Midnight train to Hué

See our gallery of photos tagged with “hue”.

Well, the train actually left Hanoi at 7p.m., but it was overnight and how could I pass up that title for the blog post? Anyway… Dan and I decided to take the train from Hanoi to Hué, which took about 12 hours in total. We had no real idea of what to expect, but had heard that food was hard to come by on the train, so we boarded with a bag of vanilla wafer cookies, two bottles of water, and four cans of Bia Ha Noi.

We found our assigned sleeper car with no trouble at all, and were very pleased with how clean and cozy it was. The only trouble: we had the two top bunks, but there were already three people occupying the two lower bunks. On one bunk, a man was lying down and reading the newspaper. On the other bunk, a man and a woman were seated and the woman seemed to be crying. We had no idea what was going on, but felt a bit uncomfortable barging into the tiny room with our packs. But that’s exactly what we had to do in order to get ourselves situated for the night. We never did find out what the deal was with the couple, but they both slept in the lower bunk for the night and then the woman was gone when we woke up in the morning. Who knows…

Somehow we lucked out in our cabin assignment, because we’re pretty sure we were in a first-class car although we had paid a standard ticket price. It was much better appointed (complete with fake wood paneling) and less stuffy than the other cars that we walked through, and they served us tea upon departure and provided toothbrushes and combs. There were also “western toilets” in the bathrooms and small sinks to boot. Although we did use our handy hostel sleep-sheets on the bed, it was really a very comfortable sleeping experience.

We knew about the decor of the other train cars because we had shared a taxi from our hotel to the train station with a German couple, and we visited them in their car for a beer about a half-hour after the train left Hanoi. All of the cabins in their car seemed to be full of tour groups, and the whole car had much more of a party atmosphere than our quiet and composed car. We had a great time hanging out with them, and made plans to meet up again when we arrived in Hué.

Later, Dan and I returned to our less festive cabin, brushed teeth, and got in bed to read at about 9p.m. Our cabin-mates were already asleep, so we ended up turning out the lights at 9:30 and going right to sleep. We woke up again around 6:30a.m., had some coffee, packed up our stuff, and were on the ground in Hué before 8:30a.m. All in all, a great experience and an efficient way to travel.