Located at about 1500 meters (4921 feet) above sea level in northwest Vietnam, Sapa is famous for its amazing scenery and its diversity of culture. Cat Ba is the biggest island in the southeast of Lan Ha Bay. The two places are 480 km from each other, check below for a detailed travel guide.
Get from Cat Ba to Hanoi, then from Hanoi to Sapa
Have a look at two above links for details. From Cat Ba to Hanoi takes about 3.5 to 4 hours. So if we leave Cat Ba in the morning (7-8 AM), we are able to catch the afternoon bus and arrive Sapa before 10 PM. If we leave Cat Ba later, we will take the over night bus/train to Sapa and arrive the next morning. The total travel time is about 10 hours excluding waiting/transferring time.
Cat Ba – Bus – Hanoi (~250k to 300k or $11 to $13)
Hanoi – Bus – Sapa (~200k to 350k or $9 to $15)
Hanoi – Train – Sapa (~450k to 700k or $20 to $30)
Get to Sapa directly from Cat Ba
Of course we can catch a taxi, the easiest way, but it’s quite costly. It is about 480 km from Cat Ba to Sapa by taxi, takes about 7 hours & costs about US $250. I would skip this taxi to look for other ways.
We still have two options left: by bus or by motorcycle.
Going by bus directly from Cat Ba to Sapa.
Cat Ba – Bus – Sapa (400k to 600k or $18 to $26)
I recommend you come back to the option of splitting the trip, to Hanoi, then Sapa if you are not a kind of adventurous. Because we are going in a local long trip bus right now. You can find a ticket at the link below, but please have a look at the review first. A ten hours trip with one break to use toilet or find something to eat. Imagine a bus full of people on the floor, with 60 passengers while it is designed for 40. That’s it when you have a bad day.
Despite of those bad reviews on the local direct bus, there are other ways. Cat Ba Express offers bus from Cat Ba to Hanoi, then Hanoi to Sapa, check out their website if they have a continuous trip. Some travel agencies keep a track of buses with decent quality for their customers, in case needed. If you really want to get from Cat Ba to Sapa in one leg, look for an agency is also a way. Contact my friend Tweely, in my very “biased” review she’s doing an amazing job helping us travel around.
Tweely Travel Agency
Whatsapp: +84 826 570 451
Going by motorcycle directly from Cat Ba to Sapa
Cat Ba – Motorcycle – Sapa (45k or $2 ferry ticket + gasoline for 500km)
Well, you will need a map here, check the one below. Though the map showing a car, just because Google Maps has not update motorcycle map in web browser in Vietnam yet, I customized it for a motorcycle already. It’s quite a long trip (~500 km), it will take us around 10-11 hours. You need to ride from your place in Cat Ba to the other side of the island at Cai Vieng ferry harbor, then take the ferry to Got harbor, from there you can ride motorcycle directly to Sapa. The ferry run at 5 AM, 6 AM, then every 30 minutes. I recommend you wake up early to catch the 5 AM or 6 AM ferry. Only that way you can arrive Sapa before 6 PM. Ticket for a motorbike through the ferry is 45k (2 USD, updated 2020).
Don’t forget to read some advice about travelling by motorcycle in Vietnam here.
That is it. This is not a common route, however there is always a way to do something in Vietnam. If you are in rush and have no time to read/research, contact me right away. I am always more than happy to help. Check my contact at the end of the website.
Wish you a safe & sound trip in Vietnam.