Sapaly Express is one of many private operators with carriages on the ever-popular Hanoi to Sapa train route.
As with all trains from Hanoi to Sapa, visitors will first have to make the 350km journey to Lao Cai before transfering to Sapa, as the popular tourist town does not have its own train station. You can book the transfer with us or most likely your hotel will offer to pick you up.
Routes served by Sapaly Express Train
When you book a journey with Sapaly Express you will have the option to book a bed in a VIP 4x which is a four-berth carriage or a VIP two-berth cabins.
Note Do be aware that you cannot just purchase one bed in the two-berth compartment so this option will work out to be very expensive for solo travellers. Beds in four-berth cabins can each be reserved individually.
For anyone in Hanoi looking to reach Sapa, there is a 22.00 train that will arrive in Lao Cai for around 06.20. From Lao Cai to Sapa it is usually a journey of a little over an hour so you should be in Sapa by 08.00, just in time to begin exploring the countryside! The 8 ½ hour train ride to Lao Cai costs VND880,000 for a bed in a four-berth carriage and VND1,910,000 for a spot in the two-bed compartments.
If you're heading from Sapa back to Vietnam's capital city, Hanoi, then you can catch a train from Lao Cai at 21.10, arriving at 05.25. The journey time and the price remains the same whether you are leaving from or arriving in Hanoi.
The four-berth carriages are a good option for small groups, you're sure to have a good time on this trip socialising and chatting. Also, if you're a solo traveller, this is a good opportunity to meet new people.
Couples or those travelling in pairs may want the privacy and security of a private compartment, so it is useful to have this choice.
The beds and the carriages are clean and comfortable, regardless of whether you pick a two or four-berth compartment, so there isn't much to choose between the two options in terms of quality.
It can be annoying arriving in Lao Cai at around 06:30 and then having to catch a bus to Sapa, but unfortunately this is the only option if you wish to travel by train. You can travel directly to Sapa from Hanoi by bus, so if this change is an issue you may want to consider the bus as an alternative.
As is the case with trains across Vietnam, light sleepers may find the journey a challenge. As you head out from Hanoi into the countryside, the journey can be bumpy and other passengers as well as vendors selling food and drinks can sometimes disturb you. If this is the case then you may want to consider purchasing an entire two-berth carriage to yourself, although this is expensive. Another option could be to travel via bus during the day.
Keep in mind
It's possible to purchase a shuttle from Lao Cai to Sapa directly through Sapaly Express. Although this ticket is slightly more expensive than purchasing it yourself when you arrive, it will save you some hassle and time, especially as it will be early in the morning!
Travellers are usually pleased with the comfort on board these carriages, with reviews commentating on the cleanliness inside the cabins.
However, there are often reports that the bathrooms on these trains could be of a better standard and take a bit of getting used to, but unfortunately, this is highly likely to be the case on all trains and carriages operated by private companies or Vietnam Railways. It's always best to keep hand sanitizer and toilet roll with you on these trips, just in case!
Although the reviews for Sapaly Express are generally positive, some travellers consider the fares a little bit expensive.
Some travellers found Sapaly Express pricier than some of its competitors on the route, so you should always do your research before booking.