King Express is one of the higher-rated private operators who maintain carriages on the Vietnam Railways route from Hanoi to Sapa. As Sapa does not have a train station, you'll have to depart the train at Lao Cai before catching a bus the remaining distance to Sapa itself.
When booking a ticket with King Express you will have the option of a space in a four-berth carriage or a two-berth compartment.
Routes served by King Express
Hanoi–Sapa (Lao Cai)
There is one train each evening in both directions. If you are in Hanoi and would like to explore the beautiful countryside around Sapa, then catch the train at 22.00 for about 8 ½ hours and you'll be in Lao Cai for 06.20. After you catch a bus you'll arrive in Sapa itself by 08.00. Beds in a four-berth carriage cost VND835,000 and VND1,785,000 for a space in a two-berth compartment.
Note Do be aware that you can't just purchase one bed in a two-berth carriage, you will have to pay for both even if you are a solo traveller. Spaces in the larger carriages can all be booked individually.
If you're leaving Sapa to return to Hanoi, you'll need to catch a train at Lao Cai at 21.10, which will arrive in the capital early the next morning at around 05.30.
The biggest advantage with travelling to Sapa via train is that the journey includes your accommodation for the night. Theses overnight trains allow you to sleep through the majority of the trip so you're as fresh as possible to begin exploring as soon as you arrive the next morning. This is a good option if you’re travelling on a tight schedule and you don't want to spend a day of your holiday sitting on a bus.
King Express cabins are usually pretty comfortable so it should be possible to get some sleep during the trip, although it may be a bit of a squeeze if you're tall. Also, make sure you don't miss the sunrise, as you'll be treated to some stunning views of the countryside for the last hour or so of the ride.
These carriages can get a little bit cramped when you have four travellers and four sets of luggage squeezed into the room. If you've got quite a lot of luggage with you, maybe you might want to consider paying extra for a two-berth compartment. Similarly, if there are three people in your group then you could all pay a little extra for the entire four-berth carriage and have plenty of extra space to store your belongings.
Train travel in Vietnam is often slower and more expensive than catching a bus and the Hanoi – Sapa route is no exception. The journey will take you a few hours longer than a bus ride, which will also take you directly to Sapa rather than stopping in Lao Cai, so you may want to consider this option as an alternative.
Keep in mind
Good news for families looking to head to Sapa, children under five years old can travel for free on King Express carriages. However, do be aware that they may not count towards the occupancy of the carriage, for example, if you and your child book a space in a four-berth compartment, there may still be three other people squeezed into the room.
The bathrooms onboard trains across Vietnam are of a much lower standard than you may be used to. Unfortunately, this is the case with King Express too.
Some travellers are also surprised that the quality of King Express carriages is not much higher than that of the standard Vietnam Railways carriages elsewhere on the train, especially as you will be paying a premium to travel with a private operator. Some travellers may feel that this money could be better spent on a trek in Sapa rather than sitting on the train!