Road trips are fun, and air travel is fast, but taking a train ride is a once-in-the-life-time experience on your journey to Vietnam.
You may have several questions about traveling by train in Vietnam. Where to buy Vietnam train tickets? How to choose a seat or berth?
This comprehensive Vietnam train travel guide offers tips to help you travel by train in Vietnam hassle-free.
Why should you travel by train in Vietnam?
Here are five reasons to consider riding the rails.
Taking a train ride is the best way to see Vietnam. Vietnam rail travel offers a breathtaking view, up close and personal. Mountains, rice paddy fields, and a beautiful coastline reveal their beauty along the way.
Remember all the hassle that you have at the airport? Extra time is needed for check-in and departure, not to mention the time and money you spend on the cab to the airport (usually located far away from the city centers). Rail travel solves these problems!
As the train stations are conveniently located, it’s time-saving and easy for you to get from and to the city.
Also, you can only go by train or bus to some places such as Sapa. It’s convenient to get on the night train and arrive in the morning at the destination.
While seats on an airplane can be cramped, or the road can be bumpy if you travel by car or bus, rail travel is a better alternative.
Vietnam train travel offers a comfortable experience with space to stretch out and get cozy. You can also get up and walk around if you feel bored or sitting too long.
You can have a local experience while traveling by train in Vietnam. Observing Vietnamese people, trying the food at the different train stops, buying souvenirs from the windows, etc., can make your experience unique.
Although traveling by train can be time-consuming, it’s cost-effective and cheaper than flying, or even by bus for some destinations.
Where to buy Vietnam train tickets?
So, where can you buy Vietnam train tickets? Well, you can either buy them online or at the train station. If you decide to buy your tickets online, you’ll save time and travel hassle-free.
Booking online is especially convenient if you don’t know Vietnamese and don’t want to spend time waiting in line at the train station. Plus, you’ll avoid ticket resale and scams, receive an e-ticket by email, and have access to seat selection options.
Our experience: We always book our train tickets online and show printed PDF ticket at the stations.
What is the Vietnam railway like?
Although the government runs all railways, private railway companies can provide luxury cars attached to the state cars. You can find several private train companies for certain routes, such as Hanoi to Sapa or Da Nang to Hue. Almost all major tourist destinations can be reached by train, except for Da Lat, because the train station is closed.
Seat selections on trains in Vietnam
Now, let’s talk about seat selections on Vietnam trains. There are several options to choose from, including hard seats, soft seats, hard berths, and soft berths.
- Hard seat: This is the cheapest and most basic option, suitable for short journeys. The seats are made of hard plastic or wood and are not very comfortable, but they get the job done.
- Soft seat: This is a step up from the hard seat and is more comfortable. The seats are padded and covered in vinyl, making them a good option for longer journeys.
- Hard berth: This option is suitable for overnight journeys. The cabins have three tiers of beds, which make up six berths per cabin. The upper berth is the cheapest, and the lower berth is the most expensive. The level of comfort increases with the price.
- Soft berth: This is the most comfortable option and is also suitable for overnight journeys. The cabins have two tiers of beds, with four berths per cabin. The cabin quality varies within the soft berth option, ranging from wood-paneled cabins to those with harsh plastic interiors.
Our tips for booking train seats
When booking your Vietnam train ticket, you can select the type of seat or berth you prefer. You should choose wisely, as you’ll be spending several hours on the train.
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind sacrificing comfort, the hard seat or berth is a good option. If you prefer a more comfortable experience, the soft seat or berth is the way to go.
We usually choose the Soft berth with 4 beds. We usually get the cabin for ourselves, especially when we travel during the weekdays. We only once shared the cabin because it was near Lunar New Year.
It’s also worth noting that the price of train tickets varies depending on the class and the type of train. For example, the prices for soft-berth tickets on luxury trains like the Victoria Express or the Fanxipan Express are higher than those on regular trains. However, you’ll be treated to a more luxurious experience with amenities like air conditioning, private bathrooms, and meals.
- For bookings with Vietnam Railways and private railway companies New Livitrans Express and Violette Train, you will receive your e-ticket by email, ready to print and present when boarding the train.
- For bookings with private railway companies such as Victoria Express, Fanxipan Express, King Express, Orient Express, Sapaly Express, Chapa Express, and Saigon Golden Train, or international railway service Hanoi-Nanning-Beijing, you will receive a voucher by email to collect the physical ticket at the station before boarding the train.
Traveling by train with children
If you’re traveling with children, you’ll be happy to know that children under six years old can travel for free as long as they share a seat or berth with you.
From 6 to 9 years old, children get a 25% discount on sleeping berths and seats.
Children over ten years old pay as adults and must be accompanied by an adult at the departure time.
Tips for traveling by trains in Vietnam
The first tip I want to share is to make sure you print out your e-tickets. It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget amid all the excitement of travel. The last thing you want is to be stuck at the train station without your ticket, so make sure you have a physical copy of your ticket with you.
Another important tip is to bring your ID or passport. You’ll need it when you check in at the station and board the train, so make sure you have it with you at all times. It’s also a good idea to keep a digital copy of your ID or passport on your phone or email, just in case.
When traveling by train in Vietnam, it’s best to arrive at the station at least 60 minutes before departure time. This will give you enough time to find your platform, locate your train, and get settled in. It’s always better to be early than to be rushed, especially when traveling in a foreign country.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there is a luggage limit when traveling by train in Vietnam. You can bring a maximum of 20 kg, so pack wisely. If you’re not sure what to pack, consider bringing a small backpack or daypack for essentials like a change of clothes, toiletries, and electronics. To be honest, we’ve never seen the staff scale our luggage or anyone!
Also, take care of your belongings. Keep your valuables, such as your passport, wallet, and phone, with you at all times. Don’t leave them unattended or in the overhead compartment. It’s also a good idea to bring a lock for your luggage for added security.
Finally, while food and drinks are usually available for purchase on trains in Vietnam, you may want to consider packing some snacks and drinks in advance. This can be especially helpful if you have dietary restrictions or if you’re traveling with children.
What to pack for train travel in Vietnam
Sure, I’d be happy to expand on what to pack for train travel in Vietnam.
- A suitcase with a digital lock: When traveling by train in Vietnam, it’s important to choose a suitcase with a digital lock to secure your belongings. Vietnam is generally a safe country, but theft can still happen in crowded areas, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Additionally, if you’re traveling during the rainy season, which lasts from May to October, it’s a good idea to choose a waterproof bag to keep your clothes and electronics dry.
- Comfortable Outfit: Train rides can be long and uncomfortable if you’re not dressed appropriately. It’s recommended that you wear comfortable clothes and shoes to ensure a pleasant journey. Avoid tight-fitting clothes and high heels as they may cause discomfort.
- Small Towel: Train bathrooms can be dirty and overcrowded, and it’s a good idea to pack a small towel to clean your hands or face during the journey.
- Food and Drink: Although food and drinks are sold on most trains in Vietnam, I recommend packing your own snacks and water. This is especially true if you have specific dietary requirements or preferences. You can buy food and drink from vendors at the stations, but it’s often more expensive than buying from a supermarket or convenience store beforehand.
- Toilet Paper: It’s always a good idea to pack toilet paper when traveling in Vietnam, especially on long train journeys. Train toilets often run out of toilet paper, and you don’t want to be caught without any.
- Necessary documents: Passport/Identification Card: You’ll need them for checking in at the station and for any unexpected security checks during the journey. Make sure to keep them in a secure and easily accessible place, such as a small bag or pouch.
Best websites to book train tickets in Vietnam
Two of the best websites for booking train tickets in Vietnam are 12go and Baolau.
Both platforms offer a comprehensive search engine that lets you compare prices and schedules across multiple train operators. This way, you can find the best deal and the most convenient schedule for your trip.
They also provide helpful information about each train, including the type of seat, the length of the journey, and the amenities onboard. This can be especially helpful if you’re traveling long distances and want to make sure you’re comfortable during the journey.
12go is a popular online booking platform that offers high-quality, safe, secure, and efficient transportation services in Southeast Asia and Vietnam.
One of the advantages of using 12go is that the ticket price and fee are displayed upfront when you search for tickets. This way, you’ll know exactly how much you’ll be paying for your ticket and won’t have to worry about any hidden fees or surprises at the end.
Another benefit of using 12go is that it’s available in multiple languages, including English, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and Indonesian. This makes it easy for travelers from around the world to book their tickets with ease.
Baolau is a multi-transport travel search engine that connects cities by calculating and comparing travel routes. The company facilitates ticket booking for any means of transportation, including flights, trains, buses, and ferries.
When booking your train tickets through either of these websites, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary information handy, including your travel dates, departure and arrival stations, and the number of passengers traveling with you.
Also, it’s a good idea to book your tickets well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure that you get the seats you want and that your journey goes smoothly.
Why should you book Vietnam train tickets online?
Official ticket: Avoid ticket resale and scams.
Easy booking: Avoid a long queue at the train station and receive an e-ticket by email. Especially if you don’t know Vietnamese, buying a ticket online will be more comfortable.
Secure payment: Pay with a credit card or Online banking
Seat selection: You can select seats and berths with Baolau
Reviews and pictures: You can read reviews and check photos of train services with 12go.
Customer support: Contact through mail or phone if needed.
Are trains in Vietnam on time?
If you depart from the first station, for example, from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang, it’s usually on time. Otherwise, there’s often a delay, and it can take up to a few hours.
So, you should not plan your trip without a significant break between train arrival and your next departure.
Are trains in Vietnam safe?
If you’re worried about whether trains in Vietnam are safe, don’t be. We’ve never had any problems traveling by train in Vietnam, but we always keep an eye on our personal belongings. Sleeper trains in Vietnam do not have a curtain, so make sure to take care of your luggage and personal items. Practicing general safety measures like you would on public transportation should be enough to keep you and your belongings safe.
Can you take motorbikes on trains in Vietnam?
Yes, you can. You should visit the station the day before your departure to arrange with the luggage office.