Travelling Hanoi to Sapa by Trains : Practical Tips & Travel Guide

Travelling Hanoi to Sapa by Trains : Practical Tips & Travel Guide

Are you planning a trip to Sapa and are eager to gather information about the journey from Hanoi? You are not sure about the best mode of transportation – whether to opt for the train or the bus from Hanoi to Sapa? Read this article for the comprehensive insights on all aspects of travelling Hanoi to Sapa by trains & plan your Sapa trip accordingly.....

Travelling Hanoi to Sapa by Train - A Journey of Memorable Experiences.

As a top tourist destination in Northern Vietnam, Sapa has attracted a huge number of travellers worldwide in the past few years.Getting from Hanoi to Sapa offers various travel options such as motorbike, shuttle bus, private car along Hanoi - Lao Cai highway, and one popular choice among travellers is taking the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai train station, followed by a bus or taxi to Sapa town. Covering a distance of 340 km, this journey is not a short one, prompting passengers to seek a safer and more convenient alternative - the train route from Hanoi to Lao Cai, which we will share you more about in this blog, together with the updated schedules and prices

1.Why Travelling Sapa by Train Should Be Your First Choice?

1.1. Experience the Uniqueness

In Vietnam, trains are not the most prevalent means of transportation, making the choice to travel by train an opportunity to embrace the novelty. Throughout wartime, trains bore witness to numerous farewells and reunions as individuals departed for or returned from the battlefield.In some memories, trains symbolize separation, yet at times, they represent reunion

Reunion after separation

Seated on a train, the sensation of time slowing down seems touchable, as each moment passes in a sequential order, gradually fading away. The train's whistle, the scenes glimpsed through the window, all contribute to an atmosphere of tranquility.

Many travelers, particularly those who appreciate a touch of romance, opt to journey to Sapa by train for precisely this reason. Alternatively, some choose train travel simply for the experience, to fully immerse themselves in the moment and sense a slower pace of life

1.2. Enjoy the Comfort of Luxury Service.

The transportation methods once considered slow and outdated, like trains, have undergone a remarkable transformation. Now, a variety of options available for your choice, including hard seats, soft seats, 6-person sleeper cabins, 4-person cabins, and even facilities resembling boutique hotels. This is especially evident when embarking on tourist trains such as Victoria Express and Sapaly Express. (Further details will be provided in the following section.)

Train Comfort

1.3. Embrace An Absolute Safe Journey

When it comes to ground transportation, trains stand out as the safest means of transportation. Operating on dedicated tracks, they adhere to a predetermined route and only make stops at train stations for passenger boarding and disembarking.

Moreover, for individuals susceptible to car sickness, taking the train makes the journey from Hanoi to Sapa much smoother. Families with young children also benefit, as traveling by train minimizes the risk of accidents in case the little ones are lively, running, or jumping within the carriage.

Train jounrey Hanoi- Sapa - Hanoi

1.4. Save the Cost & Time for More Exploration of Sapa

Opting for a train journey from Hanoi to Sapa not only offers cost savings but also allows for more extensive exploration of Sapa. By taking an overnight sleeper train, you can eliminate the need for hotel accommodations, saving on lodging expenses. Additionally, arriving early at Lao Cai around 5:30-6:00 a.m after a night's travel provides a fresh start, giving you more time to explore Sapa throughout the day.

2.Travel Guide Hanoi to Sapa by Train: A Step-by-Step Journey

Are you planning a train journey from Hanoi to Sapa? Follow this detailed guide for a smooth trip with overnight train Hanoi to Lao Cai, then car transfer Lao Cai to Sapa.

2.1. Step 1: Travelling to Hanoi Railway Station

The Hanoi Railway Station, located at 120 Le Duan Street in the heart of the city, is your starting point. Catching a taxi or a Grab bike from your hotels to the station is convenient.

Hanoi Railway Station for train to Sapa

The gate of Hanoi Railway Station -120 Le Duan- Hanoi

Before boarding, consider these tips:

  • Have the meals in advance or stock up on snacks since there are no food purchases on the train. Pack light and ensure all your belongings are ready. Aim to arrive at the station 45 minutes to an hour before departure.
  • Upon reaching Hanoi’s central railway station, see the details of your tickets, either inquire with the staff for your platform number or check the display screens for details.
  • Locate your platform and carriage number. The station personnel are typically helpful and accommodating. Even if there's a language barrier, they can usually guide you correctly by examining your ticket.

Train boarding at Hanoi Railway Station

2.2. Step 2: Onboard the Train to Lao Cai

  • Settle in and enjoy the ride. Keep an eye out for the unique Train Street in Hanoi just after departure. Rest well; the train arrives in Lao Cai around 5:30-6:00 a.m ( depending on the train).Prepare your luggage in advance as disembarkation can be hurried.
  • Lao Cai station marks the end of the train ride and the beginning of your Sapa adventure. Stay on board until you reach Lao Cai, even if the train stops in between. The train staff usually ensure passengers wake up in time for Lao Cai, but setting an alarm is a good precaution.

2.3. Step 3: Car Transfer Lao Cai Railway Station to Sapa

When you get off the train, exit Lao Cai railway station and you’ll see a car park directly in front of you.

  • For those with a tour package or private car transfer booked in advance, look for a guide or driver holding a sign with your name to take you on your Sapa exploration journey.
  • If you’re organizing the trip independently, mini buses to Sapa are available in the car park. They leave when full, costing about 60,000VND. Alternatively, scheduled buses costing 30,000VND per person depart at 6 am, 7 am, 7:20 am, and 8 am. The ride to Sapa takes roughly 45- 60 minutes, usually dropping passengers near the central lake in Sapa.

Lao Cai railway station to Sapa

The guide hold the signed names to pick-up their clients at Lao Cai station

3. Our Recommended Trains Hanoi- Sapa- Hanoi to Take For Tourists

A variety of trains operate on Hanoi to Sapa & Sapa back to Hanoi routes, offering options from express or fast trains, identified by their SP prefix, to the slower ones. For tourists, focusing on the SP trains (SP1, SP2, SP3, SP4....) is advisable, as they complete the journey Hanoi to Lao Cai in about 8 hours.

Considering the 8-hour duration from Hanoi to Sapa, opting for a soft sleeper rather than a seat is advisable for enhanced comfort, as seats are more suited for shorter trips. Sleeping through the journey also maximizes your time.

In stead of normal overnight train services supplied by the railway, we recommend you to do Hanoi- Sapa - Hanoi with tourist trains which are tailored for tourists, offering upgraded services and comfort throughout the journey. Featuring amenities such as air conditioning, soft sleepers, and reading lights, tourist trains are modified by private companies to provide luxurious accommodations.

Train Hanoi to Sapa

The SP1/SP3 trains ( Hanoi- Lao Cai) & SP4 train (Lao Cai - Hanoi) host an array of private sleeping cabins for tourists, operated by private companies such as Fansipan Express, Sapaly Express, Victoria Express, Chapa Express, Livitrans Express...... These trains leave at night time & arrive in the early morning of the next day. While tourist trains are pricier, the superior service and comfort they offer justify the expense.

3.1 Schedule For Hanoi - Sapa- Hanoi Train Journey

The express trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai, designated as SP1 and SP3, embark on their journey to Sapa twice daily. The duration from Hanoi's train station to Lao Cai's station is approximately 8 hours.

  • SP1 Hanoi- Sapa departs Hanoi at 9.35pm and arrives in Lao Cai at 5.30am the next morning,
  • SP3 Hanoi - Sapa departs Hanoi at 10pm and arrives in Lao Cai at 6.00 am the next morning

While travelling Lao Cai - Hanoi, you can choose one of above tourist train suppliers on

  •  SP4 Sapa - Hanoi : Depart Lao Cai (Sapa) at 21:30, Arrive in Hanoi at 5:25 ( next morning)

3.2. Ticket Prices for Hanoi to Sapa Train

Ticket prices for the train journey from Hanoi to Sapa vary significantly across different service providers, primarily due to the level of facilities and services offered. The Victoria Express Train ranks as the most premium option.

Vip 1 berth Cabin

Passengers have the choice between shared 4-berth cabins and private 2-berth cabins on these tourist trains. The fare for a berth in a 4-berth cabin is charged per person, whereas the entire 2-berth cabin must be booked for private use. For solo travelers opting for the luxury of a 2-berth cabin, the cost is considerably higher.

  • The price for one berth ( on a shared 4 berth cabin) is around 30 USD- 45 USD/ ticket
  • The price for a private 2 berth cabin is ranging between 130 USD - 190 USD/ cabin

3.3. How to book tourist train tickets Hanoi- Sapa?

If you book a package tour , the tour operators will arrange this train ticket, together wilt other services related for your Sapa - Vietnam tour journey.

Trekking Sapa

Trekking to explore local villages in Muong Hoa valley

When you self-plan your trips to Sapa, you can book your train tickets directly with the service providers : Fansipan Express, Sapaly Express, Victoria Express, Chapa Express, Livitrans Express.... thru their websites or you can find transfers Hanoi - Sapa- Hanoi (trains, bus, limousine van) on this OTA system 12go.asia & self-book the transfer services you prefer. Or you can book thru a local travel company in Vietnam, they will consult & support you easily with the train ticket booking......according to your travel needs....

4. Recommended Overnight Tourist Train Options from Hanoi to Sapa for You to Consider.

Here, we've gathered and showcased the top five overnight train services Hanoi to Sapa to make your journey more convenient. Explore their amenities, timetables, fare details, and their strong points with us.

4.1. Victoria Express Train 5*

The Victoria Express stands out as a premier choice for travelers on the Hanoi – Sapa route, offering a luxurious experience for up to 48 passengers. With 13 deluxe cabins, a well-equipped bar, and a restaurant, it ensures a comfortable journey.

Victoria Train Hanoi- Sapa

Key Features:

  • Accommodates 48 passengers in 13 deluxe cabins.
  • Facilities include air conditioning, private reading lights, luggage storage, large picture windows, bathrooms, and a waiting room at the train station.

Schedules

  • SP3 Hanoi - Sapa :  Departure Hanoi at 22:00 pm, Arrival Lao Cai (Sapa) at 6:10 am (next morning).
  •  SP4 Sapa - Hanoi : Depart Lao Cai (Sapa) at 21:30, Arrive in Hanoi at 5:25 ( next morning)

4 berth cabin train

Pricing details ( one-way) are as follows:

  • 4-berth cabin: $45 USD per ticket
  • VIP 2-berth cabin: $140 USD per cabin
  • VIP 1-berth cabin : $160 USD per cabin

Regarded as the finest option for travel between Hanoi and Sapa, the Victoria Express Train has earned numerous positive reviews from its passengers. Here's a brief overview of its advantages for your reference:

  • Exceptional quality of service, making it the preferred choice for those seeking a professional and luxurious experience with privacy.
  • The cabins, especially the private 2-berth ones, are impeccably clean, boast comfortable mattresses, and offer spectacular views.
  • Facilities include separate washbasins and spacious, beautifully decorated, and consistently clean toilets.
  • The train's staff is renowned for their friendly smiles, helpfulness, and readiness to assist passengers at any moment.

Train Victoria Hanoi- Sapa

In summary, while the Victoria Express Train may come with a premium price tag, its superior service quality, luxurious amenities, and exceptional staff support make it a worthwhile investment for those traveling from Hanoi to Sapa

4.2. Chapa Express Train 5*

Chapa Express represents the pinnacle of modern rail travel within the Vietnamese railway network, offering passengers an unparalleled journey of comfort and luxury. Standing out for its exceptional onboard amenities, this train ensures a memorable travel experience from start to finish.

chapa train

Onboard Facilities

Passengers can enjoy a range of premium facilities including air conditioning, individual reading lights, complimentary water and snacks, and access to a waiting room at the station for added convenience before departure.

Train Schedules

  • SP3 Hanoi - Sapa: Leaves Hanoi at 22:00, arriving in Lao Cai ( Sapa) the following day at 6:10.
  • SP4 Sapa - Hanoi: Departs Lao Cai (Sapa) at 21:30 PM and reaches Hanoi at 05:25 AM the next morning

Cabin Types & Ticket Fare ( one way)

  • Deluxe 4 Berth Cabin : 39 USD/ Ticket
  • VIP 2 Berth Cabin :  159 USD/ cabin
  • Suite 2 Berth Cabin : 176 USD/ cabin

two berth cabin

Key Advantages

  • Exclusive Waiting Room: Provides a comfortable space for relaxation or freshening up before boarding.
  • Spacious Cabins: The cabins boast ample space and large windows, enhancing the travel experience.
  • Complimentary Amenities: Guests are treated to snacks, water, and fruit, adding a touch of luxury to the journey.
  • Exceptional Staff: The train's staff are highly praised for their outstanding service, making them a highlight for travelers on the Hanoi to Sapa route.

4.3. Orient Express Train 4*

The Orient Express train to Sapa offers a journey marked by elegance and comfort. Designed with a modern flair, each air-conditioned cabin features cozy, wood-paneled interiors that invite passengers to relax and feel at home. The spacious windows present a perfect opportunity to enjoy the passing scenery in luxury, inspiration, and comfort.

2 berth Cabin

The professionalism of the Orient Express train's staff in Sapa stands out as one of its key strengths. Staffs are thoroughly trained and always ready to offer assistance with enthusiasm and a helpful attitude, ensuring a pleasant journey for all passengers.

Train Schedules Hanoi- Sapa - Hanoi

  • SP3 Hanoi- Sapa: Leaves Hanoi at 22:00 PM and arrives in Lao Cai (Sapa) at 05:55 AM the following morning.
  • SP4 Sapa - Hanoi: Departs Lao Cai (Sapa) at 21:30 PM and reaches Hanoi at 05:25 AM the next morning.

4 berth Cabin

Ticket Fare ( one- way) as following 

  • Deluxe 4-berth cabin: 45 USD per person
  • VIP 2-berth cabin: 174 USD per cabin

Key Advantages:

  • The train features a spacious bathroom that has gained positive feedback from passengers for the comfort and convenience of the facilities.
  • The staff's training and readiness to assist guests in any situation are highly praised.

4.4. Sapaly Express Train 4*

Experience the comfort and elegance of the Sapaly Express Train on its SP3 route from Hanoi to Sapa. Revel in the luxurious ambiance of well-appointed soft sleeper cabins with air conditioning and wooden interiors, offering two distinct options to suit your preferences: the 4-berth soft sleeper cabins and the exclusive 2-berth VIP cabins.

Sapaly Express 4 berth cabin

Facilities onboard include air conditioning, reading lights, complimentary water, snacks, and napkins. Moreover, each carriage is equipped with a convenient tool and table for providing cold or hot water during the journey.

The train schedules Hanoi- Sapa- Hanoi

  • SP3 Hanoi- Sapa departing from Hanoi at 22:00 and arriving at Lao Cai (Sapa) at 6:10 on the following day.
  • SP4 Sapa - Hanoi: Departs Lao Cai (Sapa) at 21:30 PM and reaches Hanoi at 05:25 AM the next morning.

Cabin Types & Ticket Prices ( one- way)

  • Deluxe 4 Berth Cabin : 45 USD/ ticket
  • VIP 2 Berth Cabin : 174USD/ cabin

2 berth cabin

Notable advantages of choosing Sapaly Express Train include the warmly decorated cabins creating a cozy atmosphere, robust air conditioning to combat the summer heat, and the added convenience of hot water provision. The well-trained and attentive staff further enhance the overall travel experience. Travel in style and comfort with Sapaly Express Train on your journey from Hanoi to Sapa.

4.5. Fanispan Express Train

Discover the comfort and charm of Fansipan Express Train, featuring four carriages with a total capacity of 56 berths. This train not only provides standard 4-berth cabins but also offers exclusive VIP 2-berth cabins tailored for couples or friends seeking enhanced privacy and space.

Strike a perfect balance between modern convenience and local allure as Fansipan Express presents thoughtfully designed sleeper cabins, ensuring a cozy and pristine environment for passengers to unwind during their journey

train cabin fansipan

Facilities and Amenities:

Fansipan Express is committed to passenger satisfaction, offering essential amenities such as air conditioning, reading lights, complimentary water, snacks, and napkins. Additionally, each carriage and waiting room at the train station are equipped with tools and tables to provide cold or hot water, enhancing the overall travel experience.

Train Schedule:

Fansipan Express operates a daily service from Hanoi to Lao Cai, departing at 22:00 and arriving at 06:00. The return journey from Lao Cai to Hanoi takes place from 21:00 to 5:30.

  • SP3 Hanoi- Sapa: Depart Hanoi - Lao Cai: 21:40 – 05:45
  • SP4 Sapa- Hanoi: Depart Lao Cai - Hanoi: 21:30 - 5:25

Fansipan Train

Ticket Prices & Cabin Types

  • 4-berth cabin: $40/ ticket
  • VIP 2-berth cabin: $160/ cabin

Fansipan Express stands out for its commitment to excellence, boasting professional staff, top-notch services, and well-equipped facilities. With one of the most reasonable pricing structures in the industry, Fansipan Express ensures a delightful and economical travel experience for its guests.

5. Tips for Traveling to Sapa from Hanoi by Train

5.1. Book Your Tickets in Advance

Train tickets to Sapa from Hanoi are limited and tend to sell out quickly. To secure your spot and enhance your travel experience, it's advisable to book your tickets well in advance. Early bookings offer the advantage of selecting the best tourist train and reserving coveted options like the Vip 2 berth cabin, which tends to fill up rapidly.

5.2.Travel Light with Money

For added safety during your train journey, it's recommended to avoid carrying a large amount of cash or valuable belongings.This precaution minimizes the risk of loss or theft during your travel.

Sapa landscapes

5.3. Beware of Scams at the Station

Purchase your train tickets directly from the train service providers or through reputable travel agencies to secure a genuine and safe travel experience. Be cautious of individuals offering seemingly cheap tickets, as they might be fake, leading to potential financial loss or placement in substandard local carriages with uncomfortable seating.

5.4. Arrange Pickup Service at Lao Cai Train Station

Upon arriving at Lao Cai train station, typically around 6:00 in the morning, you have two transportation options to reach Sapa town. The first is taking a local bus, costing approximately $1.4 (30,000 VND) per person and taking around 45- 60 minutes. Alternatively, for a more convenient option, consider reserving a pickup service from your hotel. This service will dispatch a driver to pick you up at Lao Cai station and transport you directly to your hotel in Sapa town.

Hopefully, this article will be helpful for your decision if travelling Hanoi to Sapa by overnight trains or not for your journey to explore Sapa - Vietnam. Planning your Sapa trips, if you are in need of travel consutancy about Sapa tours, related Sapa travel services such as train tickets to Sapa, local tourguide in Sapa, private car hire Hanoi to Sapa..., feel free to reach out to us at +84.988451530 (WhatsApp) or via email at info@goldenholidaytravel.com for further details. 

Thank you very much !

Golden Holiday Travel Team

Need local support, please, let us know!

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