Often the best way to see a country is to travel it by train. You see so much more of the landscape, the people and everyday life than you do if you were to travel by road or air. This is as true of the U.K. as it is anywhere else.
Sri Lanka was amazing to travel by rail. Cheap, efficient, scenic we would have travelled everywhere by rail had the network been large enough.
So when we got to Vietnam we were excited to travel by train. Whilst rail travel is nowhere near as established in Vietnam as it is in Sri Lanka, the size and diversity of the country means that there are more journeys, for longer distances and journey lengths.
It should be pretty good right?
Well no actually.
The first thing we encountered was the lack of availability and high cost of seats. For popular routes (Hanoi to Hue or Hoi An to Nha Trang) there are very few seats available. The trains themselves are pretty short and only a few run a day. This means the cost is astronomical when compared to other necessities.
Seeing as I mentioned Sri Lanka, it’s interesting to overlay a cost comparison.
Transport on the whole is more expensive in Vietnam where as accommodation and booze are much cheaper.
So once you have managed to get a ticket, does the journey warrant the investment? Again, no.
The train was filthy, freezing, loud and very bumpy. We had a 4 berth sleeper carriage booked only to find some shithead in our beds and refusing to move. We were able to track down another bed only to find sodden bedding and an air con fan set to minus-fucking-ten.
Why am I bothering to write this post? Well firstly Julie thought it it was interesting to compare costs, secondly I haven’t built a graph for a while and it was the perfect opportunity, and finally to save you from to misery of Vietnamese rail.
Get a bus instead.*
Note from Julie: this is Sam’s opinion, I quite like trains.