Get a different perspective on this enigmatic, colourful country and its charming people with a train journey from Hanoi, perhaps to Dong Hoi, Danang, or even for those with stamina, the 1000 miles to Ho Chi Minh City. This is a great chance to talk to local travellers, have a drink with your carriage guard,and reflect on the passing rural scene.
The name Reunification Express is about as dated as the train itself, as most people in this vibrant country are younger than the unified state. Only the 'express' bit remains purely a longer term ambition with a possible Shinkansen style train designed by Japanese rail engineers.
Right from the experience of trying to buy a ticket as a foreigner to the moment you get off, this is a true journey. You'll be bombarded by sellers, so won't be short of food or drink, but you might like to take a few blue cheese baguettes and a bottle of wine from a stall in Hanoi if you think you'll tire of rice, beer and fruit.
Buy the soft sleeper for overnights for some comfort, and expect to share with a local or soldier if you are less than four. Let life unfold at a leisurely pace for a day or two, and avoid the typical, could be anywhere airport frustrations.
Hanoi Station, monument to the French past.
Lots of info at seat61,
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