Vietnam is a very extended country and the best way to cover its long distances is traveling by train, both because it’s cheap and to have an interesting cultural insight. In this article we will explain how to get sleeper train tickets from Hanoi to Hue, Central Vietnam.
Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is a charming multicultural centre. In the past it has been under several foreign controls including Chinese, French and American, which led to the current melting pot. Living in Da Nang, Vietnam, we had the chance to visit it already a couple of times.
It is easily reachable by plane, bus and train, with the latter being the most fascinating option. Hanoi train station itself was a beautiful French colonial building, before being partially demolished by the American bombs during the Vietnam War.
Following under, some lines to explain how to obtain your train tickets.
There are 3 ways to book a seat on a train in Vietnam:
- Book online on the Vietnamese railway website dsvn.vn. After you choose your seat, date and time, you will have to go yourself to the nearest train station with the e-mail confirmation in order to pay for your ticket in VND cash (unless you have a Vietnamese credit card to proceed with payment online, foreign cards are not accepted). You don’t need to go to the station you are leaving from to collect your tickets, for example we got our tickets from Nha Trang to Da Nang in Dalat station!
- Book online on amt.12go.asia, a very nice and clear website which allows you to use all the main global credit cards. Prices are fair, same as on the Vietnamese one, you will only have to pay a processing fee (around 2$). You will receive your e-ticket to your e-mail, and you will have to show it when you board the train. We used it when we were in Cambodia to buy tickets from Ho Chi Minh to Phan Thiet, it was a very nice surprise, sometimes we can’t even use this simple system back home!
- Just head to the train station and buy the ticket that suits you. Most of the employees can speak a basic English which is enough to do the job.
What seat/bed do I need to buy?
It depends on how long your journey is. Trains in Vietnam are quite slow, which is good both to enjoy the landscapes by day, and to get some sleep at night. If it’s gonna be a 6-hour travel or more, we recommend to do it on a sleeper train overnight. You have these choices:
- 6-bed compartment with hard beds: they are really hard and thin mattresses. The compartment is quite narrow and crowded, good if you want to chat with other travellers and if you are on a budget (the price is even cheaper if you choose the upper bed), not that good if you are looking for some rest and/or privacy. Normally there’s a fan on the ceiling very close to the upper bed.
- 4-bed compartment with soft beds: comfortable enough to fulfill their name. Good space, decent mattress. We used this option when we travelled from Nha Trang to Da Nang, got the upper beds, shared the compartment with a very polite Vietnamese family (mum, dad and baby), had a very good sleep, and woke up at 8 am, in time to get ready to step off in Da Nang.
On every coach, there’s a toilet, a pair of sinks with mirrors, basic needs to prepare for the night.
BOOK HERE: HUE IMPERIAL CITY FULL-DAY TOUR
If you have a shorter journey, you can try a very local experience like:
- hard seat: you will enter a bare coach with nothing but wooden benches on the long sides. Not really comfortable as a sofa, but for a few hours that will do. Very nice experience to see how local people travel everyday. No numbered seats, so get on early to secure a decent spot. Ridiculously cheap, we even got served a snack with a complimentary bottle of water.
- soft seat: a “normal” train seat as we know it, less crowded coach with numbered seats.
The best way to travel in Vietnam to truly understand the culture is with no doubt by train: entire families use the train as it is the cheaper way. Plus the distances are sometimes very long, for example from Hanoi to Hue it’s almost 700km which is an eternal journey by bus.
On the train you are free to lie down comfortably if you book a sleeper bed ticket, and walk around the several coaches, to appreciate really different life-styles moving from soft seat coaches (comparable to 2nd class) to wooden hard seats (3rd class). And, last but not least, the view from your window will be much more satisfying than watching the clouds from a plane.
The journey from Hanoi to Hue takes 12-14 hours, we strongly recommend to book a sleeper-bed ticket. The best option is to travel by night, leaving in the evening and arriving around lunch time, so you’ll enjoy the view after you wake up in the morning.
Once in the city of Hue, there’s a bunch of activities to do, from visiting the imperial city within the walls to hit the local market along the river. Probably 2 half days and 1 night are good enough to make the most of your stay. There are many cheap hostels in Hue that will allow you to meet other fellow travellers, before you continue your trip in Vietnam either southbound or northbound.
This should be a good start to plan your train trip, if you have any more doubts, don’t hesitate to contact us!
Enjoy your train trip!
WHERE TO STAY:
- The Hanoian Hotel, Hanoi: excellent staff, great location in the Old Quarter, modern rooms and breakfast included;
- Hanoi Rocks Hostel: one of the most established hostels in Hanoi, if you are looking for fun come here;
- Casablanca Hotel Hue: a nice place in the city centre, close to the riverside, ideal for couples.
- You can pre-book all your accommodation in Hanoi and Hue, with free cancellation, here.
HOW TO REACH HUE:
- Sleeper train Hanoi to Hue, 12-14 hrs, from 500.000 VND;
- Book train&bus tickets in Southeast Asia on amt.12go.asia
BEST TOURS IN HANOI & HUE:
- From Hue: DMZ Tour, Vinh Moc Tunnels and Khe Sanh Base
- Hanoi water puppet show ticket
- Hue imperial city full-day tour
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