Vietnam: breathtaking train journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh
Although having had a hard past, Vietnam is filled with warm people, tasty food, amazing sights to see which are all very easily accessible by train and bus. Along this route from northern Vietnam to the south, this itinerary makes stops in the current and former capitals to learn the history which has shaped this country into what it is today.
In addition, enjoy stops along the beach, previous silk route epicenters, and find the best nightlife in the country. Read more about the stops and the sights on this Vietnam itinerary.
Recommended Days: 14 Days
Riding Hours: Approx. 35 hr
Distance: 1,579 km
Transportation: Train, Bus
Hanoi: Traditional Lifestyle
Hanoi, the cultural capital of Vietnam is filled with an abundance of activities to enjoy. You will be able to wander around the different sights to see, enjoying the contrast between the old and new of this beautiful city.
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long stands 40m high and is a complex of royal enclosures that date back to the Ly Dynasty. Often seen as the symbol of Hanoi, it is an interesting spot to visit. Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Turtle Lake, has the Ngoc Son Temple situated on an island in the middle of the lake reachable by foot over the red bridge.
A bit outside of the city you will find the Perfume Pagoda. A set of Buddhist temples within the mountain range is made up of a maze of alleyways, which is a great spot to explore and learn about the religious history of Vietnam. Don’t forget to try the famous egg coffee from Cafe Giảng, which consists of a meringue-like fluff that is poured on top of espresso or iced coffee.
Hanoi Train Station → Hue Train Station | Duration: 14:00 h | Transfers: 0 | Transport: Train
There two are daily trains from Hanoi to Hue. You can either choose a day train or a night train. Book Here
Hue: History Along The Perfume River
A charming town set along the Perfume River, Hue is abundant with history, ancient architecture and museums to be explored. Take a look at the ancient tombs that are dotted throughout the city, wander along the riverside walkway or use it as a hub for some interesting day trip sights.
Tu Hieu Pagoda is a great spot to visit where you will be able to see two ancient temples and listen to the monks chant throughout the day as they carry on with their religious rituals. Take a walk along Perfume River on the waterfront promenade that makes for a great scenic stroll during the day. You can also book yourself a dinner cruise so that you can see Hue from a different perspective.
Within the grounds of the Yuen Tran Princess Temple, several lakes are covered with lotus flowers, A spectacular sight to see, but you can also wander through the orchard gardens or head into the library that holds much of the history of the Tran Dynasty.
Considered to be Vietnam’s creepiest attraction is the Ho Thuy Tien abandoned waterpark. Having fallen into disrepair that is shrouded by superstition from the locals who believe the area to be cursed. Dare to visit the eerie waterpark and be careful where you step, as you never know what lurks around the corner.
Hue → Hoi An Bus Station| Duration: 4:00 h | Transfers: 1 | Transport: Train & Bus
To travel from Hue to Hoi An, you first take the train to Da Nang and then transfer to the bus to Hoi An. Book Here
Hoi An: A Must-Visit Spot
Being at the epicenter of the Maritime silk route, it’s no wonder why Hoi An still boasts wonderful silk and textiles today. Enjoy the great food, the traditional feel of the city, and customizing your own suits and ball gowns. All whilst being surrounded by interesting landscapes of coconut groves and beaches, Hoi An is a must-visit.
Whilst wandering through town, buy tickets to a water puppet show which is very traditional to the Vietnamese. This show tells traditional village tales through puppets that appear to float on water. There are English narration options to help you follow along with the storylines and make it easier to delve into the historic culture of the area.
Since we all know you want to know how to make the best Pho, bánh xèo, or egg rolls when you get back home, take a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Vietnamese dishes. Often these recipes are passed down through the generation, but you can enjoy a class from one of the family chefs at the Gioan Restaurant and Cooking School.
Head over to only covered bridge with a Buddhist temple, known as the Japanese Bridge. Standing out from the ornately designed old town, it shows the Japanese history of the area. To pick up some interesting crafts and souvenirs, the night market is a great spot to visit. They sell lanterns made out of Hoi An silk, as well as other trinkets and local snacks. Silk is still made in Hoi An today, and to learn more about the processes, head over to the Hoi An Silk Village. Here you may gain more of an appreciation for the complexity of the fabric before you custom order anything you wish from the many shops lining Old Town Hoi An.
Hoi An → Na Trang Train Station | Duration: 11:36 h | Transfers: 1 | Transport: Bus & Train
To travel from Hoi An to Nha Trang, you first take a bus back to Da Nang and then transfer to the train to Nha Trang. This route takes 11:36h.
Another option is to take a private taxi to Tra Kieu and from there a train to Nha Trang. This route takes 10:30h. Book Here
Nha Trang: Mountain Ranges And Sandy Beaches
With sandy beaches that seem to go on for miles, hidden waterfalls, beautiful mountain ranges, and unique culture, Nha Trang has something for all travelers. The main beach, Tran Phu Beach, has plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars running alongside. Whether you want to relax a bit by sitting underneath a sun umbrella reading about your next destination. Or you want to soak up the sun whilst cooling down in the water, you’ve got great options either way.
From the beach, you will have a view of an island with what appears to be large white Hollywood style lettering and spells out VINPEARL. The Vietnamese’s take on Disney World. Go see if Vinpearl is giving Disney a run for their money! There are amusement rides and a nice waterpark to cool yourself down from the sweltering weather.
To get a lovely view of the city, some cultural history of the town, and a mini-hike up a bunch of steps, check out Po Nagar Cham Towers, not too far from the city center. Want to see some weird-looking sea creatures? Take a wander around the National Oceanographic Museum. Set within an old French colonial building, an array of marine life is housed here to exemplify that of the region. The displays in the museum consist of artifacts and fossils that are spread across two floors.
The Ba Ho Waterfall can be reached by a coastal drive and is a sight worth seeing. There’s a great hiking trail that leads to the beautiful views of the waterfall and is a perfect spot for swimming.
Nha Trang Train Station → Ho Chi Minh Central | Duration: 8:58 h | Transfers: 0 | Transport: Train
There are daily direct trains from Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh. You can either choose a day train or a night train. Book Here
Ho Chi Minh City: Great Spot For History, Art, And Nightlife
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is one of the most famous places to visit along this Vietnam itinerary. The city is a great spot for history, art, food, and culture lovers. It is also a great spot for nightlife with warm and inviting energy.
Head out on a riverboat tour where you will be able to have great views of the city but also over the river, many companies offer food and drink packages along with the tour. A truly humbling experience is the War Remnants Museum as it shows the impact of the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese point of view. The museumgoer gets more than a glimpse of the horrors of war, the struggles of the Vietnamese people, and how the conflict-affected so many people.
Sticking with the Vietnam War motif, take a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels that were used this time frame, and are a set of tunnels that at a cross-section view look like a beehive. The ground and consisted of trapdoors, living areas, storage, and weapon facilities plus so much more. As you’re rounding out your trip head out on a tour of the Mekong River Delta, where you will float through forests that line the river, whilst also seeing houses, markets, and many beautiful landscapes along the way.