|
|Sapa (A)||5:25 A.M.||6:15 A.M.||4:55 A.M.|
|Sapa (D)||8:05 P.M.||8:45 P.M.||7:30 P.M.|
|Hanoi (A)||4:35 A.M.||5:10 A.M.||4:05 A.M.|
|Type||Hard seat||Soft seat||Hard berth||Soft berth|
* Train named SP (or Sapa) are more popular option for travellers and make fewer stops on the way
As for train schedule, most trains depart from 20:40, 21:50 or 22:05 and arrive in Lao Cai at 4:35, 5:25 or 7:10, which means that it takes approximately eight to nine hours per ride. There are also two morning trains that depart at 6:10 and 8:20 and arrive in the afternoon at 15:40 and 17:05 though it is not recommended that you take these trains.
Lao Cai station is about 38 kilometers from Sapa, which takes about one hour going by bus or by car. The bus cost from Lao Cai – Sapa is $2 and ticket is available for purchase at the train station gate. Normally the bus stop is right in front of Sapa church, but tourists can also ask the bus driver to drop them off at their booked hotel.