Train rides can be pretty exciting and intimidating at the same time. There are certainly a lot of things to consider even before you hop into your ride and enjoy the panoramic views of your destination. If you are thinking of Vietnam as you next travel target, then you might want to consider traveling the country by train.
Traveling the Land of the Blue Dragon or commonly known as Vietnam is definitely a tick off your bucket list. The country is way to blessed with world-renowned attractions such as Halong Bay, Cu Chi Tunnels, Cát Bà National Park and the list goes on. And a little bit of history, Vietnam is geographically known as an S-shape country and with that, its railway system has become a very important transportation in the country.
Plan Ahead of Time
Even seasoned travelers would depend on a good preparation for a successful trip, and traveling by train is no different. You should come prepared and be ready with the adventurous journey in Vietnam. Though spontaneous travels are good, planned trips are better. Planning is a great way to completely enjoy your vacation because all things are already set.
Start by creating a daily itinerary of all the things you need to accomplish on a given day. However, there’s really no need to exactly follow all the written details. Misadventures are always part of a journey, so you should make some room for unanticipated circumstances. Create a backup plan in every trip and be ready for unexpected adventures.
Choose your Train Route
The railway system in Vietnam is run and owned by Vietnam Railways, a state-owned system in the country. Since there are a lot of train routes, you should have a beginning and end point.
Pick the Right Train for You
Trains in Vietnam are classified into two— SE or the smartest and fastest and TN or the slower and older. You should also know that ticket class can either be hard seat or soft seat and hard sleeper or soft sleeper. For those on a short trip, you may choose the hard seat, but please be reminded that a lower price comes with some certain drawbacks such as plenty of cigarette smoke and even dirty toilet.
Apart from the typical trains, there are also lavish private carriages that are tagged at the back of the train, which is more comfortable and convenient. Further, it is recommended to choose sleeper cabins if you’re off for a long journey or even an overnight trip.
A tip of advice: Choose seats that are away from the comfort rooms or pick those that are in the middle of the carriage for a more fitting land journey. And if you’re a lover of panoramic views, then you must select a seat by the window to discover the scenic stretches of the country.
Book in Advance
It is advisable to book your train tickets in advance or at least few days before your schedule trip to avoid hassle and wasted time. Booking your tickets ahead of time is very convenient if you’re traveling during the peak tourist season such as Labor Day or National Day and any public holidays. The country is definitely jam-packed during those periods and you might end up ruining your trip because of full train trips. You can book your ticket through travel agencies, and as much as possible, choose those that are well-known to the industry.
Don’t bring your whole wardrobe!
Preparing for your trip would always include packing for your travel essentials. It is best to carry with you a bag full of essentials such as toiletries, important electronics and medicines However, be reminded to travel as light as possible or else you’ll have a hard time carrying your heavy luggage as there are no trolley at the train stations.
Though most air-conditioned carriages already provide a blanket, you can still bring your own reliable linen and pillow. You can also bring your own food because trains have limited selections and can be pretty expensive. After all, traveling like a nomad means every single penny matters!
On the Day of Your Train Ride…
You should wear comfy clothes and shoes, and be at the train station at least 30 minutes before departure. Present your tickets to the collectors and never lose the tickets during the entire train ride because you may experience trouble during the exit. Always, always keep an eye on your luggage to avoid stolen items since trains are usually crowded.