Travelers to the mountainous town of Sapa, Vietnam now have one more choice of transportation thanks to the newly opened expressway linking Hanoi and Lao Cai Province.
Officially put in operation in September 2014, this is the longest highway throughout the country with total length of 245 kilometers starting from Hanoi, passing through provinces of Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho, Yen Bai and ending up in Lao Cai in the Northwest region of Vietnam. The highway allows transports can reach the speed up to 120km per hour and no motor is allowed. It is constructed in complex geology and terrains, from flat plains to mountainous area, across 2 rivers and an underground tunnel.
The new highway provides a more convenient way for visiting the Northwest region especially Sapa, one of top tourist attractions in Lao Cai. In the past, to get to Sapa means that tourists have to either catch the night train or overnight bus, but train is more advisable because it is safer than cars on the long and bumpy road. The train leaves Hanoi railway station in the evening and arrives in Lao Cai station in early morning. From there to Sapa is another hour drive by car through hilly roads. However, the itinerary often lasts around 10 hours and depends much on the train schedule. Moreover, it will cost you more money in case you want an air-conditioned soft sleeper for the long transfer.
With the Hanoi – Lao Cai expressway, the time to Sapa is shortened to 4-5 hours, making your journey faster, safer and much more comfortable than by train. You can travel any time with the utmost flexibility that train cannot offer. Especially the scenes at two roadsides are really attractive with lots of chances to see daily life of farmers working on the fields.