Sapa to Dien Bien Phu
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Sep 22, 2012 7:48 AM Last Post By: LetsGoes
Jul 30, 2012 6:57 AM
Sapa to Dien Bien PhuFor those considering the above journey I did this yesterday and it is perfectly possible by local bus. The Tourist Info in Sapa can arrange the booking. The cost will be around 300,000 to 350,000 VND (or 250,000 VND to Muong Lay. If you pay Tourist Info an extra 50,000 VND they can arrange for the bus to pick you up outside the tourist info office in Sapa (otherwise you need to be at the gas station on the edge of town (about 1km from the centre) and flag the bus down: perhaps a risky enterprise and the bus could be full! The bus leaves Sapa around 7: 30 a.m. You don't need to worry about breakfast as there is a stop at a local com pho place after about one hour (chicken noodle soup is the usual thing on offer).
The bus takes around 6.5 hours to Muong Lay (a convenient stopping over point fro those who have had enough). It is only another 2- 2.5 hours to Diem Biem Phu though and the last leg is not too stressful.
There has been alot made of the state of the roads from Sapa to Diem Biem Phu: I found the journey ok considering the terrain. The majority of the roads are tarmacced although there are various sections where the road is reduced to gravel and their are many potholes. The driver tends to take things very slowly at these points. The main area of concern is just before reaching Muong Lay: there had been a mudslide when we arrived in the area and a bulldozer was busy clearing the road. We were lucky that we were only delayed for about 15 minutes. Further along, there was more mud falling onto the road and further along still we had to power through another section which was very muddy and slippery (a taxi decided not to risk this). All told, the scenery is amazing (particularly the 1st few hours coming out of Sapa) and the journey although a little uncomfortable is worth bearing for this fact alone.
Jul 30, 2012 7:24 PM
1Thank you so much for this thread. I have been trying to find out about the state of the road for ages.
In you opinion, are the mud slides dangerous? We are going mid December. I would like to do this by 4 wheel drive and driver. Did you see any tourists doing this and have you any ideas about how to do this
thank you so much
Jul 30, 2012 9:54 PM
2Great information, thanks. When I went to DBP a few years ago, when they were still building the road and it was a mudbath, the local bus got through but the expensive tourist 4 wheel drives were all turning back. We got dug out of the mud 5 times and i imagine they only did that for buses, otherwise they'd get nothing else done. The bus might be the most reliable way to go.
Aug 4, 2012 1:59 AM
the information I posted is obviously most relevant to those doing this journey at the moment but I would imagine in December maybe it is a little easier (as it is now the rainly season). December is higher season (they do get some snow in Sapa though in the Winter so maybe this may be an issue)?
I would have thought that a 4x4 would be alot easier than the bus in getting through (due to the increased traction). The bus tends to power on through as they need to get the paying passengers to their final destination come what may.
On a related issue, Dien Bien Phu town is not the most fun you can have travelling. I struggled to find the war museum (there is a good war monument with great views of the surrounding countryside). Most hotels run tours related to the DBP battles and lots of Tuk- Tuk drivers will also do this (but very few speak any English so I thought that this would be a bit pointless).
If you want to move on to Laos from DBP this is relatively easy to do also: the cost is 100,000 VND and leaves the DBP bus station around 5:30 a.m. The road to Muong Khoua in Laos was a bit dodgy though (we had to cross several rivers without the use of a bridge) but we made it in the end!!
Sep 22, 2012 7:48 AM
4It's possible to catch the bus at the bus station in town, though someone working at the bus station actually had to call the driver and let him know to stop at the station. We caught the 7:30 am bus and it only cost 250,000 VND. Our bus was rather small, it only fit about 12-13 people max, but it was only about 3/4 full when it arrived in Sapa.
We were also told there was an evening bus that left 7:00 pm bus for DBP, but seeing how it's a 9.0 hour ride you might end up arriving in the middle of the night.
As of 20 Sept 2012 the road was in pretty bad shape. We drove through no less than 20 landslides that were being removed by heavy equipment from the road, but our front-wheel drive bus was able to make it through okay. Some parts that had been recently repaired still looked pretty unstable - so the road condition definitely depends on the time of year and recent weather.
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