Showcasing spectacular landscapes of rice terraces, misty mountains, ancient rock fields, and much more besides, Sapa is a remarkable, culturally diverse destination. As such, we recommend making the effort to explore it during your visit to Vietnam. With that in mind, read on to find out how to get from Hanoi to Sapa.
How to get from Hanoi to Sapa
Using public transport, you can take a train or bus. Alternatively, mini vans are also popular with independent travellers — from solo explorers, to those gadding about in small groups.
Or, if you prefer to travel privately, arrange a taxi ride, or book an organised tour. With immersive multi-day trips run by a number of operators, you can take your pick from a few options focussed on different interests.
Going to Hanoi or Sapa? Contact our Vietnam travel experts to save yourself the trouble of mapping out an itinerary and planning.
How far is Sapa from Hanoi?
Just over 300km north of Hanoi, the road route to Sapa is a comfortable journey along a new highway. With rest areas serving local food along the way, and stunning landscapes on both sides of the highway, it’s an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
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What's the quickest way to get from Hanoi to Sapa?
The quickest way to get from Hanoi to Sapa is to travel by road. The 317km journey typically takes around five hours if you travel in a private taxi or mini-van.
Using public transport, the bus journey will see you on the road for around six hours.
Meanwhile, the train option adds up to a total of 7-8 hours travel time. You have to disembark at Lao Cai and travel to Sapa by bus for the last leg of your journey.
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Duration: 7-8 hours | Cost: from $30
As Sapa doesn’t have its own station, travelling by rail to get from Hanoi to Sapa actually involves taking a train and a bus.
Several train operators run the service, most of which are night trains on which you can book comfy, safe sleeper cabins to rest-up in.
On arrival in Lao Cai, you’ll need to travel by road to reach Sapa itself. Scheduled shuttle services are served by buses and mini vans waiting in the car park. These depart when they’re full, and the journey to Sapa takes around 45 minutes.
Love epic train journeys? Check out our Vietnam and Cambodia by rail itinerary.
Duration: 6 hours | Cost: from $20
Booking a bus to get from Hanoi to Sapa is cheaper and quicker than taking the train. In addition, unlike the train, the bus takes you right into Sapa.
With a typical journey times of six hours, fares start from $20. Most operators depart from Hanoi city centre.
You have a few types of bus to choose from. The most basic is a “sleeping bus”, which comes with sleeper bunks and blankets. For an upgrade on this, "VIP Cabin Buses" have curtained bunks for more privacy.
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By mini van
Duration: 5.5 hours | Cost: from $17
For more space and comfort than your average bus, mini vans are a good way to get from Hanoi to Sapa.
If you’re staying in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, several companies will pick you up from your hotel without an additional fee. Just be aware that mini vans run during the day – there are no overnight options.
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Duration: 5.5 hours | Cost: from $30pp
Travelling in a group? Taking a private taxi could be the best way to get from Hanoi to Sapa. Taking a taxi might also suit you if you want to head straight to Sapa from Hanoi airport.
With rates starting at $130 for a five-seater, you could be looking at paying around $30 per person. Pretty great for a direct transfer.
First-timer to Vietnam? Read our rundown of Vietnamese cities to have on your travel radar.
By organised tour
Duration: 2-3 days | Cost: from $80
When it comes to convenience, and getting bang for your buck, booking an organised tour is an excellent way to get from Hanoi to Sapa.
And the reasons? Firstly, there’s the fact that tour providers usually pick you up from your Hanoi accommodation. Then there’s the advantage of having a local guide, and being able to stop off at points of interest along the way.
What’s more, with a wide range of 2 and 3-day itineraries on offer, you can pick one that best suits your personal interests. Hiking and adventure sports is one option, while others focus on culture.
Keen to explore scenic Sapa? Browse our beautiful 3-day tour to Sapa from Hanoi.