Chapa Express is one of the newest operators on the Hanoi – Sapa route, beginning operations in just 2013. The Chapa Express carriages are attached to the Vietnam Railways train that connects Hanoi and Lao Cai, from where you can visit Sapa by hopping on a bus.
The Chapa Express carriages offer seven separate four-berth or two-berth cabins so you have some choice depending on your group size and budget.
Routes served by Chapa Express Train
The journey between Hanoi and Lao Cai lasts for around 8 ¼ hours, with a daily departure from Hanoi at 22.00, scheduled to arrive in Lao Cai at 06.20.
If you are looking to head back to the capital then there is also one train each day, leaving at 21.10, which will have you back in Hanoi for 05.25 the next morning. The price is the same for both trips, VND870,000 for a spot in a four-berth cabin and VND2,160,000 per person for a more private two-berth compartment.
Travelling with Chapa Express allows you to experience one of the newest and most comfortable carriages along this hugely popular route. You'll enjoy all the benefits that you get from similar private operators on this route, but with the added bonus of a few additional perks such as an early morning breakfast in Peter Chef Restaurant in Lao Cai to energise you once you arrive!
Also when you're waiting for your train to head back to Hanoi you can enjoy complimentary access to the Chapa Lounge where you can relax and help yourself to snacks and refreshments.
Although the cost of a four-berth carriage is on a par with what is offered by other private operators, Chapa Express does charge a higher price for the two-berth cabins than many of its competitors. As is the case with all the private operators along this route, you will be paying a premium to book with these companies rather than travelling in the standard Vietnam Railways carriages further down the train.
Keep in mind
When selecting tickets with Chapa Express, families will be pleased to know that children under four years old can travel for free. However, it is worth bearing in mind that this does not necessarily mean that they will be counted towards the occupancy of the cabin and it may be the case that if you book a four-berth compartment then you may be joined by other passengers. If you're concerned about privacy or safety and you're travelling in a group of two adults and one child, then you might prefer to book a private two-berth cabin instead.
Visitors who used Chapa Express to travel to Sapa were pleased with several of the complimentary perks they received. After an overnight train, a tasty breakfast in a restaurant in Lao Cai is very welcome and preferable to immediately jumping aboard a bus for the next leg of the journey.
Similarly, access to the Chapa Lounge is a useful extra if you have some time in Lao Cai whilst you wait for your train and is a good spot to relax before you begin your journey back to Hanoi.
The main issue travellers have when selecting Chapa Express is usually the cost. If you have a very limited budget then you may want to consider purchasing a standard Vietnam Railways ticket or even travelling via bus. However, if you would prefer to book with a private operator such as Chapa Express then you'll have to accept that you'll pay a little more. The cost of a space in a four-berth cabin with Chapa Express is actually less than if you picked some of their competitors, although the two-berth compartments tend to be pricier than normal.