Sapa – Railway information

Footsteps in Vietnam – (Updated on 2013 June 28th)


Train code SP1 SP2 SP3 SP4 SP5 SP6 SP7 SP8
Ha Noi 21:10D 04:35A 21:50D 05:10A 19:40D 03:40A 20:35D 04:05A
Lao Cai 05:25A 20:05D 06:15A 20:45D 04:20A 18:55D 04:55A 19:30D

A: Arrival

D: Departure


Cabin for 4





(Unit: 1000VND)


Cabin for 2; A/C; High-class furnished; LCD; Fruit and water

2,500-3,000 *


Cabin for 2; A/C; Fully furnished; LCD; Fruit and water

1,500-2,500 *


Cabin for 4; A/C; Essential  Furnished; LCD; 2nd – storied bed



Cabin for 4; A/C; Essential  Furnished; LCD; 1st – storied bed



Cabin for 6; A/C; Essential Furnished; 3rd – storied bed



Cabin for 6; A/C; Essential Furnished; 2nd – storied bed



Cabin for 6; A/C; Essential Furnished; 1st – storied bed



Cabin for 6; Essential Furnished; 3rd – storied bed



Cabin for 6; Essential Furnished;2nd – storied bed



Cabin for 6; Essential Furnished; 1st – storied bed



Standard seat; A/C



Standard seat



Solid seat; A/C



Solid seat


(*) Not sale at the stations. Please contact a travel agency.


1. Hanoi Station Website: (Support booking via Phone & SMS, Vietnamese language)

2. Hanoi Station or Travel Agencies

3. Hlink:



Sapa Travel Tips


Dare for snake blood in Vietnam ?

Footsteps in Vietnam – Hanoi is well-known for its snake restaurants — restaurants that serve every body part of the snake.If you’re lucky, the snake will be a cobra; if you’re the guest of honor, you’ll be served the heart.

I could not imagine a better adventure in Hanoi!

Hanoi Backpackers Hostel runs trips to Snake Village most nights.  For $15, you get to visit a traditional snake restaurant on the outskirts of Hanoi and enjoy the full snake dining experience.  There’s a snake buffet, plenty of rice wine, and since it’s organized through the hostel, you know that there will be a great group of people.


You can help kill the snake.

You drink the snake’s blood and bile.

And if you’re truly adventurous, you can bite the heart out of the living snake, feeling it beat in your mouth for a few moments before you swallow it.

BEYOND badass!

When we arrived, we chose five snakes.  These wouldn’t be the ones we would eat, but they would definitely be the ones that we killed.

The snakes were killed one by one by inserting a knife just underneath the head.  Each snake was sliced open lengthwise, which gave these guys easy access to the blood and bile.

I initially wanted to eat the heart myself, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. Even I have my limits, I guess.  Someday.

My friend Dave, however, did splendidly.  He later told me he wasn’t sure whether he felt the heart beating in his mouth or if it was just his imagination.

Next, the blood was squeezed into glasses filled with rice wine.  How amazing is that picture?!

The bodily fluids were poured into shot glasses for us.

On the left: snake bile and rice wine.  On the right: snake blood and rice wine.

Down the hatch!

Honestly, it tasted more like rice wine — which tasted like whiskey — than anything else. But simply knowing that it was blood, blood that had been flowing through an animal only moments ago, was an insane rush!

We then feasted on a snake buffet.  No part of the snake was overlooked — we even ate the bones!

To answer your imminent question, snake kind of tastes like chicken.  Doesn’t everything, though?

Two of the best dishes:

Snake wrapped in seaweed.  So juicy and tender.

Snake spring rolls!

We toasted, again and again, with shots of rice wine.  (A word to the wise — rice wine is extremely potent.  Treat it like liquor, not wine.  Don’t do all the shots you’re offered.)

To conclude, I doubt PETA will be inviting me to hang out anytime soon.  And I wouldn’t be surprised to lose a reader or two over this.

But I don’t care.  My experience of drinking snake blood and bile was nothing short of extraordinary — and one hell of an adrenaline rush!

You can see my friends agreed!

Next time, I promise you, I’m going for the heart!


Five (Somewhat Controversial) Tips for Living in Hanoi

Very good experiences from you, man!

Good Evening Vietnam

At the end of my seven-month stint as a volunteer living and working in Hanoi, I feel it’s fitting to pass on some of the “wisdom” (charitably defined) I have accumulated over my time here. As such, in my final post to Good Evening Vietnam, I’d like to present five lessons for living in Hanoi that you won’t find in any guidebook. I emphasise ‘living’ because I’m not suggesting that anyone who visits the city for only a few days should necessarily start following these prescripts: you’d probably get yourself killed. But if you’re due to bed down here for a month or more you’re unlikely to go wrong by following these simple instructions.*

*Of course the author holds no legal liability if you should “go wrong” by following these simple instructions.

1. ‘Boil it, peel it, cook it’ … forget about it!

During my first week in Hanoi my…

View original post 1,069 more words

Backpacking in Da Nang

Footsteps in Vietnam – 2 guys recorded their 7-day backpacking trip to share with people in 2012. They started from Hanoi, taking the train to Danang for the International Firework Festival. After that, they headed to Hoi An, lived there in 2 days and then jumped on a boat for Cu Lao Cham island. The guys decided to taste a wildlife trip on the island so they camped on a quiet beach for 2 days, enjoyed the nature as much as they can before heading back to the mainland.

Attractive diving tours in Nha Trang

Footsteps in Vietnam – Nha Trang is the second bay in Việt Nam, after Hạ Long, was listed in the club of the most beautiful bays in the world (Germany-based international organization). If you come to Nha Trang, don’t miss a chance to explore the sea bed.

Colorful seabed

Diving services appeared here from 1995. Currently, Nha Trang has tens of diving clubs, including Blue Diving, ORCA, Octopus and Rainbow. Most of local hotels and coffee bars on Trần Phú highway are agents to sell ticket for diving services.

Tằm island, some 12km from the seashore, is an ideal destination for people who like playing parachuting, water-skiing and water motorcycle race. If you wish to visit the whole view of Nha Trang bay, you should play parachute towed by canoes at Tằm island. Flying at the height of 50 – 70m in the middle of the sea, you will have unforgettable strong feelings.


Scuba diving in Nha Trang. Photo:

Near Tằm island is Mun island. Mun means blacks. It was a volcano a long time ago and has become black gradually. Mun island is around 10km from the heart of the city and it takes visitors over one hour to come to the island from the city. Mun island is the most beautiful diving place in Việt Nam. It has nine points for diving and under the sea water surface is the coral paradise for travelers’ exploration.



The diving places have fresh and clean water. On nice sunny days, you can see coral rows at the sea bottom. You will be instructed to use adjutages for breathing. The instructors will dive with you to give support in necessary cases and take you to see corals.


Diving in Madonna Rock, Nha Trang

The sea area has many famous diving points such as “Madonna stone”, “black tunnel” and “coral garden” where visitors can see the colorful world of tropical corals. Diving at the depth of 4 – 10m, you will see a wonderful water palace which has strange kinds of fish. In the sunlight darted on the blue water, actinia tassels moves like sea snakes, and seaweed bushes swing slightly and colorful fish run around you. Coming to the depth of 10 – 15m, you will not see coral rows, but many nice caves for exploration. You even have to lights to see sea creatures in some caves.

Diving tourism services in Nha Trang have become more attractive to both local and foreign travelers.


Taxis in Saigon – How to avoid being taken for a ride

Footsteps in Vietnam – Taxis are a surprisingly cheap way to get around the major cities in Vietnam – and if need be, its event not too prohibitive to take a taxi between cities. In Saigon the crowded streets and haphazard construction can make walking a very hot and tiring exercise so it can be quite a relief to hop into a nice cool taxi when you are starting to wear out.

In general cross city taxi travel in Ho Chi Minh City between major tourist sights can be achieved for $1-2, occasionally up to $5 or $6 if you need to travel a particularly long way – for instance from downtown Dong Khoi area up to Chinatown. The vast majority of taxi drivers are very courteous, helpful and safe drivers, if a little too fond of their horns at times, so you should feel free to relax and enjoy the scenery as you drive.

That being said, taxis are not closely regulated and if you do not travel with a trusted brand you may find the meter has been fiddled and you are paying over the odds. The government have recently been holding a crackdown on dodgy taxis at the airport in o Chi Minh City which appears to have been quite successful, but it seems little is being done to put a stop to overcharging in private taxis in town.

To help visitors and expats new to the city we’ve put together a guide to the taxis to trust and those to avoid. Its quite easy to stick with the trusted brands if you follow our guide below – and if you feel you are being taken for a ride, just ask the driver to pull over and choose another cab. You will have to pay whatever is on the meter if you want to avoid a very lengthy argument, so it is better to stop and do so sooner rather than later!

Since most drivers only speak Vietnamese do bear in mind that at times a detour they are taking may be to avoid heavy traffic and roadworks to get you to your train, bus or plane on time, rather than to inflate the meter. There may be a few crooks operating tourist taxis but the majority of taxi drivers are legitimate, so try to avoid taking a cynical view on your travels – you will enjoy your time in Vietnam a great deal more!

The taxis to avoid

It may have a meter, but..

It’s a dead giveaway really. You will see many of these taxis hovering in the tourist areas, outside backpacker ghettos, museums and late night bars but rarely picking up local passengers .. What do they know that you don’t?

Taxi Du Lich

It’s quite simple actually – painted on the side or on the roof are the words “Taxi Du Lich” – which translates as ‘Tourist Taxi’. While I generally like to advocate supporting independent traders chances are you are more likely to pay much more for your fares in one of these than in a taxi run by a major company.

Taxis we know and love


Vinasun – Possibly one of the most comfortable fleets – at least in Saigon – Vinasun have cool, clean and spacious cars and seven seater ‘people carrier’ style taxis. Their meters start low – around 12,000 Dong – and the drivers are friendly and helpful

Mai Linh Taxis

Mai Linh – One of my favourite transport companies in Vietnam, Mai Linh are building an empire on good service and fair pricing. I always use their buses when I have the choice and their taxis are great too – though the larger vehicles in their taxi fleet are a little boxy compared to Vinasun’s, but to be fair I am a fair bit taller than your average Saigon resident.


VinaTaxi – bright and yellow just like new york taxis, Vinataxi are cheap and cheerful. Meters start at 9,000 Dong which perhaps reflect the age of the fleet – they were the first taxi company in Saigon and some of the cars are beginning to look a little sad and old. Still, they are dependable and very competitively priced, so you can’t complain.

The following are also of great values:

Although you may not see so many of them, all of the following cab companies will give you a decent rate and a comfortable journey.

Saigon Tourist
Saigon Tourist

Hoang Long



 The pretenders


Definately not a Mai Linh

Sadly success often leads to copycats in Vietnam and the same is true of taxis. Therefore if you see a ‘Vinamet’, ‘Vinameter’, ‘Lai Minh’ or similar play on one of the popular brands above chances are its a fake and given the slightly unscrupulous adoption of their competitor’s names it is fairly likely they may be just as unscrupulous when it comes to setting their meters.

Outside Saigon – what to look for in a good taxi

Many towns have their own local taxi companies so it is difficult to list them all. Mai Linh and Vinasun above can be found in just about every town in Vietnam and are consistently reliable, but many of the smaller local operators can be cheap and effective so don’t be afraid of giving them a go.

In general we would recommend looking for the following before you get in a cab:

  • A clean, reasonably new car – legitimate companies care about their image so their taxis will look in a much better condition than the fly-by-nights
  • A brand name and logo – preferably one that doesn’t look like a copy of someone else’s!
  • Perhaps most importantly – a ‘So Dep’ or ‘pretty (phone) number’ such as 8111 111 or 27 27 27 27 – these are expensive and first come first served and so usually imply the taxi company is in business for the long term.




Travel Guide to the Backpacker District in Saigon, Vietnam

Street food Hanoi

Footsteps in Vietnam – Hanoi: Old versus new, rural versus urban, East versus West. Despite these conflicting elements, Hanoi is a city of harmony and equilibrium. The character of Vietnamese cuisine is the balance between sweet and spicy, hot and cold, fresh and cooked. Ishai has 24 hours to taste and enjoy the various foods of the city and maybe even find his own sense of inner balance! During the episode, Ishai will try the famous Pho dish, meet with Chef Bien Duc Nguyen, and hell brave a taste of some fascinating snake liquor.

Source: National Geographic TV