06 Jan 2020
Train's bed is smaller compare to other company I took. and no power plug for those sleep on the upper bed. But pick up arrangement is good
I took the King Express to Sapa and the Dream Express back.
Both were clean enough with clean sheets. The toilets on King Express were surprisingly clean at the end of the journey, maybe I was lucky. I didn't use the restroom on the Dream Express.
Both trains had bugs in them but not too many. I liked the King Express better overall. On King Express, the doona cover was cotton whereas on the Dream Express it was polyester so felt sticky. The carriage on Dream Express was freezing cold, King Express was a nice temperature. On King Express we got free coffee and tea. On Dream Express they bought us coffee, which we assumed was free but then they made us pay for it.
Dream Express advertises that you get free fruit, free tea and coffee etc but we didn't get any of that. There was free water and some small snacks on both Dream Express and King Express.
The train is bumpy and noisy so it's hard to sleep until you get used to it, but it's the same no matter which company you book with.
In summary, both companies were very similar and I don't think it matters much who you book with.
I was on the Dream Express with my young son from Sapa to Hanoi.
The difficult part was the wait for the train as most transport leave Sapa at around 5pm and you reach Lao Cai around 6-ish, leaving you 2-3 hours of waiting.
Overall the train ride was ok - the aircon did seem pretty cold at first but it kind of normalised during the journey. Many others felt that it was to bumpy to sleep, I kinda felt that the bumps were pretty rhythmic which actually lulled me to sleep although i probably woke up in bits and pieces as i felt the train stop a couple of times. Sound proofing is not very good and you could hear the conversations next door but it didn't affect me much.
Didn't use the washroom during the journey but it was clean when I went before the train departed.
I did feel that Hanoi station was a mess in the early morning - I highly recommend using the Grab app to get a ride as it was too tiresome to decide which taxis were the real deal or bargain with taxi touts (i spent 25k VND to get to old quarters)
Overall interesting experience but I'm glad I took the bus up to Sapa (saves the trouble of trying to arrange transport from Lao Cai to Sapa).
Overall, I do not have any negative comment on the facilities. The compartment was clean and comfortable enough. The noise wasn’t much (maybe because I was super tired from lacking of sleep 2 days in a row). The toilet is super basic but it’s still okay.
The only drawback is those sharing the compartment with me. They are a Vietnamese family of 3 and a kitten. The teenage girl petted the cat on the bed and she threw used wet tissue on the table. To worsen the situation, they pushed the dust bin really close to my head.
I am not allergic to cat, but I imagine if I were, that would have been a huge problem.
So the experience would be perfect if I share the compartment with persons who appreciate cleanliness and tidiness.
We caught the Dream train express from Hanoi to Lao cai. It was with extreme trepidation due to the reviews I read. We booked a 4 berth for the 2 of us which was next to nothing but well worth the privacy. Yes it’s small but I figure it’s an overnight train, don’t expect the ritz and you’ll be fine. We brought some sleeping bag inserts with us and slept in them and used our plane pillows. It wasn’t that the beds were dirty on this train it was for my own peace of mind! We got pretty hot as I think the mattress is vynal but I think that’s the least of your problems. The train is loud and does shake around a lot. Think of it as white noise! We didn’t get much sleep, mostly broken. The train stops about 4-5 times during the trip. Don’t imagine where you are travelling as you’ll have a heart attack thinking you’ll tip off the track. You won’t! You will reach the station about 0600 and it takes about an hours car trip up the hill to sapa. On the way back it leaves about 2140 and you arrive at about 0530 in Hanoi.
I imagined that the toilet would be a slush pit but it wasn’t! It was cleanish but really stank. I timed my break so I only had to go once!
It’s not horrific, not exactly enjoyable either and we’re quite sleep deprived. But it’s ok too. If you’re precious go by car. Apparently takes around 5 hours.
If you arnt fussed with a smelly toilet and being sleep deprived then go for it! You’ll laugh about it afterwards!!