Orient Express

Company Information

This isn't the world-famous Orient Express that chugs across Europe. Instead, this service connects Vietnam's capital city, Hanoi, with Lao Cai – the gateway to Sapa.

Orient Express is one of the most popular choices for visitors wanting to head out into the hills around Sapa to meet indigenous people and explore the countryside on some of the country's best treks.

Routes served by Orient Express

There is one departure each day from Hanoi to Lao Cai, from where you will be able to catch a bus to Sapa itself. This train leaves Hanoi at 21.30, due to arrive in Lao Cai at 05.25, with the eight hour trip costing VND1,655,000 for a space in a two-berth carriage and VND835,000 in the larger compartment. The trip back to Hanoi costs the same and departs Lao Cai at 20.35, arriving in the capital at 04.45.

As with most private operators on this route, when reserving your bed you'll have a choice between a Deluxe four-berth carriage or a VIP two-berth compartment. The two-bed carriages are more expensive and you will have to purchase both spots in the compartment so it may put this option out of your price range if you are a solo traveller.

Pros

The major advantage of this mode of transport is the opportunity to appreciate stunning scenery during your journey, especially as you are arriving into Lao Cai at around sunrise. In this respect, it beats travelling by bus.

Another advantage with picking Orient Express for your trip to Sapa is that it tends to be cheaper than many of its competitors. Although, it is still more expensive than just purchasing a berth in a carriage solely managed by Vietnam Railways, it is more reasonable than some other private companies.

Cons

There isn't a great deal of difference between the carriages offered by Orient Express and the standard carriages on the train managed by Vietnam Railways, so you may not want to pay substantially more for a very similar level of quality.

As is the case with most of the carriages on these trains, the onboard bathrooms won't always meet western standards and you may be in for a shock when you first use one!

Keep in mind

The four-berth carriages can often be a bit cramped, especially with four travellers and all the accompanying luggage.

If you're travelling in pairs, you may want to consider upgrading to the VIP two-berth compartment which, although smaller, is likely to be more comfortable for you.

Similarly, if there are three people in your group, maybe you'll think it's worthwhile to each pay a little more and to book an entire four-berth carriage to yourselves.

Helpfully, Orient Express provides clear information on how to find the check-in desk at both Hanoi and Lao Cai train stations. In Hanoi you'll need to head to entrance B of the station at 1 Tran Quy Cap street, whereas in Lao Cai you'll be able to check-in at gate two, inside the station.

Travellers reviews

Apart from the cleanliness which is often an issue on trains across Vietnam, the biggest complaint tends to be the size of the beds. There isn't a great deal of difference in quality or comfort whether you have booked a Deluxe or VIP carriage, unfortunately the beds onboard these trains are just fairly small by western standards and might not always make for the most comfortable nights sleep. If this is going to cause huge problems, then you may want to consider a VIP bus to Sapa instead. VIP buses tend to be roomier and you'll be able to recline in your seat and hopefully be more comfortable during your journey.

Buy Orient Express Tickets

Hanoi - Sapa
Find tickets
Train VIP Sleeper
21:35
Train VIP Sleeper 4x
21:35
Sapa - Hanoi
Find tickets
Train VIP Sleeper
20:55
Train VIP Sleeper 4x
20:55

Orient Express Company Reviews

3.2
74 / 1,507
5 19
4 13
3 20
2 9
1 13
98.5% of 1,507 travelers were presumably happy with Orient Express as they left good or no review

At 12Go our operators offer three types of service:

Cheap, Fast, Good - but you can usually pick only two of them!
Cheap & Fast won’t be Good. (e.g. buses from/to Khao San Road, local buses or 3rd class trains)
Cheap & Good won’t be Fast. (e.g. VIP trains in Thailand)
Fast & Good won’t be Cheap. (e.g. private limousine services, or VIP24 buses vs Express buses)

Make your choice! Please remember that while we are closely monitoring the services, we are still an agency marketplace. That means we focus on ticketing services and route availability & coverage rather than on the factual seat reclining angle you will get on the bus today.

Feb 22, 2019
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper 4x, Orient Express
★★☆☆☆
Bad beds and no aircondition. Nasty toilet. But cheapest one thats why it was "good"
Jan 29, 2019
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper 4x, Orient Express
★★★★☆
Orient Express Vietnam style. Beds were OK we slept great. Clean sheets that no one else had slept in, duvet with clean cover and pillow case. Water, biscuits and banana given for free. The train had suspension. The top bunk was for lying down only no head space to sit up. clean toilet with tissue! Clean cabins.
Dec 14, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper 4x, Orient Express
★★★☆☆
For the majority of the journey, there were alarming sounds coming from the outside of the carriage - a series of explosive bangs, clangs & dragging noises which reverberated through the carriage, making it sound like the carriage was about to fall apart! It was difficult to sleep because it was so loud. The driver made a few sudden stops throughout the night as well, which jolted you awake. The staff were grumpy if you didn't want a coffee (for 120,000 VND!!) The berths were fairly comfortable though & the free snacks/water were appreciated. Also, the process of buying & collecting tickets was made easy through 12go Asia.
Dec 7, 2018
train #SP2 VIP Sleeper 4x, Orient Express
★★★★☆
way better than the roach coach we had on the way from Hanoi to Lao Cai
Nov 15, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper, Orient Express
★★★☆☆
Do not go in to this with high expectations. Know that the train is old, beds are uncomfortable, journey is a bit wild and it is very noisy. It’s clean enough, but if you’re expecting luxury then that it is not.
Oct 14, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper 4x, Orient Express
★★☆☆☆
Really hard matrass and aircondition did not work properly. It was burning hot until 1 A.M. when it popped back on. I slept only two hours because of it. Nevertheless a great experience :) the staff looked really busy and a bit stressed. Probably they had a lot of work
Sep 27, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper 4x, Orient Express
★★★★★
The onward journey from Hanoi to Lao cai Sapa was awesome !!! But the return journey was terrible, why this partiality ? For the same ticket same company same price.
Aug 18, 2018
train #SP2 VIP Sleeper 4x, Orient Express
★★★★★
I liked it! I thought it was comfortable and had everything I needed.
Aug 14, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper, Orient Express
★★★★☆
Is not a compliment, but I think they simply can’t do it better. The train is very old, as the cabin aswell.. we reserved the “private” cabin (if you are 2 you pay for 4), the bunk was rock hard. They include a basquet with water, bananas and some biscuits, and a hitting jar, but no instant coffee or tea (wich you’ll appriciate so much at 5:30 in the morning, but also you’ll have to pay for it). The toilet was disgusting. I think it’s expensive for what you receive, but at this time is the best option to get to Sa Pa.
Aug 14, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper, Orient Express
★★★☆☆
Quite expensive and no coffe/tea included
Jul 28, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper, Orient Express
★★★★☆
Il treno era pulito, personale gentile
Jul 14, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper, Orient Express
★★★★★
That was a great experience and very comfortable night on the sleeper train to Cao Lau from Hanoi. Good job all staff involved :)
Jul 3, 2018
train #SP2 VIP Sleeper, Orient Express
★★★★☆
Good trip, on time, had a good sleep!
Jun 30, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper, Orient Express
★★★★☆
The train was on time, clean and the bedding was clean comfortable. The bunk was rock hard but it’s not a hotel so you can’t expect super comfort. We slept pretty well. Ticket exchange and boarding was pretty smooth once we asked a couple of officials for directions. The interior of the railway car was quite old but we were provided with complementary water, biscuits, fruit and soft drinks. We booked the private compartment for 2 and although expensive it was worth it for the privacy and space for our luggage
Jun 2, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper, Orient Express
★★☆☆☆
Toilets very dirty. Blankets dirty.
Apr 23, 2018
train #SP2 VIP Sleeper 4x, Orient Express
★★★★★
Smooth and easy. We liked it :)
Mar 17, 2018
train #SP2 VIP Sleeper, Orient Express
★★★☆☆
We originally booked for Sapaly Express but were transferred to "Oriental Express". The agent said they were on similar on all levels. She was so Far From Wrong. We just did the Hanoi to Sapa sleeper train on ET-Pumpkin and they were great. Bunks folded up for our private room for 2 and had electrical outlets. Oriental Express was clean. Mattresses just a uncomfortable firm but we asked for a private room for 2. We got private quarters but there was NO functioning electrical outlets and the top beds were bolted down giving a very Claustrophobic sleeping situation. We got a private room for 2 to avoid that but the extra we paid for was a waste. This company is not good for a private room. I would go with Sapaly or Pumpkin only in the future.
Mar 14, 2018
train #SP1 VIP Sleeper, Orient Express
★★☆☆☆
We ordered a 2 bed room, but we get 4 bed room for 2 persons. We ordered soft sleeping beds but we get hard sleeping beds. Very bad. Toilet stinks. In the beginning the airco was very cold. Later it was better. To expensive
Mar 10, 2018
train #SP2 VIP Sleeper 4x, Orient Express
★★☆☆☆
The toilet is the worst. However the the bed and the rest was considered fine.

Orient Express Stations

Hanoi Sapa Lao Cai