We want to spend a few days in Sapa and are a little unsure whether to book a full tour or just arrange with the hotel when we get there. The tour we have been looking at is 180$ each person for overnight trains in both directions, one night in a hotel, and two days of trekking. It seems a bit expensive to me when the train ride is 40$ and I've read that you can get a local guide for around 20$ a day. We are not interested in living in luxury hotels, an okay mid-range hotel is fine for us.
Does anyone have any experience with either or both of these options? Any suggestions?
Do we have to book a train many days before we go?
Appreciate all answers.