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sa pa

MKE, WI
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26 posts
6 reviews
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sa pa

1. Is it better to book SaPa tour when arrive in Hanoi or before we leave home? One tour on internet quoted a price of $349/person for transportation, train (sleeper), tour guide, one night in 3 star hotel, one night in home stay plus some meals. Seems a little high. Maybe you get what you pay for?

2. If train sleeper is "soft" (four beds per compartment), will a shower be available?

3. Can any one recommend a tour company? One of us is a little limited in hiking (bad knees).

4. If we get back to Hanoi from SaPa around 5:00am and fly out the same day (23:00 hrs.), how do we find a hotel room for a portion of the day (a little rest; maybe a shower). We will try to spend most of the day sightseeing.

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Denver, CO
13 posts
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1. Re: sa pa

Mike,

The wife and I will be going through Tonkin Travel and staying at their ecolodge, but they do offer package deals that seem cheaper than what you were quoted. They seem very flexible to what ever your needs may be when making a schedule.

Check out this thread:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g311304-i9623-k151…

As for getting back at 4:30a, we have a similar issue and are just planning on checking back in with our hotel that we will stay at in hanoi, elegance 2.

Not sure when you are going, but hopefully we can tell you how it was once we finish, after Jan 6th.

Jake

dys
Singapore, Singapore
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333 posts
44 reviews
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2. Re: sa pa

Last month, we booked our train tickets via email with the help of Tonkin Travel. A representative met us at Hanoi when we arrived to hand us the tickets and we paid her in full. Our hotel room in Sapa was booked via the internet and they offered transfer as well for USD3 per person (van). All we had to do was check in when we arrived at 7am and we were lucky that the room was available so early in the day. For tours, you can book with any hotel but I recommend Mountain View or Bamboo Sapa. We booked via email a few days before we arrived and they told us what time to meet at the lobby. We got there 10 minutes early and paid in full. Not a problem at all. Our trekking trip was private so it was just our guide and the 2 of us. I couldn't trek fast too due to a knee injury but since it was a private tour, we didn't have to catch up with anyone and our lovely guide ("Cher") allowed us to rest longer than most trekkers did. The price difference between private and group tour was just USD5 per person. For the Bac Ha market tour, we went in a group and it was great too. We had a wonderful time there and made friends with some really nice ladies from the H'mong tribe!

But if you prefer to have everything taken care of for you before you arrive, you can book with Tonkin Travel. They can customise the tour for you, just tell them what you wanna do and what how long you're gonna be there. We did that first with them and they were really flexible, helpful and fast. But as the price was a little steep, we decided to book on our own. Anyway, we only had 1 night in Sapa.

As for the soft sleeper train, we took Tulico and they only had a common bathroom. I'm not sure if there is shower but I don't think anyone showered. They just went straight to bed. The walls were thin and at first we could hear some chatting and walking about but all these stopped an hour or so after the train began to move.

For hotel in Hanoi, if you wish to check in at 5am, you'd probably have to book the room for the day before (considered late check-in). Otherwise, you probably won't be able to check in until the person occupying that room checks out (say, noon). As for having the room till the night, you'll have to work it out with your hotel. Of course, they'll be extra charge involved for late check-out. To my knowledge, the staff at Hanoi Elegance are really helpful and accomodating and if there are vacancies, I'm sure they'll be able to work out something for you. We booked a hotel that didn't open its shutters until 7.30am when the streets were already alive even though they were supposed to be expecting us. We had told them that we were heading straight to the hotel after we got off the train. Choose your hotel wisely.

Most importantly, get your hotel to pick you up at the Hanoi train station if you can. We didn't do so because we read here and were also told by the hotel staff that there would be many cabs waiting. But our train arrived earlier than 5am and, to our surprise, there were loads of people but only a few cabs and they were taken. We were tired and just wanted to get to the hotel. One of the many guys on scooters offered to send us to our hotel for 20,000 Dong (Old Quarters is just a couple of minutes away) and that ride cost us our cameras. So do be careful.

Hope this helps a bit.

dys

Asia
3 posts
2 reviews
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3. Re: sa pa

I just came back from Vietnam. Been to Sapa. Allow me to clear your doubts:-

1) It is cheaper to book when you are in Hanoi. I took the 2D/1N packager i.e. stayed 1 night at Summit hotel (2-star), which is quite good. I did not do the homestay.

2) No shower in the train. If possible, when you booked your Sapa tour, request for SP1 train. SP1 is the train number for the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai (the nearest town to Sapa) which is newer and nicer.

3) There are plenty tour companies in Hanoi Old Quarters. Most of the packages are pretty standard i.e. 2D/1N or 3D/2N.

4) I got a cheap guesthouse / hotel for about USD12 for a hotshower and then move on.

My Sapa package USD65/person with all expenses paid i.e.

- Hotel to Train Transfer

- Overnight train from Hanoi station to Lao Cai station

- Lao Cai station to Summit Hotel transfer

- All meals for the 2D/1N

- 2 Trekking tours

- Summit Hotel to Lao Cai station transfer

- Overnight train from Lao Cai station to Hanoi station.

Kuala Lumpur...
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115 posts
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4. Re: sa pa

Hi..hg55,

Through which agent or hotel did u booked your Sapa pakage, the price is reasonable..what about the hotel room they gave u in Sapa, and the train..is it soft sleeper? I will be going to HanoiSapa this coming 3rd Jan till 11 Jan, have not decide how to move around/itenaries..need advise..

THank you

Asia
3 posts
2 reviews
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5. Re: sa pa

I booked my Sapa package while I am in Hanoi. There are many travel agents in Hanoi Old Quarters. I did not recall the travel agent's name but make sure you ask a few of them.

Stayed in a twin room at Summit Hotel in Sapa. Not bad. See my review on Summit Hotel in TripAdvisor.

I took SP3 train in 4-bed per cabin soft sleeper to Lao Cai and then SP4 back to Hanoi. If possible, take book SP1, which is a nicer train.

As for package, mine is similar to what is listed here under (SP01: SAPA - Y LINH HO) --> www.hanoiyouthhotel.com/tourdetail.asp…

If you are adventurous enough, China border town Hekou is very near Lao Cai. You can go into China to do some shopping. Do take note of your passport visa requirement.

Note: The nearest train station to Sapa is Lao Cai. After that, it is about 1-hour bus ride to Sapa town.

Australia
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252 posts
123 reviews
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6. Re: sa pa

We are going to VN in a couple of weeks and a contact who works on the wholesale side of the VN travel industry (in VN) put me on to the Topas Ecolodge, which is about 40 mins drive from Sapa.

Friends have warned me that Sapa is pretty touristy - although I am a tourist, so that should be OK. But we're quite happy to spend a few nights away from the town itself and just take in the scenery and mountain air.

Topas also has a VN travel agency (both accessible via topas-adventure-vietnam.com) through which we've booked our ecolodge package (they also offer combinations with the posh Victoria Hotel), internal flights and another overnight in the Mekong Delta.

As part of our Sapa package we've booked a VIP cabin on the King Express part of the overnight train. These have only two berths but are much cheaper than the Victoria coaches (but there's only one VIP in each coach). If you want a compartment with just two people the other option is to book out a four berth cabin. For more train info go to seat61.com - there are more links from there.

We could probably have done much of this on the ground in Hanoi (and paid less), but we prefer to get organised ahead of time so we can focus on enjoying ourselves once in VN.

I'm looking forward to doing some walks in Sapa - hope the late January weather isn't too forbidding.

Brighton, United...
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76 posts
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7. Re: sa pa

I booked a 3 day 2 night tour in Sapa from Hanoi, just by walking around and comparing packages. Ended up costing about $75 US for everything inlcuding meals and I stayed in the Bamboo Sapa (see posting). That's more than a lot of people but cheaper than others paid, not sure what SP number train I took but it only had 4 berths - everyone i met on a cheaper package was in a 6 berth cabin (same train, different cabin). I did have to pay the dreaded "single supplement". Never saw a shower on the train, Bamboo Hotel has great tour guides.

Like a previous post our 5am arrival in Hanoi was early - around 4.20am. The area around the station was buzzing. I was flying straight back to HCMC later that morning so didnt have to look for hotel. This part of the trip was not pleasant - I stopped for some breakfast at one of the street stalls just outside the station (great) but you can't move for taxi touts. They then completely ripped me off charging in total about $25 US for the trip to the airport on a rigged meter.

Planet Venus
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2,783 posts
26 reviews
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8. Re: sa pa

i've browsed through the threads here, and i get the impression that sapa is synonymous with hiking /trekking.

is it possible to do sapa and visit the ethnic minorities village without hiking/ trekking. am planning to bring elderly folks with me who are not keen on hiking.

Malaysia
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9,303 posts
80 reviews
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9. Re: sa pa

5678

Yes ,you can opt out the hiking and trekking package.

Arrange to go to the villages directly if you do not like hiking/trekking

Planet Venus
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2,783 posts
26 reviews
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10. Re: sa pa

thanks leo!!!