A train ride lasting just seven minutes and costing just two dollars gives million-dollar views of Vietnam’s northern highlands.
The “journey” starts from a railway station in Sapa with a European classical look and runs to the cable car station on the Fansipan Mountain, crossing the Muong Hoa Valley in Lao Cai Province.
Sa Pa Town, Fansipan Mountain and Muong Hoa Valley are northern Vietnam\’s leading tourist attractions.
At 3,143 metres, Fansipan is the highest mountain in the Indochinese Peninsula (comprising Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia), hence its nickname “the Roof of Indochina”.
Renowned architect Bill Bensley designed the station, which opened in late March this year. In keeping with the European architecture, it has high ceilings, large windows and bright colors.
The dome has many lit cells combined and motifs of pine trees.
Ornate tiles and elegant pillars decorate the train station. From now until December 31, each return ticket costs just VND50,000 ($2.2); a huge drop from the regular prices of VND200,000 ($8.6) and VND150,000 for children ($6.5).
Two train coaches are designed and manufactured by Garaventa, a Swiss firm. Each car is 20 meters long, 3 meters wide, weighs 25 tons and can accommodate 200 guests.
The control panel of the electricity-operated train.
A view of the Muong Hoa Valley from the train.
From Sapa to Muong Hoa station, the 2-km or so ride takes about 7 minutes.
Nguyen Hoai Nhan, who had never been to Sapa before, said: “I am amazed at the scenery I could see from the train. Not only does it offer a panorama of Muong Hoa Valley, I also see the entire Sapa Town beneath.”
The train will stop for about 2 minutes in the middle of the route for visitors to take in and capture the scenery on their smartphones and cameras.
The Muong Hoa station, where the train ride ends, is the place were one can take a cable car up Fansipan Mountain. Another option is to hang around in the area for as long as one feels like and takes the return train.
Leaving Muong Hoa station, visitors see a large courtyard of the Bao An pagoda. And there are numerous specialty shops and restaurants in the area.
The walkway in the middle of Muong Hoa station has roses, strawberry garden and souvenir shops await.