If you are still not sure whether to travel to Sapa from Hanoi and include this stop in your trip to Vietnam, don't hesitate! Although many say that there are rice fields in many parts of Vietnam and they are right, Sapa hides many more wonders apart from its rice terraces. You will find various articles related to Sapa on the blog.
In this practical guide I tell you the options you have to go from Hanoi to Sapa (and vice versa). And I add my favorite option; the fastest, most comfortable and cheapest.
HOW TO GO FROM HANOI TO SAPA
1. Limousine bus from Hanoi to Sapa
Let's start with the best option. That way I don't waste too much of your time :)
The best option to go from Hanoi to Sapa is with a limousine mini bus. This option is the fastest. The journey from Hanoi is usually around 5 hours approx. with an intermediate stop. There are several daily schedules and the great thing about this option is that you go in a very comfortable chair, with Wi-Fi, TV, air conditioning... In addition, it is a fairly personalized service with few people and if you need it they add another stop.
Despite what it may seem, it is not an expensive option. It is even cheaper than the night train.
You have two options to book, make your ticket reservation online (something I recommend so as not to run out of seats, especially if you travel in high season) or go directly to the office they have in the heart of the Old Quater, a few steps from the Hoan Kim.
To get around Asia I always look for and book my journeys with 12 Go Asia. It is a transport search engine, and it offers you all the options, prices and schedules of the destination you are looking for. It is a safe application and in your language.
2. Train ride from Hanoi to Sapa
This is a popular option for many travelers. But it is not the fastest, nor the most comfortable. Not the cheapest either.
The night train option allows you the option of traveling at night. You sleep in bunk beds in shared cabins. You leave Hanoi at night and arrive in downtown Sapa in the morning.
For those travelers who only have a few days to travel, it is a valid option since you save a night in a hotel and when you arrive in Sapa you can visit the city, the rice fields, the fansipan... There are people who even return this very night to the next train back to Hanoi.
The train is not comfortable at all. It goes very slowly, the rattle is constant during the 10 or 11 hours of travel and although there are people who manage to sleep, they are few. The first time I traveled to Vietnam and visited Sapa we went by train. We had the return train ticket and we let it go to hire the sleeper bus option (which I will tell you about now) because the outward journey had been horrible and we didn't want to go back by train or crazy.
That does not mean that the train in Vietnam is not advisable! On many routes that I will be talking about on the blog, the train option is very comfortable and I have used it on many occasions. But the Hanoi - Sapa route in particular has old tracks, old trains, and it is very slow. There are better options like the limousine bus.
To give you an idea, the train is usually around 30-40 euros per person and journey. (Sleeper train) and the limousine bus on my last trip I paid 15.50 euros per person per trip.
3. Sleeper buses
A very comfortable option to travel throughout Vietnam is the sleeper buses. I wish they existed in all countries!
They are buses with sleepers. You can go completely lying down, something great to be able to sleep during the journey. You can also get up without any problem and you have the option of leaving suitcases in the trunk and taking a small suitcase or backpack with you. They have air conditioning and wifi. They usually come out very well in price and you have several schedules and daily routes. During the journey this service makes one or two scheduled stops.
I have not personally used this option to make the journey from Hanoi to Sapa since on the two occasions I have visited North Vietnam I have used the train, the limousine bus and the motorcycle rental. But if I have used it to travel throughout the center of Vietnam and I love them for their comfort.
Recommendations to move around Sapa and North Vietnam
Once you arrive in Sapa you have several options to move around the area.
If you are going to be in Sapa for a few days (2 or 3) you have the option of using taxis (always with a meter) since they are very cheap. In addition, they pick you up at the door of your hotel and take you wherever you ask them. You can agree on a more adjusted price if you hire them for the whole day.
If you are more adventurous you can rent a motorcycle. It is the option that I chose on my second trip to Vietnam. We rented a motorcycle for 7 days to tour the entire north of Vietnam.
If you are only going to visit Sapa and its surroundings, I recommend that you dedicate 2 days to the area. A day to visit the town, the rice fields and the waterfalls. And another day to visit the Fansipan.
Motorcycles are very cheap in Vietnam. They are usually very cheap. You can find them from 2 euros a day in the "less legal" market. But the normal thing is that they find options from 5 to 7 euros a day.
The least legal option are those individuals who rent their vehicle to you. These types of rentals are offered a lot by hotels. There is always someone who knows someone who has a motorcycle.
The most legal option are specific rental places. You can find offers between 5 and 7 euros, although depending on the season of the year and the demand, this amount usually increases (they are not stupid). And this option usually has some insurance that covers "something". Do not expect comprehensive insurance as we are used to when we travel through Europe or the United States...
Some say that Sapa can be replaced with other destinations in Vietnam closer to the big cities. Nothing compares to Sapa. Every corner of Vietnam is unique, in every corner there is a special place and if you have the opportunity you cannot miss out on getting to know the North of Vietnam or at least Sapa and its surroundings. You will not regret!
PLAN YOUR TRIP STEP BY STEP
I hope you enjoy your trip to Vietnam very much and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.
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A hug and see you soon!