Hiring Driver/Van from Hanoi to Sapa

Old Feb 28th, 2016, 02:08 PM
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Hiring Driver/Van from Hanoi to Sapa

Hi all, I am trying to organize a trip to Vietnam for a group of women (probably 8) in October. Our itinerary would include Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay. I was in Sapa with my family in November of 2013, and we loved our time there. We took the overnight train both ways which worked well for us, but I would like to avoid that for a trip like this.
My plan is to rent a van/coach with a driver to drive us both ways (we would stay 2 nights in Sapa) utilizing the new Hanoi-Lao Cai expressway that didn't exist last time I was there. I know that we can take a coach through the Victoria Hotel, but haven't decided if we are going to stay there yet, so would like other options that give us flexibility as well. Would like higher-end, as I think it will be appreciated by these women.
Does anyone have any advice/opinions on this? Sense of pricing? Recommendations?
Emily_S29 is offline  
Old Feb 28th, 2016, 03:07 PM
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Contact ethnic travel. They come highly recommended by members of this forum, and were prompt answering my questions and devising a plan to suit me.
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Old Feb 28th, 2016, 09:20 PM
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I typically arrange my drivers in Asia through my hotels. It has always worked well, and that way, you have a liaison right there at the hotel. You don't want anything to go wrong with eight people, and that is the best way to do it.

One time I used a travel agent in Hanoi to get my Sapa train tickets, and I insisted that I get a lower berth both ways. Guess what? The travel agent put me in an upper berth on the return, and I had to practically beg a young guy to switch with me.

People claim that it's more expensive to go through the hotel for drivers, but I have not found that to be the case. My Hanoi hotel made all my other arrangements, and it worked out perfectly.
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Old Feb 29th, 2016, 12:10 AM
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I would ask a tour agent to quote a price for a private minibus for the 8 of you with and without acomodation and guide included. We used Etnic Travel and were very pleased with the service and price. They tend to offer fixed prices but you may get a discount for 8 of you.

You could easily arrange a guide in Sapa if you need one but the quality is variable. Hearts some good reports of "Sapa Sisters" but haven't used them. To get away from the crowds you will need to go somewhere a remote and away from the crowds and a guide essential for this and best arranged in advance. Victoria Hotel is just not worth the money IMO.
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Old Feb 29th, 2016, 06:21 PM
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You can take a bus from Hanoi to Sapa with seat sleeper.
Bus ticket is about 250.000VND - 400.000VND and duration is at least 5 hours, depends on the bus operator you choose. You can buy online or offline in bus station such as My Dinh station, Nuoc Ngam Station, Giap Bat Station ...
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Old Mar 1st, 2016, 09:39 PM
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I change my vote. Use the travel agent that crellston suggests. He knows best.

I did indeed hike with Sapa Sisters, and I had an excellent experience. The women are all part of the Hmong ethnic minority, and they will talk to you about their culture while you are hiking. The organization has grown since I was there in 2012, as they now make travel arrangements for visitors.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2016, 10:57 AM
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A few years ago, based on recommendations on this board we used Tonkin Travel to arrange drivers and cars for us in VN. At the time I compared prices with some other agencies and they were all about the same price. I don't recall checking Ethnic Travel mentioned above. We were pleased with Tonkin - they were efficient and easy to deal with. We had a variety of guides and drivers, some were excellent and some were just ok. The one guide who we were with for several days on the circuit trip to Sapa was particularly disappointing and we provided feedback to Tonkin Travel.
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