After our two months in the north of Vietnam it was time to head south, leaving Hanoi for the final time, and we had to do it fairly fast because we only had 3 weeks to cover the 1700km to Saigon.
Having travelled by train in every other country so far (except Nepal because there are no trains) we were determined to do some of it by rail. Trains in Vietnam are more expensive than the buses and bizarrely take even longer to cover the distance. I think they must go around 50 km/hr; speeds we were used to in India but seem really slow after Japan, Korea and China!
Anyway, we booked a sleeper train from Hanoi to travel 500km south to Dong Hoi, a small un-touristy City on the coast where we’d heard there was a pretty good beach.
When we arrived at Hanoi station we were ushered into the Foreigner waiting room, when we got onto the train we were on a Foreigner carriage. So not exactly the ‘travelling with the locals’ experience we’d had in all the other countries!
But it was comfortable, we were in a four person cabin with soft beds and lots of blankets. We shared with two Dutch girls who were interesting to chat to. The main benefit of it being a tourist carriage was that it wasn’t filled with cigarette smoke which was a bit of a treat!!
I didn’t sleep much though!! It was even more bumpy than Indian trains and so every time you dozed off a big bump would jolt you awake. Luckily the hostel owner in Dong Hoi let us into our room when we arrived at 7am so we could have a few hours sleep then!