After a bumpy 90 minute car ride through the hills of Sapa back to Lao Cai train station, we managed to find our next ride to Hanoi pretty easily because the train station was relatively small as compared to the one in Hanoi. We were booked to travel on the Victoria Express, which was crowned the most luxurious train ride from Lao Cai to Hanoi. With such a title I was pretty excited to check it out, plus the train ride was only exclusively available to guests who stayed at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa. The train travels to and from Hanoi & Lao Cai once a day, 6 times a week, with the exception of Saturday. It departs from Hanoi at 10pm and Lao Cai at 9:10pm.
At 8:30pm an announcement was made in the departure hall for passengers to board the train, and we were eager to get on board to get some much needed rest on the 8 hour journey back to Hanoi. When we got onto the platform there were porters ready to assist with our luggages, and someone escorting us to our carriage. When we got to our designated carriage there was a red carpet rolled out, and a lady was handing out cold towels to all passengers prior to boarding. A very fall French man soon came to welcome us on board, and checked our names against the manifest before showing us to our cabins. This all felt a little fancy as compared to our ride on the Chapa Express when we arrived into Lao Cai 2 days ago.
The Victoria Express houses 2 types of cabins, a superior one which has 4 sleeper berths and a deluxe one, which has 2 sleeper berths. Since we were a family of 4, the former configuration suited us perfectly. I had pictured a very modern train design, but I suppose this old charm exudes luxury in some way, though to me it just seemed a tad bit old as compared to the much more fresh looking Chapa Express. The soft product offered on this train plus the service of the staff is of course leaps and bounds ahead of the Chapa Express, with a more personalised touch as you were referred to by name, which made me feel like I was travelling back in Singapore Airlines Suites.
The cabins really did seem like that they’ve been in service for a really long time. Felt a little antique like, where you know they’ve been cared for very well, but it’s about time to get new fittings.
Since no one else was on board the train yet, the train attendant asked if I would like a tour of the cabins, yes please ! He first showed me the bathroom, and the snack cabin and also where the staff slept. He was really enthusiastic about explaining everything when I started taking pictures, so that was great. He took me to the ‘galley’ and said i should take a picture with his colleague, who was in the midst of making hot drinks, she obliged with a smile and ushered me to sit next to her, xin chao!
After getting back to my cabin, they started distributing little amenity bags which contained a wash cloth, and a dental kit, along with a bottle of water. The train attendant came around to inform us of the ride, and how we would be reaching Hanoi in slight over 8 hours and if we need anything please don’t hesitate to ask.
The 4 of us slept so well, it was probably due to exhaustion but the mattress and blankets were really comfortable. Before we knew it, the staff started knocking on our doors an hour before arrival offering us a choice of hot drinks and to inform us we would be reaching Hanoi soon.
It was a comfortable ride, but at the price that the Victoria Express commands, plus the exclusivity of it only being available to guests who stays at their hotel in Sapa, taking other trains would just be as fairly as comfortable I can safely assume. I still prefer the decor and finishings of the Chapa Express over this train, but I suppose that people are looking for old world charm at the end of the day, and this train ride can certainly provide that.