The north to south railway line is known as the Reunification Express which is an excellent way to see the countryside, not least because the ride is much less jarring than road travel on Highway 1. The train system is slowly being modernised with technological advances and more comfortable trains. Sleeper cars are available for long trips, and there is one private company that does a sleeper run from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet and Nha Trang called the “Golden Train”. It’s a bit more expensive but more modern and comfortable than the normal train. Check the schedule at goldentrain.com.Train tickets can be purchased through travel agents for a fee or directly at the train station. Ticket classes include hard seat and soft seat, and hard-berth and soft-berth compartments for overnight trips. A drink and light snack are usually included in the ticket price. Many train routes have dining cars with fair rates and snack carts that roam the aisles, but bring your own food if you don’t care for basic Vietnamese fare. Trains usually leave on schedule but allow some time for delays. For a detailed schedule of departure and arrival times as well as fees and availability, please check seat61.com/vietnam.htm.Make sure to reserve your train ticket at least one month before peak seasons such as Tet holiday, public holidays (1 September, 30 April, 1 May) to avoid lack of seats and overpricing.
Local insight: Bring socks and a thick jumper in a sleeper car as the air-conditioning often runs full blast throughout the night.
Ho Chi Minh City Train Station
1 Nguyen Thong, D3 08 3843 6528
08 3846 6091 1900 6105