Fanxipan is one of the most popular private operators along the famous train route from Hanoi towards Sapa. These carriages can accommodate up to 100 passengers every day so there should be little problem in reserving a berth in one of the luxurious cabins.
Routes served by Fanxipan
Hanoi–Sapa (Lao Cai)
There is only one route that is serviced by Fanxipan – the world-famous Hanoi to Sapa line. When booking your ticket you will have the option of choosing from either a four-berth carriage or a private two-berth VIP cabin.
There is one service each day departing Hanoi at 21.40 so you will arrive in Lao Cai at 05.35 the next morning. From Lao Cai it is an hour journey by bus to Sapa itself. This eight hour trip costs VND880,000 for a spot in a four-berth cabin and VND1,910,000 for the VIP two-berth compartment.
The price is the same for the return journey from Lao Cai to Hanoi, the only difference is the departure time, leaving Lao Cai at 20.35 and arriving in the capital at 04.45.
Travelling from Hanoi to Sapa by train is incredibly popular for many reasons. Firstly, it will hopefully allow you to arrive in Sapa refreshed after a comfortable night so you're ready to head out and explore the countryside when you depart the train the next morning.
Also, overnight train travel will save you arranging accommodation in a hotel as well as ensuring you get the very most out of your holiday by minimising time spent travelling throughout the day.
It's worth setting an alarm to wake up early so you can appreciate some of the stunning views you will be treated to as you approach Lao Cai.
If you're travelling from Sapa back to Hanoi it can be a little inconvenient arriving in the capital at around 04.45 as you may have to kill some time around the train station before you can head to your hotel to drop off your luggage. If you haven't booked any accommodation for the next evening then you may have difficulty in carrying your bags around with you whilst you try to find somewhere suitable.
Although Fanxipan is one of the more reasonable private operators on this route, ticket prices are still higher than if you were to purchase a standard berth in the Vietnam Railways section of the train. Considering you'll hopefully be asleep for the majority of the trip you may think it's more worthwhile to save this extra cash and to spend it on a trek during your time in Sapa or put it towards a nice hotel for a treat the following night.
Keep in mind
There is a minibar on each carriage where you'll be able to purchase snacks and drinks, including alcohol, throughout the journey. You can even ring the bell inside the cabin and a porter will come to take your order and bring it to you. There will also be plenty of opportunities to purchase meals from the vendors who wander along the train during the trip. Before you leave the train you'll get a tasty breakfast included in the price of your ticket.
Most travellers consider Fanxipan to be one of the most popular operators running services between Hanoi and Sapa. You can expect the cabins themselves to be fairly comfortable and you should be able to get a good sleep onboard these trains, but often the state of the bathrooms can be cause for complaint.
If you're on a tight schedule then train travel is the best way to complete this trip as you'll save time sitting on a bus for most of your day. However, some visitors would rather make this trip by bus, despite having to travel during the day, so you can avoid changing at Sapa which can be a hassle.