The journey through Vietnam is never an easy one, and is always an adventure. To wit, I had to get from the enchanting city of Hoi An to the former imperial capital of Hue. Just like there is no airport in Hoi An, there is also no train station, and a very small bus station. Thus, if travelers want to go from Hoi An to Hue via train, they must first transfer to Danang’s train station. As with the airport discussed in the post about “A Weekend In Hoi An“, most hotels in Hoi An will provide private transport to Danang for a reasonable price, which you can take either to the train station or the airport. Due to the fact that there is nearly no English signage at Danang train station, as well as very little English spoken by station employees, it is highly recommended to buy tickets in advance either online, through your hotel, or through a travel agency.
Arriving at Danang Railway Station:
The inside, with no schedule, no updates, no English spoken, no English signage, and no air conditioning except for the white standing unit in the left of the picture. Just lots of people sweating and watching Vietnamese television.
The clue that we could go out and board the train was that locals started crowding the doors and ultimately ran outside. All the while, there was no announcement.
The seats were acceptably comfortable and had moderate leg room.
But the best part of this ride are the views. As the train slowly snakes its way along the coast line, you get some spectacular views. Buying your ticket in advance also allows you to choose your seat. Going north from Danang to Hue, a window seat on the right hand side of the train is best, and affords these views:
Got a nice view of the train going around the bend:
Many Vietnamese trains go straight through neighborhoods and within just a few feet of local roads, houses, and apparently, livestock.
The train ride from Hoi An/Danang to Hue sums up Vietnamese travel in a nutshell: Hot, disorganized, very slow, moderately comfortable at best, but stunningly beautiful. The 65 mile ride takes almost 3 hours, but with views like that, it doesn’t seem nearly as long.
Just remember to get your tickets in advance, and show up to the train station 20-30 minutes early to try to figure out where you need to go.
Michael Prodanovich is a contributor to Point Me to the Plane, and author of The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel
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