We'll be getting back to hanoi from our Halong Bay trip around 4/5pm. Plan to catch the train to Lao Cai the same evening. Was wondering if there's a luggae room at the station one can deposit bags? On the way beack, too we might have the day in hanoir waiting for an evening flight, so a facility like this would be good.
thanks for the help!
#1 shakester has been a member since 5/9/2006. Posts: 37
Usually people visiting HLB leave their luggage with the hotel they stayed at the night before they left for their trip.
Most Lao Cai (Sa Pa) trains leave around 22.00-23.00H which gives you plenty of time to pick your bags up from the hotel.
Rail services are open from 07.30H through 19.30H and you might end up having your baggage being unaccessible.
Remember that it is best to get to the station (120 La Duan) about 30 minutes prior to departure so you can locate the platform (on the far side of the station from the booking office building (usually).
Make sure you secure your rail cabin with a wire coat hanger rigged between the handle and an adjacent bunk as some two-footed 'rats' try to creep into cabins to steal things.
Hope you have booked your rail tickets BEFORE going to HLB - the Lao Cai route is busy and requires forward booking!
#2 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
I suspect that between returning from Halong and catching the train the hotel bit should work fine. I was thinking more about the scenario where we return from lao cai in the mornng and have a flight to catch at night : the day to kill and no hotel.
Also, a tip on the train booking please. We will probably have our hotel buy our train ticket fro us by Thu/Fri for the sunday night train to lao cai (sufficient?).
For the return, I read in a couple of places that it must be bought from lao cai/sa pa itself. Do you think 24 hour notice is enough for our hotel in sa pa to get us a train ticket, or is that cutting it too fine....
(basically we reach sapa on monday morning and wuold normally leave on tue night to get back on wed morning. However our flight is only on thu, so we might be tempted to stay on an other day if we like Sapa, hnce this open-ended confusion)
thanks a lot
#4 shakester has been a member since 5/9/2006. Posts: 37
thanks also for the tips on the train! :)
#5 shakester has been a member since 5/9/2006. Posts: 37
You should try to do a day rate deal with the hotel before you leave for your return to Ha Noi: i.e. you can use a room from early morning until, say 13.00H, which will give you enough time to catch a little shut eye and clean up - then leave your bags there once again!
This early AM return to Ha Noi is a real downer and one that no one has addressed.
You can always get a return from Lao Cai - buy ASAP from the Appointed Agent (cutting hotel commissions) IF YOU CANNOT buy a RETURN ticket in Ha Noi.
As for buying your ticket for Lao Cai (in Ha Noi) - make it as early as possible. And from the station counter and not some flim-flam artist - the 'travel agents' who buy tickets on spec often try to sell them off around the station.
As I've said before, Ha Noi 'travel agents' are something else!
Your confusion is the REASON WHY the rail companies force return ticket purchases in Sa Pa / Lao Cai - too many empty beds on some trains although technically 'sold out'.
Remember that the difference between the different 'names' of services is minimal with the exception of Victoria. A snack pack, if you think you will be hungry, will make-up for any dining car opportunity.
Last tip: NEVER buy anything from the vendors outside the station - they overcharge like crazy - get stocked up downtown at a convenience store or supermarket.
One tip I NEVER divulge to anyone - how to get a shower on a train! (I take a shower every time I ride overnight and have done so for at least 15 years).
#6 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
Cool, thanks so much for all the tips. Looks like we will have to decide whether to do 1N/2D in Sapa or 2N/3D right now, as opposed to getting there and seeing what its like.
Its a toss up between 2.75 days in Hanoi & 2.75 in Sapa versus 3.75 days in Hanoi and 1.75 in Sapa.
oh well :)
Ya, i know- I have no idea why i just wrote '2.75' :)
#7 shakester has been a member since 5/9/2006. Posts: 37
One tip - the Hanoi Ga (station) is split in 2 parts, and they're quite far apart for access. Look at your train ticket and go to the exact address listed on your ticket. I paid $25. one way for King Express superior 4 berth carriage on the SP1 train. I suggest buying from Adventure Indochina on Ma May Street. When returning to Hanoi, take a cab from the Lao Cai Ga to the Chinese Border (just 1 mile away) for about 100K VND round trip.
In Lao Cai, I dined very well at the Pineapple Restaurant (walk down the broad street from the station about 2 blocks).
"I suggest buying from Adventure Indochina on Ma May Street."
NOT, IMHO, the smartest or cheapest way to buy a ticket as 'agents' mark up train ticket prices, have more limited selection of seats, etc.
GOING to the station gets you cheapest ticket prices, more selection (the electronic ticketing system makes more seats available at the stations).
And, as Daawgon noted, you can see the platform separation. Lao Cai trains usually leave from Platforms 10 or 11 which is accessed from the B station - a 1 kilometre walk from the main station.
However, you can access these distant platforms by going through the glass platform doors in the main terminal (even if the gate person charges you VND2000 platform ticket) and walking across the wooden walkway to the right. Watch out for moving trains.
And make sure you get to the train about 30 minutes before departure - VN trains leave on time!
In Sa Pa AVOID the Queen Hotel because of baggage theft and Mountain View Hotel - poor service.
Guide info has been posted several times on this web site.
#9 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
I did the Hanoi/Sapa/Halong Bay circuit last week.
At Gate A of the Hanoi Train Station, I noticed a sign for a left luggage Facilty.
And you can get on to the train from either Gate A or B as the Tulico Office gave me a map showing that you can do so.
Never take the many taxis that are waiting outside the station. It is a sure setup for a rigged meter. If you need to, take only taxi from Hanoi Taxi company or from MahLinh ( green ). Some taxis are allowed to drive into the station thru Gate A station and it is much better to get one from inside.
#10 KPTham1 has been a member since 26/9/2006. Posts: 52
Another option is for you to leave youe luggage at the agency from whom you purchase your Halong Bay/Sapa Tour.
I did Halong Bay immediately upon return from Sapa as the train arrived Hanoi before 6 am and the pick-up for Halong is between 8-8.30 am. I arranged to be picked -up at the tour agency office thus giving me a chance to deposite some luggage at their office before going on to Halong Bay.
This way, you could also parked your luggage with them upon return from Halong for a few hours before flying -off . Most agencies closed at 8.30 pm and opened by 8.00 am .
BTW, the Lao Cai Station Gate for the SAPA /Hanoi train opened at 1940 hr and closes at 2010 hour. Please do not believe the people serving you at the many cafe outside the station if they ever tell you that the gate only open 15 minutes before depature!
#11 KPTham1 has been a member since 26/9/2006. Posts: 52
"I read somewhere that you need to purchase a ticket for EACH segment when riding on the train. What does that mean? How many segments are there from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi?"
That's only for someone wishing to stop off along the way from south to north. That trip on the Reunification Express is a rough trip, and it takes a great deal of time. Fly Jetstar Pacific and you'll get there in much better shape.