Vietnam is a captivating destination that offers a unique and diverse travel experience. One of the most popular modes of transportation for exploring this Southeast Asian gem is the country’s expansive train network. From the bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to the picturesque landscapes in between, train travel in Vietnam provides a comfortable and scenic way to discover the country’s rich culture, history, and natural beauty.

Overview of Train Travel in Vietnam

Vietnam’s railway system is an integral part of the country’s transportation infrastructure, connecting major cities and providing a valuable service to both locals and tourists. The network spans over 2,600 kilometers, with routes traversing the length of the country from north to south, as well as several east-west connections.

Train travel in Vietnam offers a unique perspective on the country, allowing passengers to witness the changing landscapes, observe daily life, and immerse themselves in the local culture. Whether you’re seeking a comfortable long-distance journey or a more adventurous experience, the Vietnamese rail network has something to offer every traveler.

Types of Trains in Vietnam

Vietnam’s train system comprises three main types of trains, each with its own distinct characteristics and amenities:

High-Speed Trains

Vietnam has recently introduced high-speed trains, known as the Reunification Express, which offer a more modern and efficient mode of transportation. These trains can reach speeds of up to 170 km/h, significantly reducing travel times between major cities. The Reunification Express operates on the primary north-south route, connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Sleeper Trains

Sleeper trains are a popular choice for longer journeys, as they provide the option to travel overnight and wake up at your destination. These trains feature comfortable berths, either in shared or private cabins, allowing passengers to rest and rejuvenate during the journey. Sleeper trains are a practical and budget-friendly way to cover long distances while making the most of your travel time.

Local Trains

Local trains, often referred to as “slow trains,” serve smaller cities and rural areas, providing an authentic and immersive travel experience. These trains typically operate at slower speeds and make more frequent stops, allowing passengers to observe the daily lives of the Vietnamese people and appreciate the country’s stunning landscapes up close.

Booking Train Tickets

Obtaining train tickets in Vietnam can be done through various channels, each with its own advantages:

Online Booking Platforms

In recent years, several online booking platforms have emerged, making it easier for travelers to plan and secure their train tickets in advance. Websites like, 12Go Asia, and Vietnam Railways’ official website offer a user-friendly interface, allowing you to search for schedules, compare fares, and complete your booking online.

Ticket Counters at Train Stations

Purchasing tickets directly at the train station is a convenient option, especially for last-minute travel plans. Major train stations in Vietnam, such as those in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, have dedicated ticket counters where you can inquire about availability and make your purchase.

Travel Agencies

Many local and international travel agencies can assist with booking train tickets as part of a larger Vietnam itinerary. These agencies often have access to discounted fares and can provide valuable advice and support throughout the booking process.

Train Stations in Vietnam

Vietnam’s train network is served by a diverse array of train stations, each with its unique character and facilities:

Major Train Stations in Hanoi

Hanoi’s primary train station, Hanoi Railway Station, is a bustling hub that connects the capital city to the rest of the country. Located in the heart of the city, the station features various amenities, including waiting areas, ticket offices, and basic dining options.

Major Train Stations in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, the commercial hub of Vietnam, is home to the city’s main train station, Saigon Railway Station. This modern and well-equipped facility offers a range of services, including luggage storage, currency exchange, and a variety of food and beverage options.

Other Major Train Stations in Vietnam

Beyond Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam boasts several other significant train stations that serve as important transportation hubs. These include Da Nang Railway Station, Nha Trang Railway Station, and Hue Railway Station, each with its own unique character and facilities catering to the needs of travelers.

Facilities Available at Train Stations

Train stations in Vietnam generally offer basic amenities, such as waiting areas, ticketing offices, and food and beverage options. Additionally, many stations provide luggage storage, currency exchange, and restroom facilities to ensure a comfortable experience for passengers.

Onboard Amenities

The level of amenities and services available on Vietnamese trains can vary depending on the type of train and the class of travel chosen:

Seating Options

Trains in Vietnam offer a range of seating options, from hard seats in the basic economy class to more comfortable soft seats and sleeper berths. The higher the class of travel, the more spacious and well-appointed the seating arrangements tend to be.

Dining Car Services

Many long-distance trains in Vietnam feature onboard dining cars or food service, providing passengers with the opportunity to enjoy local cuisine and refreshments during their journey. The menu and quality of the food can vary, but it often offers a taste of the country’s diverse culinary traditions.

Restrooms and Hygiene Facilities

Train bathrooms in Vietnam are generally basic, with limited amenities. It’s recommended to carry your own toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other essential hygiene items to ensure a more comfortable experience.

Tips for a Comfortable Train Journey

To make the most of your train travel experience in Vietnam, consider the following tips:

Packing Essentials for Train Travel

When packing for your train journey, be sure to include comfortable clothing, snacks, a refillable water bottle, and any necessary medication. It’s also a good idea to bring a small pillow and a lightweight blanket, especially if you’re traveling on an overnight sleeper train.

Choosing the Right Seat or Berth

Selecting the appropriate seat or berth can significantly impact your overall comfort. If you’re traveling during the day, opt for a window seat to enjoy the scenic views. For overnight journeys, consider upgrading to a sleeper berth for a more restful experience.

Dealing with Motion Sickness on Trains

If you’re prone to motion sickness, it’s advisable to choose a forward-facing seat, as this can help alleviate the discomfort. Additionally, bring along motion sickness medication or natural remedies, such as ginger or peppermint, to help manage any symptoms.

Scenic Train Routes in Vietnam

Vietnam’s train network offers several breathtaking routes that allow travelers to witness the country’s diverse and stunning landscapes:

Reunification Express

The Reunification Express, also known as the North-South Railway, is the longest and most famous train route in Vietnam, connecting Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City in the south. This iconic journey traverses a variety of landscapes, from the lush rice paddies of the Mekong Delta to the dramatic mountains of the Central Highlands.

Hai Van Pass Route

The Hai Van Pass route, which runs between Da Nang and Hue, is renowned for its stunning coastal scenery and dramatic mountain views. This section of the train journey is often considered one of the most scenic in Vietnam, offering passengers a unique perspective of the country’s natural beauty.

Da Nang to Hue Route

The train route between Da Nang and Hue, which includes the Hai Van Pass, is a popular choice for travelers seeking a more leisurely and picturesque way to explore the central region of Vietnam. The journey takes passengers through quaint coastal towns, lush forests, and historic sites, providing a well-rounded cultural and scenic experience.

Safety Measures on Trains

Ensuring the safety and security of passengers is a top priority for Vietnamese train operators. Here are some key safety measures to be aware of:

Securing Your Belongings

It’s important to keep a close eye on your personal belongings, especially in crowded train stations and during the journey. Consider using a secure bag or money belt to protect your valuables.

Emergency Protocols on Trains

Vietnamese trains have emergency procedures in place, such as access to first aid kits and communication with the conductor or train staff in case of an incident. Familiarize yourself with the emergency protocols before your journey.

Interacting with Fellow Passengers

When traveling by train in Vietnam, it’s essential to be mindful of your interactions with other passengers. Respect personal space, avoid unnecessary disturbances, and be considerate of your fellow travelers.

Cultural Etiquette on Vietnamese Trains

To ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience on Vietnamese trains, it’s important to be mindful of local customs and traditions:

Respecting Personal Space

Vietnamese culture places a high value on personal space and privacy. When traveling on trains, be mindful of your physical proximity to others and avoid encroaching on their space.

Proper Behavior in Shared Compartments

If you’re traveling in a shared sleeper compartment, be aware of the local customs and etiquette. Avoid making excessive noise, keep your belongings tidy, and be considerate of your fellow passengers.

Understanding Local Customs and Traditions

Familiarize yourself with common Vietnamese customs, such as appropriate dress, etiquette around elders, and any cultural taboos, to ensure a respectful and culturally-sensitive train journey.

Accessibility for Foreign Travelers

While train travel in Vietnam can be a rewarding experience for foreign travelers, there are some considerations to keep in mind:

Language Barriers and Communication Tips

The language barrier can be a challenge, especially in smaller train stations or when communicating with train staff. It’s helpful to learn a few basic Vietnamese phrases, carry a phrasebook or translation app, and be prepared to use gestures or drawings to convey your needs.

Assistance for Travelers with Disabilities

Vietnam’s train infrastructure is gradually becoming more accessible, but the level of support for travelers with disabilities can vary. It’s advisable to research the accessibility options and plan accordingly, such as requesting assistance at the train station or booking appropriate seating in advance.

Cultural Sensitivity While Traveling by Train

Maintaining cultural sensitivity is crucial when traveling by train in Vietnam. Be mindful of local customs, respect personal space, and avoid behaviors that may be perceived as disrespectful or disruptive.

Best Time to Travel by Train in Vietnam

The optimal time to travel by train in Vietnam can depend on various factors, including weather, peak tourist seasons, and special events:

Weather Considerations

Vietnam experiences distinct seasons, with the north generally cooler and drier during the winter months (November to March), while the south is hot and humid year-round. Consider the weather patterns when planning your train journey to ensure a comfortable experience.

Peak Tourist Seasons

The peak tourist seasons in Vietnam are typically during the summer months (June to August) and around major holidays, such as Tet (the Lunar New Year). During these periods, train tickets may be in high demand, so it’s advisable to book well in advance.

Special Events or Festivals Affecting Train Schedules

Vietnam has a vibrant calendar of cultural festivals and events that can impact train schedules and availability. Be aware of any major events that may coincide with your travel plans and adjust your itinerary accordingly.

Budget-Friendly Train Travel Tips

Traveling by train in Vietnam can be a cost-effective option, especially if you follow these budget-friendly tips:

Booking in Advance for Discounted Fares

Purchasing your train tickets well in advance, typically several weeks or even months before your travel dates, can often result in significant savings compared to last-minute bookings.

Opting for Second-Class Tickets

While first-class and sleeper berths offer more comfort, second-class tickets can provide a more budget-friendly option without sacrificing too much in terms of amenities and experience.

Bringing Your Own Snacks and Drinks

To save on the cost of onboard food and beverages, consider packing your own snacks and water bottles to enjoy during the journey.

Important Notes

In addition to the information covered, there are a few other important considerations when planning your train travel in Vietnam:

Additional Services Offered on Certain Train Routes

Some train routes may offer additional services, such as baggage handling, porter assistance, or even on-board entertainment. Be sure to research the specific amenities available on the trains you’ll be using.

Importance of Checking Train Schedules and Delays Before Departure

It’s crucial to stay informed about train schedules and any potential delays or disruptions before and during your journey. This will help you plan your travel accordingly and avoid unnecessary stress or inconvenience.

Mistakes to Avoid

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable train travel experience in Vietnam, it’s important to be aware of some common mistakes to avoid:

Not Validating Your Ticket Before Boarding

Always remember to validate your train ticket before boarding the train, as this is a requirement in Vietnam. Failing to do so may result in difficulties or even being denied entry.

Overpacking for Your Train Journey

Packing light and efficiently is essential for train travel, as you’ll need to manage your luggage throughout the journey and when navigating train stations.

Missing Out on Experiencing Local Cuisine at Train Stations

While it’s tempting to rely on the onboard dining options, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the delicious local food and snacks available at train station platforms and nearby vendors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to travel by train in Vietnam?

Yes, train travel in Vietnam is generally considered safe, with various safety measures and protocols in place. However, as with any mode of transportation, it’s important to be mindful of your personal belongings and surroundings.

How early should I arrive at the train station before departure?

It’s recommended to arrive at the train station at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure time. This will allow you to navigate the station, find your platform, and board the train without rushing.

Can I bring my bicycle on the train in Vietnam?

Yes, it is possible to bring your bicycle on the train in Vietnam. Most trains have designated areas for storing bicycles, but it’s best to check with the railway operator or your booking agent for specific policies and guidelines.


Train travel in Vietnam offers a unique and immersive way to explore this captivating country. From the high-speed Reunification Express to the scenic local trains, the Vietnamese rail network provides travelers with a diverse range of experiences, allowing them to witness the country’s stunning landscapes, immerse themselves in the local culture, and create lasting memories.

By understanding the different types of trains, familiarizing yourself with the booking process, and being aware of the cultural etiquette and safety considerations, you can plan a seamless and enjoyable train journey in Vietnam. Whether you’re seeking a comfortable long-distance trip or a more adventurous local experience, the country’s train network is sure to provide an unforgettable travel experience.