Has any one travelled via train? I am looking at travelling from Hanoi to Hue/Hoi An or Hue/Hoi An to HCMC. Any experiences out there, reports on travel type? How far in advance do you need to book and do trains run roughly to timetables? Are they comfortable?
The section from Hue to Da Nang (for Hoi An) is one of the most beautiful train trips in the country, so that's worth doing.
The Vietnam Railways site has comprehensive information on timetabling and price and while the trains tend to depart on time, they're often a tad late in.
The only time really need to book miles in advance is over the Tet holiday.
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,738
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There are three distinct overnight journeys that are better by rail than the dreaded 'opentour' buses with their dubious mechanical conditions and their outrageous drivers.
Ha Noi to Hue or Da Nang; Da Nang to Nha Trang and Nha Trang by the NEW EXPRESS to HCMC.
If travelling ONLY between Da Nang and Hue, or vice versa, bus is the better option as there are two runs daily by all operators. An Phu and Sinh use buses in the best mechanical condition.
The benefits of rail are: they are safer (only one rail / rail accident since 1975}; various classes of service to match your budget; sleepers (saving time and hotel costs).
Da Nang services HOI AN via bus or taxi - use De Luxe, VN Taxi or Mai Linh as they are all honest taxi operators.
Reservations should be made at least two or three days ahead of time as this route (HCMC > Ha Noi) is very popular with all types of traveller - Vietnamese and Foreign.
If you want to see the Hai Van Pass properly it is best to get a tour bus out of Da Nang as the rail view is limited (ride on the east facing side of the trains - people travelling from south of Da Nang should remember the train reverses direction in Da Nang as the station is on a spur line).
#3 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349