Back Travel » All Aboard the Languorous Train From Hanoi to Saigon

All Aboard the Languorous Train From Hanoi to Saigon

The train connecting Vietnam’s largest cities takes 35 hours. Yet even after the first time I finished the trip, I was already coming up with excuses for why I needed to do it again. For me, the journey is much more than a chance for great views and time to reflect. It’s an exploration of life itself.

Every time I take a train in a new country, I’m fascinated by the interactions and activities that occur within the carriages. Somehow, through all their quirks and oddities, they represent a microcosm of a nation’s wider culture.

Hanoi Central Train Station.

You see people meeting for the first time and forming friendships, long-haul passengers relishing the ride, and families reuniting or saying farewell. You see kids playing with their toys beside old people passing the time. You see men drinking beer together after lunch.

None of these things would seem out of place in any Vietnamese city. Here, they are framed by the windows and aisles of a slow-moving train, adding color to days that would otherwise be mundane.

Take a ride below:

Boarding.

Two men killing time.

Lunchtime in the restaurant carriage.

Thuốc lào time.

A staff member checks tickets.

Sleeping, resting, playing on phones in the carriage.

Kids playing together.

A child plays with his toy on a window sill.

The conductor's hat.

A young boy enjoying the view.

Related Articles

in Travel

Just 50km From Hanoi, Đường Lâm Village Is a Charming Historical Relic

If one were to strike out west from Hanoi and follow the Red River for some 50 kilometers, there they will find Đường Lâm Village — a quintessence of rural Vietnam.

Paul Christiansen

in Culture

Need a Sign From the Universe? Lương Hữu Khánh Street Has Every Color, Shape, and Size.

Saigon is filled with addresses you aren’t looking for, announcements not aimed at you and signs for businesses you have no plans to frequent. Sign street demands delving into the oft-ignored.

in Music & Arts

A Mosaic of Vietnam's Landscapes Through the Windows of the North-South Train

Traveling on the Reunification Express from Saigon to Hanoi feels like a ride through history and time.

Chris Humphrey

in Culture

At Hanoi's Thousand-Year-Old Flute Kite Festival, Melodies and Prayers Cross the Sky

Passed down by village forefathers since the Dinh Dynasty, Ba Duong Noi Village’s kite festival has become a source of pride for the local community. With three bamboo flutes attached to each kite, it...

in Culture

How to Make a Bamboo Basket Boat, as Demonstrated by Phú Yên Artisans

As part of the sweltering south-central coast, Phu Yen Province has cultivated strong roots in the arts of gathering and rearing seafood.

in Saigon

In a D6 Hẻm, Saigon's Last Remaining Broom-Making 'Village'

Nestled in a hẻm on Phạm Phú Thứ Street, District 6 is Saigon’s last remaining broom-making village.

Partner Content