Currently, trains are the best way to get around Vietnam as they are safe, comparatively cheap while still providing comfort to its passengers. Most of them are also air conditioned. For someone who is keen on exploring the country then trains are definitely the best bet. It is one of the integral things in Vietnamese experience without which the whole idea of being to Vietnam cannot be apprehended.
· Overnight travel
The ultra-modern trains offer amenities for sleeping and these do prove to be quite useful. Taking a plane within the country would take less hours but the remote airports have nothing much to offer. Upon arrival at the destination one would have to book a hotel and pay more. The alternative would be to take a train and travel overnight a good example being a train from Hanoi to Hue. It took me 12 hours but there was a lot to watch and enjoy especially since the night was not so dark thanks to the full moon. It would have saved me 7 hours on the plane but it would cost me a lot more money to hire a hotel room which would not be much better than the air conditioned train in which I enjoyed a peaceful sleep and a delicious on-board cuisine and all for less.
· Reunification Express
In 1954 Vietnam was divided into North and South 18 years after the French completed the line connecting Saigon and Hanoi. This cut the connection between the two towns which were reunited on 31st December 1976 when the country was reunited. The railway reconnected Saigon and Hanoi and was thus called reunification express.
The first railway in Vietnam was established in the 1880s. This consisted of a regional line that connected Saigon (also called Ho Chi Minh City) and My Tho and a tram that connected the ports of Saigon and Cholon. It was during the reign of Paul Doumer as the Governor General of French Indochina (1897 – 1902) that the railway expanded in Vietnam.
Construction of the North – South and the Yunnan - Vietnam railways also begun at the same time with the North – South (Reunification Express) being operational in 1936.
The railway system in Vietnam is owned and operated by the Vietnam Railways which is a state owned venture. The total length of the railway network is 2,600 Kilometres with the principal route, the single-track Reconnection Express, accounting for 1,726 Kilometres. The meter gauge makes up most of the network taking up 2,169 kilometres with the standard gauge having only 178 kilometres of the network and the rest being mixed gauge.
Much as the trains are modernized now, they greatly remain under-utilized in Vietnam and account for only 4% of the freight transportation and only 5% of passenger transportation (2008 statistics).
The view in Vietnam especially between Hue and Danang is world class and I recommend it. It is the most spectacular natural thing I have seen to date except for the Southern lights .To date that remains to be the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
Author bio: Alice, a passionate traveler and blogger who shares her thoughts one various topics she came across. As a solo traveler shares her stories on many blogs. Presently she is working for Australian visa which provides an authorization to Australia.