I had a chance to travel by train from Ho Chi Minh city to Hanoi. My family wanted to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Vietnam’s trains are safe, comfortable and inexpensive, the ideal way for independent travellers to get around and see Vietnam at ground level. The train journeys are an experience in themselves, and become an integral part of your visit to Vietnam. Journey by train is very popular in Viet Nam.
The trip started at 5.00 a.m. We came early about 30 minutes. At the Station, we drank coffe and softdrink. Suddenly, we heard the bell ringing. We were ready to get on the train. You might even meet some Vietnamese people. Let’s me introduce to you about the railway: Trains between Hanoi & Saigon are sometimes referred to as the Reunification Express by guide books and tourist agencies, although there are now several trains on this route and no single train officially carries this name. The line was completed by the French in 1936, and trains linked Hanoi to Saigon until 1954, when Vietnam was divided into north and south and the railway was cut. The trains resumed on 31 December 1976, unifying the country once more.
When everyone was on the train, we came to our seats and arranged our luggages. I felt comfortable because the train was very clean and ran smoothly. Aside from scamming travel agents, the number one concern is theft, though that’s not to say people are being robbed left, right and centre, as my experience, you should endeavour to keep an eye on your stash.
The most magical part of the Hanoi to Saigon train journey is the world class scenic section between Hue and Da Nang. The train runs along the South China Sea, snaking from cliff to jungle covered cliff past beaches and islands, then heads through the lush green mountains via the Hai Van Pass to reach Da Nang. I got a real insight into Vietnam when you travel by train, both urban and rural. A lot of beautiful places such as Mui Ne, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An town,… appeared in front of my eyes. We took many photos. Enjoying a view on the train was very interesting. I saw beautiful sites for many hours. The food was really delicious. We spent 30 hours going from Ho Chi Minh city to Ha Noi. After a long trip, we cam to Ha Noi already.
May be you do not know that this is the main north-south running line and is by far the most popular for both foreign tourists and Vietnamese travellers. A mind boggling variety of trains run on this line. While there are over 100 stations on the line, the popular and fastest trains service around 20 stations, into which most major coastal stops are covered. The stations include Hanoi, Vinh, Dong Hoi, Dong Ha, Hue, Da Nang (for Hoi An), Quang Ngai, Dieu Tri (for Qui Nhon), Nha Trang, Thap Cham, Muong Man (for Mui Ne) and Ho Chi Minh city.
Train is cheaper and slower than flying, but for the shorter trips, it’s not all that much slower than flying. Of course if you want to get from Ha Noi to Ho Chi Minh city as quickly as possible then flying is the best option, but if you’ve got a bit of time and plan a lot of stops, trains are often the best choice.
This journey was very interesting for me. I feel more relaxable to begin my job. Hope you will enjoy traveling by train in Viet Nam.
Nguyễn Ánh Ngà.