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Old 01-15-2013, 10:02 AM
 
Location: American Expat
2,189 posts, read 4,713,431 times
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I want to know if there's somebody who's been on this train. I know it's very slow and certainly not anything like you know from any Western country, so I'm at least somewhat prepared. There's just really no other viable way to get to the smaller cities and see the country. I'm not planning on doing Ho Chi Minh - Ha Noi all the way at once, though. That might not be such a pleasant ride ( 25+ hours!? ). I've been reading some mixed reviews.

Reunification Express Reviews - Vietnam, Asia Attractions - TripAdvisor
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:14 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,221,895 times
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I've been on the train from Hanoi to Hue, overnight on the sleeper. It's not bad, but that is from the standpoint of a backpacker. Better than most third-world trains.

You're right about the inaccessibility of the countryside in Vietnam. Very hard to see anything outside the cities.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:50 AM
 
Location: American Expat
2,189 posts, read 4,713,431 times
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Where did you buy the tickets? I'm sure they'll try to sell me oberpriced tickets at many places.
Was the train somewhat clean? Did they leave you alone or tried to sell you stuff?
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:07 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,352,353 times
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I took the overnighter from Nha Trang to Danang. It was a bit dirty, crowded and cramped, and there was a puddle of urine in the toilets (squatting of course), and it was of course slow and rickety (in Australia the journey would've only taken a few hours) but it was all part of the experience. I found the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai much more comfortable, though. I hardly got any sleep on the train journey, sharing the cabin with a large Vietnamese family, but like I said when you travel you have to adapt to the place.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:59 PM
 
Location: American Expat
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Yes, I know what to expect, but some talked about roaches and urine everywhere and all that. That, I can't deal with. Not when you're on there for so many hours. I know the trains are probably in a bad shape.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:38 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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I tried to go to Saigon Railway Station and found it a thoroughly stressful experience. Apart from the language barrier, every time I found what I thought was the ticket office I'd be told to 'go there', and then told by them to go to another place. Then there was this electronic ticketing system that was so confusing that finally after half an hour I gave up. I took the bus to Nha Trang. The train to Danang i booked through my hotel, which I would highly recommend you do.
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:54 AM
 
Location: American Expat
2,189 posts, read 4,713,431 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
I tried to go to Saigon Railway Station and found it a thoroughly stressful experience. Apart from the language barrier, every time I found what I thought was the ticket office I'd be told to 'go there', and then told by them to go to another place. Then there was this electronic ticketing system that was so confusing that finally after half an hour I gave up. I took the bus to Nha Trang. The train to Danang i booked through my hotel, which I would highly recommend you do.

I heard the Hotels don't mind ripping you off and sell you high-priced tickets. It might not be much for a Westerner, but I still don't want to be ripped off. I heard they're selling the tickets at many places. I also heard the bus is slow, too. Maybe even slower than the train.
You didn't mind? I thought getting on the bus is even more confusing.. The North-South train wshould not be to hard to deal with.. only 2 possible directions.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:41 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,352,353 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glucorious View Post
I heard the Hotels don't mind ripping you off and sell you high-priced tickets. It might not be much for a Westerner, but I still don't want to be ripped off. I heard they're selling the tickets at many places. I also heard the bus is slow, too. Maybe even slower than the train.
You didn't mind? I thought getting on the bus is even more confusing.. The North-South train wshould not be to hard to deal with.. only 2 possible directions.
Check the price of the tickets if you're worried, but my hotel was very trustworthy, and the staff were great. I find hotels are probably among the most trust-worthy (of course there are so many, but the reputable ones at least). There is a small commission/service charge, but it's not much, and fares are very cheap.

The bus was arranged through one of those small time bus-tour operators. Most buses take the same route, Hanoi-HCM or vice versa so nothing confusing. If I recall it was something like $8 for the 8 hour trip (yes everything seems to take a lot longer there). It was a day bus, which I actually appreciated as i was able to see the scenery. I also rode a 'sleeper' bus from Hoi An to Hue (best road scenery in VN), although not overnight, which had the 'beds' and two levels, it was interesting.

My major gripe about buses - even nice coaches in Vietnam - is no toilets! Unlike the greyhounds etc you'll find elsewhere. So go before the journey starts, and time your toilet breaks. If you have a small bladder don't drink too much on the trip if you're worried.
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Old 01-21-2013, 08:34 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,221,895 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glucorious View Post
Where did you buy the tickets? I'm sure they'll try to sell me oberpriced tickets at many places.
Was the train somewhat clean? Did they leave you alone or tried to sell you stuff?
I think I just went to the train station in Hanoi and bought them from the ticket window, probably at departure time. I don't think I've evere been overcharged for transportation tickets anywhere in the third world. It's too easy to ask other passengers the fare.

It was a much nicer train than the one from Hanoi to the Chinese border, but mainly because it was a longer overnight journey and it had sleepers. It was cleaner than most third-world trains. I was never bothered by anybody on the train, I don't remember any hawkers on board any trains in Asia. It's not like buses, where they can get on and off at frequent stops. I considered the fare, even for a sleeper, to be very cheap at the time.
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