Quickest / easiest way to travel Saigon-Hanoi-Sapa-Halong Bay?

G'day all!
My Aussie expat mate and I would like to visit Sapa and Halong Bay with our Saigonese wives in August, but it's years since my wife and I went to Hanoi and Halong Bay and I've never been to Sapa (our friends have never been further north than Hoi An!); so just wondering if anyone can help with ideas of how to do the trip as seamlessly as possible - plus any recommended hotels, etc as a bonus!
If it can be done, I'd envisage flying to Hanoi in time to catch one of the overnight trains to Lao Cai, then minibus to Sapa for a few days before reversing that part of the trip back to Hanoi where we could either overnight before heading across to Halong Bay, then return and fly back south - or try and go same day Hanoi-Halong Bay and then spend a leisurely day and night back in Hanoi before flying south.
How does that sound? (all comments welcome)

Yes, (sounds great ideal)  But, um, just a suggestion...

Go Ogle to do your own (objective) research.

I have found and to be the best in reviews of both guided and solo tours (anywhere!!)   Sa Pa is (very) popular, particularly now (check the weather to see why)   AND there are (literally) hundreds of reviews...

Bus and train can also be pre - booked.   ALL Ha Noi hotels & hostels advertise this popular tourist attraction and the homestay is preferred by the majority.

I prefer to fly solo, so read up on your own preferences.

As for a 'Leisurely' (???)  ..stay in Ha Noi..?    (you cannot be serious..?)    :unsure
    The origin of 'Tourist Trap' (probably) originated here.   Too much to see, do, feel.
And although I don't recommend queuing to see Viet Nam's famous figure, Ha Noi is cluttered (literally) with Museums, Lakes, the Old Quarter, History and rice fields close by stretching to infinity.   You can (easily) spend a month here and still not see all the major attractions. 

Forgive my mirth.   A Leisurely spent day and night..?      ..IN HA NOI..?     :proud

I weep for your innocence.

   A harsh awakening awaits.             :sosad:

Having seen this asked before on another forum, the answer came from several people that it's better to catch the bus than the train.

Thanks Bazza - we're well aware of Trip Advisor and its associated entity (level 6 and 'genius' contributor respectively) - and have lived, worked, married and retired in Vietnam since 1988, including the first 5 or 6 years in Hanoi, so well practised at "leisurely" pursuits by now (but thanks for the concern!).  What I was hoping for was some uptodate 'practical' info such as colinoscapee's "bus before train", although that stuff is just as subjective as anything on the various forums, of course. 
Anyway, thanks again to you both, but our uncle in Hanoi is on the case now (no, his name is not Ho!) - we wanted to make sure we could get through Hanoi to both Sapa and Halong Bay without too long a stay in the city on either leg, and he's sorted that already (with buses bothways, as it happens!).
Cheers - and here's to our trip, including a leisurely day and overnight stay in Hanoi catching up with family and old friends!

I found this exchange very interesting. Some people just don't get it.


..that I am suitably chastened!

My cryptic humour (obviously) needs work...     :idontagree:

Still, buses are only for brave people by me.   

So yes, Cheers and Bon Voyage Better...          :top:

linhmartin :


You had a rather simole question.  The first reply you get is full of sarcasm and doesn't address your primary concern. Your reply is informative, educational and kind.

Thanks GF, and it ain't always easy to avoid the temptation to get angry when you ask a genuine question and get a mouthful of self-serving crap in response, but I tell myself that such people can't help themselves and they're not important to my life anyway - so biting the lip hard is often but not always the best way to go (and I trust you didn't miss my own bit of sarcasm at the end...).

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