As Vietnam’s two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are almost two thousand kilometers apart and 31 hours by car. If you saw my recent post on East Asian travel visas – if not you can see it here – you’ll know it will be worth your while to stay in Vietnam for a short lump sum of time instead of crossing in and out of the border. As well as this, Ho Chi Minh City is just a short distance from the Cambodian border and is the perfect place to travel through Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and even Bangkok.
Just a little disclaimer, all the photographs in this post are of Beijing.
The sleeper train between the two cities is one of the longest journeys I’ve ever seen within the same country. There are two options for this journey, the first being the two night sleeper train that lasts over two nights, departing from Hanoi at 7.30pm of day one and arriving in Ho Chi Minh City at 4.30am of day three. The second option is the one night overnight sleeper train, which departs at 6 or 9am of day one and arrives in HCMC at 4 or 6pm the following afternoon. From photographs I’ve seen online, the journey is beyond picturesque and the journey is reasonably priced. You can opt between a soft seat with air conditioning or a hard or soft berth sleeper cabin which cost £33, £46 and respectively. If you wish to stop off during the journey, you will need to purchase a series of tickets between stops as tickets are printed with seat numbers and times of travel.
There are buses at three times per day, one day time bus and two overnight. All three cost the same, so if you’re choosing the bus in order to save some money I’d recommend taking the overnight option to save on accommodation for a night. This option costs £32 and you can book tickets from street vendors and hostels in Hanoi or online with websites like Bus Bud.
By far the least time consuming of all three options, flying is both the easiest option and has little price difference from the other two commuting options. Of course, flying will mean your accommodation costs will increase and you won’t have the luxury of seeing the Vietnamese countryside like you would on the train, so bear that in mind when weighing up your options. There are plenty of daily flights, with the most reasonable times costing £47, but be cognizant of the fact that when flying domestically that often luggage is not included in standard airfare.
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