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Transportation to and within Lao Cai Province

Lao Cai is a mountainous province in the northwest region of Vietnam, bordering with Ha Giang on the east, Yen Bai at the south, Lai Chau at the west and China’s southern province Yunnan in the north. At the moment, there is no airport, so Lao Cai can be reach only by road or by railways.

1 – From Hanoi to Lao Cai:

* By road: It is 335 Km by road. From Hanoi, first follow national road 2 via Viet Tri City to Doan Hung Junction. Turn left and follow national road 4D via Yen Bai. Due to the mountain terrain and poor investment, the road condition is bad and it is a long and tiring trip.

* By Train: The French started to build the rail road to Lao Cai from early 20th Century and nowadays this portion has been developing very fast to satisfied great demand especially for tourists to go to Lao Cai. Every day there are many trains depart from Hanoi to Lao Cai and v.v. However the only day train, departing at 06.00Am, is a slow one which stops at every station and poorly equipped with hard seats only. Most of the best trains with best facilities including sleeping cabins with A/C start from Hanoi station in the evening from 21.00 to 23.00 and arrive at Lao Cai station early next morning. For details of these trains, please visit our train section.

2 – From Dien Bien Phu via Lai Chau:
It is about 200 Km by road from Dien Bien City and it is the only way to reach to Sapa and Lao Cai from Dien Bien Phu via Lai Chau and Tam Duong. This road was very bad in the past but is being upgraded. However some tourists choose to flight from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu and take tours along this rout.

3 – From Kunming City, China:
Lao Cai is about 500 Km from Kunming City, the central city of Yunnan province, China. Passengers, especially tourists choose this rout to reach to Lao Cai in stead of taking a flight to Hanoi.

• By road: The road from Kunming to Hekou with a border crossing to Lao Cai is good and it takes about 9 to 10 hours by bus. There are many bus operating along this rout day and night.

• By Train: There are 2 trains from Kunming to Hekou every day.
Once when in Hekou, Just go to the border gate for clearing immigration formalities and it takes only 5 minutes to walk crossing to Lao Cai town.

4 – Transportation within Lao Cai Province

Land transport is the only way to travel to localities within Lao Cai Province. In recent years, good road have been building and upgrading to link Lao Cai City with all district townships and big centers such as Sapa, Bac Ha, Muong Khuong…

• Lao Cai – Sapa: It is 37 Km from Lao Cai to Sapa and this portion of the national road 4C is the best road in Lao Cai province which takes about an hour to go uphill. There are many vans operating along this rout from morning till late afternoon.

• Lao Cai – Bac Ha: The distant is about 70 Km and the road condition is good. However upgrading work is being taken at some part. It take almost 2 hours to reach to Bac Ha and there are just a few local buses operating along this rout.

• Lao Cai – Muong Khuong: The distant is 45 Km and the road condition is good.

5 – Trains depart from Hanoi to Lao Cai and back

A – From Hanoi to Lao Cai
Train Code Departure Arrival Category Tourist carriage
LC5 06.00 17.00 Slow with seats only
LC1 Slow. 6 bed, 4 bed cabin
LC3 Fast, 6 bed, 4 bed cabin
SP1 Express, 4 bed cabin, A/C

B – From Lao Cai to Hanoi
Train Code Departure Arrival Category Tourist carriage
LC6 06.00 17.00 Slow with seats only Not advice
LC2 Slow. 6 bed, 4 bed cabin
LC4 Fast, 6 bed, 4 bed cabin
SP2 Express, 4 bed cabin, A/C

There are special carriages ranging from budget to luxury classes providing travelers with much better facilities being operated in co-operation with the railways company. Below is information about these carriages.

Name of the carriage Category & facilities Operating with train

+ Luxury class:
Victoria Deluxe: serving those staying in Victoria hotel sapa only: 2 bed & 4 bed cabins

+ First Class:
Tulico Carriage: 2 bed & 4 bed cabin with A/C
Livitrans Carriage: 2 bed, 4 bed, 6 bed cabins with A/C

+ Budget Class:
Et - Pumpkin : 4 bed cabin with A/C
Fansipan express : 2 bed & 4 bed cabin with A/C
TSC Carriage : 2 bed & 4 bed cabin with A/C
Royal Express: 4 bed cabin with A/C

  Click to view train photos
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