We took an overnight train from Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang, the 3rd largest city in Vietnam in Central Vietnam. Then, we got on a shuttle bus we ordered from the hotel to go to Hoi An, the city on the coast of the South China Sea where we stayed for 3 nights.
Why we took the train? We thought that it would be fun. I have never taken an overnight train in my life and never backpacked, so I had this fantasy about doing something adventurous and different from an ordinary trip.
Taking a flight would be between US$50 to $70. Taking this overnight train was US$48 per person. It wasn’t much cheaper, but since it was overnight train, we didn’t have to pay for a hotel one night. We are talking about saving one night stay at a hotel, which was about US$90.
Do I think it was worth trying? Totally. I definitely enjoyed the scenic route. It was a smooth ride, but compared to Shinkansen I’m familiar with in Japan, it was louder and did sway a little more. I didn’t want to sleep and wanted to enjoy every moment I was on the train. I think I was pondering too much, because, to tell you the truth, this thought of what if this train had an accident crossed my mind. Then, I told myself that we were already on the train, so I just had to relax and sleep. I did. I slept pretty well.
The train staff changes the sheets, blanket and pillows every time passengers change. I know this since one employee came to drop off a new set of sheets, blanket and pillows as we were waiting to get off. I thought that the ride was comfortable. I definitely slept better than sleeping on the airplane. The bed was a bit short for my husband, so he didn’t sleep as well as the rest of us did.
Do I recommend this if people ask me? Yes, definitely.
Tickets for the train
We booked our tickets in Ho Chi Minh City through a tour agent called SAGOTOUR (see below). We first asked our hotel receptioniest, but because we wanted to travel around Vietnamese New Year, the hotel staff could not help us find tickets, so we went to a tourist agent.
SATOGOUR near Asian Rubi 3 Hotel where we stayed is a branch office on Pham Ngu Lao, SAGOTOUR. The people who helped us at this location were very personable and friendly. The guy in the photo below speaks English very well which was helpful. Initially we were looking for a tourist agent to book our train tickets to go to Hoi An. Then we saw their ad for a Mekong Delta Tour. Since we liked the people there and their price was much less than the price we saw at our hotel, we chose their tour. I imagine that the price at the hotel was more because of the commission you’ll be paying to the hotel. I recommend booking a Mekong Delta Tour through a travel agent as it is very easy to find one, but if you stay at a place where you don’t find any tour agent around you, then you can book a tour through your hotel, I’m sure.
221 Pham Ngu Lao, Dist. 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (84-8) 39203479 – 38385557
Fax: (84-8) 39203480 – 38385556
*84 is a country code for Vietnam when calling from outside of Vietnam.