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Vietnam by Train

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London, United...
posts: 45
reviews: 24
Vietnam by Train

Hi guys,

I am due to arrive in HCMC on the 11th (Sunday) and basically have a month to see and do what I please.

I was thinking that stopping off up the coast on the train may be cheaper than flying and more scenic than driving. Can i ask if anyone has had experience with the train service, would it be economical, any scams to be aware of, easiest way to book tickets etc...

I was planning to spend 4 nights in HCMC, any Must See's that I should be sure to catch...( I can extend the 4 days if needed).

Portland, Oregon
posts: 10,161
reviews: 43
1. Re: Vietnam by Train

Some of the trains are just fine (the ones that offer private carriage service: Hanoi-Sapa, Hanoi-Danang and Nha Trang-HCMC), but the rest are somewhat primitive and I prefer to fly those routes. Don't waste your trip on Saigon - not one of the better locations in my opinion (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay and Hoi An are the places you will really enjoy).

Sydney, Australia
posts: 2,789
reviews: 2
2. Re: Vietnam by Train

The train service is quite basic and the toilets something else.

The few times that I used the train, I did not enjoy.

For a few hours it's OK but overnight I found it to be uncomfortable.

Penarth, United...
posts: 1,115
reviews: 75
3. Re: Vietnam by Train

We recently did the Saigon - Nha Trang trip in an aircon soft seater carriage. Not an experience I would wish on anyone. The whole carriage smelled like a urinal and our clothes smelled the same way afterwards. The Vietnamese aren't the best travelling companions - they put their (bare) feet on top of your seat or around the side if you're in a window seat. They sit on the floor to eat their food making transit through the carriage difficult. If you do choose to travel by train, get a taxi to the station a couple of days before you travel and book your journey there. It's much, much cheaper than doing it online or through a tour company and I would advise getting a berth as apparently they're much more comfortable.

Adelaide
posts: 4,138
reviews: 199
4. Re: Vietnam by Train

Vietnam by Train?

NO! Fly whenever you can. Just search the forums for some of the horror train travel stories, including the recent thread started by MizzTraveller.

London, United...
posts: 45
reviews: 24
5. Re: Vietnam by Train

Flying isnt really an option because of budget constraints, I am thinking after reading these replies that maybe a mixture of coaches and trains is the way to go, mainly coaches!

Are Dollars accepted or is it just the Dong?

rural West Aussie
Destination Expert
for Perth
posts: 16,532
reviews: 52
6. Re: Vietnam by Train

Just Dong, no need to take a double hit on conversions changing GBP to USD to VND. Actually if budget contraints preclude flying, you'd be better off on the trains, fewer accidents than coaches.

Perth, Australia
posts: 585
reviews: 39
7. Re: Vietnam by Train

I would suggest you travel in soft sleeper that way you will have just 4 to a berth and not so many people in the carriage. The hotel you are staying at can arrange tickets for you with usually only a small fee. Like MizzTraveller suggests going to the station in advance and buying your own ticket is quite easy and the cheapest. The first day I arrived at a destination I went and brought a ticket to my next destination and had no problems getting a soft sleeper. Although the trains are not to he same standard as western one's traveling in soft sleeper I found to be ok.

Nha Trang, Vietnam
posts: 6,205
reviews: 24
8. Re: Vietnam by Train

If you want to travel on a budget and see the sights, there are day express routes offered by Mai Linh express between Saigon and Nha Trang that take the same time as a train. From Nha Trang onwards it gets a bit more difficult. I have found a 4 berth sleeper acceptible, however, sighseeing is not in the works. A pair of ear plugs and a good sleeping pill is the best option for train travel.

Owee

www.owee58.com

Penarth, United...
posts: 1,115
reviews: 75
9. Re: Vietnam by Train

Ear plugs - no problem! Are you able to buy sleeping tablets over the counter in Vietnam?

Perth, Australia
Destination Expert
for Cambodia
posts: 7,043
reviews: 104
10. Re: Vietnam by Train

We had a similar experience to MizzTraveller with the trains. We're pretty well travelled through many places but we'd never ever come across the most incredible stink that we met on the trains in Vietnam.

I really don't know what these people eat to create such vile smells as the food is similar to many other asian cuisines, so maybe the train staff put dead things in the toilets at the beginning of each journey.

On one occasion after an overnighter on the reunification express, when we checked into our hotel at our destination the receptionist wrinkled her nose and said "You come on train?" We stripped off every piece of clothing for the laundry, showered and washed our hair before we declared ourselves stink free.. Sounds like an exageration, I know, but believe me, it was true.

Edited: 5:41 am, March 10, 2012