Travelling from Hanoi to Da Nang by Train

Make yourself comfortable in your berth, chat with Vietnamese families, share travel stories with fellow backpackers and admire green hills rushing by the window. Getting from Hanoi to Da Nang by train is an experience for anyone wanting to travel like a local. 

Riding a shaky sleeper train in Vietnam might not be for everyone. But if you consider yourself an adventurous traveller, if you like to travel slowly and enjoy the journey as much as the destination, you should definitely try it. You will have a fun story to tell back home and it is a sustainable alternative to national flights. 

Hidden made the trip from Hanoi to Da Nang and tells you first hand what to expect during the ride. In this article we give you all the information and tips to make the best of this experience. We guide you through planning your trip, where to buy your ticket and avoiding scams. Let us inspire you to explore Vietnam by train.

Hidden Quick Guide – Train Journey from Hanoi to Da Nang

Journey: From Hanoi Train Station to Da Nang Train Station.

Departures: Ten per day. Two-morning trains at 6 a.m and 9 a.m. Eight evening trains from 7:30 p.m. Last train: 10:20 p.m. 

Travel Time: The ride takes between 15h and 16h 30min depending on the line.

Prices: The tickets cost between 912,000VND (38 USD) and 2,040,000VND (89 USD) depending on booking agency, line, date and seating option. Children under three years travel for free. Children between three and nine years (and shorter than 1.3 metres) are charged 75 percent of the adult price.

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Old wooden train carriage
Wooden benches in the hard seat carriage of the train. Photo: Maggie Kennedy

History of the North-South Line

The train line from Hanoi to Da Nang has a very interesting history behind it. One that mirrors how Vietnam itself evolved during the 19th Century. Running 1,726 km between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, it is the longest and most important of the country, 

Construction works started in 1899. The line was completed in 1936 under the French colonial period. Back then, the trip between Hanoi and Saigon took about 40 hours at an average speed of 43km/h. The Japanese army used it when they occupied the country during WWII. Thus making it the target of US bombings and sabotage.

In 1954, the line was split into two different railroads. Divided similarly to Vietnam, with one in the north and one in the south. During the American war, both sections were targeted and severely damaged. 

After the war ended in 1975, the new government put great efforts into restoring the North-South railway line. The destruction the railroad suffered during these two decades was colossal. Repairing it was a huge challenge. More than 1300 bridges, 27 tunnels and 158 stations were fixed in less than two years. The work ended on New Year’s Day of 1978.

After that it became a symbol of the new unified Vietnam, known as Vietnam’s “Reunification Line”. Reconnecting the north and south by train was a way of stitching the country back together after being divided for such a long time.

Nowadays the trains run almost at the same average speed (55km/h) as they did back in the 30s. Although there are some modern trains (SE), travelling by train in Vietnam still seems like being in another era. 

Buying Train Tickets – Hanoi to Da Nang

Most routes on Vietnam Railways open 30 to 60 days before departure. Normally it’s completely fine if you buy your ticket a few days before your trip. But if you’re travelling during busy periods like Tet celebrations, we strongly advise that you purchase them well in advance. We’ve dedicated an article to Tet in Vietnam helping manage visitor expectations during this time.

When planning your trip, keep in mind that there are different price options and different ways to purchase a ticket: 

Seating Options 

There are four different seating options. The most common options for short journeys like from Hue to Da Nang are soft and hard seats. For longer journeys though, like from Hanoi to Da Nang, the train provides beds for passengers.

There are two bed options on the Hanoi to Da Nang trains: 

Soft-Sleeper Cars

An individual berth in a four-berth compartment. The ticket includes a sheet, duvet, pillow and reading light. The compartment is lockable and you can store your luggage beneath the bottom bunks and in the space above the door. There are power sockets for charging your devices in each compartment.

Hard-Sleeper Cars

You get the same equipment as in the soft-sleeper cars. The difference being that there are six berths per compartment instead of four. The mattresses are thinner and harder. 

Train Timetables & Prices – Hanoi to Da Nang

The ride between Hanoi and Da Nang takes around 15 to 16 and a half hours. Trains are delayed sometimes. Therefore expect a 17 hour trip. Before your destination of Da Nang, the train makes brief stops at Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa, Vinh, Dong Hoi, Dong Ha and Hue.

Vietnam Railways Train Map

 

Hanoi to Da Nang Train Schedule and Prices 

Before buying your train ticket, note that prices vary depending on train, berth, booking agency and even time of year. Costs and timetables for each journey are roughly the same in the reverse direction. These are the Vietnam Railways’ official prices as of January 2020.

DepartureArrivalTrain No.
Hard SeatSoft SeatHard BerthSoft Seat
06:0022:25Reunification Express Train SE7
874,000 VND
(38 USD)
989,000 VND
(43 USD)
1,380,000 VND
(60 USD)
1,426,000 VND
(62 USD)
09:00
01:28Reunification Express Train SE5As aboveAs aboveAs aboveAs above
19:3011:05Livitrans Express Train SE3N/A
N/A
N/A
1,886,000 VND
(82 USD)
19:3011:08
Viollete Express Train SE3N/A
N/A
N/A
1,679,000 VND
(73 USD)
19:3011:08
Reunification Express Train SE3N/A
1,058,000VND
(46 USD)

1,426,000 VND
(62 USD)
1,472,000 VND
(64 USD)
20:00
12:25Laman Express Train SE19
N/A
N/AN/A1,518,000 VND
(66 USD)
20:10
12:20
Lotus Express Train SE19N/A
N/A
N/A
As above
20:1012:20Reunification Express Train SE19
N/A
1,035,000 VND
(45 USD)
1,334,000 VND
(58 USD)
1,403,000 VND
(61 USD)
22:20 13:26
Reunification Express Train SE1
N/A
989,000 VND
(43 USD)
1,380,000 VND
(60 USD)
1,426,000 VND
(62 USD)
22:2013:26
Viollete Express Train SE1N/A
N/A
N/A
1,564,000 (68 USD)

Buying Train Tickets Online from Hanoi to Da Nang

You can purchase train tickets (including same-day tickets) online from 12Go.Asia. They offer the option of choosing your travel class and train seat from a real-time graphic. 12Go charge the official Vietnam Railways price for tickets plus a small service fee for booking.

Hidden Hint: Buy your ticket at least one day in advance to make sure you get your particular seat or sleeper of choice

When booking online, you receive your tickets via email. Don’t worry if you don’t get an immediate response – it may take a few hours to get your ticket via email. You don’t need to print out the e-ticket. Just show the QR code on your smartphone to the attendant at the station. 

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Buying Tickets at the Station

It’s also simple to get tickets at Vietnam’s railway stations. Each has a ticket counter where you can book a train on the same day or in advance. At the counter, station staff can help you choose a departure time, train class, and seat that fit your travel needs and budget. 

Hidden Hint: Make sure to bring enough Vietnamese Dong with you to purchase your ticket as Vietnamese train stations don’t accept credit cards. There are nearby ATMs, too.

Scam Alert: Make sure you get the right tickets. Sometimes, even official workers will try to sell you more expensive, tourist tickets. Double check the provider (Vietnam Railways), date, time and destination. Even better, get your tickets online and avoid wasting time and energy at the train station.

Hidden Hint: Want to offload the hassle of booking online or at the station? Most travel agents and hotels will buy you a train ticket for a small commission.

Bringing your Motorbike on the Train from Hanoi to Da Nang

Do you want to travel from Hanoi to Da Nang but don’t want to deal with Vietnamese highways? Good news, you can do the trip by train and bring your motorbike with you. Keep in mind that you can’t buy these types of tickets online and your bike will likely go on a separate freight train. 

Take your bike to the station’s luggage office, pay the fee, and collect your receipt. The attendant will put a luggage tag on your vehicle. Double check that everything is in order. The bike will probably arrive a day or two after you do. Ask the attendant when you can expect your bike, and pick it up at the luggage office at your destination.

The price should be around 530,000 VND (23 USD) to send your motorbike to Da Nang from Hanoi.

a vietnamese woman stands behind the train
A Vietnamese woman waits in the shade of a train for its scheduled departure. Photo: Maggie Kennedy

Hanoi Train Station

You find Hanoi’s train station 1,5 km west of Hoan Kiem Lake and the old quarter. It’s located at 120 Duong Le Duan at the west end of Tran Hung Dao Street.

The main building is easy to spot. The original building was constructed in 1902, destroyed during the American war air strikes and rebuilt in 1976. Locals call this side of the railway station “A Station”. All trains going south depart from here. If you are going from Hanoi to Da Nang by train, your train will leave from A Station.

How to Get to Hanoi Station (Ga Hanoi)

Taxi or Grab are very convenient and should not be too expensive if you are staying near Hanoi’s old quarter. In our case we payed 25,000 VND (1.10 USD) from Hoan Kiem Lake

Public buses 01, 11, 32, 38, 40, 43 and 49 all stop at Ga Hanoi (Hanoi Station).

Walking – if you are staying in the old quarter, the station is within walking distance (15-20 minutes).

Hanoi Station in Detail

This station is small. There’s a door leading to the platforms in the main hall. The restrooms are on the right hand side of the building. Tickets are available for purchase at the windows on the left.  There is a waiting area near the ticket office where you can rest.

Hidden Hint: Buy some snacks and drinks here for the journey ahead. There’s a fast food restaurant (Fresh Garden) and a VinMart on the left of the main hall.

vendor selling snacks to hungry passengers
Snacks are passed through the train window to hungry travellers. Photo: Greg McKeever

You can access the platforms 40 minutes before the train’s departure time. Once inside, cross a bridge over the railways to get to your train.

For northern destinations like Sapa, trains depart from the B Station, a yellow building behind the Main Station. You can buy tickets to any city from both offices, but you can only access the train from the proper side. To avoid problems, arrive half an hour before your departure.

Avoiding Scams

The most common scams in the station are easy to avoid:

  • Beware of locals around the station offering tickets or upgrades with special discounts for you.
  • On the platforms, some people might offer you an upgrade on your ticket. You shouldn’t give your ticket to anybody and directly board your train.
  • On the platforms and on the train, some locals might offer to help you with your bags only to demand a tip later.
boarding the train from Hanoi to Da Nang
Board your train and find your designated seat or cabin. Photo: Chase Martin

The Journey from Hanoi to Hoi An by Train

We travelled in a hard sleeper car. The beds were soft enough to let us sleep comfortably. The bedsheets, pillows and blankets provided looked clean. We took the night train and, for us, that was the best option. We saved one hotel night, and also spent a big part of the 16.5-hour trip asleep. 

During this trip, we had the compartment to ourselves for a few hours. We met some friendly Vietnamese girls who travelled in a different room. They seemed happy to practice some English with foreigners.  After that, around three hours into the ride ,our first roommates arrived. They were a Dutch couple travelling to Hue. We chatted a little before going to sleep. However when we woke up, our fellow backpackers were already gone.

Hidden Hint: Bring good quality headphones and a couple of playlists to help you fall asleep.  

At the next stop, a chatty Vietnamese woman joined us and we shared snacks and some great travel stories. We gave her some chocolates and she introduced us to some new Vietnamese fruits. It was a great way to start the day.

Best Photo Opportunities (Hue to Da Nang and Hai Van Pass)

Most noteworthy is that this is the most scenic part of the trip. So by taking the night train we got to enjoy it first thing in the morning. 

Between Hue and Da Nang you see the coastline on the left hand side and beautiful green mountains on the right. Consequently great views greet you over some beautiful fishing villages – a perfect way to start the day.

The best spots to take photos are the spaces between cars and the windows in the restaurant. Sometimes staff members open the windows on the sleeping cars (you can try to charm a train employee and ask him to open one for you). 

Hidden Hint: Wait until a curve and take the perfect photo of the front part of the train meandering the jungle near the coast.

Survival Kit for Train Travel in Vietnam

  • Bring your own toilet paper. Normally there is none, and if there is, it won’t last for long.
  • You might want to bring hand sanitiser or soap, too.
  • Buy some drinks and snacks at the station before departure. Although warm food is served on the train, we read some mixed reviews online. 
  • For light sleepers, ear plugs and a sleeping mask are a must. Trains are old and the railway is even older, so it is noisy the whole time. In addition, passengers and staff walk around the train opening doors and switching lights on and off.
  • Entertainment. Bring something to read, music or podcasts to listen to and download a couple of movies on Netflix before departing. The train ride is long and if you can’t sleep you will need some distractions.

Hanoi to Hoi An by Train

There is no train station in Hoi An. The closest city with a station is Da Nang. Once you arrive at Da Nang you need to find alternative transport to make the last section of the trip.

Da Nang train station is close to the city centre with lots of bus and taxi options. Upon arrival the first thing you notice is that the train station of Da Nang is smaller than the one in Hanoi. Consequently passengers have to jump down the train and cross other railways to reach the main hall. The exit is through a side door where a big group of taxi drivers  “welcome” you and offer to take you to your destination. Find more information in our in depth guide of Da Nang Train Station.

Getting from Da Nang to Hoi An

It is very easy to travel between Da Nang and Hoi An. It takes on average 45 minutes. There are several ways to get from Da Nang to Hoi An. This article covers that topic in detail. 

Da Nang train station
Da Nang train station is close to the city centre with lots of bus and taxi options. Photo: Greg McKeever

Pros and Cons of Train Travel from Hanoi to Da Nang

Taking the train from Hanoi to Da Nang has its particular advantages and disadvantages.  But before you buy a ticket and hop on the train, keep the following points in mind: 

Pros

  • Travelling in Vietnam by train gives you the most stunning views of mountains and oceans alike. 
  • Sleeping in an old, bumping train is another one of those backpacking adventures you will never forget.
  • Taking the train is one of the cheapest possibilities to move inside the country. If you take the sleeper train, you additionally save the money for a hostel or hotel. 
  • It’s more comfortable than a bus or a plane since you can move around and wander to other carriages. 
  • A train emits significantly less greenhouse gases than a plane. Going from Hanoi to Da Nang by train might not be the fastest way of travelling but it’s the most ecological one. 
  • Above all, it is a great way to meet fellow backpackers and make friends with locals. 

Cons

  • First of all, expect less comfort than you’re probably used to from train rides in western countries. Toilets and sinks can be quite dirty and smelly. Similarly, cockroaches and other bugs may whizz over the floor. In addition chatty fellow travellers and the loud bumpy train might prevent you from sleeping. 
  • If you want to work, publish some photos on Instagram or chat with family members and friends back home, you should purchase a SIM card with data beforehand. Unfortunately there is no reliable Wi-Fi connection on board.
  • The ride takes way more time than a flight. So if you’re in a hurry, the train might not be the best option for you.

Hidden’s Thoughts

Even though it was a bumpy 17-hour ride with a few hours of light sleep, the trip was totally worth it! Riding a Vietnamese train felt like going back to a different era. Back when travelling was hard and somewhat uncomfortable. When the adventure you went through to get to an exotic place was a story to tell back home. 

The hardness of the trip makes you appreciate the destination more when you finally arrive. Because waking up in the morning and looking out of the window, rewards you with a beautiful jungle and ocean views. Therefore going from Hanoi to Da Nang by train is definitely the best option for backpackers and adventure-seeking travellers.