Traveling through Vietnam by overnight trains is a unique experience to have. They’re comfortable, safe, and an affordable way to travel throughout the country’s vast distance. Due to the “slow travel,” using the train is a sustainable travel option versus taking a plane or car. Plus, you’ll also get an insider view on how locals use the trains as a major form of transportation in Vietnam.
We had the opportunity to take an overnight train from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon/HCMC) to Nha Trang. The distance between Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang is 430 kilometers (267 miles) away and takes about 9 hours one-way. We went the comfortable route and booked the sleeper train for our round-trip. What we loved about our sleeper train was that we had a bed, pillow, and blanket for us to stretch our legs and get some rest.
While taking the train is easy, we’ve put together this Vietnam overnight train travel guide so you know what to expect on a nighttime train ride from HCMC to Nha Trang. We hope this guide will help your planning go smoother.
How to Book Your Vietnam Overnight Train Tickets
To get the best seats on the train, you must reserve tickets in advance. There are two options to book your tickets:
1. Visit the train station and buy the ticket in person.
2. Buy them online.
Visit the Vietnam Railway official site to reserve your seats. The site is available in English. You can also consider using travel agencies if there are difficulties with booking the tickets.
Note: During the Tet holiday season (Vietnamese New Year), many locals return to their hometown and take the train. If you plan to travel throughout Vietnam during that time, you must reserve your seat months ahead of time. According to the booking site, tickets were available for sale during the Tet holiday starting in October.
Things to Know When Reserving Your Overnight Train Tickets
1. Figure out your starting and ending location.
We started in Ho Chi Minh City’s Hoa Hung Railway Station station in District 3 and it’s one of the main hubs to travel throughout South Vietnam, Central Vietnam, or even up North. (You can take a train from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, yet it’ll take 33 hours one-way).
When booking online, find the search function on the left side. Add the starting (ie: Saigon) and ending location (ie: Nha Trang), dates of travel, and whether the travel is a one-way or round trip
2. Determine your seating arrangements.
As you can see from the booking website, the fares vary depending on the seating arrangement and the time of departure. The choices are:
- Hard seats with air conditioning – Seat arrangements are 2 seats on each side. These are the cheaper seats. From Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, the cost starts at 190,000 VND ($8.20 USD) per seat.
- Soft seats with air conditioning – Seat arrangements are 2 seats on each side. From Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, the cost starts at 369,000 VND ($15.90) per seat.
- Sleeper train cars with 6 beds with air conditioning – There are three beds on each side. Depending on the time of departure, the 6-beds are reserved for longer train durations such as Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi.
- Sleeper train cars with 4 beds with air conditioning – There are two beds on each side. These are the more expensive seats. From Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, the cost starts at 690,000 VND ($29.60). We spent 1,311,000 VND ($56.30) per person for a round-trip ticket in October 2020.
Our Recommendation: Sleeper Train with 4 Beds
If you have the budget, we recommend that you pick the night train arrangements that have 4 beds versus 6 beds. This accommodation would be perfect for those traveling in a group.
Each of the cars has an individual bed, pillow, blanket, water bottle, and a sliding door for privacy. The beds are a thick foam mattress and are comfortable. It looks like the bedding is changed at the final destination. When we arrived at our room, the blanket was folded and the pillowcase smelled clean.
The individual cars have an air conditioning unit, lights, and PA speakers. The temperature for the AC unit cannot be changed so it does get cold in the room. You can wrap yourself with the blanket or wear a jacket. The person sitting on the top bunk (upper berth) usually controls the lights and speakers and turns them off once the train departs.
Insider Tip: Choose the bed on the lower level (lower berth) as it’ll be easier to leave the room.
The beds do not have a ladder, unlike a typical bunk bed or even on sleeper buses. There is a foot step against the wall. It’s in an awkward position since the person on the top bunk will need to step on the lower bed and the foot step to get to the bed. Therefore, elderly people or those with leg injuries should not book the top bunk. If you’re on the bottom bunk, hopefully, you aren’t too picky with having someone step on your bed!
As with the luggage, there is storage underneath the bottom bunk. This would be enough space if you have a rolling luggage. If you’re on the top bunk, then there is storage at the foot of the bed. Otherwise, you may consider traveling light with a duffel bag or backpack.
3. Once you’ve chosen your seating arrangements and then proceed with the check-out for payment.
You will need to complete your full name, passport number, and email address.
Payment is currently available with credit cards and banking with Vietnam banks. Or, you can pay later at the stations or ticket agency of Vietnam Railways. If this is an issue, you can ask your Vietnamese friends for help.
4. Print a copy of your ticket since you’ll need it for boarding.
The customer service agent will scan the QR code on the ticket at the entrance gate.
What to Do on the Night of your Train Departure
1. Bring a copy of your ticket and your passport.
2. Arrive at the train station at least 30 minutes before departure.
Depending on your starting location, it’s recommended to arrive at the train station early. Grab a seat in the seating area or buy food and drinks at the local marts. If the train arrives early, you’re welcome to enter the train carriage to relax before departure.
3. Use the bathroom at the train station.
We recommend that you use the toilet before you board the train. The toilets on the train are smelly.
What to Pack on your Overnight Train Ride
If you’re planning to get some rest or are a light sleeper, it’s recommended that you bring the following items:
- Earplugs and eye cover – While most people will be considerate of noise in the middle of the night, the outside train noise may bother you.
- Noise-canceling headphones – You may need these if you need music or a podcast to drown out the outside noise.
- Portable charger – While the sleeper trains have electrical outlets, it may be broken.
- Light snacks and water – You may get hungry during your car ride.
- Toilet paper or tissue – Always have an emergency toilet paper or tissue stash when traveling throughout Vietnam. Many places don’t offer toilet paper.
- Mask – Due to the current travel situation, it’s recommended to wear a mask on the train.
Other Helpful Tips with Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang Overnight Train
- Ho Chi Minh City’s train station has a Lotteria and convenience stores to buy snacks and drinks.
- Due to the evening departure, there won’t be much of a view once you leave Ho Chi Minh City area. However, you’ll see the rolling hills when you wake up and arrive in Nha Trang.
- When we took the train from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang, we noticed that the overhead speakers did not mention the names of the upcoming train stops. This may be an issue if you plan to stop at the smaller station. On our return trip, the overhead speakers announced the station names in Vietnamese as we arrived closer to Ho Chi Minh.
- Nha Trang’s train station is within the city so it’ll take about five minutes by car to get to the main street, Tran Phu, and Nha Trang Beach area.
- Once you arrive at Nha Trang, there will be swarms of taxi drivers waiting to give rides. You can also pre-arrange a car with your accommodation or use the Grab app to call a car.
Related: Check out other helpful apps to use during your Vietnam travels
Would we ride Vietnam’s trains at night again? Yes, we would! It’s a comfortable ride, even though we didn’t get much sleep. It’s a cheap way to travel if you have more time in your Vietnam itinerary and a way to save the cost on a night in a hotel room.
If you’re headed to Nha Trang, check out our posts to help you plan your trip.
- Visit VinWonders Nha Trang (Vinpearl Land Amusement Park) theme park
- Relax at Hon Tam Island for the day
- Experience a mud bath at I-Resort
Enjoy this post? Save it to your Vietnam Pinterest board.