It is possible to get from Hanoi Airport to Lao Cai by train, bus, and taxi. The cost of a ticket and travel time are almost the same for public transport: on average, you will pay 17 dollars for a trip and spend around 8 hours en route. A taxi trip costs no less than 170 dollars but you will get to your destination in only 4 hours. It is approximately 240 km between Hanoi and Lao Cai.
Trains depart from the capital to Lao Cai on a daily basis but there are only two trips a day and both are late in the evening. In addition, many buses go in this direction too but one can learn the exact schedule only at the place of their departure. It is the most convenient to get to Lao Cai by taxi or transfer. Of course, the cost of a trip by this type of transport is significantly higher but travel time is half as much. Besides, if your flight arrives during a day, there might be no buses running at all.
Lao Cai is a center of the same name province. The city plays an important role for the country as it is located on the border with China. It was almost fully destroyed during the war with the neighboring country in 1979, and today there is no historical buildings or temples left in Lao Cai. Tourists arrive here only to make a change on their way to Sa Pa, which attracts foreigners with its unique atmosphere. Everywhere in Sa Pa, one can see cascade rice terraces, and, in the streets, once can meet representatives of mountain tribes in national costumes.
up to $7
up to 25 min
Only night trains go from Hanoi to Lao Cai. They depart at 21:35 and 22:00. A ticket cost depends on the seat type in a carriage and varies from 7 to 17 dollars. You will spend 8 hours en route.
In Vietnam trains, there are private sleeper carriages. They cost pretty much, from 20 to 113 dollars, and are designed for foreign tourists. Tickets can be bought only from carrier companies or through travel agencies, as you cannot buy them on the official website of the Vietnam Rail. The service and comfort level differ in different companies. Thus, Victoria Express, for example, has a private compartment for two passengers, and one berth in such a carriage costs 160 dollars.
SP1/SP3 Hanoi— Lao Cai
Hanoi Airport — Hanoi train station — Lao Cai train station
approximately 9 hours including the way to the train station
from 25 minutes to 24 hours
It depends on a carriage type:
Each carriage on a train has a toilet and a sink, with an additional sink opposite to the toilet. Corridors in Vietnamese carriages and entrances are very narrow: so two tourists or tourists with a wide suitcase will be simply not able to enter. The reason is that the rails in the country are narrow gauge.
a seat in a standard carriage — 7 dollars a berth in a sleeper compartment for 6 people — 9,5 dollars a berth in a sleeper compartment for 4 people — 17 dollars
Tickets for sleeper carriages should be booked in advance.
for those who suffer from motion sickness
The train departs from the central train station of Hanoi. Express bus №86 runs there regularly from the terminal T2.
up to 30min
It is possible to get from Hanoi to Lao Cai by bus too. The trips are operated by companies SAO VIỆT and HẢI V N. Tourists often mention other carrier companies on the Internet but there is no credible information about them. When traveling by bus, you will spend 8,5 hours en route. The cost of a ticket is around 17 dollars.
As a rule, Lao Cai is not a terminal stop for buses. Mostly, they head to Sa Pa, so you should be attentive on your way not to miss the right stop.
SAO VIỆT, HẢI VAN
SAO VIỆT: from 6:00 to 9:00 and from 17:00 to 21:00
HẢI VAN: 8:40, 20:30, 21:00
Hanoi Airport — My Dinh Bus Station in Hanoi — Lao Cai bus station
approximately 9 hours including the way to the bus station
from 30 minutes to 12 hours
average: air conditioning, comfortable seats, which can be converted to berths
not for people suffering from motion sickness
Buses to Lao Cai depart from My Dinh Bus Station. It is possible to get there by public transport only with several changes, so it is better to book taxi or transfer.
up to $170
Taxi from Hanoi Airport will take you to Lao Cai in just 4 hours. The cost of a trip starts from 170 dollars but it will obviate the need to look for a public transport stop with heavy luggage or small children, in order to leave the bus or train station. You will also not have to adjust yourself to the schedule of public transport which is, however, not very complicated on this route.
to the particular address in Lao Cai
taxi: average wait time is 5 minutes
transfer: no need to wait for a car as it arrives strictly at the appointed time
taxi: travel without unfamiliar travel companions; space for luggage
transfer: guaranteed air-conditioning, it is possible to choose a car with a required number of seats and enough space for luggage.
those arriving during a day or whose in a hurry
Taxi can be called by phone or via the internet; transfer should be booked online on Kiwitaxi company website.
It is possible to save on a transportation from Hanoi to Lao Cai by choosing the bus or train. The advantage of the bus is that there are many trips per day. If you are in a hurry and need to travel to Lao Cai as soon as you have arrived in Hanoi, it is better to choose a taxi. You will get to the destination without a single change and twice as fast than by public transport.