The most magical part of a Hanoi to Saigon train journey is the world-class scenic section between Hu and Danang.
The train runs along the South China Sea, snaking from cliff to jungle-covered cliff past beaches and islands, then heads through the lush green mountains via the Hai Van Pass to reach Danang.
You get a real insight into Vietnam when you travel by train, both urban and rural, which you don't get from 35,000 feet.
And if you're good at people watching you'll get insights on board the train, too - the real Vietnam is as much inside as outside the train.
In Vietnamese it's Đo Vn meaning 'Ocean Cloud Pass', and I can't think of a better name.
In the bright Vietnamese sun, the vivid blue skies, green waters and yellow beaches will take your breath away... Since the end of the Vietnamese war, the official the name for the conurbation as a whole has been Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).
Trains SE5 & SE6 were allegedly re-equipped with some of the latest modern seats cars & sleeping-cars in January 2018.
SE7, SE8: Only runs at busy times, ask an agency if it's running a month or two ahead SE19, SE20: Air-conditioned soft sleepers, air-conditioned hard sleepers, air-conditioned soft seats, air-conditioned hard seats, ordinary hard seats.
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The train journeys are a genuine Vietnamese experience in themselves, an integral part of your visit to Vietnam. Inexperienced travellers sometimes think they'll save time by using internal flights - in fact, an overnight train ride from Hanoi to Hu or Danang actually saves time compared to flying, because the train leaves Hanoi city centre in the evening and arrives in Hu city centre next morning, but it's more than this, the train journey is a genuine Vietnamese experience, flying is a wasted opportunity. Air-conditioned trains with sleepers and on-board catering link Hanoi, Hu, Danang, Nha Trang, and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
Flying takes 4 or 5 hours out of your sightseeing day in getting to a remote airport, checking in, taking the flight itself, collecting your bags and getting back into the city centre. Hoi An has no station, but it's just 30km by bus or taxi from Danang.
SE21, SE22, SE23, SE24: On certain dates you'll find additional seasonal trains. TN1, TN2: Air-con soft sleepers (4-berth, one car, older type), air-con hard sleepers (6-berth), air-con soft seats & ordinary hard seats.
SNT1, SNT2: Air-con soft sleepers (both older & newer types), air-con hard sleepers (both older & newer types), air-con soft seats.