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Hanoi to Sapa in the Lao Cai Province: 3 days
Travelbay Tip: Choose any date and add this delight to any of our other Vietnam tours.
Sapa is the picturesque town in the mountainous Northwest region of Vietnam. Lying close to the Chinese border, Sapa is known for its sweeping valley views and terraced rice fields. The landscape is truly spectacular and the hill tribes friendly, welcoming and magnificently colourful.
You are free to choose any date to commence this holiday - please book at least 30 days in advance. If you would like to go earlier, please contact us as it may be possible.
Please note: This tour begins with an overnight train ride. The train departs from Hanoi at 21:40 or 22:00. If you are arriving in Hanoi on an international flight you may want to consider having an extra night and taking the train the next night to avoid an international flight followed by a train ride.
It is of course entirely up to you which option you choose. If you would like an extra night we can arrange it for you.
Overnight Train: King Express - Shared cabin (3 Star); Chapa Express Train - shared cabin (4 and 5 Star)
Day 1: Arrival in Lao Cai, picturesque landscapes and colourful hill tribes
Take the overnight train from Hanoi (see the MORE INFO tab for more information on the train) and arrive early morning at Lao Cai station. The train is the best way to get to Sapa as the road is known for its bumps. The train has full amenities such as air-conditioning and comfortable beds. You will be picked up by a local guide and taken on a scenic one-hour drive up to the hill station of Sapa.
From there you can take a short 30-minute journey South toward Muong Hoa Valley, a stunning place boasting the largest terraced rice fields in Sapa. If your visit is between May and October, the local harvest period, you will have a chance to see the local farmers in action. It is a nice chance to take in the scenery and a great photo opportunity. The walk takes you from Lao Chai Village of the Black H'mong Minority to the Ta Van Village of the Giay Minority with a stop at the local Catholic Church, taking in the different traditions, cultures and costumes of the two minority groups.
After that, you will return to Sapa and you can spend the rest of your afternoon at your leisure.
Overnight Day 1: Sunny Mountain Hotel - Deluxe room (3 Star), Amazing Sapa Hotel - Superior room (4 Star), Victoria Sapa Resort - Superior room (5 Star).
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 2: Explore the spectacular charm of Sapa
After breakfast, you will check out of the hotel and depart towards Tram Ton Pass. Along the way, take a short walk to Silver Waterfall and head to Heaven’s Gate, where you can see Fansipan Mountain – the highest peak in Indochina. A one and a half hour downhill ride to Binh Lu includes a stop at Chu Va Village of the Flower H'mong tribe. Enjoy a packed lunch on the way. Trek to Pa Pen Village of the Lu Minority where you can talk with the locals and visit the local school (closed on weekends). Return to the hotel where you can freshen up before transferring to Lao Cai station to board the train back to Hanoi.
Overnight Train: King Express - Shared cabin (3 Star); Chapa Express Train - shared cabin (4 and 5 Star)
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 3: Arrival back in Hanoi
The train arrives early morning at the Hanoi train station. You will be collected from the station and transferred to your hotel in Hanoi.
Check in time is 2pm for the hotels in Hanoi. Please let us know if you would like an early check in (9am) and we can give you a quote. Or you are welcome to leave your bags at the hotel while you spend the day at leisure and check in after 2pm.
Combine this tour with one of our other tours to Vietnam:
- 3 day tour of Sapa exploring the picturesque beauty and colourful hill tribes.
- 3 nights' accommodation - 1 night in Sapa and 2 nights on the overnight train.
- 6 meals included in the package.
- Return overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai Station.
- All transfers – You will be taken to the train station in Hanoi, collected in Lao Cai on arrival, all transport throughout your time in Sapa and again you will be met at the station in Hanoi and transferred to your hotel in Hanoi.
- Air conditioned mini van for all overland transport.
- English speaking guide.
- Entrance and sightseeing fees as stated in the itinerary.
- The opportunity to explore the scenic beauty of Sapa and the Muong Hoa Valley.
- A guided walk from Lao Chai Village of the Black H'mong hill tribe to the Ta Van Village of the Giay hill tribe.
- Visit the Silver Waterfall and see the impressive Fansipan mountain, the highest in Indochina.
- Get to know the locals after a trek to Pa Pen Village of the Lu Minority.
How to get there:
This tour begins and ends in Hanoi. You will take the overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai and arrive on the morning of Day 1 in Lao Cai. Return to Hanoi on the overnight train on the night of Day 2, arriving in Hanoi on the morning of Day 3.
The King Express is the train we prefer to use for the 3 Star option. It departs from Hanoi at either 21:40pm or 22:00pm and arrives in Lao Cai at either 05:40am or 06:10am. On arrival you will be met at the train station.
For the return journey, the train departs from Lao Cai at either 19:35pm or 21:05pm and arrives in Hanoi at 04:10am or 05:20am.
You will be booked in a soft, 4 berth cabin. If you prefer to have the cabin to yourself you can pay an additional USD40 per berth per way.
The Chapa Express is the train used for the 4 and 5 Star options. In operation since June 2014, it is one of the newest trains in Vietnam. The compact cabins are equipped with air-conditioning, reading lights, comfortable beds and Sapa-inspired décor. The cabins are shared deluxe 4-berth cabins. You can upgrade to a 2 berth cabin or a VIP cabin (subject to availability - please ask us for a quote.
High-speed internet, restrooms, toiletries and hot/cold water are available on board for your convenience. Welcome drinks, snacks (biscuits or fresh fruits) and hot/cold towels are provided and the professional and multilingual train staff are on hand to assist you throughout the journey.
All Chapa Express Train guests have access to the Chapa Lounge in Lao Cai with shower facilities, food and beverages and complimentary Wi-Fi.
To help you calculate the time difference we recommend World Time Buddy.
Most nationalities require a visa when travelling to Vietnam. You need to apply for and receive your visa before you leave Australia. This can be done up to 6 months in advance.
It is best to obtain your visa directly from the Vietnam embassy. We have always found them to be very quick and reliable.
You can find the Embassy instructions and more information here.
You can download the application form here.
Generally the following information is required:
- Personal details.
- One passport photo taken within the last year.
- Your estimated dates of arrival into and exit from Vietnam. Make sure you do not estimate or put a date later than you actually arrive.
- Whether you want a single entry or a multiple entry visa.
- Please note: if you are to exit and re-enter Vietnam on the same trip, you will need a multiple entry visa. For example, if you are doing a Vietnam & Cambodia tour and then going back to Vietnam (even if only for a night), you will need a multiple entry visa.
- Address you will stay at in Vietnam – it is fine to put your initial hotel/place of stay.
Once you have completed the application form you will need to post this to the Vietnamese Embassy along with the following:
- A valid passport. Please ensure your passport is valid for 6 months or more from the time of your return to Australia.
- A return self-addressed prepaid envelope – we recommend registered or express post envelopes for both sending and receiving so you can track delivery
- Visa fee. You can pay by post office money order or bank cheque. Please contact the embassy for the latest rates as these can change. Last time we checked in 2017, a single entry visa from the Vietnamese embassy was $95. A one month multiple entry visa $120 and a three month multiple entry visa $150 – we always check before we send our forms.
- If 2 of you are travelling together you can post your passports together with the one money order.
The normal processing time is 3 working days once received by the embassy, but post seems a bit slow these days. Therefore, we recommend leaving a minimum of 10 working days, but why not do it even sooner! An express service is possible and will need to be arranged directly with the embassy.
For more information or questions please ring the embassy – they are very helpful but at time it can take a few attempts to get through.
Important Information in relation to Vietnam Visa Approval letters
We do not approve of or support 3rd party Vietnam Approval Letters for the following reason:
- Vietnam Approval Letters are NOT Vietnam Visas.
- There have been many reports of fake letters and fake companies providing letters. The Vietnam Embassy have issued warnings in this regard.
- Even if you get a genuine letter on arrival in Vietnam you have to take your letter to a counter, queue up (sometimes for as long as an hour), pay a fee and get your Visa BEFORE you can pass through immigration – this can cause quite long delays at a time you would not want one.
- We recommend that you obtain your Vietnam Visa through the Vietnam Embassy in Canberra or the Vietnam Consulate in Sydney prior to departure – this is very quick and simple and can be done by post.
- Should you urgently need a letter and for some reason cannot obtain a visa prior to departure such as due to short notice, our colleagues in Vietnam can obtain a legitimate approval letter for you, but you will of course still have to go through the queue process on arrival in Vietnam.
If you decide to go to a 3rd party to obtain a Vietnam Visa letter we cannot take any responsibility for the consequences should you not be able to gain entry to Vietnam or experience delays.
The currency used in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong.
What currency to take over there is a personal choice. Some people prefer to take US$ cash as a backup whilst others prefer to take AUD$ cash – it depends on what you are comfortable with. There are ATM machines readily available in Vietnam. Occasionally the older ATM's do not accept Australian debit cards and you may need to try a different ATM.
We recommend letting your bank know that you will be using your card in Vietnam to avoid them freezing any 'suspicious' activity.
Tipping and Tour Guides:
A few customers have asked us about tipping. Really this is a personal matter, not obligatory and at your discretion.
Some like to provide the tour guide with a few dollars a day and a little less for the driver. If you love your guide you can of course offer more – it really is up to you. Tour guides will not generally join you when eating. If you would like your guide to join you, you will need to invite them.
Travelbay recommends you check with your doctor as to any immunisations that you may require or that are recommended for your travels. Alternatively, you can visit The Travel Doctor or Travelvax for more information.
The temperatures in Sapa are cooler than the rest of Vietnam year round due to its altitude at 1,500m above sea level (humidity of around 85% is constant year round also). Aside from the winter months Dec-Jan) where the temperatures can be cooler, sitting only a few degrees North of the equator, the temperatures are fairly similar all year round, 25-33 degrees Celsius during the day.
Wet season: Summer (June to August).
Peak season: July-August and the harvest season is in September
Population: 93.5 million
Predominant religion: 81% of the population has no religion followed by 9% Buddhist
Some interesting facts:
Fansipan Mountain is the highest peak in Indochina and can be seen from the town of Sapa.
The mountain pass of Tram Ton passes between Sapa and Lai Chau and at 2,000m is the highest mountain pass in Vietnam.
Sapa is one of the few places in Vietnam that sees snow. It is home to a large variety of wild flowers including immortal flowers that live forever.
Related Blogs & articles:
Combine this tour with one of our other tours to Vietnam
More Travelbay Tours to Sapa & Vietnam:
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- 1 night accommodation in DBL/TWN room.
- Overnight train ride in a quad cabin (You can upgrade to have the cabin to yourself by purchasing the other berths - please contact us for rates).
- 6 meals as per itinerary.
- An English speaking guide throughout the tour.
- Entrance and sightseeing fees as stated in the itinerary.
- All transfers.
- All transport as per itinerary.
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