I'll be arriving in Hanoi in the afternoon on a weekday, and planning to jump on the night train, that same day, to go to Lao Cai (and then on to SaPa).
I was wondering if anyone here knows if I can get a return ticket (4-berth, a/c, soft sleeper, from Hanoi to Lao Cai, back to Hanoi) easily from the train station in Hanoi, on the day itself?
I was looking at Vietnam Rail's website and the prices they quoted are within the 203,000 - 214,000VND range. But they do not have a booking system.
Whereas, there are quite a few Vietnamese tour operators' sites which are selling the tickets for between US$20-25. That's 332,000 - 416,000VND. Almost double the price.
Can anyone help with my query?
Thanx in advance.
I was in Sapa in March '04 so my info might not be current. Two options available were: 1. guided tour (by van) and 2. train with transfer to van at Lao Cai. Option 2 is still a guided tour with the difference being the lower transportation cost. I chose option 1 since it's still cheap overall and I saved time travelling. Some've said the train ride is fun/scenic but rough. I've been on a few overnight train rides during my stays in Vietnam and couldn't sleep for the most part. The route taken by the van was pretty nice (imo) so no complaints.
There's no booking system for the train system in Vietnam. But since you'll arrive on a weekday I think you have a good chance of getting a ticket at the station. There's also the hotel issue (Sapa) to think of. I'm of no help here as the tour outfit took care of that for me. Plan on staying 2-3 days in Sapa.
If you can phone the Railway station in Hanoi and reserve a ticket, that should be OK.
If you want a travel agent to buy the ticket for you in advance, you can contact me. I know someone in Hanoi can do that for you and the service charge is 50,000 VND.
If you don't want to take both options, I think it's still possible to buy the return ticket on the same day when you arrive in Hanoi on weekday.
I think, you can not call to hanoi railway station to reserve tickets, because they'll say. You'd go to the station to buy your tickets. So when you arrive hanoi, you go to the station to buy your ticket but the 4berth in A/C cabin, normal run out of several days before. If you want go to Sapa for weekend(Thus, fri, Sat) is very difficult to buy the tickets(many people go to Sapa at that time). To buy your return Ticket, when the train arrive Lao Cai station, you'd buy them in Lao Cai station for back ticket(Lao Cai- Hanoi). Through tour operator is higher class ticket, that is train ticket from train ticket company(they buy a train carriage from vietnamrailway station and improve, renew and decorate for become a nice and luxury train department) so the price is more expensive.
Dezafinado, thank you for the tour info, but I think I will skip the tours as I'm on a tight budget, and also a tight schedule. I won't be staying long in sapa. probably only 2 full days.
Thi_travel, thank you for offering to buy the train ticket for me, but I will try my luck at the station when I get into Hanoi.
vngreen, thank you for your advice. I won't be going to Sapa on the weekend, so I'm crossing my fingers that I can get train tickets from the station itself when I land in Hanoi on a weekday.
actually, i might decide to ask for your help in getting that train ticket, Thi_travel.
let me think about it and i'll get back to you.
thank you =o)