Hanoi-Danang-Ho Chi Minh via Saigon Express

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There are many ways to travel across Vietnam: Bus, Train, and Airplane. But if you are in a tight budget, the train will be the best option. It is the most popular means amongst backpackers since this will also mean exposure to Vietnamese ways.

If you are travelling during peak season e.g. Tet Holidays, it will be best to book your tickets ahead of time, either via online or through your hotel. It was our hotel in Hanoi who booked us our train tickets.

Hanoi – Da Nang

If you are coming from Hanoi and would want to visit Hoi An, the nearest station would be Da Nang which is a 15-hour train ride from Hanoi.

The Hanoi Train Station (Ga Hanoi) is at the Old Quarters. Our train schedule was at 7:30 PM on SE1. When we arrived at the train station at around 7PM, SE1 has just started boarding. The train station was packed due to the large amount of Vietnamese going home for the tet holidays.

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Schedule and status update at the center of the station
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Boarding at SE1

Due to high demand of train tickets at that time, we were only able to book the top beds of a 6-berth cabin at $49 each instead of the normal rate of $32 each.

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Label outisde our cabin. The top beds: 23 and 24

We shared our cabin with a Vietnamese family of four. They were very kind to help us haul our bags to our bed. The kids even gave us some chocolates!

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6-berth cabin
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Because we cant event sit straight on our beds (our beds were almost at the ceiling), we mostly stayed at the cafeteria with a stern-looking old waiter. By 11:30AM the next day, we were already at Da Nang Station.

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Arrival at Da Nang station

Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh

Since our schedule was around 1:40AM, and it was Chinese New Year, the Da Nang station was deserted. We needed much rest so we were very happy with our bottom beds in a 4-berth cabin at $79 each. The cabin was very different from the 6-berth cabin we had on our way to Da Nang from Hanoi.

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Boarding Gate
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4-berth cabin. Very comfortable!

This time, it was a 17-hour ride. Good thing we had some episodes of Friends on our phones to entertain us. We also bought some beers at the cafeteria which notably had friendlier waiters. Luckily, we were the only ones in the cabin throughout our train ride!

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Arrival at Ho Chi Minh Station

We arrived Ho Chi Minh at 6:00PM.

We saw the countryside of Vietnam while aboard the train. Even though it took a longer time compared to riding a plane, the sights were incomparable. It felt like we really did travel across Vietnam. 🙂

Tips:

  1. Bring some food and water. The food at the canteen is not very good.
  2. Beers are allowed so if you want a restful sleep during the ride, a can or two may help.
  3. Bring hand sanitizer and tissue with you. The comfort rooms will not be clean.
  4. Don’t leave your things unattended inside the cabin.
  5. Arrive at the station ahead of time because the trains will depart on time.
  6. Do not lose your train tickets as it may be asked by the guard when doing rounds.
  7. There are sockets inside the cabin. Don’t worry.

Have a safe trip!

Check out the rest of our Vietnam trip!

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