Vietnam has one of the few working train services in South East Asia. The rail service has a significant impact of Vietnam’s history, with the Japanese using it in WW2, sabotage of the tracks around the 1950s and 1960s.
Running 1726km from North (Hanoi) to South (HCMC) down the coast I feel that it is a rather good and reliable transport service to use in Vietnam. The other option for travel is a bus journey down/up highway 1.
There are day and night services, similar to Thailand, where you can get a range of seat options. The seats range from the cheapest option being a hard seat in a non aircon carriage to the pricey soft sleeper. Depending on the length of journey, time of day and budget the seat preferred will vary.
The first train ride we tried was from Ninh Binh to Hue. As it is a 12 hour journey, the best train time is to choose the night so able to sleep. But these get booked up early, especially on the weekends, so ended up doing the 12 hours during the day. But to see the stunning scenery of Vietnam is was a perfect option.
Attempt number 2 at getting a night train was more of a success, travelling from Danang to Nha Trang. We opted for the more luxurious soft sleeper beds, with 4 people in a cabin. Definitely a good option for trying to get some sleep. But be prepared for noise from people and the train moving!
When buying a ticket request the bottom bed as these are the more desired choice.