You don't really need an agency to do this, expecially if you come directly from Hanoi.
If you go on your own by train, the shortest and fastest way is to get out at Pho Lu, and then take a minivan. (it departs from the small square in front of the train station). Cost is 100000 dong, with no bargain possibility, locals pay less.
The trains usually arrive in Pho Lu 1 hour earlier than Lao Cai.
During the way, some flowered Hmongs will get on this minivan as well, with the stuff they have to sell (cages with some small birds inside), so the journey will not be very confortable, because it can get crowded, but it is short, so not a big problem. It is also a nice opportunity to have contact with the local people, and you can have some fun also!
We had breakfast at the Sunset Boulevard Cafè , and then we left our luggage there. In the early afternoon, 2 pm we took a minivan to Sapa (the hotel owner bought the tickets for us)
The market is beautiful, and very coloured. Very good opportunity to take amazing pictures. I did not buy any souvenir, because I was at the beginning of my holiday, so I cannot comment on the prices.
Very worth to see, don't miss if you happen to be around on Sunday morning.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.