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Hop aboard for an unforgettable rail journey through Vietnam's scenic countryside. You're in for a visual treat as verdant rice paddies, misty mountains, and glistening beaches whiz by your window. Vietnam's rail routes offer a glimpse into local life at a leisurely pace. Forget the hassle of planning a self-drive itinerary or being herded onto an overcrowded tour bus. Sit back, relax, and soak in the views. From the buzzing cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh to sleepy coastal towns and hill tribes villages, the diversity of destinations will delight any intrepid traveler. Pack your bags, charge your camera, and prepare to discover a side of Vietnam that can only be experienced by train. An adventure awaits down the tracks.

Vietnam's Extensive Rail Network: Overview of Routes and Lines

Vietnam has an extensive rail network that makes traveling the country by train an affordable and memorable experience.

Vietnam Railways operates several main north-south lines as well as spur lines. The two most popular routes for tourists are the North-South Railway and the Northwestern Railway.

The North-South Railway runs from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, covering over 1,700 miles. This journey takes around 30 hours nonstop but most travelers break it up over a few days with stops along the way at places like Hue, Danang, and Nha Trang. The scenic route winds through mountains, beaches, and rice paddies offering a glimpse into traditional Vietnamese life.

The Northwestern Railway connects Hanoi to Lao Cai Province, ideal for visiting hill tribes and trekking in Sapa. This 320-mile trip takes around 7 hours. You'll pass by verdant valleys, tribal villages, and terraced rice fields. Other lines connect Hanoi to Haiphong, Dong Dang to Lang Son, and more.

Finding Halal Food in Vietnam: Restaurants and Street Food Options

Food is an essential part of traveling—especially for Muslim travelers looking for Halal food. One of the best things about Vietnam is that there are lots of restaurants and street stalls offering Halal dishes.

Look for local mosques, you will easily find Halal restaurants nearby. Many offer unique dishes like butter-braised beef, steamed pork with sesame sauce, and beef curry with star anise.

Try to research restaurants ahead of time to make sure that they serve all Halal ingredients and don’t have any cross-contamination concerns. As a rule of thumb always ask for ‘Halal food’ when ordering from a restaurant or street vendor—as not all dishes may be naturally prepared as per Islamic dietary guidelines.


North South railroad has stunning views

Traveling by Train in Vietnam: What to Expect

Vietnam's rail network connects major cities and towns, with routes ranging from 3 to 15 hours. The most popular lines are Hanoi to Sapa and Danang to Hue. Book tickets in advance and opt for a soft sleeper car for maximum comfort. Vietnam's train system is outdated and needs major improvements. You can expect certain inconveniences, such as uncomfortable chairs or ill-maintained toilets. Take the luxury trains (which are still very slow, but offer a much better experience, trust us).

Overall, train travel in Vietnam is a rewarding experience, allowing you to see the country from ground level at a pace that lets its beauty sink in. The scenic routes will leave you with lasting memories of vibrant green landscapes and golden sunsets. A journey by rail is a glimpse into the heart of Vietnam that you simply can't get any other way.


Vietage luxury carriage departs from Da Nang Railway Station

How to Buy Vietnam Train Tickets

Buying train tickets in Vietnam is simple once you know the process. Advance booking is recommended, especially for longer journeys, sleepers, or soft seats.

Booking in Person

The easiest way to buy Vietnam train tickets is at any train station ticket counter. Just show up with your passport and cash in Vietnamese Dong. Tell the clerk your desired train number, date of travel, departure/arrival stations, and class of seat. They'll check availability and issue your tickets on the spot.

Booking Online

For added convenience, purchase e-tickets on the official Vietnam Railways website or a reputable travel agency site. You'll enter details like train number, travel date, origin/destination, and seat type, then pay by credit/debit card or bank transfer. E-tickets will be emailed to you, just show the QR code or voucher to the train staff. Online bookings can be made 60 to 365 days in advance depending on the train.

What should I bring?

Essentials to pack include:

  • Valid ID (for ticket checks)

  • Toiletries

  • Hand wipes/sanitizer

  • Tissues

  • Snacks

  • Chargers

  • Entertainment (books, tablets, cards)

  • Earplugs and eye mask

  • Slippers

  • Light jacket

Are there luggage restrictions?

Each passenger can bring up to 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of luggage. Oversized or excess luggage may require an extra fee. Luggage can be stored in overhead racks, under seats, or at the end of carriages. For security, keep bags with you at all times.

The Cost of Train Travel in Vietnam: How Much to Budget

Train travel in Vietnam is an affordable way to see the country's beautiful scenery. Here's what to budget for your rail adventure.


Vietnam Railways operates four main ticket classes on most routes: hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper, and soft sleeper. Hard seats and soft seats are for day travel, while the sleeper options have berths for overnight trips.

For day travel, expect to pay:

  • Hard seat: Around $3 USD for a 3-hour trip. Not the most comfortable but the cheapest!

  • Soft seat: $6-$12 USD. More spacious seats with better cushioning. A good budget option.

Overnight fares range from:

  • Hard sleeper: $10-$20 USD for a bunk in an open cabin. Basic but does the job.

  • Soft sleeper: $20-$40 USD for a 4-berth private cabin. Most popular with tourists. Offers mattresses, linens, A/C, and a door for privacy.

Fares are usually a bit higher for routes covering longer distances or more scenic areas like Sapa and Ha Long Bay.

Additional Costs

You'll want to budget for a few additional items:

  • Food: Dining cars offer meals for $2-$5 USD. Or bring your own snacks.

  • Drinks: Stock up on water, beer, or soda which cost around $1 USD.

  • Tickets: Can be purchased at any station. For a small fee, book in advance through Vietnam Railways' website or a travel agent for peace of mind.

  • Sleeper surcharge: If traveling overnight in a hard sleeper, you may need to pay a small surcharge for a bottom bunk which is more spacious.

  • Porter fees: At major stations, porters will help carry your luggage to/from the train for a couple of dollars. Not required but can be helpful.

With fares starting around $3 USD and no additional transportation needed once aboard, train travel in Vietnam can be an incredibly budget-friendly way to experience the country's beautiful landscapes and scenery. Please note that luxury trains will cost way more in exchange for the services included.

Safety and Security When Traveling by Train

When traveling by train in Vietnam, exercising caution and common sense will help ensure you have a safe journey. While rare, theft and scams can occur, so remain vigilant about your belongings.

Secure Your Luggage

Keep your bags close by you at all times, especially when boarding, disembarking and during any stops. Stow any luggage you can't carry on securely under your seat or bed. Consider using a sturdy bike lock or cable to secure your bags to luggage racks if left unattended.

Be Wary of Scams

Unfortunately, some dishonest individuals may try to take advantage of tourists. Kindly and firmly say "no" to unsolicited offers of help carrying bags or purchasing overpriced souvenirs. Politely refuse requests to buy overpriced food, drinks, or cigarettes from vendors passing through train cars. Do not feel obligated to give money to individuals begging with small children or babies—this is often a scam.

Choose Safe Seating

For overnight trains with sleeper cars, opt for a 4-berth soft sleeper or first-class hard sleeper. These provide more security for your belongings and a door or curtain you can close. In open-seating cars, try to choose a seat near the attendant's area. Store valuables in your carry-on rather than under the seat where they are easier to steal.

Remain Vigilant

Try not to fall asleep if you have luggage or valuables unattended that could be an easy target. Take turns keeping watch if traveling with others. Be wary of unsolicited offers to watch your bags—leave them with official attendants only. Count your bags and belongings when boarding and disembarking to ensure nothing has gone missing.

By exercising caution, securing your belongings, and remaining aware of your surroundings, you can safely enjoy the scenic rail journey through Vietnam's countryside.

Top 5 Most Scenic Train Routes in Vietnam

Reunification Express (Hanoi to Saigon)

This historic route spans over 1,700 kilometers from Hanoi in the north to Saigon in the south. It passes through the ancient imperial city of Hue, crosses the DMZ, and winds through the Central Highlands. You'll travel through lush jungles, banana plantations, and rice paddies, with glimpses of rural life along the way.

Northeastern Rail Line (Hanoi to Lao Cai)

For breathtaking mountain vistas, take this scenic train ride from Hanoi to the hill town of Sapa. You'll ascend into the clouds, passing terraced rice fields and minority villages. At the final stop in Lao Cai, you can then transfer to Sapa to explore the colorful local tribes and markets. This journey is especially stunning in September and October during harvest season.

Central Coast Rail Line (Danang to Quy Nhon)

Roll along the coast of central Vietnam, with the sea on one side and the forested Annamite Mountains on the other. Stop in the port city of Danang to see the Cham Museum and My Son ruins, then continue south to the beach towns of Hoi An and Quy Nhon. Soak in the tropical scenery as you breeze by quiet beaches, lagoons, and fishing villages.

Southern Coast Rail Line (Nha Trang to Saigon)

For a taste of southern beach life, take this coastal route from Nha Trang down to Saigon. You'll pass the beach resorts of Mui Ne and Vung Tau, with vistas of white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and swaying palms. Stop for a day of swimming, sailing, or beachcombing along the way. This casual journey encapsulates the laid-back vibe of southern Vietnam.

Vietnam's rail network offers unparalleled opportunities for soaking in the diverse landscapes and cultures of this country. From the terraced rice fields of Sapa to the beaches of Nha Trang, a scenic rail adventure awaits at every turn. Hop aboard, sit back, and enjoy the ride—you're in for a visual feast!


Muong Hoa train in Sapa