A Travel Price Comparison for Vietnam Sapa vs. Hanoi for Attractions, Backpackers, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Sapa or Hanoi?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Sapa and Hanoi can help you decide which place is right for you.


Sapa is a scenic, fascinating, and picturesque town. Don't miss this spot, as it's a charming small town with plenty of activities. The famous beauty of this place is one of the main draws. And you can't forget about the hiking, shopping, and nightlife.


Hanoi is a high energy, colorful, and cultural city. It's an amazing and huge city with tons of activities and things to do. Other reasons to visit include museums, nightlife, and food.

Sapa and Hanoi: Pros and Cons

  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Big city activities

Is there more to do in Sapa or Hanoi?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Hanoi than Sapa. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Hanoi is very popular for its museums, nightlife, historical sights, shopping, and big city activities, while Sapa attracts visitors for its hiking, small town charm, and impressive beauty. Sapa is famous for its stunning village and mountain trekking, beautiful rice paddies, and colorful weekly markets. Hanoi is famous for its impressive street food, historical museums, and bustling energy. It is also well known for Hoan Kiem Lake.

How is Sapa different from Hanoi?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Hanoi and Sapa. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Sapa or Hanoi?


Hanoi is a world-class destination for its historical sights. However, Sapa is not a good destination for its sights and museums.

Travelers visit Hanoi from around the world to see its many world-famous attractions. The city is rich in history and culture, which you can experience through its many museums and temples. Notable sights include the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hoa Lo Prison Museum, and the Imperial Citadel.

Sapa offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. While the many nearby villages are filled with markets and culture and have the feel of living museums, there are few actual museums in the area.

Is the Food Better in Sapa or Hanoi? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?


Foodies will find both Sapa and Hanoi both to be superb destinations.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Sapa. The area's food highlights the local agricultural scene with lots of meat, fish, and vegetables. If you want to check out traditional Hmong cuisine, Thang Co is one of the most common dishes. It's a soup that has a strong smell and is prepared with local herbs and meats.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Hanoi. Northern Vietnamese cuisine is fresh and delicious. There are some Chinese influences, but it still has a distinct flavor that's all its own. Most notably, Hanoi is the birthplace of the famous soup, Pho. There are also many dishes that use freshwater fish and seafood. Street food and food stalls are a part of the culture, and you'll find some of the best dishes prepared right on the street.

Is Sapa or Hanoi Better for Nightlife?


Hanoi is great for nightlife. Also, Sapa is not as popular, but is still a nice town for nightlife and partying.

Many people head to Hanoi for the nightlife scene. There are night markets, nightclubs, and bars that are popular with backpackers and other young travelers. Some of the best streets for nightlife include Ta Hien Street, Hang Buom Street, Trang Tien Street, and Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Sapa. While you don't visit the area for its nightlife, there's a big backpacker scene here so you'll likely find a crowd looking for a good time. The town has a night market and there are plenty of bars that cater to the tourists.

Is Sapa or Hanoi Better for its Old Town?


Hanoi is a world-class destination for its historic old town. However, Sapa does not have a historic old town.

The historic old town of Hanoi is revered around the world. This compact and energetic area is filled with history, Vietnamese architecture, traditional food stalls, and some of the city's most interesting streets. It's also at the heart of the city's backpacker scene, and you'll find many hostels in the area.

Sapa does not have a historic old town.

Is Sapa or Hanoi Better for Hiking?


Sapa is renowned for its hiking experiences. However, Hanoi is not a hiking destination.

Around Sapa visitors will find world-class hiking trails. Trekking is, by far, one of the best ways to experience the area's beauty. You'll pass by scenic rice paddies, walk along mist covered mountains, and stumble into fascinating villages. Many people hire a local guide to guide them. This helps the local economy and offers insider information.

Hanoi is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Sapa or Hanoi?


Hanoi is a world-class destination for shopping. Also, Sapa is not as popular, but is still a nice town for its shopping opportunities.

People travel from around the world to go shopping in Hanoi. Explore the Old Quarter where you'll find narrow shophouses and traditional markets. It's best to explore on foot and pop in to the places that look interesting. Silk Street and Silver Street are particularly fascinating.

Sapa is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. Many villages have a weekly market that is very fascinating to explore. In addition to local food items, there are often locally made handicrafts that make great souvenirs from your travels.

Is Sapa or Hanoi Better for Families?


Sapa is well known for its family-friendly activities. Also, Hanoi is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Sapa is a very kid-friendly town. Many people arrive via an overnight train, which is an adventure for the whole family. Once you arrive, your kids will experience a local culture that is uniquely its own. You can participate in a homestay and enjoy meals prepared by a local family. There are also many kid-friendly hikes through the surrounding mountains.

Hanoi offers lots of family activities. Some kids love the energy of the city, but others can get a bit intimidated by it. The traffic and chaotic congestion is part of the experience, but for kids it can feel overwhelming. Take a tour to help ease some of the pressure. Kids will also enjoy going to a water puppet show or visiting a museum such as the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.

Is Sapa or Hanoi Better for Couples?


Sapa is well known for its romantic activities. Also, Hanoi is still popular, but not quite as popular for couples.

Couples visit Sapa frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Couples who enjoy experiencing unique cultures and hiking through stunning mountain settings will love a trip to this mountain town. While the tourists have definitely discovered the area, there are still places that have a local vibe with traditional Vietnamese markets and homesteads.

Hanoi is a good town for couples to visit. Couples who enjoy adventure and exploring new cultures will love a trip to this fascinating city. If you want to get out of town, also book a trip through the stunning Halong Bay.

Is Sapa or Hanoi Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?


Hanoi is a world-class destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Sapa is not as popular, but is still a nice town for backpackers.

Many backpackers frequent Hanoi. It's a highlight for many backpackers doing the Southeast Asian circuit. It is filled with hostels and cheap places to eat, and there is no shortage of backpackers around town. Most stay in the Old Quarter, where you'll find the highest concentration of hostels and budget accommodation.

Sapa is a great town to visit for backpackers. Like much of Southeast Asia, this town and the surrounding areas are solidly on the backpacker trail. You'll find cheap places to stay and tours that cater specifically to the budget and backpacker crowd.

Is Sapa or Hanoi Better for Students?


Hanoi is great for its student-friendly activities. However, Sapa is not popular with students.

Hanoi is very popular with students. It's affordability, fascinating culture, and accessibility make it a great study abroad destination. The food and plethora of cultural opportunities are a highlight for many international students.

Sapa is not popular with students.

Is Sapa or Hanoi Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?


Sapa is a town with good options for its public transit. However, Hanoi is not particularly known for times when you don't have a car.

You'll find some public transit in Sapa, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are public buses through the region. If you're hoping to visit nearby towns for their market days, an organized tour or private guide is a good option.

Public transit is mostly limited in Hanoi. The best ways to get around town include motorbike taxis, cyclos, regular taxis, and local buses.

Is Sapa or Hanoi a more walkable city?


Sapa is well known for its high level of walkability. Also, Hanoi is still popular, but not quite as popular for its ease of walking around.

Sapa is a very walkable town. Trekking is, by far, the best way to experience the area and all of the beauty and culture that it has to offer.

Hanoi is a somewhat walkable town. There are parts of the city that are best explored on foot, but you'll also find crowded areas with motorbikes, food stalls, and cars, so come prepared for a bit of a thrill. Most visitors spend the majority of their time in the Old Quarter, which is compact and dense.

For even more information, also check out Is Sapa Worth Visiting? and Is Hanoi Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Hanoi or Sapa?

How long in Sapa or Hanoi?

In either Sapa or Hanoi, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Hanoi than Sapa because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Sapa, and 3-5 days is enough time in Hanoi.

Families should spend more time in Sapa than Hanoi. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Sapa, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Sapa than Hanoi. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Sapa that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Hanoi than Sapa if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Hanoi.

  • How many days in Sapa or Hanoi? Ideal Length of Stay
    Sapa 2-4 
    Hanoi 3-5

One day in Sapa or Hanoi?

In Sapa, many people enjoy the nightlife and food that this scenic destination offers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Lots of people come for the hiking. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

Hanoi is a big city destination where you can fill many days. Visiting the old town is also a must. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

A weekend in Sapa or Hanoi?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Sapa. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Hanoi is a fun place to experience. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Five days in Sapa or Hanoi?

Sapa is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the destination of Sapa. Lots of people come for the hiking. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

Hanoi is a high energy big city where you can fill many days. This city offers something for everyone. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. Plenty of people spend five days in the area when traveling. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.

A week in Sapa or Hanoi?

You'll find nightlife and food around the fascinating destination of Sapa. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Lots of people come for the hiking. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

The high energy city of Hanoi offers nightlife and food. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Budget Tours to Vietnam, The Best Tours for Seniors to Vietnam, The Best G Adventures Tours to Vietnam, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Hanoi.

Which place is cheaper, Hanoi or Sapa?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Sapa is $35, while the average daily cost in Hanoi is $48. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Sapa and Hanoi in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Sapa $12
    Hanoi $25
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Sapa $24
    Hanoi $50
Compare Hotels in Sapa and Hanoi

Looking for a hotel in Sapa or Hanoi? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Sapa

Hotels in Hanoi

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Sapa Hotel Prices and Hanoi Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Sapa $9.26
    Hanoi $6.78
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Sapa

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Sapa are as follows:

  • Short Motorbike Ride

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Hanoi

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Hanoi:

  • Taxi to Bus Station
  • Shuttle Bus From Airport (for Two)
  • Local Bus Ride (for Two)
  • Short Taxi Ride
  • Short Motorbike Ride (10 Minutes)

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Hanoi

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Hanoi:

  • Halong Bay: 3-Day 2-Night 4-Star Cruise with Transfer: $450
  • Private Transfer to/from Sapa: $352
  • Transfer to Sapa Private car: $300
  • 3-Day Halong Bay Cruise with Round-trip Transfer From Hanoi: $285
  • 3-Day Hanoi - Ninh Binh - Halong Bay 5-Star Cruise & Transfer: $280
  • Hue to Ha Noi Private Transfer - Hue Car Rental to Ha Noi: $279
  • Hanoi Private Transfer from Hanoi (HAN) Airport to Cao Bang: $265
  • Private Sapa tour 3 days transfer from Hanoi by limousine overnight 3 star hotel: $264
  • Hanoi Private Transfer from Hanoi (HAN) Airport to Vinh City: $258
  • Halong Bay Seaplane Tour with Transfer from Hanoi by expressway: $255
  • Halong Bay 2 Days - 1 Night with 5 Star Cruise included transfer & pick up: $254
  • Halong Bay Sightseeing With Seaplane Tour Transfer From Hanoi: $250

Is it cheaper to fly into Sapa or Hanoi?

Prices for flights to both Hanoi and Sapa change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Sapa $16
    Hanoi $13
Typical Food Prices in Sapa

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Sapa:

  • Casual Dinner (for One)
  • Quick Breakfast (for Two)
  • Coffee (for Two)
  • Western Dinner (for Two)
  • Pho Soup

Typical Food Prices in Hanoi

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Hanoi:

  • High End Dinner (for Two)
  • Casual Lunch (for Two)
  • Bowl of Pho
  • Italian Dinner (for Food)

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Hanoi

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Hanoi.

  • Hanoi free food tour - Old Quarter food walking tour: $5.00
  • Street Food Tour (Group/Individual): $5.11
  • (Group/Individual) HANOI STREET FOOD TOUR : $5.13
  • Street Food Tour with Train Street and Old Quarter: $16
  • Guided Street Food Tour with Train Street Experience: $20
  • Hanoi local street food tour: $20
  • Hanoi Walking Street Food Tour: $20
  • Hanoi food tour-Local street food tour (food&guide included): $21
  • Walking Street Food Tour Small Group with Local Guide: $22
  • Mad Monkey Hoi An Cooking Class & Bamboo Boats: $23
  • Ngon ngon & Authentic Hanoi Food Tour: $23
  • Vietnamese Street Food Tour with a Local Guide: $24

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Sapa $6.03
    Hanoi $8.37
Typical Entertainment Prices in Sapa

For Sapa, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:

  • CatCat Village Tax
  • Ta Phin Village Tax
  • Walking Stick
  • Paddle Boat Rental on Sapa Lake (1 Hr)

Typical Entertainment Prices in Hanoi

Here are a few typical costs in Hanoi for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:

  • Puppet Theater
  • The Hanoi Hilton Entrance
  • National History Museum
  • Puppet Theater Ticket

Tours and Activities in Hanoi

Here are a few actual costs in Hanoi for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 1 Day Luxury Arcady Cruise Tour from Hanoi by Express Limousine: $75
  • 2 Day Golden Bay Cruise Explore Halong Bay from Hanoi: $220
  • 2 Day Private Guided Tour in Pu Luong Nature Hanoi: $169
  • 2-day Gen Z Cruise Explore Halong Bay from Hanoi: $228
  • 4 Hours and 30 Minutes Historical Hanoi Army Jeep Tour: $58
  • 5 Days Motorbike Tour in Ha Giang Loop From Hanoi: $265
  • Beautiful Female Riders Vespa Red River Countryside Tour 5 Hours: $65
  • Bicycle Tours Full Day Bicycle Tours City & Countryside: $89
  • Explore Hoa Lu, Tam Coc and Ninh Binh in a Day Tour from Hanoi: $85
  • From Halong Bay by Scenic Seaplane and Luxury Day Cruise: $300
  • Full Day Tour To Trang An Complex & Bai Dinh Temple: $97
  • Full Day Tour in Hanoi City: $35

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Sapa $8.05
    Hanoi $7.57
Typical Alcohol Prices in Sapa

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Sapa are as follows:

  • Two Beers

Sample the Local Flavors in Hanoi

Also in Hanoi, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Hanoi Beer and Brewery Tour: $48
  • Guided Bar Crawl with Drinks and Nightclub Entry: $61
  • Half-Day Guided Tour Australian Beef with Wine Tasting & Rickshaw in Hanoi: $108

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Sapa and Hanoi, we can see that Hanoi is more expensive. And not only is Sapa much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Sapa would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Sapa and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Hanoi would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Hanoi than you might in Sapa.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Sapa Expensive? and Is Hanoi Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Sapa or Hanoi?

Hanoi has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Sapa. When comparing the sizes of Sapa and Hanoi, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.