Contains advertising | One of my lasting memories of my first Vietnam trip is probably the train journey through North Vietnam. By train through Vietnam: An experience that should not be missing on any great Vietnam trip! From Hanoi, I wanted to continue to Hue to see the Imperial City. Rolling through Vietnam by train seemed like a nice idea to explore the country on the way. The best way to get is the night train, which goes once from the north of Vietnam down to the south, from Hanoi to Saigon.
But as I was getting so lost in the noisy and scooter-crowded streets of Hanoi, a glance down a supposedly quiet side street caught my eye with this curious railroad track in the middle of the city:
Probably from a small funicular, an old mini streetcar or something similar, I thought. Strange – this track cut its path through the middle of a densely populated city, without regard for residents. I wonder which train was still running here? Or maybe the line had been shut down years ago. It had to be. But in fact, long-distance trains pass along here every day. Residents have come to terms with the train, there are no safety precautions, you just pay a little more attention once the train passes. In the meantime, the curious track has also become a permanent tourist attraction in Hanoi – there are now also cafés and stores with seating right next to the track (where there is still some space).
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Hey, I’m Tatiana, a German-Brazilian living in Berlin & the author behind The Happy Jetlagger. I’ve been writing about my travels since 2014. In addition to my job as a flight attendant, this blog is my passion project!
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Train travel in Vietnam: an experience in itself on the route from Hanoi to Hue!
In the evening, I boarded the big night train to Hue (SE3) at Hanoi station. The train rolled off, picked up speed, I looked out the window – and right into various living rooms. The train was speeding over exactly that railroad track in Hanoi that I had marveled at the day before. A special experience.
I can’t remember ever riding a night train in my life – why, really? Because the train ride through half of Vietnam was really great. One compartment consists of four beds, two up, two down, bunk bed style. Well, the beds upstairs could only be reached by means of an acrobatic performance – luckily my travel consultant from my hostel in Hanoi had organized a bed downstairs for me. Apparently, she didn’t quite trust me with the necessary flexibility for an upstairs bed. She was right.
Sleeping on the night train in Vietnam
Pillows and blankets were laid out for each guest, though I wrapped myself up in my own sleeping gear of pillow and sleeping bag anyway. (And which I highly recommend – when traveling, the combination has served me as an picky hotel guest extremely well ;) ) There still on-board catering with instant soup and coffee from the service cart of the train attendant, who charmingly drove up and down the narrow aisle at the compartments – no one had to starve or die of thirst.
From Hanoi to Hue by train at night
So the train rolled through Vietnam and I slept like a baby. I liked train travel and made a mental note to switch to the train more. Quite contrary to my expectations, the slight, rhythmic rocking of the train was not so disturbing at all, but rather soothing. (And I’m really quite a picky sleeper by now after years of hotel nights). In Hue I finally left the train – and Vietnam had me again. For despite my firm resolution not to fall for dodgy cab drivers at the station who were lying in wait for naive fresh meat from the night train, that’s exactly what happened. And bang, I sat with luggage for expensive money in an unlicensed, torn“cab“. Now and then into a tourist trap is just part of traveling.
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Info about train travel in Vietnam: tickets & tips
Many tourists travel in Vietnam from north to south or vice versa – once from Hanoi to Saigon or vice versa. Transportation options in Vietnam include a well-developed long-distance bus network, or even cheap flights to larger cities such as Da Nang, to get from A to B easily.
Tip: You can find cheap flights within Vietnam on Omio! If you’re travelling within Europe, the USA and Canada you will find the best travel connections by plane, bus, train and even ferries!
Is a train ride in Vietnam worth it?
The train ride was really comfortable (be sure to book 1st class) and relaxing. There was something about letting the landscape pass you by in the morning. For those traveling on a tight budget, there is also the advantage of saving a hostel/hotel night when traveling by overnight train.
Certainly there are night buses. Personally, I always try to avoid them, as night buses seem fundamentally more unsafe to me in terms of potential bag/luggage theft, etc. On the train, on the other hand, I didn’t worry about it, it doesn’t stop often on the way, and the luggage always stays close by in the compartment.
You can also find more about Vietnam here:
- Crossing the Cloud Pass in Vietnam
- Hue: The Best Things to Do in the Imperial City of Vietnam
- Train travel in Vietnam: From Hanoi to Hue by night train
This post was sponsored by Omio.