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Vietnam forum

easy to buy outdoor clothing in Hanoi?

Posted by soccertaxi on 7/11/2007 at 09:05


I was wondering if there was anyone out there who could tell me if it is easy and/or cheap to buy outdoor type clothing (easy dry travel pants, quick dry shirts, etc..) in Hanoi? I have heard about the easy availability of packs etc. but what about this type of clothing? We will be heading up to Sapa and my two teenage girls will be needing some travelwear.

Also, where are the good places to find this type of gear? Any places that have good quality daypacks?

Thanks for your advice.

#1 soccertaxi has been a member since 26/10/2007. Posts: 9

Posted by CatBa2 on 7/11/2007 at 10:14

There are a couple of markets (i.e. Russian Market - the Russians are notorious for being cheap (frugal) where you can equip yourself for the cool temps of Lao Cai.

Ask your hotel for directions.

One market is located in the northeast corner of the Old Quarter (Long Bien Station area) - you'll end up paying a little extra than the locals but you'll find it cheaper than elsewhere.

BTW, if you find the trains warm enough to travel without wearing your new togs, consider donating them to the folks in Sa Pa as they live in really basic conditions.

In Sa Pa AVOID the QUEEN HOTEL (baggage theft) and the MOUNTAINVIEW HOTEL - poor place.

If you need guide contact info post and I will let you know the info.

Do NOT buy 'tours' to Sa Pa in Ha Noi as they rip of the local guides and charge you a lot, in any event.

Order your Sa Pa tickets two - three days before you head to Sa Pa (any major station or BEFORE you go to HaLong Bay. They usually only sell one-ways as you might want to stay longer.

The staion in Ha Noi is at 120 La Duan - the Sa Pa trains usually leave from Platforms 10 / 11 - check them out when you buy your tickets. Trains leave DEAD ON TIME so arrive about 30 minutes before departure.

#2 CatBa2 has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 53

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Posted by soccertaxi on 7/11/2007 at 11:23

Thanks for the great info CatBa2. I was wondering if a few days notice to book a train to Sapa was enough as we will be spending a few days in Hanoi then probably a few in Halong before heading up to Sapa...will it be OK to find a sleeper for 4?

We were planning on finding a guide once we got to Sapa so would be interested in your recommendations. Any hotels that you do recommend?If you have suggestions on spots to see or avoid once we are there, we are listening.

#3 soccertaxi has been a member since 26/10/2007. Posts: 9

Posted by CatBa2 on 7/11/2007 at 15:21

OK, as soon as you have booked your Ha Long Bay cruise (check out ) you will know when you are returning.

With this knowledge you will be able to go to 120 La Duan and book your tickets BEFORE leaving for Ha Long Bay.

Avoid the travel agents as they will only surcharge the tickets (for simply ordering the tickets!) and they often give you an inferior carriage, knowing you will not have time to complain, whilst charging you for a superior cabin.

As for guides:

The Ha Noi-Lao Cai tourist trains run nightly, departing from Ha Noi Train Station B (behind 120 Le Duan Street). The following trains from Ha Noi to Lao Cai (SP1, LC1, LC3; AM: LC5) and from Lao Cai to Ha Noi (PM: SP2, LC2, LC4; AM: LC 6) daily. The daytime trainsets offer only hard seats, whereas Travellers enjoy soft-sleepers, Air-conditioned, four-berth cabins on the night trains.

Victoria Express train is the best in terms of comfort and services from Ha Noi to Lao Cai, Victoria Hotel’s "Orient Express" train offers one restaurant and two luxury sleeping carriages, all with air-conditioning. This is part of the normal run (LC5 and LC6) between Ha Noi and Lao Cai.

Tulico train offers comfortable, air-conditioned soft sleepers. While this is not a luxurious train, it offers good alternative transportation to Sa Pa from Ha Noi. It has soft sleepers, A/C and four-berth cabins. You are provided with one bottle of water, a small snack and a napkin.

In the LC5 and LC 6, there are Victoria Cabins, Tulico Cabins, Friendly Cabins, and Ratraco Cabins. All of these are alternatives for Travellers to Sa Pa from Ha Noi. Ratraco train is one of the best trains to Sa Pa with wooden cabins.

Friendly train, like the Tulico train, is not a separate train, but offers soft sleepers, A/C and clean four-berth cabins in 2 carriages which go with local trains (LC5 and LC6) between Ha Noi and Lao Cai. . You are provided with one bottle of water, a small snack and a napkin.

To serve tourist requirements, the Royal Train is also part of a regular train with 2 carriages in SP1 and SP2 which offers A/ C, soft-sleepers and clean four-berth cabins.

The Ha Noi - Lao Cai train stops at Lao Cai Station, some 40 kilometres from Sa Pa and stops at Sa Pa's main Post Office (Buu Dien). Each way cost about VND25,000-30,000.
The tourist bus back to Lao Cai leaves from outside Sa Pa's church, but it usually will pick you up at your hotel - inquire with the hotel staff for getting a bus ticket back to Lao Cai Station.

Class of Service / Fare
[AC soft sleeper - 4 berths] _ USD$21
[AC soft sleeper - 4 berths] _ USD$21
[AC soft sleeper - 4 berths] _ USD$23
[AC soft sleeper - 2 berths – 1 cabin only] _ USD$50
[First class with wooden cabin- 4 berths] _ USD$25
[Second class cabin - 4 berths] _ USD$21

Fares: As of 2006JAN01
(Sources: and Duong Sat)
The benefit is that you have a wider range of tickets (they hold tickets back from travel agents) from which to make a choice and if one class is not available you can decide on the spot what you want to do.

You then go on your cruise knowing that you rail travel is assured.

NOTE: Trains leave DEAD ON TIME - always arrive about 30 minutes before departure so you can sort out any problems you have with accommodation.

Some guides are SO or TUNG (a Black H'Mong) located through Sa Pa Goldsea Hotel, < >, 58 Fanxipan Road, Tel: 84-(0)-20-872-180 / 84-(0)-20-871-869.

Villages worth visiting are Cat Cat, GiangTaChai, TaPhin, YLinhHo, HauThao, SuPan (easily the most beautiful village in Sapa area).

Another excellent guide is "Thanh-Sa Pa" < >, guiding for over 6 years and has good English. An enterprising guy, he has a tour that includes night 1 in Tavan, Dzay People, night 2 in Seo Trung Ho, Red Dzao, night 3 Ban Ho, Tay People, night 4,5 in Sa Pa, day 6 is for the Montagnard market.

At the Mountain View Hotel there is a Mrs. Hong there who runs a guide service. Many of them are female and young but are very experienced in showing visitors around. For Mount PhanXiPan climbers she has a man named Chang - he is strong enough to assist the weary climbers. Always ask for the long route to the top - the short one is too steep.

But on ALL accounts avoid guides from the Victoria! (expensive - and the Victoria Hotel itself - aging).

Note: You MUST employ a guide if you climb Mount FanSiPan as ONLY they can obtain the required climbing permit from the police. Do NOT worry if the guide appears young, or female, as they all have excellent guiding skills and are likely stronger than you!

And ALL your money helps the locals rather than enriching some cowboy in Ha Noi.

There is regular Sunday bus to Bac Ha from Sa Pa but you can get there by local bus from Lao Cai. There are over 600 hotel rooms of all types in Bac Ha - just make sure you are not too near a street loudspeaker as the chair of the Lao Cai Peoples Committee believes in only setting the volume at high!

Remember Friday and Saturday rates for hotels, etc are higher than the rest of the week. Book your rail reservation at least two days ahead at 120 La Duane - and avoid Ha Noi agent markups and the chance of a different class of service.

#4 CatBa2 has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 53

Posted by soccertaxi on 7/11/2007 at 15:45

Great information, thanks again!

#5 soccertaxi has been a member since 26/10/2007. Posts: 9

Posted by talleyho on 8/11/2007 at 07:10

Is there a way to print these suggestions? Am I the only one whose printer balks?

#6 talleyho has been a member since 8/11/2007. Posts: 2

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