Train from Hanoi to Sapa
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Aug 5, 2012 8:42 AM Last Post By: Sybille47
Apr 22, 2012 5:56 AM
Train from Hanoi to SapaHi,
My husband, myself and our two young boys are planning an overnight train trip to Sapa, stay one night one back on the overnight train (in June).
Any advice on the nicest train apart from the Victoria would be appreciated.
Also I'd like to book soon - who is best to book through online?
A recommendation of a good, clean well located hotel (but not fancy!) for all 4 of us would be great! (we're happy to share beds!)
Apr 22, 2012 7:28 AM
Apr 22, 2012 4:54 PM
Information on Livitrans here - http://www.livitrantrain.com/
If you have time in Hanoi, walk to the Livitrans office which is over the road from the Main Train Station in Hanoi and buy your tickets from them.....save paying the fee the Tour Operators tag on. If you are short on time, go to any Tour Operator in the Old Quarter and ask them to sort you out.
Myself and many other posters on these boards have had success using these guys - http://www.vega-travel.com/default.aspx I recommend them highly.
What is your budget for accommodation in Sapa? will help us with suggestions for you....etc
I stayed here 3 weeks ago and was happy with the place. http://www.catcathotel.com/ Get a room on the very top floors and the views of the valley and surrounding mountains are simply breathtaking. Can you squeeze more than 1 night in Sapa?? is a shame to go all that way for 1 night :)
Apr 23, 2012 2:04 AM
Apr 23, 2012 2:32 AM
4Getting to Sapa is time consuming. You leave Hanoi in early evening on the overnight train which ain't the Orient Express (the Livitrains wasn't dirty but it was still grimy and worn). You arrive in Lao Cai at around 4-5 AM in the morning and buses will take you to Sapa up in the hills, at least a hour's journey. The train ride is not comfortable and you'll arrive in Sapa feeling dirty and tired.
Is it worth it? Yes. Sapa is wonderful not so much for the scenery (pleasant but I've seen better elsewhere) but because of the indigenous tribes who live in the mountain valleys. It was a fabulous experience taking treks among the valleys and through the villages and observing how the tribes lived and worked. It's far out of this world.
But I can't say if it's really worth it if you're only turning around the next day to return to Hanoi. The buses back to Lao Cai will leave at a designated time in early-mid afternoon and will deliver you at the train station usually two hours before the train departs for Hanoi and the buses will probably encourage you to grab an overpriced meal (typical Vietnamese hassle) at a restaurant that the bus driver has connections with. Then there's another long overnight journey back to Hanoi and you'll arrive in the city at about 4:00 AM in the morning. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to do in Hanoi between 4 - 7 AM when the first of the shops, including restaurants, open up.
I'd suggest booking a hotel room in Hanoi for the night before you return to the city so that you can check in and catch some sleep early in the morning as well as refresh yourself with a hot shower after the train ride.
Apr 23, 2012 3:00 AM
5Good comments by tallybalt and I agree with much of what you say.
The sleeper carriages are small and difficult to get some sleep....unless you take a Diazepam and sleep the whole way :)
The timing of the trains and buses basically means you arrive wrecked in Sapa on the way there and wrecked arriving back into Hanoi.
I hopped off the Sapa - Hanoi Train at 4.30am and on to a Hanoi - Dong Hoi Train at 6am.....was a grumpy zombie the whole day & felt like crap pretty much the whole next day. - Just my experience though :)
Apr 23, 2012 6:10 AM
6I have personally inspected almost ALL the private sleeper carriages on all three trains between Hanoi and Lao Cai.
The Victoria Express Train is a cut above the rest, but it's only for guests staying at the best hotel in Sapa, the Victoria Hotel (which I also inspected!)
Of the rest, I'd say Orient Express, Fanxipan and Sapaly come top, but as all the operators simply lease and redecorate regular DSVN (Vietnamese Railways) soft sleeper cars, don't spend too many hours agonising which to take, they are all fine.
We took Orient Express up and Fansipan down, I preferred the lighter decor of the Fansipan car to the heavy dark 'olde worlde' woodwork of the OE car, and as the upper berths on the Fansipan were thinner, I could sit up straight on the lower berth and drink my beer, on the OE car I had to lean forward clear of the underside of the upper berth to drink!
The car wasn't noisy, the beds were comfortable, I wouldn't call the compartments small (but I'm used to sleeper trains so I don't expect to have space to play tennis in my compartment) and I slept pretty well.
I was on business, so we landed from the UK the same day we took the sleeper, and had just a day in Sapa before returning by sleeper train the followng night. If you do it, definitely spend a night in Sapa, I slept fine again the next night, but it's nicer to have a hotel night between sleeper journeys.
Apr 23, 2012 7:00 AM
7Comments by #5 Tallybalt are accurate.
We just returned, traveled on Livitrans Express which was acceptable although sleep was intermittent.
We stayed at the Chau Long hotel and it was very good. The staff were wonderful, Breakfast excellent, the view from the room incredible and the room was quite OK.
We advise hiring a guide while there and go on a tour preferable a private tour if you can afford it as that way you can explore at your own speed.
Aug 5, 2012 8:42 AM
8I think I would like to take the day train to Sapa which leaves Hanoi around 06.10. Has anyone here on the forum actually gone on the day train? I would really appreciate any information
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