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.
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.
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.