A fact that shuttle buses for travelers has been operating on Hanoi – Lao Cai and Hanoi – Sapa route since 2010, but the road is long and winding, narrow and some rough surface limiting the speed of 40 – 50km/ hour through mountains. Such bus journey takes about 10 hours, the same and even longer than train to Sapa. All buslines are also running at night, the same to night trains so travelers still have to spend 2 nights for transferring between Hanoi and Sapa. That’s why travelers still choose train instead of bus for their Sapa holidays.
The new Hanoi – Lao Cai highway inaugurated on 1 Oct 2014 makes it easier ! This is the longest highway of Vietnam, 245 from Hanoi international airport to Heikou border gate, Lao Cai province. The speed is from 60km/h – 120km/h doubled the current speed. It’s a brand new road independent with the current road No.32C and No.70 with shorter length and higher speed. The drive now takes only 4 hours Hanoi – Lao Cai city, and 1 hour more from Lao Cai to Sapa town. Yes, total 5 hours only instead of 9 hours by night train. It’s worthy trying for you and me.
More importantly, buses run during day rather than night. Some shuttle buses start in Hanoi French quarter at 7.30AM and arrives at Sapa at around 12.30PM. It’s indeed ideal for sightseeings with stunning terrace rice fields of Sapa mountain range beyond your windows. The highway runs through the 4 best provinces of rice fields Phu Tho, Tuyen Quang, Yen Bai and Lao Cai. In this October during the harvest time, the best chance of “H’mong people’s masterpieces” photoshooting is enough to convince any travelers to take the bus instead of train to Sapa.
The most popular tour schedule travelers can join is Day 1 – Morning taking the bus journey Hanoi to Sapa on the new highway, checking in hotel in Sapa at noon, then trekking in Cat Cat village of Black H’mong hill tribe in the afternoon. Dinner with special BBQ egg, chicken, baked fishes and pop-corn of Sapa coolness at night. Day 2 – Morning you can join some excursions in Muong Hoa valley, trekking and talking to locals. Day 2 – Afternoon you take the buses returning to Hanoi. It’s so easy, simple, cheap and flexible that we’re just thinking about but want to go immediately.
The cheap is on your way. Bus tickets cost US$ 15 for Hanoi – Sapa and US$ 18 for Sapa – Hanoi, compared with US$ 35 for a 1-way train ticket. Bus ticket costs half of a train tickets. The seats are comfortable enough. We will have another article to describe the deluxe bus facilities which we’ve experienced last week. It’s good and worthy booking.