Many people visit Sa Pa on an organized tour from Hanoi, and this is certainly the most hassle free way to make the trip. The most popular route is by train to Lao Cai, and then the connecting bus to Sa Pa. The bus stops at Sa Pa's main post office leaving you with a couple of minutes walk into town.
The Victoria Hotel organizes sleeper carriages departing from Hanoi at 21.30 on Thursdays and Fridays, returning 18.30 Sundays. The round trip costs about $70 plus an extra $15 if you wish to be pickup in Lao Cai.
The tourist bus back to Lao Cai leaves from outside Sa Pa's church. Most hotels will organize a jeep back to Lao Cai for around $3 to $5 (they will also organize the train tickets). Tickets for sleepers and soft seats on the night train are in short supply so book in Sa Pa before leaving for Lao Cai station.
Once in Sa Pa motorcycle taxis can be arranged through your hotel or guesthouse, or pick one up at the top of the market steps.
Sa Pa was opened to tourism in 1993 and several hotels and guesthouses have sprung up around the town. At peak season rooms can be in short supply, weekends tend to be the busiest. Visiting midweek is a better bet, when you will have more choice of hotels with the chance of reduced rates if the hotel has few visitors.
Below is a list of hotels in Sa Pa sorted by price range (highest first). If you wish to telephone the hotel the area code for Sa Pa is 020 (+8420 from outside Vietnam).
"I went to Sa Pa at the beginning of the year, and it was one of the highlights of the trip. Everyone was very friendly, and we made friends in just one day. The tribes are great, too" - Sinead