Train from Hanoi to Lao Cai

18 Apr

Train from Hanoi to Lao Cai

Train from Hanoi to Lao Cai

This railway is the most used across Vietnam. The story behind this line dates back from the French Indochina after the vacation station in Sapa was built to welcome French people. They tend to fly away from the tropical heat during the year.

The national railway company, with the great help of private investors, took some initiatives to give a fresh makeover of the train cabins and wagons.  This actually lead to a greater hosting capacity for the following train lines: Hanoi-Lao Cai and Lao Cai-Hanoi.

The night trains are a big hit among foreigners. Indeed, they are cheap and relatively « comfortable ».  

To go to Sapa, travelers need to take a local bus to Lao Cai. It costs 50 000VND/person for one way. It is a 38 kms long road, done in a 1-hour drive.

Several trains make the journey every night to go to Lao Cai and reverse. The depart hours are between 7:30pm and 9:30pm. They arrive early in the morning the next day between 4 :30 am and 7 :00 am.

Here are the main companies that assure train transport services for foreigners on Hanoi-Lao Cai and  Lao Cai-Hanoi.

* Livitrans, * Victoria Sapa, * Tulico, * Royale Sapa, * ET Pumpkin express, * Fanxipan, * Ratraco, *Hara express, * Sapaly express, * Orient Express.

These companies give more comfortable wagons and cabins options that relate in a way to international comfort standards.  The departure hours are the same as the lower-class wagons.

A website that we can’t stop to recommend is 12go.asia to book all of your ground transports (bus, trains) and even on sea like ferries.

Why are there differences between trains? (SP1, SP2 train… and Orient Express, Livitrans trains…)

Companies such as Orient Express, King Express, Livitrans rent wagons on SP1, SP2 and SP3 trains from the national railway company.  They bring their own brand standards and décor (a personalization process of wagons and cabins).  Therefore, from one wagon to another you can see differences in mattresses, air-conditioner, night tables. They also include various services like free drinkable water or refreshing towels. Eventually, they resell the tickets of their wagons and cabins to travelers, according to their own prices.

Train Station SP1 SP3 SP5 LC1 LC3 SP7
Hanoi 9:15 pm 9:55 pm 8:20 am 10:05 pm 6:10 am 8:40 pm
Lao Cai 6:15 am 6:00 am 5:05 pm 7:10 am 3:40 pm 4:35 am
Train station SP2 SP4 SP6 LC2 LC4 SP8
Lao Cai 8:15 pm 9:00 pm 8:40 am 6:45 pm 9:45 am 7:30 am
Hanoi 4:30 am 5:05 am 7:10 pm 4:00 am 7:55 pm 4:10 am

The differences among cabins from one train company to another.

* Livitrans: 9 wagons with different categories. 4 sleeping cabins, with 2 sleeping-bunk. Cabins with air-conditioning and wide windows. Although there is a restaurant on board, we advise you to have dinner before your trip.

* Victoria Sapa :  2 wagons with cabins (12 cabins in total with hosting capacity from 2 to 4 persons per cabin). The booking into their wagons is only possible if you book nights at their own accommodation based in Sapa.

* Tulico : less luxurious but very cheap. 4 sleeping-beds cabins and also some with 2. Air-conditioner and a common bathroom.

* Royale Sapa : cabins from 2 to 4 sleepin-beds. A shared-bathroom.

* ET Pumpkin express : wooden-decor. They also have sleeping cabins (2 categories : standard and deluxe).

* Fanxipan : high-standard cabins. 56 smeeping-beds. Shared-bathroom.

* Ratraco : Luxe category. Only 4 person per cabins. Shared-bathrooms on both ends of each wagons. Air-conditioning.

* Hara express : 48 sleeping-beds that host from 2 to 4 people. You have 3 categories : VIP, Deluxe and Economic (there are only 2 cabins with VIP and Deluxe categories). As in others wagons, tha bathroom is shared. There is air-conditioning.

* Sapaly express: less tourists. Larger cabins. Six cabins. Cabins of 2 and 4 sleeping-beds. Air-conditioning.

* Orient Express : 38 sleeping-beds. There are 2, 4 or 6 sleeping-beds.

SP1/ SP2: a few stops, soft sleeping-beds ; air-conditioning and cabins for 2 to 4 people maximum. Only snacks on board.

SP3/SP4 : a few stops, soft seats and beds, the same as SP1/SP2

SP7/SP8 : high comfort with soft seats. Air-conditioning.  Snacks on board.

LC1/LC2 : night trains. Very slow and regular stops.  

LC3/LC4 : Daytime trains, hard seats with no air-conditioning and trains with soft seats and air-conditioning. Tea and coffee as well as snacks.

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