Mr. Setio Priyono from Indonesia is our returned guest. His family booked us Hanoi - Halong - Sapa tour last year and now come back with Thailand beach holidays in...
Since the new highway Hanoi – Lao Cai was open since September 2014, the day bus is certainly the tourists’ choice. Train timetable is not suitable for travelers. It leaves in the evening you have to find somewhere to take care of your luggages and dining before the train leaves. It arrives in EARLY morning while the regulated hotel check in time is noon, so you’re suggested to rent a room (i.e. extra fee) for kill the time from Early Morning to Noon.
That’s 1 of many disadvantages that train to Lao Cai (Not to Sapa) includes, which the day-bus doesn’t have.
This is our analysis about how day-bus (we want to emphasize DAY rather than NIGHT bus) is a new tourism trend instead of night train.
Firstly, trains in Vietnam are NOT the Trans-Siberian train system, and train to Sapa never meets such standard. The railways were built 120 years ago during French colonism, and have had under some maintenance, but NOT upgraded. The train gauge is 1 meter wide (remember the European train gauge is 1.4 meter wide). Narrow train gauge makes train fluctuation during running, and LOUD NOISE is a big problem. Many travelers complain it’s hard to sleep on train to Sapa because of NOISE.
Secondly, train to Sapa is a NIGHT train, then passengers CAN’T see anything outside when it’s dark. Nothing, nothing to see outside ! You just sleep on train. That’s all. To many travelers, this was bored.
Thirdly, train to Sapa is NOT express. It takes much time. The average speed is at 50km/h, and even slower when going uphills in the last 100km from Yen Bai province to Lao Cai city. Certainly, it’s NOT the Shinkasen Express in Japan. Train to Sapa takes you 10 hours for 370km ! Wow, now you can see the average speed is even LOWER than my state above – it’s only 37 km/ hour, SLOW as a motorbike. Do you like slow train ?
Forthly, train to Sapa is a pricy solution. Remember that we’re using the phrase “train to Sapa”, but in fact, it stops in Lao Cai city, then you have to buy a shuttle bus ticket (extra fee) from Lao Cai to Sapa. In addition, you should rent a day-room for refreshment … To avoid these hidden costs, you should avoid train.
OK, now let’s look at bus solution. Again, we want to emphasize we recommend DAY-train (Sapa Express, Sao Viet Limousine, …) rather than NIGHT-(mare) bus.
Firstly, LESS NOISE. They’re really modern bus Huyndai Universe (45seat) or Ford Transit (D-Car type) 16seat.
Secondly, DAY-RUNNING. Yes, you will enjoy the clear view through the bus window. Especially, buses go directly to Sapa (not like train ending in Lao Cai), and the last 38km from Lao Cai to Sapa with terrace rice fields up to the sky is really amazing. This is a reference video about testing New Ford Focus car, but it’s tested on the road from Hanoi to Sapa, so you can see how lovely the scenery is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buTO4RzfQJs
Thirdly, SPEED. The new highway Hanoi – Lao Cai allows us to drive at the minimum speed of 60km/hour, maximum speed of 100km/hour. That’s why it shortens the driving time between Hanoi and Sapa into 5 HOURS. 5 hours by bus vs. 10 hours by train, which do you choose ?
Forthly, CHEAP BUS TICKET. Though they’re superior buses, the bus ticket costs half of a train ticket. Moreover, you don’t need paying extra for any other shuttle bus, day-room-use, breakfast, luggage handling … which hide behind a train journey.
Enjoy reading and hope it’s helpful for you to plan your Sapa trip.