The most relaxed way to reach Sapa is to take an overnight train – ideally the luxurious Victoria Express from Hanoi, whose wood-lined Pullman carriages and dining car recall the elegance of the colonial era. A range of other luxury trains, operated by firms such as Livitrans, Tulico, and Fanxipan have in recent years also started to cover the same line. 

Travelling overland, in a car with driver, the main advantage is that you can visit the famous rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai in Yen Bai Province, which sculpt the sides of a deep river valley in hundreds of manicured steps – a sight that’s particularly magical in late-summer/early autumn, when the paddy turns a golden colour.

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