Travelling from Hanoi to Bac Ha

Travelling from Hanoi to Bac Ha

By bus
Sleeper buses run direct from Hanoi (My Dinh) approximately 7:00pm to Bac Ha for around USD15–20. Ask at the local tourist office, a reputable tour agency, or your hotel or hostel regarding tickets. These buses are reasonably modern, the beds are small and recline back, typically in three single or two double rows. The bus will make stops for bathroom breaks and snacks, and once in Bac Ha city. If you are a light sleeper the journey could be uncomfortable with many sharp twists and turns, and some claim that the mountain roads are dangerous, although there is no evidence of accidents on the route. The bus stop is near the lake area.

By train->bus
Bắc Hà can be reached by a nine-hour train journey from Hanoi to Lào Cai (pronounced lao kai), followed by a separate transfer to Bắc Hà.

Vietnam Rail operates some of the carriages in the train, but others are operated by private companies (Fanxipan Express, Friendly, Ratraco, Tulico, Victoria Hotels, and many others). Some of these cars are significantly nicer than the standard cars. You may need to arrange with a travel agency to get tickets on these tourist cars, but any traveller can purchase tickets for the Vietnam Rail cars at the Hanoi train station. Warning: several of these cars are not significantly better than standard Vietnamese sleeping cars, but are still substantially more expensive. Pumpkin second class is actually a Vietnam Rail car booked through this company. Even Pumpkin first class only has a squat toilet (although a sign above the toilet door says “Western-style toilet”!).

Prices vary according to both the type of seat purchased and the season during which you are travelling. Dates around Vietnamese holidays are particularly expensive and tickets cannot be assumed available for same day travel, so book ahead if possible. Travellers are strongly recommended to purchase a berth in a soft or hard sleeper car, though the trip in soft-seat class is not intolerable.

Buses leave from Lào Cai for Bắc Hà at 06:30, 07:30, 13:00 and 17:00 daily, take roughly two hours and cost 60,000 dong. Beware of a common scam: bus conductors may try to charge you USD10 or at least 100,000 dong for the bus ride. There will be no argument if you walk to the bus station which is 300 metres southwest of Lào Cai railway station down Phan Đình Phùng, and purchase a ticket there. Buses returning to Lào Cai leave Bắc Hà at 14:15

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