Rail Travel + Train Timetables

Travelling by train offers some beautiful scenery
Photo credit: andystoll
By far the most relaxing, comfortable and enjoyable way to get around Vietnam is by train. Not only are the sleeper beds comfortable enough to get a proper night's sleep, but the scenery is beautiful and the contrast to a hot drive on Highway 1 is huge.

The main train line runs North-South from Hanoi to Saigon, for the most part running along or near the coast and stopping at major destinations such as Ninh Binh, Hue, Danang, Quy Nhon and Nha Trang. It currently takes around 30-35 hours to travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City or vice versa, a distance of over 1,000 miles.

Additionally there are several smaller train lines and routes: from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet (for Mui Ne), from Hanoi to Halong Bay, Hanoi to Hai Phong, and from Hanoi past Lao Cai (for Sapa) up to the Chinese border and on to Nanning, in Guanxi Province. There used to be more train lines in the country such as the link from Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat, but sadly many of these have fallen into disrepair.


Photo credit: onokpo
Outside of these key destinations you may need to get a bus - particularly if you plan to visit the hills. However if you are travelling along the train's route we highly recommend it as a way to experience the countryside, take in the beautiful rural scenes far from the dust and noise of the highways, and to meet Vietnamese travellers.


Tickets and classes on Vietnamese Trains

Train travel in Vietnam is reasonably comfortable, with most carriages coming with A/C and some level of onboard entertainment. All trains have a dining car with simple snacks and beer which is a nice place to pass an hour or two, and the sleeper cars are fairly comfortable.

Tickets are sold in 4 classes that get progressively more expensive:

  • Hard Seat: Simple wooden benches and open windows - no A/C. We'd recommend not taking this on a long journey, and definately not overnight.
  • Soft Seat: Reclining chairs in an A/C compartment. Although slightly battered looking the seats are fairly comfortable and easy to doze in during daytime trips.
  • Hard Sleeper: With a thin mattress these beds are a little hard but still not bad, and far more comfortable than a hard seat. There are 6 beds in a cabin.
  • Soft Sleeper: Though not luxurious these beds are comfortable enough, and there are 4 beds in a cabin

Not all classes are available on all trains - the trains marked SE are generally faster and have better quality beds and seats, while the TN class trains may only have hard sleepers and tend to stop more often and travel at a slower speed.

When buying a sleeper ticket you may be asked which level you wish to sleep on. There are normally 3 levels with the top being cheapest as it can be a bit tricky to climb up for smaller people, and the bottom bunk being the most expensive - but the difference is normally pretty negligable.

Tickets can be purchased at railway stations and occasionally at offices in tourist centres - for example there is a booking office on Pham Ngu Lau in Ho Chi Minh City. It is not yet possible to book tickets online.

If you wish to book a sleeper ticket it is wise to book at least a day or two in advance; and should you wish to travel on or around a national holiday you may need to book a week or two in advance to avoid disappointment. During these busy periods it is normally possible to find a bus.

2009 Timetables

Please note we have edited these timetables to show key tourist destinations. If you wish to stop off on the way you can find the full timetables in Vietnamese here: http://www.vr.com.vn/GiotauGiave/Banggiotau/giotau.html

North -> South (Hanoi - Saigon )

SE1

SE3

SE5

SE7

TN1

TN5

TN7

TN9

TN11

TN13

TN15

Hanoi

19:00

23:00

12:25

15:45

10:05

20:40

22:00

23:30

06:10

08:50

11:30

NINH BÌNH

-

-

14:38

18:23

12:33

23:07

00:19

02:06

08:43

11:05

13:51

-

-

14:40

18:26

12:36

-

-

-

-

11:08

13:54

VINH

00:46

04:07

18:00

22:10

16:48

03:24

05:12

06:32

12:58

14:57

17:41

00:53

04:12

18:05

22:17

17:03

03:39

05:27

06:47

13:13

15:15

17:56

HUE

08:01

10:39

01:02

06:06

01:47

12:14

13:49

16:25

22:16

23:57

02:53

08:06

10:44

01:07

06:11

02:02

12:29

14:04

16:40

22:31

00:12

03:08

LANG CO

-

-

-

07:40

-

14:13

16:30

18:33

00:35

01:31

04:28

-

-

-

07:43

-

14:38

16:35

18:38

00:40

01:36

4:35

DANANG

10:34

13:03

03:33

09:13

04:45

16:22

18:14

20:04

02:10

03:06

06:07

10:49

13:15

03:48

09:28

05:05

16:42

18:34

20:24

02:30

03:26

06:27

NHA TRANG

20:26

21:42

12:39

21:19

16:19

03:14

05:26

08:28

14:48

15:28

18:03

20:33

21:47

12:44

21:26

16:34

03:29

05:43

08:46

15:03

15:43

18:18

SAIGON

04:10

04:30

20:00

07:58

02:42

12:15

14:55

18:08

00:55

01:45

03:34

 


 

South -> North (Saigon -> Hanoi)

SE2

SE4

SE6

SE8

TN2

TN6

TN8

TN10

TN12

TN14

TN16

SAIGON

19:00

23:00

12:20

15:45

10:05

21:10

22:10

23:30

07:05

08:20

11:20

NHA TRANG

02:33

05:33

19:21

00:35

18:35

07:30

08:42

09:21

15:36

16:17

20:58

02:40

05:38

19:26

00:42

18:50

07:45

08:57

09:36

15:51

16:32

21:50

DANANG

12:01

14:02

04:33

11:41

06:44

19:42

21:14

22:01

03:23

04:25

08:57

12:18

14:14

04:48

12:03

07:04

20:06

21:34

22:21

03:43

05:02

09:17

LANG CO

-

-

-

-

08:56

21:35

23:05

23:50

05:44

06:48

11:34

-

-

-

-

9:21

21:37

23:07

23:52

05:46

07:26

11:57

HUE

15:00

16:33

07:10

15:34

11:11

22:58

00:38

01:14

07:11

09:22

13:14

15:05

16:38

07:15

15:39

11:16

23:06

00:48

01:35

07:19

9:41

13:19

VINH

22:07

23:04

14:06

01:23

20:14

07:45

09:52

11:05

16:47

19:05

20:56

22:14

23:09

14:11

01:30

20:29

08:00

10:07

11:20

17:02

19:20

21:11

NINH BÌNH

-

-

17:44

05:39

00:54

11:23

13:47

15:01

21:35

23:53

01:45

-

-

17:47

05:42

1:00

-

13:57

15:17

-

-

-

HANOI

04:10

04:30

20:00

08:10

03:30

14:00

16:40

17:35

00:55

02:35

04:10

 


 

Branch Lines + Shorter Journeys

Trains from Saigon to Nha Trang + Quy Nhon only

Train

Saigon

Nha Trang

Quy Nhon

SQN2

21.45

06.10

06.25

10.40

SNT2

19.40

05.53

SN4

22.10

08.06

Train

Quy Nhon

Nha Trang

Saigon

SQN1

17.05

22.04

22.19

06.50

SNT1

18.40

05.20

SN3

18.00

06.00

Trains from Saigon <> Phan Thiet (for Mui Ne)

SPT2/P1

P2/SPT1

Station

Time

Station

Time

Sài Gòn

06:55

Phan Thiet

13:45

Phan Thiet

11:16

Sài Gòn

18:50

PT4/P3

P4/PT3

Station

Time

Station

Time

Sài Gòn

16:45

Phan Thiet

22:45

Phan Thiet

21:35

Sài Gòn

04:50

Trains from Hanoi <> Halong Bay

A new private train company has begun running trains from Hanoi's eastern Gia Lam station through to Halong Bay. Given the overcrowding on the Hanoi->Halong highway this could be a much more peaceful option for a trip to Halong Bay

Train

Gia Lam

Ha Long

HrL1

07:05

12:00

Train

Ha Long

Gia Lam

HrL1

15:00

20:05

Trains from Hanoi <> Lao Cai (for Sapa)

Station

SP1

SP3

SP5

LC1

LC3

LC5

Hanoi

21:15

21:55

8:20

22:05

6:10

20:40

Lao Cai

6:15

6:00

17:05

7:10

15:40

4:35

Station

SP2

SP4

SP6

LC2

LC4

LC6

Lao Cai

20:15

21:00

8:40

18:45

9:45

19:30

Hanoi

4:30

5:05

19:10

4:00

19:55

4:10

Private Train Companies

There are a number of private train companies offering a 'luxury service' between destinations in Vietnam. Usually these are upmarket carriages that are attached to standard trains. These include Livitrains in the north of the country, operating from Hanoi to Danang and Lao Cai, and Goldentrains (Vietnamese only) in the south, which operates carridges on routes from Ho Chi Minh City - Nha Trang - Quy Nhon.

Future Projects

Vietnam is planning to build a 'bullet train' type service between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh that will increase speeds from the current average of 45km/h up to 350km/h, dramatically reducing the time it takes to travel from one to the other to 7 hours. The line will cost $56 billion and will be build with Japanese assistance, and is expected to be completed by 2025, with sections between Hanoi and Vinh and HCMC and Nha Trang coming online in 2020.

There is also line planned between HCMC and Phnom Penh in Cambodia that is being built with Chinese assistance that will help complete a pan-ASEAN transport network, eventually enabling train travel from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos all the way up to Beijing in China.