We thought we would put this post together as we hadn’t seen many people write about their experiences about getting an overnight train to Hue from Hanoi. After an eventful week in Hanoi exploring the beautiful busy city and surrounding areas of Ha Long and Ninh Binh we were ready for our next adventure in Vietnam – Hue!
To book our train we used the website 12GoAsia which became our go-to to find cheap transport in Vietnam. Through this website we booked an overnight train with Vietnam Railways. Other options included a bus or flights to Hue, however the bus was 13hrs and the flight was outside of our budget, so we opted for our very first overnight train which took 12hrs to reach Hue from Hanoi.
The train station in Hanoi is pretty central and easy to get to. When we got to the train station the wasn’t any boards or stewards to help find the right platform and train number for our journey. In the end we walked up the main set of stairs that are directly infant of you as you enter. These lead to the first platform where we approached one of the men standing in front of a train in an official uniform. We showed him our tickets and he nodded and pointed further down the train, leading us in the right direction. From what we have seen and heard the train to Hue will almost always be a SE1 train that leads from platform 1.
We followed the numbers on the platform and the side of the train to find our coach. Funnily enough we ended up being half an hour early for our train because we wanted to have time in-case we went to the wrong place or did something wrong, but we didn’t need the extra time. While we waited for the train to leave we found our cabin and began to get comfortable as we waited to see who we would be sharing the room with for the next 12 hours. It ended up being two fellow travellers from America who were super friendly and kept themselves to themselves for most of the journey after a little bit of initial chit chat as the train set off.
As the train pulled away we settled down and waited the world pass by from the window. We even passed through the famous ‘train street’ that we had walked passed while exploring the backstreets in Hanoi. Before we went to sleep we watched an episode of one of our favourite Netflix TV shows that we had downloaded and played cards to pass the time. This was the time that we noticed some bugs walking on the wall and a mouse that was scuttling across the room. The mouse didn’t bother us as it stayed on the floor, however the bugs did get a little annoying and made us feel a little itchy knowing they were there.
Once we had gotten to sleep, with the help of earphones and music to block out the sound of the train flying across the tracks we were only woken a few times by stops that the train made to drop off delivers and pick up extra passengers. Other than that our sleeps were better than we were expecting. Maybe this was because we spent a little extra money to have ‘soft beds’ (not really soft but a foam mattress instead of a wooden bed) so that we weren’t breaking our backs while we slept. 12 hours went pretty quickly and we were soon very close to Hue. The steward that we showed our ticket to remembered that we wanted to get off at Hue and came and told us when it was time to depart, making this part of our journey really easy as we couldn’t really hear the tannoy in our cabin so couldn’t hear the announcements.
Finally, I know what you are all thinking: ‘But what are the toilets like?!”. The toilets were okay, a little messy but we expected that. There was toilet paper though and that is always a plus. Don’t expect to have a shower on this train however, unless you want to have a cold shower in a dirty cramped toilet. We found it best to wait until we got to our next destination to have a shower.
Would we do it again? Yes, if we needed to. It was a cheap and easy alternative for those on a budget and we didn’t find anything majorly wrong with the service that Vietnam Railways offered. 12 hours goes pretty quickly, especially if you get a good nights sleep!
- Bugs on the walls
- Mouse that we named Stuart
- Loud, noisy, uncomfortable
- The conductor knew when we wanted to get off and came to tell us that our stop was coming
- We were sharing with some nice American travellers
- If you pay a little extra you can have ‘soft beds’ to make your journey a little more comfortable