Halong Bay, one of the two UNESCO-listed World Natural Heritage, is pretty far from Sapa, the foggy tourist city of Lao Cai. While Sapa is in the northwest of Vietnam, Halong Bay is way down on the eastern coast, making it quite a ride to travel between these two attractions. Read on to find out the available means of transport to get from Sapa to Halong Bay and vice versa.
I. How Far is It from Sapa to Halong Bay?
Sapa is in the northwest of Hanoi, and Halong Bay is slightly in the southeast. The distance between Sapa and Halong Bay is 480 kilometers. There are a few ways to get to Halong Bay, some are direct and the others are not. However, no matter which way you choose, the scenery is beautiful and you’ll be able to enjoy the ride.
II. How to Travel from Sapa to Halong Bay?
1. Getting from Sapa to Halong Bay by bus
This is the ultimate recommended option, as it’s a direct route at a reasonable price. From Sapa, you can catch Phuc Xuyen sleeper bus and enjoy an 8-hour ride. This 42-seat bus provides mostly anything you need: air conditioning, LCD screen, free WIFI, blankets, water and cold towels. The route is station to station, you’ll get on the bus from their office at 80 Phan Dinh Phung, Lao Cai Province and get off at Van Don bus station, Quang Ninh. From there, simply take a taxi to the cruise port (Tuan Chau Gate) or your hotel.
Information about Phuc Xuyen Bus:
- Frequency: 4 times per day
- Departing time: 8:00, 11:00, 16:00, 18:30 (from Sapa to Halong Bay) & 13:00, 18:00 (from Halong Bay to Sapa)
- Estimated price: US$16 ~ 370000 VND
Another choice is to travel with Vietnam Local Bus, which provides pick-up services at your hotel. It will be a 9-hour ride.
Information about Vietnam Local Bus:
- Frequency: once per day
- Pick-up time: 17:00 (from Sapa to Halong Bay) & 21:30 (from Halong Bay to Sapa)
- Estimated price: US$25 ~ 580000 VND
2. Getting from Sapa to Halong Bay by train
It’s impossible to travel directly from Sapa to Halong Bay and vice versa. You’ll have to travel to Hanoi first and catch a connecting train, making traveling by train the most time-consuming way.
From Sapa, catch a taxi or bus to the Lao Cai Train Station to catch a train to Hanoi, either day train or overnight train. There are express trains and regular trains; the express trains have fewers stops and thus take less time. The slowest is a day train which leaves at 9:10 am. You are strongly advised to avoid this train, as it will take a total of 11 hours to reach Hanoi. The train ticket from Sapa to Hanoi will cost about $21 (469,622 VND).
After roughly 8-9 hours, you’ll arrive in Hanoi at either Hanoi Station or Long Bien Station. From Hanoi center, there are numerous ways to travel to Halong Bay. Check out this article Travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay to check which means of transport suits you most.
3. Getting from Sapa to Halong Bay by taxi or private cars
If privacy matters to you most, you might want to consider private vehicles like taxis or private cars. Comfortable as it is, this is also the fastest yet most expensive way to travel from Sapa to Halong Bay and vice versa.
If you’re opting for taxis, only choose the largest taxi brands in Vietnam, which are Mai Linh, Taxi Group or Vinasun. The price might be slightly higher than average, but they are more likely to provide you a stress-free journey. For an upfront quote, you can rent a car and the fee will be predetermined. For both options, it will typically cost you from $280 (6,500,000 VND) to $310 (7,200,000 VND) for a 7-hour direct ride from Sapa to Halong Bay.
III. Getting from Sapa to Halong Bay FAQ:
Among the direct options which are either traveling by bus or by car, bus is definitely cheaper. A sleeping bus ticket will only cost 370,000 VND, while a car ride will cost you more than 6,000,000 VND.
The other option is to travel by train, with a transition in Hanoi. The total cost of the journey will depend on the means of transportation you choose to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay. However, traveling by train is certainly more expensive, as the train ticket from Sapa to Hanoi is more than 400,000 VND to begin with.
The fastest way to travel from Sapa to Halong Bay is probably by taxi or private car, as these means of transportation tend to move faster than buses. A car ride will only take about 7.5 hours, while buses will take typically 8-9 hours. Train is out of the question as it will take considerably longer for transitioning in Hanoi.
If you don’t want to travel by car, the only way is to travel by train to Hanoi and make a connecting trip to Halong Bay. From Hanoi, there are a lot of options available; you can fly, catch a train or even ride a motorbike to Halong Bay.
It really depends on the means of transportation you choose. Direct bus rides will take about 8-9 hours, while direct car rides will only take 7-8 hours. Trains will take 8=9 hours, plus the time to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay, which can reach upto 13-16 hours in total.
If you can drive (and have a driving license in Vietnam), you can drive from Sapa to Halong Bay. A recommended route is Lao Cai – Vinh Phuc province – Noi Bai airport – Gia Lam district – Bac Ninh province – Hai Duong province – Halong city. However, it’s going to be a long ride and you might get lost on the way, so this is not a strongly recommended option.