Travel by Train from Hanoi, Vietnam via Orient Express blocked Public Visiblity ~Mitchel Class In London Property estate agent behind London Met behind Alastair Burlingham Being Kept Apart Now Brad Pitt and wife Mrs Kesha Cassandra Pitt aka Crawford Pitt and Booth Crawford Pitt
This post violates our policies; it's visible only to you
Here are the fares are for the normal Vietnamese railways carriages. Prices for the privately-run tourist sleeping-cars are shown in the next section.
One-way fare in 000 dong. Hard seat Soft seat Hard sleeper Soft sleeper ordinary air-con air-con air-con lower air-con middle air-con top air-con lower berth air-con upper berth Hanoi to Lao Cai by SP overnight train - - 250 500 470 415 600 600 Hanoi to Lao Cai by LC1/LC2 overnight train 145 225 240 445 420 370 - - Hanoi to Lao Cai by LC3/LC4 daytime train 140 - 220 - - - - - £1 = approx 32,900 Dong. $1 = 20,500 Dong. Children aged 0 to 4 travel free, children 5 to 9 travel at half fare. Children 10 and over must pay full fare. Which station in Hanoi? The trains to Lao Cai depart from platforms 5 to 10 of Hanoi's main railway station. However, in most cases these platforms are not accessed from the main 'A' station building on Le Duan street, but from the 'B' station building on Tran Quay Cap street on the far side of the tracks. The 'B' station has its own ticket office, waiting room and check-in desks for the various private sleeper carriages to Lao Cai, including the Victoria Express train and Orient Express. Make sure your taxi driver knows it's the 'B' station on Tran Quay Cap street that you want. In theory you can enter the main 'A' station and walk across the tracks on the wooden barrow crossing linking all the platforms, but the doors from the main station building onto platform 1 are normally kept locked unless a train to the south is boarding, so you may not be able to do this unless you can persuade a member of staff to let you through. Exception: It's now reported that the check-in and voucher exchange desks for the Livitrans and Fanxipan carriages are at the 'A' station on Le Duan street, and passengers are let onto the platforms from that side of the tracks. Map of Hanoi showing stations. How to buy tickets at the station... You can buy your ticket at the station when you get to Vietnam, assuming you want tickets for the regular Vietnamese Railways seats or sleepers, not tickets for the high-quality tourist sleepers. Tickets to Lao Cai can be bought either at Hanoi's main station ticket office (the easiest to reach), or at the 'B' station on the far side of the tracks which has its own ticket office. Apart from peak holiday periods such as Tet (Vietnamese new year, in late January or early February), it's not difficult to book a soft sleeper a few days in advance, especially if you can be a bit flexible over your exact choice of train or departure date. At ticket offices, you pay in Vietnamese Dong, US dollars are not generally accepted. If you're sure of your itinerary and it's important to be on a specific train on a specific date, then you can pre-book by email with a travel agency as shown below.
Traveller Rob Damen travelled from Hanoi to Lao Cai and back: "We just went to Hanoi station 2.5 hours before departure and had no problem buying tickets. We bought them at the small ticket window in the waiting area, for the price stated on the boards at the station. Our train arrived about 45 minutes before departure so we had plenty of time to get comfy in our beds. Back from Lao Cai to Hanoi we took the daytime train and we were able to arrange soft seats. In order to get the correct tickets I used your shortlist of Vietnamese words and made a note that I gave to the lady at the ticket window. She looked a bit surprised but she got the message so we got two soft seats for 168,000 dong each. The ride took 11 hours which was quite long and we had a lot of young children in the coach so it was rather noisy. The views from the train are not spectacular but that was ok, as we passed time playing games like yahtzee and some card games. We arrived right on time at Hanoi Station.
Traveller Jens Kupsch travelled on the daytime LC4 train: "We crossed the border from China around 07:30, and bought tickets to Hanoi on train LC4 at Lao Cai station about an hour ahead of departure. It didn't seem to be a problem."
How to buy tickets by email via a travel agency... If you want to get your train reservation sorted in advance before you get to Vietnam, contact a recommended local travel agency such aswww.vietnamimpressive.com, www.vietnamstay.com or www.saigonhotel.com. These agencies can book both the regular Vietnamese carriages and the special high-quality tourist sleepers. Tickets can be waiting for you at your hotel when you get to Vietnam, or for an extra charge couriered overseas. Payment is by Visa, MasterCard or other major credit card. www.vietnamimpressive.com is relatively new but has already received a steady stream of good reports. Vietnamstay.com also gets good reports from travellers, although they can only book trains departing from Hanoi or Saigon, not starting at intermediate stations. Saigonhotel (formerly Viet-nam.net) has not had such good reports, but offers a comprehensive service. Further feedback or agency recommendations is always appreciated!
Arranging a transfer from Lao Cai to Sapa... Lao Cai to Sapa is about 38 km (24 miles) and the road journey takes about 50 minutes by bus, shared minibus taxi or private car on a scenic winding road up into the hills. If you have pre-booked a hotel the best idea might be to ask them to arrange your transfer. But don't worry if you don't have a transfer arranged, on arrival at Lao Cai you'll be besieged by offers of a transfer to Sapa. A ticket for a bus from Lao Cai to Sapa costs around US$2, a seat in a shared minibus taxi about 25,000 dong ($2) per person, a private car about US$25 per vehicle. On the way back, the shared minibus taxis all leave from outside the Sapa church, running to no fixed schedule, just filling up with passengers and leaving when full. You'll need to leave Sapa around 17:00-17:30 to meet the trains, to allow for any delays on the road down. Or you can arrange a transfer back to Lao Cai direct from your hotel, ask at reception. Taking the train to Lao Cai for Sapa... Hanoi 'B' station Soft sleeper, as used on SP trains to Lao Cai for Sapa Hanoi 'B' station on the far side of the tracks from Hanoi main ('A') station, accessed from Tran Quay Cap street. In the evening the B station comes alive as no fewer than four busy sleeper trains with both Vietnamese and many western tourists head north to Lao Cai...
4-berth soft sleeper as used on trains SP1/2, SP3/4. See the section above for more info. Scenery on the road transfer from Lao Cai to Sapa Sapa church Scenery on the road journey from Lao Cai up to Sapa...
Sapa church... Soft seats car on train LC3 from Hanoi to Lao Cai Air-conditioned soft seats on train LC3 from Hanoi to Lao Cai This is the daytime train to Lai Cai, the LC3, about to leave Hanoi in the early morning. This is the one air-conditioned soft seat car on the train, an older car with wire mesh across the windows to protect against stones. The rest of the train consists of ordinary hard seats as shown here. A Vietnamese Railways attendant is in charge of each car, and you'll find beer, soft drinks and food sold by vendors. Hanoi to Sapa by privately-run tourist sleeping-car... You may prefer to take a privately-run sleeping car to Lao Cai for Sapa. In addition to the normal Vietnamese Railways sleepers & seats, overnight trains SP1-SP8 between Hanoi & Lao Cai convey a bewildering range of privately-run deluxe sleeping-cars for tourists. If you want extra comfort & cleanliness and don't mind paying a bit more, go for one of these private cars as they're all significantly better than the regular Vietnamese Railways sleepers.
Fanxipan, Sapaly Express, King, Livitrans, Orient Express, Tulico, Ratraco, TSC, Friendly, Royal, Hara... All these private operators offer berths in shared First Class 4-berth sleepers, and a few also offer a handful of VIP 2-berth sleepers (though if these have sold out you can always pay for all 4 berths in a 4-berth if you like, the price works out pretty much the same). The sleepers all have air-conditioning, fresh clean bedding, complimentary mineral water and snacks, and clean western-style toilets. These private sleepers are all very comfortable, just remember that this is still Vietnam with Vietnamese standards, you'll enjoy the trip more if you don't turn up with unrealistic expectations of 5-star western-style luxury for $35! Most of these private tourist sleeping-cars run attached to train SP1/SP2, though one or two (TSC and Sapaly) are attached to SP3/SP4 and Livitrans cars are attached to SP7/SP8.
Which company should you choose? How much does it cost? There's not a huge amount to choose between the many different operators and the price they all charge is pretty similar, about $34-36 one-way in a shared First Class 4-berth sleeper or $70-79 per person for travel in a VIP 2-berth sleeper. However, the best operators are usually acknowledged to be Fanxipan and Orient Express (both on train SP1/2) and Sapaly Express (on train SP3/4). Personally, I prefer Fanxipan to Orient Express as there was sufficient headroom under the upper berths to sit on the lower bunk, in the Orient Express carriage I had to lean forward (I'm 6' 2"). Lower berths are recommended if you're tall, as the upper berth has a support chain taking up an inch or two at each end. If you use one of these private sleepers, feedback is always appreciated.
Can I buy all 4 berths in a compartment to have a room to ourselves? Yes, if you insist, if the very few 2-berth VIP compartments are all sold out as they often are. But meeting fellow tourists and talking over a beer into the night is great fun. Would I recommend paying double to miss all the fun and sit in glorious isolation? No!
How to buy tickets: For prices, photos and more information on each of the various tourist sleepers, try www.vietnamimpressive.com orwww.vietnamstay.com, as both these agencies get good reports, are reliable and respond promptly to emails. You book your chosen sleeper by email with these agencies, pay with a credit card using a secure online payment service, and you will be emailed an 'e-ticket' which must be exchanged for an actual ticket at the carriage operator's check-in desk at Hanoi 'B' station an hour before departure. If you're already in Vietnam, you can book these tourist sleepers via local travel agencies, but not at the station, although there's a ticket window for the Ratraco sleepers to Lao Cai in the ticket hall at the 'B' station.
Fanxipan Express carriage Fanxipan sleeper on train to Lao Cai Orient Express sleeper on train to Lao Cai Fanxipan carriage at Hanoi
Fanxipan 4-berth sleeper...
Orient Express 4-berth... The Victoria Express train... This is a cut above the other tourist trains, in fact it's the most luxurious way to reach Sapa with wood-panelled 'orient express' style carriages including a proper dining car on some departures, but you can only use it if you're staying at the luxurious and expensive (but excellent) Victoria Hotel in Sapa. The train runs daily except Saturdays, consisting of two deluxe sleeping-cars and (on some departures) a restaurant car attached to train SP3/SP4. Prices around US$140 round trip per person ($160 including meals in the restaurant car) in 4-berth or $220 per person ($250 with meals) in 2-berth. One-way fares are only about 25% less than returns, so buy a return ticket if you're coming back to Hanoi. Seewww.victoriahotels.asia/en/victoria-express-train or www.vietnamstay.com for details. The hotel can arrange a shuttle bus or private car transfer from the station.
The Victoria Express train from Hanoi to Lao Cai Victoria Express train, VIP 2-berth sleeper Victoria Express train, 4-berth sleeper The Victoria Express train to Lao Cai for Sapa...
VIP 2-berth sleeper...
Standard 4-berth sleeper... Watch the video: Hanoi to Lao Cai by Orient Express...
Phan Thiet & Miu Ne Saigon (HCMC) to/from Phan Thiet & Mui Né... Click for Phan Thiet & Mui Ne map The seaside resort of Phan Thiet is at the end of a 15km branch line from Binh Thuan, a junction station on the main Saigon-Danang-Hue-Hanoi Reunification line, formerly known as Muong Man. Two direct trains run from Saigon to Phan Thiet every day, shown in the timetable below. When you arrive at Phan Thiet station you'll find plenty of buses & taxis waiting to take you to the popular resort of Mui Né, 24km northeast of Phan Thiet, a 25-30 minute drive. Alternatively, you can take any mainline train from Saigon to Binh Thuan station and then a taxi to Pan Thiet (15.7km) or Mui Né (38km).
How much does it cost? Saigon to Phan Thiet by train Air-con soft seat 135,000 dong (£4 or $7) Phan Thiet to Mui Ne by taxi Around 200,000 dong (£6 or $10) How to buy tickets: Buy tickets at the station or at Saigon's city centre ticket office, as shown here.
Alternative: If the times of these trains don't suit you, simply take any mainline train between Saigon & Bin Thuan shown in the main Reunification line timetable above for around 120,000 dong (£4 or $6), then catch a taxi between Bin Thuan & Phan Thiet (15.7km) or Mui Ne (38km), cost to Mui Ne around 500,000 dong (£15 or $24), taxi journey around 1 hour.
Air-conditioned soft seats on the train from Saigon to Phan Thiet Air-con soft seats car on train SPT1 to Phan Thiet Soft seats on train SPT2 from Saigon to Phan Thiet. Photos courtesy of Molly McCahan... Hanoi, Hue or Danang to/from Phan Thiet or Mui Né... Simply take a train from Hanoi, Hue or Danang to Binh Thuan station as shown in the timetable above. Then use a local taxi between Bin Thuan station and Phan Thiet (15.7km) or Mui Ne (38km). A taxi between Bin Thuan and Mui Ne costs around 500,000 dong (£15 or $24) and takes around an hour.
Hanoi - Haiphong & Halong (for Halong Bay)
The beautiful Halong Bay is on many visitors' lists of places to visit. You can get there by air-conditioned train from Hanoi via Haiphong.
Hanoi to Haiphong (for ferry to Cat Ba island)...
Hanoi ► Haiphong
Haiphong ► Hanoi Train number: HP1 LP3 LP5 LP7 Train number: LP2 LP6 LP8 HP2 Hanoi Main station depart 06:00 - 15:20* - Haiphong depart 06:05 08:55 14:35 18:40 Hanoi Long Bien station depart | 09:20 15:30 18:10 Hanoi Long Bien station arrive 08:40 11:17 17:25 | Haiphong arrive 08:15 12:00 18:00 20:47 Hanoi Main station arrive - 11:30 - 21:05 * Train LP5 starts from Hanoi main station at weekends only, but runs from Long Bien every day. These Hanoi-Haiphong trains have air-conditioned soft seats (see the photo of the poster below advertising travel to Haiphong in these comfortable air-con cars), air-conditioned hard seats, and ordinary hard seats in much older cars. Hanoi to Haiphong is 102 km (63 miles).
How much does it cost? Hanoi to Haiphong Air-con soft seat 70,000 dong (£2 or $3) Air-con hard seat 60,000 dong (£2 or $3) Hanoi Long Bien station is 3km northeast of Hanoi main station, immediately south of the huge steel Long Bien bridge over the Red River (which was a target for American bombers on several occasions during the Vietnamese war). The small road outside the station is only accessible to pedestrians, bicycles and motorbikes, not cars, so if your taxi drops you on the main road by the river, don't worry, it's just a 100 yard walk up the side road and round the bend to the station. Map of Hanoi showing main & Long Bien stations
How to buy tickets: Buy tickets locally, at the station. No advance reservation is necessary.
Ferries to Cat Ba Island: Hydrofoils take 45 minutes and leave Haiphong ferry terminal at 08:50 & 09:00. Returning, hydrofoils leave Cat Ba ferry terminal at 06:45 & 15:00. Alternatively there are ships taking 2 hours, with departures from Haiphong ferry terminal at 06:30 & 12:30. Returning, the ships leave Cat Ba Island at 05:45 & 12:30. Simply buy your ferry ticket at the ticket offices at the port, the fare is around 100,000 dong (£4 or $6). Cat Ba town is a half hour bus ride from where the ships arrive, but the hydrofoils arrive at a pier near Cat Ba town.
Hanoi Long Bien station Poster advertising trains from Hanoi to Haiphong Hanoi's Long Bien station, complete with poster advertising the air-conditioned carriages on the Hanoi to Haiphong trains. Map of Hanoi showing main & Long Bien stations.
The Hanoi to Haiphong express... Haiphong station An air-con soft seat car on a Hanoi to Haiphong Express train. Photo courtesy of Lewis Baston.
Haiphong's distinctively French colonial railway station. Photo courtesy of Lewis Baston. Hanoi to Halong (for Halong Bay)... Option 1: Travel from Hanoi to Haiphong as shown above, then use local transport between Haiphong and Halong.
Option 2: It's reported that a direct train does indeed run between Hanoi and Halong, as shown below. This is a regular Vietnamese Railways train, not a tourist train, although there have been abortive attempts to run a tourist train between Hanoi & Halong in the last few years. This loss-making regular train was reported in the Vietnamese media as being slated for withdrawal as from December 2013, but as at November 2014 it's still in operation. Feedback would be appreciated!
Hanoi ► Halong
Halong ► Hanoi Train number: R157 Train number: R158 Hanoi Yen Vien station depart 04:40 Halong depart 13:00* Halong arrive 12:08 Hanoi Yen Vien station arrive 20:40 R157/R158 = This loss-making service was reported in the Vietnamese media as being slated for withdrawal as from December 2013, but as at November 2014 it's still in operation.
* = Approximate time, exact departure time from Halong is not known.
Yen Vien station is in the suburbs of Hanoi, you'll need a taxi given the early start from Hanoi, although buses 10 or 54 run there from Long Bien bus station during the day. Map showing location of Yen Vien station.
Fare: 70,000 dong ($3).
Feedback would be appreciated!
Hanoi - Nanning, Guilin, Beijing by train
A comfortable train service between Hanoi & Nanning, Guilin, Beijing... There is a safe, comfortable & affordable overnight sleeper train between Beijing & Nanning twice a week, connecting with an equally safe & comfortable daily sleeper train between Nanning, Guilin & Beijing. You can also use the Hanoi-Nanning sleeper train in conjunction with direct Nanning-Shanghai or Nanning-Guangzhou (for Hong Kong) trains. Below is the timetable which applies from December 2014. Note that from this date the Hanoi-Nanning sleeper train, introduced as a daily train in 2009, has been reduced to running twice-weekly, and the original separate twice-weekly Hanoi-Dong Dang-Beijing service has been discontinued. Hanoi-Beijing passengers now use the Hanoi-Nanning train and change at Nanning for Beijing.
Beijing, Nanning ► Hanoi
Hanoi ► Nanning, Beijing Train Z5, runs daily, soft & hard sleepers & restaurant. Train MR1 / T8702, runs twice a week, soft sleepers only. Beijing West depart 16:09 Thur & Sun Hanoi Gia Lam station depart 21:40 Tues & Fri Guilin depart 11:36 Fri & Mon Dong Dang, Vietnam border arrive 01:55 Wed & Sat Nanning arrive 15:40 Fri & Mon Dong Dang depart 02:50 Wed & Sat Train T8701 / MR2, runs twice a week. Pingxiang, Chinese border arrive 04:31 Wed & Sat Nanning depart 18:10 Fri & Mon Pingxiang depart 06:20 Wed & Sat Pingxiang, Chinese border arrive 22:01 Fri & Mon Nanning arrive 10:10 Wed & Sat Pingxiang depart 22:41 Fri & Mon Train Z6, runs daily, soft & hard sleepers & restaurant Dong Dang, Vietnam border arrive 23:22 Fri & Mon Nanning depart 11:00 Wed & Sat Dong Dang depart 01:00 Sat & Tues Guilin arrive 14:22 Thur & Sun Hanoi Gia Lam station arrive 05:20 Sat & Tues Beijing West arrive 09:55 Thur & Sun Beijing to Hanoi is 2,996km or 1,861 miles. Nanning to Hanoi is 396km. How to buy tickets. Gia Lam station is 6km from Hanoi's main station, across the river. Map of Hanoi showing Gia Lam station.
How much does it cost? Southbound fares... (1) Beijing to Nanning costs RMB 752 ($124 or £75) in a soft sleeper or RMB 473 ($78 or £47) in a hard sleeper, bought at the station or online with small extra fee from www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains. (2) Nanning to Hanoi costs RMB 248 (£25 or $38) in a soft sleeper bought at the station or $65 if you pre-book from outside China through agencywww.chinatripadvisor.com. Alternatively, you can buy a Beijing to Hanoi international through ticket through agency www.chinatripadvisor.com. This fare is under review by Chinese Railways, but Chinatripadvisor have been showing $395 with soft sleeper for this journey. Northbound fares... (1) Hanoi to Nanning costs around CHF 31.53 = 750,000 dong (£22 or $36) in a soft sleeper. (2) Nanning to Beijing costs RMB 752 ($124 or £75) in a soft sleeper or RMB 473 ($78 or £47) in a hard sleeper. Above, I show the normal domestic Chinese Railways fare for Beijing-Nanning then the international fare for Nanning-Hanoi. A special international through fare exists from Beijing to Hanoi covering both trains, but the price is currently under review by Chinese Railways and details for 2015 are not yet available. Note that International fares are linked to the Swiss Franc (CHF), so they can vary with exchange rates. In Hanoi, a metered taxi between Hanoi old quarter & Gia Lam station costs around VND 100,000 (£3.50 or $5). How to buy tickets... To pre-book southbound tickets from Beijing or Nanning to Hanoi in advance from outside China, try reliable ticketing agency www.chinatripadvisor.com or perhapswww.chinatrainticket.net. Reliable Russian-British agency www.realrussia.co.uk can also book this train along with your Trans-Siberian tickets, but are more expensive, charging around £356 one-way. Alternatively, it may be cheaper to book a domestic Chinese ticket for Beijing to Nanning train online at www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains, then pre-book the Nanning to Hanoi train using www.chinatripadvisor.com or (cheaper) buy your ticket in person at the station in Nanning as there are always places available. Just remember that if you need evidence of having arranged a ticket out of China in order to get your Chinese visa, you may have to bite the bullet and pre-order at least the Nanning-Hanoi ticket through www.chinatripadvisor.com. To pre-book northbound tickets from Hanoi to Nanning or Beijing, try contacting reliable Vietnamese ticketing agency www.vietnamimpressive.com. It might be cheaper to book solely the Hanoi to Nanning train throughwww.vietnamimpressive.com, then buy your Nanning to Beijing ticket at the domestic rate through www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains, but remember that you have to allow time to collect your ticket at the station in Nanning, and there isn't a huge amount of time between trains to do this is there's a delay or long queues at the station. To buy tickets in person at Hanoi, Nanning or Beijing stations, see the advice below. What's the journey like?