Do you want to get away from the big cities in Vietnam and experience the countryside? Do you like being around other people, swapping stories, and taking in the natural beauty of Vietnam as you travel? Well, grab your Vietnam visa because it’s time to have the adventure of your life!
An exciting way to travel is on the Reunification Express, a series of trains and a route connecting Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. It crosses more than a thousand bridges, dozens of tunnels, and more than 150 train stations, all repaired after the reunification of the northern and southern regions of Vietnam.
If you want to see beaches, mountains, jungles, wetlands, and cities, along with friendly, generous locals, read our Reunification Express train review. And get ready for a memorable and photo-worthy adventure!
What Are the Advantages of Riding the Reunification Express?
On your Reunification Express train, you can meet many types of Vietnamese people. You’ll see them lounging on soft seats watching TV, sitting on wooden benches, or napping on the floor. You might even share a sleeping cabin with some locals!
You can practice your Vietnamese all day. It’s also a lot of fun to meet travelers from other countries, hearing their stories and exchanging travel tips.
On your train, you can nap, take pictures and videos of the beautiful countryside, and walk to the dining car for Vietnamese coffee and food. You can also get coffee and snacks from trolleys that vendors push through the cars.
Many of these activities are impossible in a car, motorcycle, or bus. A Reunification Express train makes many stops and so can seem slower, but you can take walks on the train, use the bathroom, eat, and have conversations with far more people than you could on a bus.
How Do You Sleep on the Reunification Express?
Some Reunification Express train cars include sleeper cabins, with several bunks each. The train provides pillows and blankets. If you pay a little more, you can get a cabin with fewer bunks so that you can share with fewer strangers, if you wish. You can also check in advance if there is a VIP cabin available, which contains only two beds.
You can keep your luggage in a compartment under the bunks. Each train car also has a sink and toilets at one end for everyone in that car to use.
While you’re sleeping in your cabin, you will feel the motion of the train, including some bumps and turns. If you’re a light sleeper, plan ahead for whatever will help you sleep more deeply, or you could use the train for day trips only.
What Is a North-to-South Reunification Express Journey Like?
When traveling south from Hanoi, it can take about 14 hours to reach Huế, the former capital. If you want to make major stops to visit a tourist destination or stay somewhere overnight, you’ll need to buy another ticket when you get back on the Reunification Express.
You can get out at Van Long Nature Preserve, for example. Enjoy a hand-poled boat ride from a local farmer who can guide you across the wetlands and into the tunnels in the limestone cliffs.
When you reach Huế, you can tour the Imperial City, a Unesco World Heritage site. It features carved entrances, tiled courtyards, a gleaming throne room, and much more. It opens every day of the week at 8 am.
So Many Notable Stops
The Reunification Express route continues through many popular Vietnamese tourist destinations and cities, including Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Phan Thiết. Nha Trang, a luxurious beach town, is a popular place to relax, swim, hike, and go jet-skiing or parasailing.
The last section on the way to Ho Chi Minh City takes about 20 hours. You’ll see traditional houses with thatch roofs in peaceful fields of rice. You’ll also see the jungle-covered Annamite mountain range rising nearby.
When you get out in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be in a city of about 10 million residents. Enjoy the skyscrapers, shopping malls, high-end stores, an exciting Chinatown, a vibrant street-food scene, and many other attractions.