How to get from Hanoi to Sapa

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 

Fancy escaping the bustle of heady Hanoi to enjoy hiking, biking and ziplining in Vietnam’s mountainous majestic northwest? Happily, there are a few ways 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.

Vietnamese vendor in Hanoi, Vietnam © Shutterstock

To move from bustling city to back-to-nature beauty, travel from Hanoi to Sapa © Shutterstock

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.

If you're planning a trip to Vietnam we've got you covered. Our Vietnam itineraries are specially designed to provide you with a carefree trip full of unforgettable experiences.


The route from Hanoi to Sapa is sensationally scenic © Shutterstock

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.

Short on time? Check our 5-days Vietnam itineraries.


After you get from Hanoi to Sapa, a host of natural and cultural treasures await © Shutterstock

By train

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.

Hanoi Train street, Vietnam © Shutterstock

Heading from Hanoi to Sapa? Travelling by train will take 7-8 hours © Shutterstock

By bus

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.

Thinking of travelling further afield around Vietnam? Read our guide to getting around Vietnam.


Sapa is nothing but scenic © Shutterstock

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.

Want to see a stack of top attractions in a single visit? Our Wonders of Vietnam itinerary delivers exactly that.

landscape around sapa, northwest vietnam.

Sapa, Vietnam © Shutterstock

By taxi

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.

Fansipan mountain at Sapa north of Vietnam © Shutterstock

Fansipan Mountain, Sapa, offers fabulous views © Shutterstock

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.


Sapa, Vietnam © Shutterstock

Planning your trip to Sapa from Hanoi

Before booking your trip, find out Vietnam travel tips and get The Rough Guide to Vietnam.

Or, forget the faff of planning and browse our customisable Vietnam itineraries, with a Vietnam local travel expert on hand to advise, and take care of arranging your unforgettable tailor-made trip.

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 24.10.2023

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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