How to get from Hanoi to Sapa: Transfer, Train or Bus to Sapa

How to get from Hanoi to Sapa: Sapa Express Bus vs. Sapaly Express Train

Due to its location, around 350km from Hanoi, Sapa happens to also be a region that a lot of tourists bypass as it requires slightly more effort to reach; however if you read our post about trekking in Sapa here, you will realize why you simply have to make the effort to go!  The only choice you have to make is whether to take the train or bus to Sapa.  In this post on how to get from Hanoi to Sapa (or vice versa), we will outline which transport mode is best and most efficient.



Popular Accommodation Options in Sapa!

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Sunny Mountain Hotel – Compare Prices | Read Reviews | Book it Now!



There are various means of getting from Hanoi to Sapa.  The most popular way to travel from Hanoi to Sapa is to either choose between an overnight sleeper train or choosing the express bus option (there is no airport in Sapa, so cross that Hanoi to Sapa Flight idea off your list!).  I’ll be comparing both as we travelled from hanoi to Sapa by train, but decided to go with the bus option to get from Sapa to Hanoi!

How to get from Hanoi to Sapa:

Which to choose?  Bus or train to Sapa? Let us help you choose!


Hanoi to Sapa Distance

Sapa is located around 350km from Hanoi!


Table of Comparison between Sapa Express Bus vs. Sapaly Express Train 

Disclaimer: uses affiliate links in this post.


How to get from Hanoi to Sapa: Transfer, Train or Bus to Sapa
best bus from hanoi to sapa

Starting Point

Tran Quy Cap (Hanoi train station B)

Hanoi Old Quarter: Pickup from your hotel

Ending Point

Lao Cai - around 38km from Sa Pa, you will need to get a taxi or transfer to get there.

SaPa - walking distance from most hotels.


9 - 10 hours (Overnight)

5h30min (Daytime)


Hanoi: 10pm

Lao Cai - 6:10am

Hanoi: 6:45am

Sa Pa - 12:30pm

Approx Cost

US $148

Private Soft-Sleeper Cabin

US $32

Shared Soft-Sleeper Cabin

US $20

Tourist Bus with Comfy Recline Seats

Secure your Spot!

Getting from Hanoi to Sapa – Bus vs Train Comparison Table


Read more about what to do in Sapa!

Enjoy a Picturesque Sapa Hike

Day a Day Trip to the Colourful Bac Ha Markets

Experience the ‘Bora Bora’ Resort of Sapa!


Train to Sapa from Hanoi – Sapaly Train Review

How to get from Hanoi to Sapa: Sapa Express Bus vs. Sapaly Express TrainTravel from Hanoi to Sapa by Overnight Train!

We chose to travel overnight on the Hanoi to Sapa train.  In our opinion the best train to Sapa is definitely the Sapaly train (although the Fransipan Train comes in at a close second!). It can be slightly tricky to organise your Hanoi Sapa train tickets ahead of time!  We found that the easiest and most reliable way of booking your trip on either the bus or train is through the Vietnam transport page here!



Easy and trustworthy way to book your train or bus tickets is simply by hopping over to this site here!



The Postives of the Overnight Train to Sapa:

  1. It is a great way to save ‘time’ as you travel overnight.
  2. If you choose to go with the train from Hanoi to Sapa option, it is important to choose the ‘soft-sleeper’ option.  You either have the option on this train of sharing your cabin with other people (4 pax) or alternatively to purchase all 4 tickets for you and your partner/friend which means you now have what they call a VIP private cabin.
  3. We thought the cabins were beautifully decorated, soft pillows and mattresses, slippers under the bed.  There were also free water, snacks, toothbrushes in each cabin.
  4. We were grateful for the electrical points as well so that we could charge up our electronics before hitting Bac Ha markets upon arrival in the Sapa region.
  5. The train also has some western style toilets for those of you who would be concerned about that!  They stayed fairly clean for our train trip and had toilet paper for the whole duration of the night – although I still suggest you take some of your own just for in case!

train from hanoi to sapa - Sapaly Express Hanoi to Sapa by Train: Sapaly Express Train Review

Negatives of Traveling by Train to Sapa:

  1. You won’t get to see much scenery as it will be pitch black outside for the majority of your trip.
  2. Due to the age of the train and the railroad tracks, the ride will be anything but smooth.  We struggled to sleep (despite taking sleeping pills) as the train rocked us back and forth!  At various stages in the night, I could feel my heart in my throat as I thought that the train was about to derail!
  3. As we had a private berth, the top two beds were positioned up and against the wall out of the way.  However this left the chains that normally kept them in place loose.  They were loudly clanging about all night long!  I’m not sure if this is an issue if you share your cabin and all beds are occupied??  Even though I had ear plugs in, I still struggled to sleep with the noise!  We did try wrapping our clothes around the chains to prevent them from clanging, but tricks of the trade seemed to let us down!
  4. The train drops you off in Lao Cai.  Lao Cai happens to be about 38 km from Sapa.  Which doesn’t sound like much, but considering the roads bend and weave through mountains, the drive to get to Sapa can take around 45 min!  As we made our way straight to the Bac Ha Markets, we did not mind that the final train destination was in Lao Cai instead of Sapa.

overnight train to sapa from Hanoi

Sapa Train Review: Sapaly Night Train from Hanoi to Sapa

Key Information how to Get to Sapa from Hanoi by Train:

  • Tickets for the train to Sapa are around $32 – $41 US per person.
  • If you want a private room, you will need to purchase 4 tickets as the rooms are meant to fit 4 sleeping bodies!  So a private room will cost you around $140 – $165 US.
  • The journey from Hanoi to Sapa will take around 8 hours.
  • There are various other companies that operate trains from Hanoi to Sapa (or vice versa) to choose from as well!  We were meant to be on the Fransipan Express Train (which is another great option in comparison to the Sapaly), but missed the train due to a festival causing traffic chaos in Hanoi.
  • If you decide to choose a different Sapa Hanoi train option, please do your research as you will soon find the trains are most definately NOT equal in value or quality!  We only recommend the Fransipan Train and the Sapaly Train!

Sapaly Train Review Video:

In our opinion the Sapaly train is one of the best train from Hanoi to Sapa!  Please watch this video of our Sapa train trip to get some insight into what the Sapaly overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa looks like and what you will find in your cabin 😉  I even take you on a tour to the toilet 😉

Book your Sapa to Hanoi Train Tickets Online Today!

It can be tricky to organize tickets when in Vietnam, so why not grab the tickets right now!  We only recommend overnight train travel on either Sapaly or Fransipan Express.  If it is high season, you might most likely struggle to get a private sleeping room if you leave it too late!

You can either book your train ticket from Hanoi to Sapa online here or to make life easier for you, we have simply included their search box below!


Read more about Hanoi!

Discover the Real Gems of Hanoi!

Top 5 Tourist Attractions of Hanoi

Our Choice of a ‘Cheap’ Hotel in Hanoi Old Quarter!


The Sapa Express Bus Review

– Hanoi to Sapa Bus | Sapa to Hanoi Bus –

Hanoi to Sapa bus (or vice versa) : The Sapa Express BusGetting to Sapa from Hanoi – Take the Sapa Express Bus to Sapa from Hanoi (or Vice Versa)

Because of the fact that we wanted to get a decent night sleep before heading to Halong Bay, we chose to try out the bus on the way back from Sapa to Hanoi.  This meant that we could book into a hotel in Hanoi for the night before heading off in the early morning towards our cruise on Halong Bay.

We found that the easiest and most reliable way of booking either the Sapa train or bus tickets is through the Vietnam transport page here!



Easy and trustworthy way to book your train or bus tickets is simply by hopping over to this site here!


Positives of choosing the bus from Hanoi to Sapa option:

  1. The Express bus to Sapa (or vice versa) is a very comfortable bus to travel in.  The seats could slightly recline, we had our laptop with us, so watched some Anthony Bourdaine to kill the time!
  2. The bus travels in the day, which means you that you can see some pretty spectacular scenery on the drive!  It also means that you can get some good sleep in a hotel once you arrive at your destination.
  3. They gave us a bottle of water and small packet of snacks as we were climbing onto the bus.
  4. Blankets and neck pillows were available, on the Hanoi to Sapa by bus, for use as well.
  5. The Hanoi Sapa bus makes a stop half way through the trip at a servo-type stop point.   It is great to stretch the legs for 30 min and grab something cool to drink, and if you are brave, you might want to grab some food there as well!  A word of warning, there are two sets of toilets here.  One of which the locals use ….. gutter in the floor, bucket-water flush system, no toilet paper.  I used these toilets, they did not smell polite at all!!  It was a struggle!  However as we walked around the grounds, we realized that there are touristy-style toilets at the opposite end to where our bus stopped!!  DOH!!!!!!!  I didn’t go in to investigate as they were charging the tourists a small fee on entry, but I would suggest you have some cash on hand to pay for the better toilets.

Getting from Hanoi to Sapa - Bus Hanoi to SapaGetting to Sapa from Hanoi on the Sapa Express Bus Hanoi



  • The roads in Sapa are pretty bendy and winding with steep cliffs, the bus goes pretty fast, so some people might get motion sickness.
  • There is only one toilet break, so bladder control is important haha.
  • They drop everyone off at the same location in both Sapa and Hanoi.  You will need to make your own way from their to your hotel accommodation.  Do not expect them to drop you off at your chosen point of location.

Bus from Hanoi to Sapa The Inside of the Sapa Express bus from Hanoi to Sapa


UPDATE (2017):

Since writing this post, we have found a new bus company that looks brilliant!!  I think Eco Sapa is definitely the new best bus from Hanoi to Sapa.  If you book a bus ticket, we recommend you book with this luxurious bus company as their buses look heavenly!


Information on the Eco Sapa Express Bus to Sapa

  • Tickets are around US $20-$25 per person.
  • There are buses that run at various times of the day!
  • The journey on the bus from Sapa to Hanoi (or vice versa) will take around 5 1/2 hours.  The journey includes a 30 min stop to allow for a toilet break.  It will also be a good opportunity to grab something to eat.
  • The Eco Sapa bus is our recommended option as it fits less passengers are more comfortable and more luxurious than the other bus companies. (And only costs around $5 more than the ‘cheaper’ bus options!)

Book your Luxury Eco Sapa Bus Tickets Online Today!

It can be tricky to organize tickets when in Vietnam, so why not grab the tickets right now!  There are only a few buses that run from Hanoi to Sapa, so best to secure your spot now, otherwise if it is high season, you will most likely miss out!  The Eco Sapa buses are a bit of a step up from our trip with Sapa Express!  This company is all about comfort and luxury!

You can either book your Sapa Hanoi bus tickets online here or to make life easier for you, we have simply included their search box below!


Organise your own Private Transfer from Hanoi to Sapa

Another great alternative is to simply organise your own private transfer from your hotel in Hanoi to your hotel in Sapa!  This option will ensure that your transfer is stress-free and super easy!  But will obviously come at a slightly higher cost!  If you wish to organise a private transfer, we can recommend Blacklane Transfers.  

Your transfer from your Hanoi hotel to your Sapa hotel will cost you around US $350.

Reasons why you will LOVE Blacklane:

  • They offer complimentary wait time
  • There are no hidden charges, their rates are all-inclusive and affordable
  • Their drivers are professional
  • Free cancellation up to 1 hour before your pickup!
  • You can tell them what time you would like to be collected





Finding it to Tricky to Choose?  Why not Simply Book one of these Sapa Tours from Hanoi!

Does this sound all a bit too tricky?  Well good news as you can simply join one of the Sapa Tours from Hanoi!  We highly recommend this 2 night, 1 day Sapa hiking tour!


I hope that the information here will help you to figure out your travels plans from Hanoi to Sapa.  I personally think that the best way to get from Hanoi to Sapa is by bus; and would take that option if we ever go back to Sapa.  However, the train definitely remains as a fun memory in mind!

It is important to weigh up the pro’s and con’s of each style of travel to pick the one that makes you feel most comfortable!

Whichever you choose we truly feel that the trip is worth the destination! Sapa was one of my favourite regions of Vietnam!

Hanoi to Sapa Bus vs Train

So over to you?  Which of the options appeal to you the most?Have you ever travelled from Hanoi to Sapa?  How did you go about it?

To read more about where we stayed in Sapa, click here. To read about our other stories of our travels through Vietnam, click here.

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  • Reply
    April 7, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Hey. Thanks for this post! I’ll be going up to Hanoi in June and I could barely find any recent reviews on the bus option. Majority of the reviews on the bus recommend against it. So, I’m just wondering how safe would you say the road is?

    • Jolene Ejmont
      Jolene Ejmont
      April 9, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Yes, people think you will die if you take the bus haha!! I felt more unsafe on the train. We had a few moments of sharp breaking on the highway with the bus, and I’m sure he did speed, but to be honest, you will need to take a taxi or transfer from the train to get to sapa anyways and that drive will be a bit scary too as it around bends and turns with high cliffs – I would take the bus option next time as I love Sapa! Any sort of driving in Vietnam can be a bit scary though 🙂 Hope your trip goes well!!! Love Hanoi!

  • Reply
    Harison Kisman
    May 21, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Most visitors to Vietnam are overwhelmed by the sublime beauty of the country’s natural setting: the Red River Delta in the north, the Mekong Delta in the south and almost the entire coastal strip are a patchwork of brilliant green rice paddies tended by women in conical hats. There are some beautiful beaches along the coast, while inland there are soaring mountains, some of which are cloaked by dense, misty forests. Vietnam also offers an opportunity to see a country of traditional charm and rare beauty rapidly opening up to the outside world.
    I love this country.

    • Jolene Ejmont
      Jolene Ejmont
      May 24, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Yes Vietnam is very diverse and each region and area is unique! We love Vietnam too 😉 Thanks for sharing your passion with us!

  • Reply
    Harison Kisman
    May 21, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Vietnam uses the Dong as its currency. Today, the exchange rate is roughly 20,000 Dong to 1 USD. Needless to say, doing the math takes some effort, especially when you get a restaurant bill for 1 million (Dong, that is!). My advice is to change a few Dong ($50 or less), to cover the price of admissions at certain national sites that only accept Dong. Everyone else in Vietnam gladly accepts (and prefers!) USD. Tip: change $100 into $1 and $5 bills before you leave home, as getting change in Vietnam for smaller USD denominations not always possible. Many shops and hotels allow you to settle bill in USD or Dong, and can quote you prices in either. When shopping, get quotes in Dong (for a slightly lower price) but pay in USD. Do not get stuck with Dong, as it is worthless outside Vietnam.

    • Jolene Ejmont
      Jolene Ejmont
      May 24, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      We actually used Dong everywhere, but yes you can use USD too and it does make it easier to convert it back to another currency when you get back home! I’m pretty sure though that for Sapa, I would typically suggest traveling with Dong currency! Thanks for your tip Harison!

  • Reply
    Erica Velander
    July 13, 2017 at 5:55 am

    Hi! Great posts! I am wondering if any of the buses you took were able to drop you off at the Topas Ecolodge? I am staying there in September and it seems that it’s about 45 minutes outside of SaPa. Any suggestions would be great!

    • Jolene Ejmont
      Jolene Ejmont
      July 13, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Hi, no the buses don’t go that far, the road is not suitable for buses. The bus will drop you off in Sapa Town and you will either need to catch a cab or organize Topas to pick you up. Topas has free shuttlebuses that run to Sapa and back (or they used to when we stayed there) so you might be able to organize some seats in there – worth asking 🙂

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Hi Jolene, this was a brilliant read in preparation for my trip to Hanoi – Sapa. I must say that many pages were about the scams, and be wary of this and that, but I couldn’t find one Decent Informative page until I came upon yours. A BIG THANK YOU INDEED! 🙂

    Officially a fan now! Looking forward to more reads 🙂 Take care and Have a nice day!

    • Jolene Ejmont
      Jolene Ejmont
      November 8, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Ah thanks so much Rebecca! Glad you found it useful and enjoy your trip to Vietnam! I can’t wait to return!

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