Sapa is by far one of the most beautiful destinations in Vietnam. Nestled in the mountains of northeastern Vietnam you’ll find yourself peacefully removed from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi with nothing but rolling hills, lush rice paddy fields, and vibrant tribe communities for company.
Sapa is the place where Vietnam dreams are made. That is for sure.
However, there is one teensie little problem getting in the way of your Vietnam vacation fantasy, and that is the problem of actually getting from Hanoi to Sapa.
It can seem quite confusing at first, but don’t fret, by the end of this post you will have an action plan on the best way for you to travel from Hanoi to Sapa.
That way you can be thinking about far more exciting things like which mountain trek to take or which foods to try.
Hanoi to Sapa Distance
First let’s talk about the distance from Hanoi to Sapa.
Sapa is 320 kilometers (or 198 miles for us Americans) from Hanoi.
It’s quite a remote destination located in the province of Lào Cai. The only closest city is Lào Cai city itself.
This explains the complications in actually getting to Sapa. 😂
Hanoi to Sapa Travel Time
The travel time from Hanoi to Sapa varies depending on your method of travel (which we discuss in more detail below).
Hanoi to Sapa Travel Times:
- By train, the journey from Hanoi to Lào Cai takes 8 hours. Then from the Lào Cai train station to Sapa it takes an additional 50-90 minutes by road.
- By bus, the journey from Hanoi to Sapa takes approximately 6 hours.
- By minivan/car, the journey from Hanoi to Sapa is roughly 5 to 5.5 hours.
If you’re getting antsy and just want to start checking out trains, bus times, and dates, then click here, or the below button, for more information and booking details.
Is there a Hanoi to Sapa Flight?
Is there a Hanoi to Sapa Flight? This is probably the biggest question you are wondering, and the answer is – no.
There are no flights from Hanoi to Sapa.
The closest airport to Sapa is Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport. That leaves traveling by road or by train the two best options to get from Hanoi to Sapa.
Hanoi to Sapa Train
If you decide to travel by train from Hanoi to Sapa, you can expect a travel time of roughly 8-hours to reach Sapa.
The major thing to note here about traveling from Hanoi to Sapa by train is that the trains do not go all the way to Sapa.
I repeat. The trains do not go all the way to Sapa.
The train ends at the closest train station in Lào Cai, and from there you have to continue the journey to Sapa by road (either bus, minivan, or car) which takes roughly another 50-90 minutes.
However, if you’re worried about finding a driver to take you the rest of the way, don’t be. There will be a plethora of taxi drivers and guides waiting at the station to take you the rest of the way to Sapa.
If the idea of having to transfer from train to bus already deters you, then maybe I can sway you with some pros of traveling from Hanoi to Sapa by train.
Let’s begin our pros list with the fact that first and foremost, traveling by train is a great Vietnamese experience! It’s also a safe and reliable way to travel.
A few added bonuses are that there are toilets on board and English-speaking service providers, which can be comforting when you’ve been in a foreign country for a long time.
On top of that it’s also a budget-friendly option! The trains from Hanoi to Sapa leave in the evening and arrive in Sapa in the early morning.
This makes them sleeper trains, which allows you to save on a night’s worth of accommodation so you can sleep on the train and simply waking up in Sapa.
Or at least very close because as I said before, the trains do not go all the way to Sapa.
You will still need to travel by road (most likely car or minivan) to get all the way from the closest train station in Lào Cai to Sapa.
As always, there are some cons. As I said before, the biggest con is that the train does not take you all the way to Sapa.
This means you will still need to travel by road to get to your final destination.
Furthermore, the train from Hanoi to Sapa is rather long at roughly 8 hours. There are no stops along the way, so be sure to bring food or snacks for the trip.
Lastly, although it is a pro to save on a night’s worth of accommodation, the sleeper trains tend to be pretty noisy making it not the most relaxing night of rest.
If you’re ready for more information on Hanoi to Sapa travel times, then click here or the button below for more information.
Hanoi to Sapa Bus
So, another popular option is to travel from Hanoi to Sapa by bus, which I have to say is probably the most popular option.
So first, let’s look at some pros.
There are three main advantages to traveling from Hanoi to Sapa by Bus:
- It’s cheaper
- It’s faster (6 hours)
- You will be taken all the way to Sapa itself (the trains cannot take you all the way there)
On top of that the bus has great amenities like WiFi and food!
The views are incredible, and like the train, you can save on a night’s worth of accommodation by choosing a sleeper bus.
However, let’s talk about the cons.
The journey can be quite a bumpy ride, and if you are sensitive to car sickness, then traveling from Hanoi to Sapa by bus could be a torturous 6 hours for you.
Also, since we’re talking about the travel time, 6 hours is only the estimated time.
Because you are traveling by road there is always the potential for delays due to traffic that you wouldn’t have if you were traveling by train.
On top of that, most buses depart from Hanoi during the day and arrive in Sapa in the middle of the night…which isn’t the most convenient arrival time when trying to check in to where you are staying.
Lastly, because traveling by bus is a popular choice, there is a high demand for bus availability and overbooking has been known to happen.
However, if you are ready to start looking up travel times for your trip from Hanoi to Sapa, then click here or the button below for more information!
Hanoi to Sapa by Minivan or Car
Okay, the last option I will throw at you is without question THE BEST OPTION, if you’re willing to spend a bit more money.
This option is to travel from Hanoi to Sapa by minivan, or by car.
If you choose to travel by car this would be the most luxurious option (and also the most expensive) because it will be a private car with a private driver. You will also likely receive extra travel comforts like blankets, etc. and your driver will be an English speaker
If you choose to travel by minivan, you have two options:
- a shared minivan, or
- a private minivan
And just like the private car option, part of the perks of traveling in a minivan is you receive extra space and privacy.
The travel time is also great (and the fastest!) with roughly 5 hours by private car, and 5.5 hours by minivan.
For both options you can expect the following pros.
Consistent prices, the ability to cancel, flexible pickup (definitely hotel pickup if you choose a private car), efficient service, and the creature comfort of privacy and soft seats.
The cons are quite obvious when it comes to traveling by minivan or car, and that’s the price.
Traveling by minivan or private car is the most expensive option, but also the most luxurious.
Not to mention, because you are traveling by road and not by train, you are still susceptible to bumpy roads, carsickness, and possible delays.
However, whichever way you decide to travel from Hanoi to Sapa, I have no doubt in my mind you will have a wonderful time and the experience will be one you remember forever.
I hope this post answered all of your questions regarding how to travel from Hanoi to Sapa. If not, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer!
Like this post? Pin it for later!