Hanoi is a charming city to visit, but after a while you may be craving some nature, why not make the trip to Sapa, a popular resort north of Hanoi. In Sapa, you will find rolling rice terraces, local tribes, cute cozy bars and much more. We recently booked online to travel from Hanoi to Sapa, and back, on the new Sao Viet VIP bus. Here we have the ultimate review of this bus company and the journey to Sapa.
Checking in at the bus office in Hanoi
You’ll be delighted to know that the location the bus departs from is from the Sao Viet booking office in the Hoan Kiem area, specifically at 114 Tran Nhat Duat. If you’ve spent enough time in Hanoi, you will be able to understand the location when we tell you it’s a very short walk from Ta Hien drinking street and Vietnam Backpackers Hostel.
Pro tip: the bus departs on the exact time it states (crazy, I know!). So, make sure you allow yourself enough time to reach the office and check-in, which, if you’re staying close to the Bia Hoi corner, should take no more than a 10-minute walk.
The check-in was super simple, just a quick flash of our e-ticket on our phone, and we were handed a paper ticket to show to the driver. Before long, we were hopping on board the luxury bus with local people, eager to soak up the nature of Sapa.
Amenities fit for a king and queen
With the choice between solo massage seats on the upper deck (that’s right, you read correctly, massage seats!), or two birth couple seats below, your comfort needs are undoubtedly taken care of. It’s first come first served, so be sure to check-in at the office as soon as you can, to snag your preferred seat because unfortunately you cannot assign your seat online.
Presentation wise, these limousine coaches are worth every penny. We highly recommend that you sample the taste of luxury on your upcoming trip to Sapa. Each cabin is fitted with durable, plastic interior with a wood pattern and trimmed with chrome throughout. The leather seats are approximately 6 ft. in length when not reclined. If you’re on the taller side, fear not, because the adjustable leg function creates a little more leg room and is much more comfortable in our opinion.
As already mentioned, there’s a massage function on the solo seats, which you should take full advantage of during the journey. It has eight different settings and allows you to increase or decrease the intensity of the massage. On your way back from Sapa, after trekking in the mountains, you will want that dial cranked to the maximum for the journey back to Hanoi.
Once the novelty of the massage seat wears off, there are other amenities to explore. There’s something for every type of commuter. Readers have their reading light, thrill-seekers have their aircon (although we don’t think it will be needed for Sapa), movie junkies have their TV, and sleepers have their blanket and pillow; all in the confines of a privacy curtain and window cover. Charge your phone with the USB slot, sip the complimentary water and relax.
Sao Viet offers plentiful departure times throughout the day, but our journey from Hanoi to Sapa kicked off at 1:20 pm. The first hour was spent fighting the traffic to escape the city. Once we were over the bridge leading away from Hanoi, the long stretches of roads began, and it was smooth sailing for the next few hours.
We stopped at a large service station for a mere 15 minutes. Not enough time to grab anything decent from the restaurant, so a simple banh mi would have to suffice. Before we knew it, we were back on the road and the greenery of the scenery started to appear. There’s only a small window of opportunity to gaze out into the lush province of Lao Cai, so soak it up while you can because by late afternoon, it starts to get dark. The roads started to wind in and out as we approached the mountainous region of Sapa. A sharp turn here, a sharp turn there. The section between Lao Cai and Sapa is only an hour, so make the most of the massage chairs whilst you have it.
Pro tip: The road from Lao Cai to Sapa is extremely windy, so, if you’re prone to car sickness make sure to have a disposable bag at hand. Alternatively, take some sickness tablets during the journey.
Arrival in Sapa
The total length of the journey was 7 hours, so we arrived just after 8 pm. The Sao Viet bus arrives at 637373 Dien Bien Phu Street, which is directly opposite the local night market, where you can find stalls upon stalls dishing up steaming hotpot. From here, there are many roads branching off that lead to the local villages. Sapa town is relatively small, so if you’re staying in the town itself your hotel should be within walking distance. Alternatively, there are many taxis waiting near the local market if it’s too far a walk for you.
All in all, we would 100% recommend the bus with Sao Viet from Hanoi to Sapa, and vice versa. The check-in process was simple and the bus itself is pure luxury. So, if you’re looking to travel to Sapa in style, this bus is certainly for you. Sit back, tuck into a film or two, and enjoy a massage, all in the comfort of your own private space.