Hanoi - Lao Cai (Sapa) Train
on board (Sapa train) | Other
The Hanoi to Lao Cai (Sapa) train service usually operates four times a day in each direction. The journey takes about 10 hours. Three trains run overnight, and one makes the daytime journey. There's a further one hour road transfer from Lao Cai station to reach Sapa. During the dry season, it's also possible to travel between Hanoi and Sapa by road, but this can be fairly uncomfortable - taking the train is much less of a strain!
The daytime trains only offer non air-conditioned, soft/hard seats, whereas on the three overnight trains you can enjoy the benefits of air-conditioning and soft sleeper-style beds in two, four, or six-berth cabins.
Bedding is provided and there are toilets at either end of each carriage. Often you will also be provided with a small snack meal. Although the standard sleeper carriages are not as luxurious as the Victoria carriages, they do present a much better chance of meeting and interacting with Vietnamese travellers and businessmen.
To slightly complicate matters, some of the standard carriages have been bought by private Vietnamese tour operators, upgraded, brightly painted and decorated, and renamed! They're still part of the same train as the public carriages, but their names - like Livitrans Express, Tulico Train or Pumpkin Train - will indicate that your berth is in one of these upgraded standard carriages.
Two of the three evening trains also contain several Victoria Resort Deluxe carriages. Owned and operated by the Victoria Resort, these carriages are exclusively reserved for guests who'll be staying at the Victoria Resort for at least one night during their stay in Sapa. They are undoubtedly the superior way to travel between Hanoi and Lao Cai.
Comprising of two luxury sleeping carriages with air-conditioning throughout: two-berth and four-berth compartments are available, however, due to limited availability, two-berth compartments should be requested as far in advance as possible.