The first part of our journey from Hanoi to Sapa was to go to the Hanoi Train Station and get on board of our train. Our contact person, Mr. Viet, whom we met at the Six on Sixteen Hotel, got us a taxi cab, and he told us that he would ride his motorcycle separately and meet us at the train station.
When we arrived at the Hanoi Train Station, Mr. Viet was already there, and he told us to follow him. I read about some horror stories of travelers getting scammed when trying to obtain their train tickets at the station, so I was glad that we had someone who knew what he’s doing taking care of this for us. We reached the entrance of what looked like a waiting area, and Mr. Viet told us to wait there while he retrieved our train tickets. He disappeared for a moment, and Kristi and I waited there until he came back. After few minutes, he was back with a couple of tickets in his hands. He gave them to us, and asked us to follow him.
We went through the waiting lobby and continued through the train platform. Mr. Viet told us to follow him to our train car; he escorted us all the way to the exact one we needed to board, and then told us that we just have to look for our exact cabin on board. Before he left, he gave us his business card. It looked like he’s a business partner of the proprietor of the Sapa Rooms and Six on Sixteen Hotels who specializes in arranging transportation for travelers from Hanoi to various destinations in Vietnam, including Sapa. He told us that we could contact him for any transportation needs in Hanoi in the future.
I took the photo below before walking into the waiting lobby at the train station. It would be quite an adventure — one that I probably didn’t care to experience — to have to figure out all of these on my own while making sure that I didn’t get ripped off and not missing my train.