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help me plan for Sa Pa

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Tipperary, Ireland
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help me plan for Sa Pa


I washoping someone could help, I have looked up various tour companies and cant find one that looks just right. Can anyone recommed a tour company that can do the following

train to and from hanoi, transfer from train station to Sa Pa, two days trecking with overnight in a hotel....or how can I organise this by myself....thanks

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1. Re: help me plan for Sa Pa

Hi, I'm in Sapa at the moment and you can organise this trip yourself.

You will need to book the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai at the station in Hanoi. Have a look at seat61.com for prices and different classes. Hard sleepers arent too bad (6 to a cabin instead of 4 like the soft sleepers). You'll need to book the train a few days in advance if you want hard sleeper as they get booked up.

When you get to Lao Cai you need to get a transfer to Sapa. There is a bit of a scam operation going on here and I got stung by it in terms of the mini-buses to Sapa. Your best option is to book a hotel and ask them to pick you up from the train station. It should cost no more than 40,000 or 50,000 dong (about £1.50). If you havnt arranged a transfer then there are loads of shared minibuses going to Sapa but they'll see a tourist coming a mile off and refuse to take you until you pay the inflated price of between 150,000 to 400,000 dong (what I first got quoted). There seems to be one main guy who runs the operation and as I approached other vans for different quotes they just referred me back to the 'leader' and said I had to pay that price. This guy then follows me round the station as i try to find out the real price and also speak to taxi drivers. All the filled mini-buses then started leaving so being tired I started a massive argument in the car park and ended up

paying 150,000 when what I should have done was gone to the public bus station or called his bluff and said I had time to stay in Lao Cai. Apparantly then he would have accepted 50,000. Someone else has said you shouldn't pay your money either until you get to Sapa as they'll charge you twice.

Once you get to Sapa there are tour agencies you can go trekking with. Your hotel may offer you a guided tour or alternatively you can pay a local village woman $10 for a 12km trek through the valleys and rice paddies to her house where she will cook you lunch and show you her village. This is what we did today and it was great! I'm not sure what type of trekking you want to do so will leave it to you. You can pay upto $60 for a guide so just check what youre getting. We rented motor bikes for $5 a day too and explored the area on our own (3 girls mid twenties) which was fun and easy.

You can book transport, whether train or bus, back to Hanoi from Sapa. However if you know which train you want to get its probably best booking it when you arrive in Lao Cai at the train station, in advance, to avoid travel agency commission costs.

Hanoi, Vietnam
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2. Re: help me plan for Sa Pa

All you need is a good agent - I happen to know an excellent man in Hanoi who can help you with plans for Sapa. I like to book the hotel myself, and usually just use the agent for train tickets. Local tours/treks can be arranged once in Sapa. I recommend that you have your hotel meet the train. The agent that I recommend is:


Pennsylvania, USA
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3. Re: help me plan for Sa Pa

Any agent in Vietnam can organize what you want. Basically you want them to put together a customized itinerary for you. I've used Tonkin Travel for years and recommend them highly.

Or, you can easily do it yourself. Your hotel in Hanoi can get you the train tickets you want. They could also arrange your hotel in Sapa, but I would do that yourself based on your likes/needs/budget. You can go on-line and choose a hotel in Sapa. When you make your room reservation tell them you would also like them to arrange your transportation from the Lao Cai station to Sapa, and that you would also like 2 days of trekking.

If you are in good physical shape and want some challenging trekking with amazing views that are off the beaten path, then I recommend you contact Topas Travel:


They have an office in both Hanoi and Sapa. They also have some very good mountain biking options in the Sapa area. There is a Topas Ecolodge as well, about 40 min. from Sapa, but you don't have to stay there to use Topas Travel. Most of the treks organized through hotels in Sapa are pretty light and stay on the heavily used tourist path.

You may also want to consider organizing a visit to a local ethnic minority market. Different locations have different market days. The bottom of this web page will give you the local and days that various markets in the Sapa area are held:


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4. Re: help me plan for Sa Pa

We think that, you could book the return ticket by your own via their website as follows www.sapalytrain.com, www.fanxipantrain.com or www.livitrans.com they are all the same very good and you can be avoid pay extra fees as well.

The hotels in Sapa can be help you arrange some tours during your stay in Sapa with local price, sure cheaper and you will get the best deals in hotel such as free storage luggage and shower after the trek. Further more hotel can arrange pick up from Laocai station to hotel too.

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5. Re: help me plan for Sa Pa

I do not think that you can not choose a tour company that arrange services for you. Actually all companies can do that. There is one thing that tour operator can create a customized tour as per your request and it means this can not done with travel agencies with fixed programs. You can either arrange yourself every single services or book a packaged tour via tour company.

6. Re: help me plan for Sa Pa

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Tipperary, Ireland
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7. Re: help me plan for Sa Pa

Thanks everyone.....ye have given me loads of great advice here :-)

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8. Re: help me plan for Sa Pa

Daawgon, for some reason the link you have suggested is faulty. Can you please re attach another one? Thank you.

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: help me plan for Sa Pa

I m in sapa now n we used a travel agency all the way from Hanoi-sapa- Hanoi because of the reviews on TA. V just finished our 2 day trekking with a local guide. Pm me if u need their contacts.

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10. Re: help me plan for Sa Pa

Hi Bibster2005! How was the Sa Pa experience? Will be there in late April and planning on 2x nights there. Have a local T/agent who is friend of a friend, and organizing bits and pieces of our 3+ week holiday in V. Difficult to get everything crammed into that time and we usually try for some non-touristie ventures. Something has to go - so working through process of elimination!