We were well amazed at this trip, we were expecting the worst. We had a two bunks, sharing the cabin with a lovely Spanish couple.
It was very clean and tidy. The toilets were fine, by the morning there was no toilet paper but that can happen any where. We were asked if we wanted a coffee ordered for the next morning, and it was good coffee !! We brought some snacks from the local shop as there was only basic stuff in the cabin there is a man who sells some local foods just as you start off.
We were advised to buy silk sleeping bag covers before but we didn't, the linen is clean. If you sleep on the top bunk it got quite cold up there as its close to the A/C
In Vietnam, the national railway company operates all trains. In its webpage (dsvn.vn) you can find destinations and prices, but you can not buy tickets using outside Vietnam issued credit cards.
On the other hand, there are several companies (New Livitrans Express for instance) that are foreign tourist oriented agencies. When you buy a ticket to them, in fact, what they do is to buy a ticket to the national railway company for you, so you are assigned a standard cabin, but they provide extra services: they put their own linen in the berths, provide a bottle of water, and some food. For this services they charge more than double of the real ticket cost.
We travelled using New Livitrans Express during August 2019 from Hanoi to Da Nang (17 hours). The cost of the ticket in the national website (dsvn.vn) was 939.000 VND = 41 USD, but we payed to New Livitrans Express 90 USD instead.
For this difference of price we got the following services:
- We were able to pay with non-Vietnamese credit card.
- One employee of New Livitrans Express put their own linen on top of the linen that was already in the cabin.
- One bottle of water, one banana, one small bag of snacks.
- The employee of New Livitrans Express come to the cabin to ask if everything was correct.
For the rest, we used the same train as the people who bought the ticket in the train station, we used the same bathroom and everything was the same, .... except the price that was more than the double.
We used New Livitrans Express just because we didn't know how the system worked. If I have to use again, I'll buy the standard tickets. No need to use these tourists agencies, exaggerated expensive for what they call "additional services".
We booked our tickets through our hotel in Hanoi. It was £55 each going from Hanoi to Da nang. We got the SE2 train. We were in the tourist cabin. We had WiFi in our cabin and we shared with a young man who was charming. At nighttime the conductor of our carriage came in and jumped up onto the empty bed and went to sleep! Sleeping was not easy as the train stops a few times in the night and breaks hard. Also the mattresses are thin so not the best and air con can get cold, bring a jumper. In the morning a lot of people got off at Hue. Scenery thereafter was amazing especially when you are coming into Da nang. The best train journey I’ve been on Regarding the scenery. Beds were clean, only I reckon as it was the start of the journey. Toilet smells- bring wipes and sanitizer for hands. They have a carriage for food and drink. Food - be it at your own peril!
Coming back we was on the 1st class train with Lamen express. Was basic but offered an upgrade by a conductor only if we gave him 700000vnd. We talked him down to 600000vnd. Back handers were happening a lot in our carriage that night. Better mattresses but not clean bedding. Ideal to sleep on top of your own blanket.plus side is there is hot water available. Overall a fun experience and great to meet other travellers.
Where do I start.
I was issued a ticket at the station in someone else’s name and passport number but they assured me it didn’t matter.
Having taken two soft sleeper trips with Vietnam rail, I was expecting better.
Livitrans had old cabins, the USB charge points and lights didn’t work, the aircon kept tripping, the cabin was un clean, the sheets were soiled and there were cockroaches.
I paid three times as much for a berth with livitrans and was ripped off. The worst experience for a luxury service I have ever experienced. Even Vietnam rail gave me a free meal and had more modern facilities and working equipment.
I’ve been ripped off, stay well clear
Travelled August 2018 from Da Nang to Hanoi.
We booked an entire cabin ( 4 tickets) for the two of us as we wanted the privacy and was worth it.
If you expect western luxury you're going to hate this trip... but if you view it as an experience it's great fun.
Great trip to see bits of Vietnam you'd never experience from the inner city living of families( felt a bit Girl on the Train voyeristic)to the vast landscape of Vietnam, fields, water buffalo, traditional village life ,to ocean views, temples hills the lot!
Take loo paper
Get good at squatting and holding your breath!
Have the lunch served, cheap and damn yummy( rice, pork in nori deep fried, chicken skewers, bok choy)
Take some nibbles and drinks