a great experience to live!

Journalist Natalie B. Compton Washington Post I had the experience of traveling from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi by train.

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The view from the Lotus Train Express.

The basic

The first was a 22-hour, 44-minute overnight journey on the Reunification Express, the sleeper train used daily mainly by the Vietnamese.

For $64, about the same as the plane, she got a ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Hue, Vietnam’s former imperial capital and current culinary hotspot, halfway to Hanoi.

Train staff stop by every few hours to sell coffee on the night trains.

Throughout the trip, employees stopped by regularly to sell coffee, snacks and meals. The train would also sometimes stop long enough to get off and purchase snacks from station vendors, both packaged goods and hot meals. When the trains stopped for about ten minutes in Da Nang, Mmy Compton went in and bought some delicious taro ice cream.

After a night at the hotel and a day in Hue, she left for Hanoi on the Lotus Express Train, a nicer tourist train. The price for his soft mattress for the 15-hour trip was $72.

The Reunification Express travels throughout Vietnam.

What to put in your suitcase?

“You should bring comfortable but outdoor-appropriate train attire. Even if you have a private cabin, staff may open your door to ask if you want snacks or let you know about your stop.”she added.

She packed a scarf to use as a light blanket and an eye mask to make it easier to rest. “Since there are no showers on these trains, the baby wipes were a perfect substitute for sponge baths whenever I felt dirty, and the dry shampoo transformed me from a self-styled, normal grease stopper to me every morning. It was helpful to pack these essential items in an easily accessible location.”.

Author’s berth on the Reunification Express train to Hue.

Visitors never go hungry on the Reunification Express, as food and drink carts pass by frequently. At Lotus Express we were given a lunch box with bread, yogurt, banana and juice.

It is worth it ?

Mmy Compton rose at dawn both mornings and walked the train corridors after restless nights. “These were my favorite parts of the trip. We passed through dense forests, wooded parks, goose farms, rice fields, buffalo resting in rivers, fishing boats, and a blindingly bright blue ocean. It was exactly the landscape I was hoping for. when I imagined this trip.”.

“If I could do it again, I would have split the slow journey into several days and spent more time in Hue between trains and skipped the Lotus Express for a more basic experience”.

Mmy Compton recommends trains for those who like adventure and stretching out their time. I met other foreigners who thought the same way. After dozens of hours on these trains, she felt connected to other travelers and staff, and more familiar with Vietnam’s landscapes.


Photos: Natalie Compton

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