How do I get from Hanoi to Sapa by bus?

Sapa is a popular destination in the Northwest territory of Vietnam, with beautiful scenery, fresh air and wild green hills. There are plenty of methods to go to Sapa and vice versa: by train, by car, by motorbike and by bus.

Train is the most popular way but the drawback is the long time and many people might not be into the idea of taking a night train. With car and motorbike, go with the highly experienced drivers since the road to Sapa is quite a challenge.

Thanks to the development of new highway from Hanoi to Lao Cai in 2014, bus is now a popular means to get from Hanoi to Sapa. 

Schedule: Depart Hanoi at 6:30 A.M, arrive in Sapa at 1:30 P.M.
Cost: $15

Schedule: Depart Sapa at 3:00PM., arrive in Hanoi at 9:00PM
Cost: $15

How to get your Bus ticket:

Contact us: for reservation.

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I am intolerant of gluten products and therefore not able to eat foods containing wheat. I would appreciate your advice on whether gluten free meals are available in major cities Vietnam?

Thank you for writing to us. Gluten-free travellers will not have a hard time in Vietnam, because the main meal in Vietnam involves rice instead of wheat (see how rice is used in Vietnam). Major dishes such as "Pho" (beef noodle), "Nem" (spring rolls) are made purely from rice.

The concept of gluten allergy and gluten free meal are not popular in Vietnam at all. You may find these niche products, however, in the expat area of Hanoi (Xuan Dieu road) and Ho Chi Minh City (Pham Ngu Lao street).

The advice we have for you is to check with the hotel and restaurants to verify that the ingredients do not contain wheat (bot my in Vietnamese). If you stay at upper-scale hotels in Hanoi or in Ho Chi Minh City, check with the hotel chef or restaurant head to ensure a gluten free meal.

A few popular food that will contain gluten for sure that you should avoid (this may help with the Vietnamese vocabulary):

- Any food with a "banh" (including baguette, baked goods, ..)

- Any food with a "my" (including egg noogle, instant noodle)

- Any food with a "quay" (fried fritter dough)

- Any food with a "tam bot" (Vietnamese term for fried fish or meat with a flour coating)

We hope this is helpful to you and your family. Bon Voyage!

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How safe is Vietnam?

The safest place in the world can also be the most dangerous and vice versa. It also depends what you mean by “safe”.

In general, Vietnam is safe compared with most other Southeast Asian countries in terms of political stability. There is hardly any riots and absolutely no bomb attacks. The only concern is about road safety.

Protect yourself by taking a ride with trustable bus company, though they can be more expensive. Please see “safety” section for more details.

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Where can I watch the latest films in Hanoi?

Most cinemas in Hanoi, like Thang Tam, Dan Chu, Sinh Vien, National Cinema Center, only show films with dubbed Vietnamese and no English subtitle. Thus far, choices for foreigners in Vietnam in term of cinemas are very limited.

In Hanoi, only 2 cinemas provide original films with Vietnamese subtitle: Megastar at 6th floor, Vincom tower (191 Ba Trieu Str.) and Platinum Cineplex, 4th floor (The Garden center, Me Tri, Tu Liem). Both cinemas provide films in 3D and 2D, but the prices are different. Megastar asks for around VND 70,000  for a normal movie ticket and VND100,000 for a 3D seat, meanwhile Platinum’s prices are just VND 50,000 and 80,000, respectively. Compared to other local cinemas, the prices are quite high, but it is worth every penny with high quality movies and comfortable seats. Megastar even provides couple seats in Valentine period and other discounts for students during the week.

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Can you use american dollars in Vietnam?

You can use American dollars for sure, though in major tourist cities such as Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City. When you get to Vietnam, you can change the currency to Vietnam Dong, which will help your shopping time a lot. Most shops and stores will apply very low rate when you pay in dollars so we suggest you to avoid using the dollars whenever possible.

In International airport such as Hanoi Airport or Ho Chi Minh City Airport there will be currency exchange booths for you to change the currency. Current exchange rate is 1 USD ~ 21,600 VND.

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How to get a Vietnam visa from Singapore?

If you are a citizen of a Southeast Asian or Nordic countries, Japan, South Korea, you do not need a visa to enter Vietnam for tourism purpose. If your nationality is different from what was mentioned above, you can obtain your visa from the embassy or opt for visa on arrival.

The second option takes only a maximum of 2 days but it applies to air travel only.  

For the former option, the Vietnam embassy address in Singapore is:  

10 Leedon Park St., SINGAPORE 267887
Tel: (65) 6462 5936/ 6462 5938
Fax: (65) 6468 9863

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Where can I buy English books in Hanoi?

It is quite hard to find a decent English bookstore in Hanoi, since the demand is pretty low and not frequent. The first and only English bookstore in Hanoi until now is Bookworm, which located on 44 Chau Long Street, near Truc Bach Lake. This bookstore trades only English books and magazines, both used and new, with a limitted French collection. There are also many discounted fictions if you want a quick read for your next trip.

Another bookstore, Trang Tien bookstore (44 Trang Tien Str., Hoan Kiem Dist.) also sells many English books, though it is mostly about learning and teaching. The majority of books here are still in Vietnamese.

In order to find English books, you might need to venture out to other book stores around the city. Phuong Nam company has three bookstores in Hanoi: one inside Vincom tower (191 Ba Trieu Str.), one at 20 Ly Thai To Str and one at 87 Lang Ha Str. All of them have foreign sections, with some books, magazines, artbooks and CDs/DVDs in English.

Fahasa bookstore (338 Xa Dan Str, Dong Da Dist) might be worth visiting as well, with around 100 English books of different types. Moreover, Fahasa recently open a new book store at 39 Kim Lien Moi Str., Dong Da Dist, doubling the number of English books, which include some famous classic novels such as Frankenstein, Gone with the wind, Breakfast at Tiffany, The lords of the rings, etc.

In addition, wandering around Dinh Le Str. (the so called book street of Hanoi), you can sometimes find good English books/novels/artbooks at quite low prices. In general, to find a good English book in Hanoi, you must have patience and time but the price is pretty reasonable. 

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How much is Vietnam's airport departure tax? Do I have to pay in cash?

Airport departure tax for domestic flight is $2 and for international departure tax is $14. The taxes are included in the air tickets, even low cost carriers like Air Asia often include the airport tax so you do not have to worry about paying extra. 

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Where can I get a pair of flipflops or sandals in Hanoi?

Summer is the golden time of flip flops and sandals in general. The scorching weather prevents many people from wearing shoes; moreover flip flops/sandals are so much convenient to take off before entering some café, restaurants or even pagodas. There are two biggest places for this product, one is Le Duan Street and the other is Hang Dau Street.

As Le Duan Street mainly provides working clothes, like rubber boots, rain coat, security uniforms, flip flop/sandals are not their major products. The positive features are low price and durability, but the styles are limited and the design is quite rough (imagine Birkenstock and the likes).

Hang Dau has a better diversity of styles, colors and designs, and the prices are just slightly higher. Shops here also sell bamboo flip flops, which are very stylish in this hot weather, and high quality leather sandals, sometimes imported from Korean or Japan. You really should go outside and get one pair for your own. 

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How to get from Danang to Hoi An?

As Hoi An is about 40km from Da Nang, it’s relatively fast and easy to travel between these two places. Travel time is about 30-40 minutes.

1. By taxi: it would be best to negotiate the fare before going, which ranges from VND 300,000 to VND 400,000 ($15-20)

2. By bus: Many hotels in Hoi An provides bus transfer from Da Nang International Airport to Hoi An, for about $2-3/each. These minivans are often comfortable enough and carry 6-10 people. Another choice is taking the Sinh Café, the popular bus pass service which makes a stop in Hoi An. 

The cheapest bus, though, is the city bus which can be found at 33 Dien Bien Phu, Thanh Khe District, Danang. This bus runs every hour and costs about $1 for one-way ticket. With that low price, you have to accept the fact that the buses are quite old and don’t run fast. 

3. By motorbike taxi: Also known as xe-om, this is the most common method to get around in Vietnam. A trip from Da Nang to Hoi An by motorbike usually costs VND 150,000 to VND 250,000/each, depending on your negotiation. Or if you wish to travel to Hoi An within a day, you can rent a motorbike and ride it yourself.

  Private transfer: We provide private transfer from Danang to Hoi An for $25, pick up is available from airport or any hotel in Danang. For more information or reservation, contact us:
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I and my wife intend to visit Hanoi in this summer, and we are wondering something about money. Which currency should we carry? Where to exchange?

Normally you can bring any currency that you want to Vietnam, as long as you exchange that money into Vietnam Dong but USD is the most widely accepted one. You can also use USD or Euro to make payment in Vietnam, especially in hotel, restaurants or some shops in the tourists areas. 

To exchange you currency into Vietnam Dong, there are many ways for you to choose. The first way is to do it right at the airport when you land. You can also exchange currency in any bank in Hanoi, but ANZ bank or HSBC branch are recommended  as they are international banks with better customer service.

You should never exchange currency with the street vendors as their money might be not guaranteed in quality. About international credit card, you can use it in Vietnam to make payment, but there is only limited place, mostly big supermarkets, restaurants, hotel or malls accept this kind of payment. Therefore, prepare enough cash on your purse is more suitable in Hanoi than carry an credit card.

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