Hue is situated slap bang in the center of the long and narrow coastal country of Vietnam. After visiting Hue, the next logical destination for tourists is the capital city, Hanoi, which is 670 km north. The best way to get a good night’s sleep whilst making the journey from Hue to Hanoi is via luxury sleeper train. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the journey.
Booking train tickets from Hue to Hanoi online
Once we had arrived in Hue, we arranged our tickets way in advance to ensure a scheduled arrival date back to our apartment in Hanoi where we have lived for the last 12 months. After overlanding in Africa and backpacking Asia over the summer, we couldn’t wait to ditch our backpacks and finally be able to hang our clothes in a wardrobe (it’s the little things that matter to us).
Bookaway offers several packages ranging from budget tourist trains, with limited amenities, to economy trains with food provided as well as A/C. We decided to choose the most premium option with Lotus Train. After booking online, we received our train tickets via email and were free to arrive at the train station without having to print our tickets.
After receiving our confirmation email, we decided to print out our tickets, at the hotel reception just for our own peace of mind. It’s carefree to be able to arrange tickets online, but also just as carefree to be able to have a physical ticket in your possession, ready for inspection before boarding a vehicle. Plus, I’d rather have a printout and not need it, than not have a printout and need it, because we’ve been in a situation like that before and it’s far from carefree.
No Grab taxis when departing Hue
Our train was scheduled for a 9 pm departure, so after checking out of our hotel at 1 pm, we spent the remainder of the day cooped up in coffee shops and restaurants eating and drinking to pass the time, as we had already explored the abandoned waterpark and other tourist attractions of Hue. The departure time wasn’t ideal, but the arrival time was perfect, so we were content.
We made a little blunder when it came to organizing our transport from the coffee shop to the train station. We had intended to order a Grab car directly from our location to the station, however we soon found out that cars are no longer available on the app. We had to rush around finding a taxi on the street whilst carrying our huge bags. Luckily, we made the 20 minute journey to the station in time, but not without stressing and worrying about it first.
Pro tip: Based on our experience, we recommend that you allow yourself plenty of time to commute to the train station in Hue as the traffic can be unpredictable.
Stocking up on snacks at Hue train station
You’ll be glad to know that the train station has plenty of snacks and drinks on sale, so there’s no need to stock up before you arrive. Upon entering the station, there is a desk with a staff member checking the validity of tickets. However, the staff members to speak much English. We managed to communicate using hand signals. We sat in the waiting room of the station, awing at the Vietnamese babies all around us. Let’s just say that many cheeks were pinched during our 20-minute wait for the train to arrive at the platform.
The platform wasn’t signposted at all, so when the train finally did arrive, we had to walk from the head to the tail of the train to board our corresponding carriage, #7. Inside the train, the corridor was narrow and our thick and ready to burst backpacks barely made it through.
A cozy luxury cabin on the train
We arrived at our cabin. Four beds, two up and two down. Thankfully, we both had two down, so we changed into our pajamas whilst we had the place to ourselves and made our beds. Before we could even finish settling in, the train was slowly leaving the station. The excitement kicked in as we realized we had the cabin to ourselves.
Once settled, we explored all of our included amenities. First, the toilets were nearby. Not the best-looking cubicle to be honest. Compared to our stellar cabin, I was expecting better. Back in our cabin we had our own plug sockets and USB charge holes by our bedside, which was fantastic. A clean window, a functioning curtain and a handy night light also made us smile.
Food was also provided and was already waiting for us in our cabin once we arrived. We had each been given a noodle cup, a banana, a tea and coffee sachet, a custard bread snack and a bite size sponge cake. To share, we had a can of Coke, a can of beer and two bottles of water: All of which were complimentary.
That night was honestly our best night’s sleep in a long time. Even though it was the smallest bed we had slept in during our trip and it was on a moving train, we slept like babies. It was so comfortable. The journey was smooth, allowing us to sleep straight through without any interruptions. The contrast of cold air conditioning and thick bed sheets kept us cozy throughout the night.
Arriving fresh and ready in Hanoi
The following morning, we woke up to the sun cracking through the window and the sound of people scurrying around preparing their bags ready to disembark. Before leaving the train, we tucked into our noodle pots whilst admiring the green landscapes, which quickly changed into motorbikes and roads, as we approached the center of Hanoi.
As the arrival time of 11 am neared, our bags were packed and we were ready to go. Pulling into the station, we quickly alighted and booked a Grab taxi to take us home. If you’re unable to connect to the internet, no worries, there are plenty of car and motorbike taxis waiting outside of the station to take you to your destination. Most tourists opt to stay near Hoan Kiem Old Quarter, which is just a 10 minute journey away. This luxury train transit experience was our favourite throughout our travels. We would recommend anyone travelling from Hue to Hanoi, or vice versa, to choose the train over a bus. 16 hours is far too long to be lay in a reclining chair. Nothing is better than arriving the next morning feeling fresh and ready to go.