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“The 'Reunification Express' - an eye-opening experience”
Review of Vietnam Railways

Vietnam Railways
Ranked #54 of 91 Transportation in Hanoi
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Reviewed 23 October 2016

I developed an interest in train travel rather late, and one of the journeys that I'd been fascinated with soon after was the 'Reunification Express' that links Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This approximately 1,100-mile journey used to be fairly slow and challenging, but credit to Vietnam Railways, can now be enjoyed in a more convenient and comfortable manner.

We had obtained our first-class berth tickets via a recommended local agent so that our tickets were waiting for us at our hotel. My dad and I started our journey in Hanoi, leaving at 10.00 pm on train SE3, in order to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City several days later following a break in the journey at Hue. The train, painted a distinctive red and blue, isn't a luxury train but one with several classes and is intended primarily to serve the local population. Our first-class sleepers came in a cabin of four berths, with bedsheet, pillow, sleeping bag-like blanket and several bottles of drinking water provided. It's generally very clean, with sinks at one end of each carriage and toilet facilities at the other. Train staff some along every couple of hours of so with a food cart with breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, or snacks/fruits, depending on the time of the day. Meals were simple and generally rice-based with a few dishes and a clear soup, served in trays or in styrofoam boxes. Many travellers also had portable kettles, cup noodles, and a range of snacks and drinks. It's a shared environment, so a little give and take is needed, especially when sharing the cabin with strangers who may have odd sleeping habits or get on or off at quiet stations in the middle of the night. Sometimes, it's possible to have simple conversations with fellow passengers but more often, it's a fantastic opportunity to people watch.

Looking out of the window, the scenery changes from urban city life to suburban dwellings to country villages and farms, a good cross spectrum of the entire country. It's not spectacular by any means as most of the journey is travelled close to sea level, but there are certain stretches that are a little more exciting, Of particular note is the stretch just after leaving Hue where the train climbs into the hills while hugging the coast line - the views are probably the most memorable. Punctuality-wise, the train seemed to fall a little behind schedule for every mile it was further away from Hanoi, but it made up a lot of time to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City no more than half an hour late. Overall, it's a very eye-opening introduction to the country but done at a fairly sedate pace that allows plenty of time for absorption, reflection and relaxation.

6  Thank ianwyj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"top bunk"
in 11 reviews
"overnight train from hanoi"
in 10 reviews
"reunification express"
in 8 reviews
"bed cabin"
in 6 reviews
"door locked"
in 4 reviews
"reading lights"
in 4 reviews
"food trolleys"
in 3 reviews
"plenty of storage space"
in 3 reviews
"thin blanket"
in 3 reviews
"power sockets"
in 3 reviews
"lower berth"
in 3 reviews
"travelled overnight"
in 3 reviews
"western toilet"
in 3 reviews
"light sleeper"
in 3 reviews
"comfortable journey"
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"lao cai"
in 7 reviews
in 3 reviews

197 - 201 of 334 reviews

Reviewed 21 October 2016

Took the train from Danang to Dieu Tri a 6 hour trip in a A/C recycling seat, a porter helped find the carriage and load the bags at a cost of 50000 , the seat are ok with a fold down tray , food & drink trolleys are regularly coming around with cheap and tasty food available . Hot water also available if you bring your own noodles . 10 minutes from our destination the conductor came to inform us to prepare to get off. Overall a good experience.

1  Thank QueenslandTommy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 October 2016 via mobile

We used the Vietnam railway service twice, first from Hanoi to Hue using soft sleeper berth cabin, and later from Da Nang to Saigon using Violette train service, also soft sleeper berth. Both of them has a 4 berth cabin, and in fact they are similar both inside and outside. The Violette, at twice the price, has plastic flowers on the table, better bed linen and a ala cart menu to choose from. But for most practical purposes, they are similar.
The beds are not soft, but ok, toilet is not very good, remember to bring toilet paper. A lot of noise and bumping troughout the night, and at around 5.30 am the whole train wakes up, not possible to sleep anymore. Noodle soup is available to buy, and chicken dinner at Violette train, none of them were particularly good. But it is an easy way to travel though.

1  Thank Tore S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 October 2016 via mobile

We choose the train cuz of the bad reviews for the bus rides at night time.
We took the train 2 times. Nha Trang - Dalat and Hue - Hanoi. It was on SE 22 SE04 i think. Which was not bad. Remember the higher the number the older the train. However, we had no trouble. Yes the frist one was older, maybe less accomodating. But the toilet was cleaner!.
Do prepare for the toilets... well people goes there and, either water or... splashing everywhere!.
If you have a chance pick the beds on the lower bunk. We had the top, cuz they were all booked, and it was ok, however u do have to climb up there and be closer to the AC, and can get cold. But, do bring some not to thick of a jacket and maybe socks, and you'll be fine!.
Don't plan on bringing suitcases on your trip, i do think will be too much, maybe one of those big backpacks or a carry on luggage would be enough, these you can fit by the side of either bed. Bottom bunk, underneath, top bunk by the wall on your feet.
Safe trips!

Thank Fioredy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 7 October 2016

So you want to get from a to b and the plane is too expensive and the bus is, well, a bus. Consider the trains. Judge it just right and you can travel in first class luxury, saving a hotel bill, and arrive in perfect time in the morning.
That's the theory. And for the most part it's true enough.
But, again for the most part, the luxury is not there. If you are a child of the 70s, travelling in the post-hippy era around Asia, then when I say First Class is the way to go you will shudder. And yes, I travelled second class reserved through India at a time when a week long pass cost £5. And it was fantastic.
Now I'm older and slipping from traveller to tourist, so forgive me.
We travelled first class from HCMC to Da Nang, overnight, in a soft bed. Both the word 'soft' and 'bed' need some explaining though - 'soft' means a thin mattress, 'bed' means something that is slightly too short to be comfortable in.
But hard bed is a compartment of six, where the middle bunk is folded up to allow the people on the bottom to sit without banging their heads; so if you are on the middle bunk you'll be sitting on the bottom bunk during the day. If you're on the bottom, you'll be sitting next to some grumpy guy from the bunk above..
The soft and hard chairs - well you might as well take the bus.
One of the advantages of a train is being able to get up and stretch your legs, maybe go to the buffet car or use the toilet.
Rule number one: don't use the toilet, at least not often, especially the ladies. And take your own paper.
Rule number two: take your own food - no buffet car!

Now, you can make friends and have a great time, and you can stand up and watch the scenery go past, but in the soft sleeper section you can also have your own little universe staked out. For this reason I recommend the top bunks. They have as much room above them as the bottom bunks (for the claustrophobic) and are out of the way, inviolable for the most part. Plus you get a huge area to spread out your rubbish.
On the down side: those you start with might not be those you end with. Be prepared for midnight or 2am or 4am sliding of doors and voices waking you up. Consider a sleeping pill. Or a gun and tonic. Or twain.
Be prepared also, if you are a couple, to be placed apart. My wife and I were placed with our respective genders to begin with, 5 compartments apart, though it was pretty easy to change. (On a subsequent trip we were again placed apart but she was in a compartment with two guys - although that didn't seem to upset her as much as I'd like - and I was on my own in the next one.
Be prepared also for an almost complete lack of hygiene - neither your sheet nor your pillow case nor your top sheet (which was an empty duvet cover for some reason) will be fresh - they just smooth things down and wait for the next person. If you are fussy you will probably be travelling prepared anyway (I always take a pillow case) but even so..
I have to say while that was true of our first trip on the TN2, our next over-nighter on the SE2 was different: having rescued my wife from the two guys, we found the compartment to have a TV, individual lights, a button to call the guard (though not one to keep him away), clean sheets, a soft pillow and an immaculate duvet cover complete with duvet. The guard suggested we offer him 400,000 dong to make the carriage private, and lowered it to 300,000 when we declined, but I'd spotted the lock which served us well for the night.
The only downside was the parade of cockroaches which appeared at an alarming frequency. We offed half a dozen at least before giving up and going to sleep.

As for buying the tickets, there are more than one site through which to do so; when the official Vietnamese site declined our efforts, another found us room, so don't give up.
Happy trails

3  Thank Gordon_Bennett_NZ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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