Tet chaos hits railways early

Tet, which this year falls towards the end of January, is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year and shares the same dates as Chinese New Year. It is the most important festival in Vietnam, symbolising a period of change and renewal, where people clean their houses, buy new clothes and prepare for the new year.

It is also the most important festival to spend with your family in your hometown, and since an enormous number of people living in the cities in Vietnam have migrated from the countryside to find work this means it is also the busiest period of the year for transport, with buses, planes (both domestic and international) and trains are filled to bursting with travellers making their way home to celebrate the season with their families.

The Thanh Nien newspaper reports today that queues at the Ho Chi Minh City railway station are already extremely long despite attempts to improve efficiency through a SMS ordering system. The station itself expects to only be able to meet 30% of demand for tickets in the week before Tet.

The trains are the preferred mode of transport at Tet due to the high prices of air travel and buses being unpopular due to the long transit times and fears over safety. It's a good reminder that if you plan to travel during, before or after Tet you should make your bookings as early as possible for both transport and accommodation.

Incidentally there is an Vietnam Railways office on Pham Ngu Lau where you may book tickets - you may find queues here are somewhat shorter.