Getting there and away
Lao Cai Train Station stated ticket office times are 08:00 to 10:00 and 14:00 to 16:00 although the desks appear to be open until the last train departs.
Tickets to Hanoi can be bought at the station or from one of the private operators, such as Livitrains on Phan Dinh Phung. If you're on a trip from Hanoi then it's best to get a return ticket sorted in Hanoi as trains get busy and you might find yourself stranded or paying big money for a private carriage. Note though that even buying at the train station in Hanoi won't guarantee you the ticket you want — we're guessing that travel agents buy up all the tickets so those of us not willing to pay the 50% commission might not have much luck.
These prices are for the regular, public cars, not the ones run by private companies — and unless you buy direct from the station you will end up paying quite a lot more.
Special Express Trains
SP2 departs at 20:05, arrives 04:35
SP4 departs at 20:45, arrives 05:10
SP6 departs at 18:55, arrives at 03:40
SP8 departs at 19:30, arrives 04:05.
LC2 departs at 21:20, arrives 06:50
LC4 departs at 09:15, arrives 20:15
Soft sleepers from 223,000 to 326,000 VND
Hard sleepers from 160,000 to 267,000 VND
Seats from 90,000 to 170,000 VND.
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Buses to Sapa depart from the car park in front of the train station. There's a desk by the station exit where you can buy your ticket or just walk outside the station and you'll soon be dragged to a bus. It costs 30,000 VND — check the price before you get on if you don't buy a ticket in the station — and takes around an hour. Alternatively you take a through bus from Lien Tinh bus station but there's little need to do so.
It's also possible to pick up an overnight bus to Hanoi from outside the train station.
Lien Tinh bus station
End of Phan Ding Phung Road, east bank of the Hong river, Lao Cai.
Ticket office hours: 05:00 to 17:00, T: (020) 383 5310.
Departures to all points but Sapa are available here. Locals refer to it as Ben Xe Ben Ga, which means the train station bus station.
Bac Ha: departs at 06:30, 07:00, 12:00, 13:00, 15:00, costs 35,000 dong.
Dien Bien Phu: departs at 06:45 and 07:00, costs 140,000 dong.
Ha Noi (My Dinh): departs at 04:00, odd days, costs 100,000 dong.
Ha Noi (Giap Bat): departs at 05:00, even days, costs 100,000 dong.
Hai Phong: departs at 13:30, 7 days every month, costs 140,000 dong.
Lai Chau: Nine departures daily between 05:30 and 16:30, costs 55,000 dong.
Muong Khuong: departs at 06:20, 07:00,. 08:30, 09:30, 10:45, 11.30, 13:00, 13:30, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, costs 29,000 dong
Muong Lay: departs at 07:30, costs 97,000 dong.
Pha Long: departs at 10:00 and 14:45, costs 42,000 dong
Phong To: departs at 13:00, costs 77,000 dong.
Son La: departs at 07:00, costs 136,000 dong.
Si Ma Cai: departs at 05:15, 07:30, 08:00, 10;00, 14:00, costs 60,000 dong.
Sin Ho: departs at 07:35, costs 94,000 dong
Thai Nguyen: departs at 07:30, costs 120,000 dong.
Note that prices and times are prone to variation.
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