Railway System Built by the French colonist over a hundred years ago, the Railway System in Vietnam has been continually developing by Vietnamese Government after the Reunification in 1975. At the present, this railway system helps the transportation between most cities and provinces in Vietnam more convenient with the total length of around 2.600km spreading out from the North to the South. Besides, the Vietnamese railway system also has routes connecting with Chinese railway to the borderline and stations in Yunnan and Guangxi.
Traveling by train is a chance to experience Vietnam from the North to the South in a unique and interesting way. During the journey, you can witness various landscapes in this beautiful country from mountains, forests, plateaus to the sea. Besides, the train’s speed is not too high that allows you to relax while having a long trip by contemplating the scenery, taking photos and videos, etc. However, there is only one thing you should notice that is maintaining your properties and luggage carefully to prevent theft.
North-South Train Being managed by Vietnam Railways Corporation, the North-South Express Railway is the train route beginning from Hanoi and passing by many provinces in Vietnam after finishing at Ho Chi Minh City. It is also called Reunification Express because of its purpose for connecting the North and the South of Vietnam.
Train routes Known as the longest train route in Vietnam, North-South railway has the total length of 1,729 km. From Hanoi, it passes by many provinces along Vietnam including Ha Nam, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien – Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Dong Nai and Binh Duong then ends its route in Ho Chi Minh City. On the way, you can enjoy many breathtaking sceneries of Vietnam such as Hai Van Pass, Van Phong Bay and Truong Son Moutain Ranges. With long-haul trips, the trains offer sleeper carriages for you. Besides, as for short routes such as Hanoi – Ninh Binh or Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City, you can choose sitting carriages because it is more economical than sleeper ones.
Train codes North-Southh Express Railway has two kinds of trains which are called SE and TN. As for SE, because of having modern carriages, facilities and faster speed, it is more prefered by tourists. Passengers can choose hard or soft sleeper that is more appropriate with their trips. In addition, each cabin is provided with air conditioners that will make them feel more comfortable especially for foreign tourists who has not still got used to Vietnam climate yet. The ticket price ranges from 600,000 to 2,000,000 VND depending on the length of the routes. As for a trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, it usually takes around 30 hours. Therefore, SE train is a good choice for this kind of route. There are 4 trains starting from Hanoi and 4 from Ho Chi Minh City to another ending point everyday.
Train SE1 and SE3 start from Hanoi at 19:00 and 23:00 and stop at fewer destinations than the train SE5 and SE7. Departing at the same time from Ho Chi Minh City, train SE2 and SE4 also have fewer stops than SE6 and SE8. Having older carriages and hard sleepers are TN trains. This kind of train will make its stop at all stations that it passes by along the way and take 10 hours longer than SE trains. The ticket price is also much lower ranging from 500,000 to 1,200,000 VND per trip.
Sleeper carriage The Reunification Train has about 5 to 7 cabins in each sleeper carriage provided with shower room in the back of the carriage. There are two types of cabins called 4-berths and 6-berths. Both of these kinds are provided with the same facilities such as pillows, blankets, TV, fans or air conditioners. Your luggages can be contained under the bottom bunks of the cabin. If you stay in 4-berth cabins, there are more space and privacy for you. In addition, SE trains also offer light meals for passengers and some products such as canned foods, cigarettes, beverage, shampoo/ soap, toothpaste and brush. One thing you should concern about is train quality. The train quality in Vietnam can not be compared with that of developed countries especially in Europe because all of them are old Russian types. Instead, what you can get from a rail trip is real experiences when travelling in a beautiful country in Southeast Asia like Vietnam. However, you should use other means of transportation like coach or plane if you have sleeping problem or not used to traveling by train.
Night trains In order to spend more time for other tourism activities like sightseeing or entertainment, using night train is a great ideal for tourists especially who only have short holiday. As for major routes from Hanoi to Sapa, Hanoi to Hue and Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, they all offer night trains for passengers that are safer and more comfortable than other vehicles such coach or open tour bus. However, the price can be higher. At the present, Vietnam Railway System is the one only firm that can offer types of routes. The North – South train (the Reunification Railway) make its stop at most of provinces in Vietnam excluding of the Central Highland area. It also cooperates with private firms to provide high-quality cabins for the route of Hanoi and Sapa.
• Train stations HANOI TRAIN STATION Address: 120 Le Duan Street, Hanoi Tel: (+84-43) 825-3949 Ticket Hours: 7:30 – 19:30
HUE TRAIN STATION Address: 2 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Hue Tel: (+84-543) 822-175 Ticket Hours: 7:30 – 19:30
HO CHI MINH CITY TRAIN STATION Address: 1 Nguyen Thong Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City Tel: (+84-83) 843-6528 Ticket Hours: 7:30 – 19:30
Ticket reservation There are two main ways to buy a train ticket in Vietnam. The traditional way is buying directly at train stations. The procedure is very easy. However, sometimes, you have to wait a long queue to get it especially in high seasons or Vietnamese holidays. Another disadvantage of this method is that the train staffs may not understand English so you should write down of your information, requirements and desired destinations before just in case. In spite of all those conveniences, you can buy a train ticket with lower price. Apart from the traditional way, booking online is also a good method to get a train ticket. At the present, many booking train ticket websites support foreigners with English that make the procedure very convenient. However, to avoid any mistake, you should ask your travel agency to book train tickets for you.
Tips – Book tickets in advance to get the best seat. – Bring along more food and drinks if you are concern about the food quality on train. – Do not buy food and souvenir at transit spots along the road. – Bring along a neck pillow if your seat is hard or soft type. – Do not bring to much baggage especially valuable things because it is hard to maintain them while you are sleeping. – Do some light exercise during the trip for blood circulation, aches and pains. – Please feel free to tell the coach’s conductor if you have any problem about your seat or food quality.