Pumpkin Express

Company Information

Sapa is a town that is on almost every visitor’s itinerary when they first arrive in Vietnam. To reach the popular hillside town you'll most likely be travelling from Hanoi, if this is the case then Pumpkin Express is a great option.

Pumpkin Express carriages are joined onto the SP1 and SP2 Vietnam Railways trains connecting Hanoi with Lao Cai and the individual cabins are designed to be replicas of hotel rooms, complete with air-conditioning and TVs, so you're sure to travel in style.

Routes served by Pumpkin Express Train

Trains depart Hanoi for Lao Cai on a daily basis at 21.30, scheduled to arrive at 05.35 the next morning. The return journey leaves Lao Cai at 20.35, dropping you in Hanoi at around 04.45, with the trip in either direction lasting approximately eight hours. The price is also the same regardless of which way you're headed, VND835,000 for a space in a four-berth cabin and VND1,655,000 per person for a more private two-berth compartment.


The standard within the carriages of all the private operators remains pretty similar so Pumpkin Express is a good option as prices tend to be lower than those found with other companies along this route. Although, it is worth pointing out that prices are still higher than if you purchased a ticket in the standard Vietnam Railways carriages, this may be an option for budget travellers.

Another advantage with choosing Pumpkin Express for your trip to Sapa is that the cabins have TVs inside them, something that isn't always the case with private operators and certainly not in the carriages managed by Vietnam Railways.


Unfortunately, the scheduled arrival time in Hanoi isn't great. Arriving before 05.00 means that you can have some difficulty in reaching your hotel and once you're there it's unlikely that you'll be able to check-in straight away. If you haven't booked any accommodation before you arrive in Hanoi then you'll probably need to kill some time before you start looking for a suitable place to stay. Neither scenario will be particularly appealing after a long overnight train journey.

Keep in mind

It's worth bearing in mind that if you reserve a spot in a two-berth compartment you will have to pay the total price for the room, as it cannot be reserved individually.

Unfortunately, this may put this option out of the budget of many solo travellers who will have to make do with a space in a four-berth compartment instead. Although, this is a great way to meet fellow travellers and to share stories and tips about where you've been and where you're headed next.

Travellers reviews

Travellers who used Pumpkin Express to reach Sapa had the same complaints as those using other private operators along the route.

The biggest issue is the need to change at Lao Cai to then travel a further hour to Sapa itself. Unfortunately, if you choose to travel to Sapa via train then this is unavoidable as the town doesn't have a train station. If you would rather not change at Lao Cai then consider making the journey from Hanoi directly to Sapa by bus, although it may be less comfortable than the train, it's actually quicker and cheaper.

If you do want to travel by train and would rather pay slightly more for a space in a private carriage rather than the standard Vietnam Railways cabins then you'll be pleased to read the good reviews that Pumpkin Express receives. It has been praised by passengers who think it represents good value for money when compared to other private operators along the route. Pumpkin Express is also considered to offer one of the more comfortable carriages for passengers keen on getting a good nights sleep before they set out to explore the stunning Sapa countryside over the next few days.

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Hanoi - Sapa
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Sapa - Hanoi
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Pumpkin Express Company Reviews

86 customer reviews
98.9% of 1,835 travelers were presumably happy with Pumpkin Express as they left good or no review
train #SP1 1st Class Sleeper, Pumpkin Express, Nov 2, 2019
Carriage was comfortable with free refreshments. Staff were friendly and helpful.
train #SP1 1st Class Sleeper, Pumpkin Express, May 8, 2019
The pumpkin express from Hanoi to Sapa was great. We got a private sleeper cabin and slept pretty much the whole way on very comfortable beds with air con. We even had snacks, WiFi and plug sockets which we weren’t expecting! Would definitely use again.. plus saved money and time. Make sure you organise a pick up from the station when you arrive in Sapa, as it can be a bit hectic with a lot of people trying to over charge.
train #SP1 1st Class Sleeper, Pumpkin Express, Apr 22, 2019
Bed sheets dirty, covered in blood! Slept with a towel as a blanket. Plus side, you get X2 bottles of water, cola and beer (1st class) very noisy and difficult to sleep but noise and movement settled down around 1am.
train #SP1 1st Class Sleeper, Pumpkin Express, Mar 2, 2019
We booked a double room. The rooms was clean and cute. It’s not exactly easy to sleep. It’s pretty loud and the train rocks quite a bit. Navigating the train station in Hanoi was a bit difficult. Several attendants at the train station directed us to different tracks and trains. We made it on the train about 10 minutes before it left. The train left exactly at 2135 and we arrived on time at the station before Sapa. There is a snack cart and coffee and tea offered in the morning. We experienced the same lack of toilet paper as everyone else. So bring your own just in case.
train #SP2 VIP Sleeper 4x, Pumpkin Express, Feb 25, 2019
Cabine de quatre personnes, confortable et propre. Trajet bruyant a cause des passagers de la cabine.
train #SP1 1st Class Sleeper, Pumpkin Express, Feb 14, 2019
I think this is very over sold. The carriages were very poor, not clean, the staff were not very interested. We were told in the evening that a coffee in the morning would be free, when it arrived we asked for 20, 000 Dong each, the cup wasn't even half full and it was terrible. The toilets we a shambles. It was very very poor!
train #SP1 1st Class Sleeper, Pumpkin Express, Nov 20, 2018
Overall our trip was very very good. Easy picking up tickets, attendants pointed us to correct train car, etc. Cabin was clean, with clean sheets. We saw that there was WiFi but never got the password. Train bathroom was questionable but not the absolute worst. No toilet paper when we first arrived, but it was refilled the next morning. There were 2 sinks separate from toilet so you can brush teeth, etc.! We got a 2-person private cabin, so the mattresses were doubled up, firm, which I liked. Train is rocky and loud so bring ear plugs! Would do it again!

Pumpkin Express Stations

Hanoi Sapa Lao Cai