Vietnam: 16-hour overnight train to Hanoi

posted in: Cultures, Vietnam | 0

On our trip through Vietnam, we took an adventurous 16-hour overnight train from Da Nang departing at 1pm (nearby the ancient town of Hoi An) going North to Hanoi arriving at 5am. The first hour of the trip from Da Nang to Hue is the most scenic with a single-track rail winding along steep hills overlooking a beautiful lush green coastline and isolated beaches below. Known as the “Reunification Railway” for connecting North and South Vietnam, the train runs over 40 hours in total from Ho Chi Minh city in the South all the way to Sapa in the North past Hanoi.

1. The train station departure

Crowded, hot and sweaty. We waited for an hour packed like sardines in a hot 40C waiting room without any air conditioning. Nobody could tell us in English what was going on, but about half hour after our scheduled departure the doors opened and the whole crowd headed for one of the three trains at the station, so we followed along hoping we’ll board the right train to Hanoi.

Vintage steam train outside Da Nang train station
Vintage steam train outside Da Nang train station
Da Nang train station packed waiting area
Da Nang train station packed waiting area

2. The train cabins

There are “luxury” cars on the overnight train operated by Livitrans or Violette with 4 berths per cabin. Occupied mostly by foreigners, the cabins have air conditioning, relatively clean bed sheets, pillows and blankets. Train tickets cost $80 / person and can be purchased online at www.baolau.vn or through many of the travel agencies in Vietnam.

Livitrans 4-berth cabin on the overnight train
Livitrans 4-berth cabin on the overnight train

3. The restaurant car

We were hoping for a “James Bond” like experience dining in a fancy restaurant car, but the reality was a quite different with staff asleep at the tables and a half-naked man washing dishes in an old bucket out back. We tried the mangoes which were deliciously sweet and an ice-cold beer for only half a dollar.

Vietnam railway restaurant car
The “restaurant” car with locals asleep at the tables

4. The beautiful scenery

Vietnam railway train winding in the hills
Vietnam railway train winding in the hills with Da Nang in the background
Passing by secluded beaches North of Da Nang
Passing by secluded beaches North of Da Nang
Local Vietnamese fishing nets
Local Vietnamese fishing nets
Religious temples seen from the Vietnam railway
Religious temples seen from the Vietnam railway

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