Vietnam is a picturesque country in South East Asia, a backpacker hotspot. Especially to explore using rail transport. According to Vietnam-briefing during 2018 there were 15.5 million international arrivals to the country. Unless each tourist was surveyed, there’s no way knowing the statistics of backpackers.
In fact, its tourism industry is one of the fastest growing destinations in the world. Arguably, because of those high statistics, it will only encourage more backpackers to visit.
Because of its shape, several backpackers choose to travel around the country often starting from the North (Hanoi) and finishing in the South (Ho Chi Minh City). Also from the South to the North. If you choose to travel around Vietnam, you won’t be short of itineraries to find online!
This country can offer each type of backpacker something. Whether you’re looking for an attractive coastline, information on its war, great parties, beautiful temples or even an all-around vacation, Vietnam can offer all of this.
One thing for sure is that wherever you want to go, it’s easily accessible. Whether you choose to travel by plane, bus, car or train. There are options. However, the most common method used by backpackers are the trains. The train stations in Vietnam are owned by the state. Also, you can’t just walk on, you need to reserve a ticket in advance. According to seat 61 you can reserve a ticket up to 60 days in advance!
I travelled around Vietnam on sleeper trains as my main mode of transport. It gives you such an adventure and I feel no trip to Vietnam would be complete without using at least once. It allows you to escape your comfort zone.Still undecided?
Here are 5 reasons for backpackers to use rail transport in Vietnam.
1) It’s Cheap
Think about it, you’re travelling overnight covering long distances across a 4-11 hour period. You are saving yourself the price of putting your head to rest for the night at a local hostel and travelling at the same time! Talk about a win-win situation! Depending on the route, the price of your tickets will vary. There are different types of carriage on the sleeper trains which can cater nicely towards your budget!
Most of the time there are four classes.
The Soft Sleeper- (I wouldn’t say first, as you need to be open-minded when traveling around SE Asia). This carriage has four beds per cabin, given a reading light, pillows, sheets, airconditioning and
The Hard Sleeper– There are 6 hard beds close together in each cabin with no padding. It still AC and space to store luggage however less than the soft sleeper.
Soft Seat– Just a seat with padding among a big cabin of other seats.
Hard Seat– A seat without padding among a big cabin of other seats.
Unfortunately, quotes can’t be provided based on those classes as each tour company charges differently.
It’s cheaper than flying! When you fly you also waste time out of your day by preparing yourself to pack, be at the airport promptly for check-in, waiting in departures, on the flight, picking up your luggage and the transport from the airport to your accommodation. In essence, you’re waisting a full day flying also. So, why not save your money and use the same amount enjoy the train journey? Plus the advantages of using rail transport are far more than flying. Read on, to find out.
2) Scenery On Rail Transport
Most of the popular train routes cover the coastline and rural areas you get to be a witness to plenty of picturesque areas. You can sip alcohol, drink tea or coffee and eat with phenomenal views all from your bed! I recall waking up one morning looking out of my cabin window at 5 am seeing locals at work in rice fields! As well as seeing Vietnamese villages and animals such as water buffalos.
Not just that, as some of the routes run along the coast you get to witness the South China Sea! The train was delayed due to some floods. However, I didn’t mind as it was so relaxing and intriguing to watch the locals at work. Without a doubt, I wouldn’t have witnessed this if I didn’t travel by train. As I wouldn’t have been up early enough!
3) Meeting other travellers
If you’re solo travelling don’t worry, it’ll be often the case there will be others travelling on the same train. Unlike other modes of transport, you will have the ability to roam around to get food or meet people than be restricted on a plane or in a car.
Many travellers choose to drink on the train, so you may be invited in their cabin for a drink or party! Unless you choose to travel on a hard or soft seat, the majority of passengers in the cabins are travellers!
4) Mix with the locals
Similarly, there are locals in soft and hard seats. Sometimes the odd few in the cabins as well. However, don’t be shy to practice your Vietnamese! Some, may speak English and tell you some interesting local stories about their life. You never know what you may discover!
5) Time to relax
Depending on how you choose to travel you get to time to unwind. Whether that’s choosing to read a book, think to yourself, catch up on some sleep or work. You have a long journey ahead of you, so make the most of it. As you may not get time else on your trip.
Sleeper trains in Vietnam are like no other in Asia. They are well air-conditioned, comfortable (depending on where you sleep), fun and an adventure! You should definitely consider rail transport at least once! Even if it’s for the story! It’s also good for the environment than travelling likes by car. I have so many stories from my time on the sleeper trains and I relish my experience using them in Vietnam.
If you are interested in some suggestions for websites to source tickets prior are Vietnam-Railway , 12goand vnrailways. However, please note that prices may vary depending on the ticket seller. If you’re purchasing in Vietnam, do your research prior by looking at former reviews.