Whilst Viet-fucking-nam might be most famous for its 1980s movies about genuine war that America lost, it is also real country in own right and great place to travel. Now whilst flights here are pretty damned cheap, the best way to see the country is by old-fashioned train.
Here’s our top 7 tips to travelling around Vietnam by train.
Online tickets with QR code
Whilst China might be the region’s powerhouse on trains, when it comes to race relations they lag somewhat behind Vietnam. In China foreigners can’t use a machine to pick up a ticket and need a local ID to go through the barriers. Vietnam has no barriers, and you get a ticket on your phone. Take that China. The e-ticket thing is wonderful.
Don’t use an agency or a tout
This goes pretty much for anywhere, but especially in Vietnam. There’s a number of classes and even foreigner-specific trains, but it’s all the same crap. Get someone Vietnamese to book you a normal soft-sleeper online. You’ll save money and get to hang out with actual Vietnamese people.
Don’t get a seat or a standing train ticket in Vietnam
Unless you are the kind of wanker backpacker that likes to save as much money as possible to be able to afford your vegan breakfast, don’t get a poor-person ticket. It’s simply hell on earth, particularly during holidays. Sleeper tickets are cheap in Vietnam.
You can buy food at all Vietnamese train stations
OK, so this is fairly common in a lot of countries, but in Vietnam you get tons of vendors at every station selling all kinds of snacks and drinks, and despite being able to, they tend not to rip you off, which is pretty cool. You can also buy bottles of vodka for $5 and ice. That’s right: vodka with ice. Take that China.
There’s usually a restaurant cart
Vietnamese trains have a restaurant cart that, would you believe, serves food! But of course, that’s not all! The restaurant cart on a Vietnamese train is also the social hub where Vietnamese and foreign alike go to drink firewater together!
You can travel the breadth of Vietnam by train
OK, OK so most countries that have a train network you can travel by train, but the cool thing about Vietnam is that all the cool places are around 10-15 hours apart from each other, meaning you can do trains (saving on accommodation), and see the whole country at your own leisure.
Traveling by train in Vietnam is AWESOME!
Vietnam is one of the best countries in the world to travel around anyway, but doing it by train takes it up a whole extra notch; you see the best scenery and can drink, smoke and make friends with people (or not). The call is yours.
Alternatively there’s the sleeper bus, which is great, unless you are taller than 3 foot and don’t need the toilet more than once every 6 hours.