Reunification Express of Vietnam
First built in 1881, the Reunification Express is the trunk route throughout the north and south of Vietnam. Now the total length of Vietnam railway is about 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) and the 2,700 kilometers (1,680 miles) is the trunk routes.
Trains in Vietnam are narrow-gauge trains with a gauge of 1 meter (1000 mm), also known as "meter-gauge railways", which are still used in some countries and areas in the world such as France, Yunnan in China, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Malaysia. The narrow gauges in the Southeast Asian countries are basically the legacy of the French colonies times in the 19th century. Vietnam trains are divided into express trains and slow trains. The express trains have less stops and slow trains have more stops along the way. The average speed is about 60km/h.
Reunification Express between Hanoi and Saigon
The Hanoi - Saigon Railway route is about 1,700 kilometers (1,070 miles) long, which is a popular route for tourists wanting to travel between the two cities while enjoying the beautiful views. Trains with odd numbers (SE1, SE3, SE5, and SE7) are from Hanoi to Saigon, while those with even numbers (SE2, SE4, SE6, and SE8) are from Saigon to Hanoi. SE3 and SE4 are the fastest trains that could finish the whole trip within 30 hours, while others may take longer time, about 33 - 41 hours.
Along the way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, you will pass through the major cities like Danang, Hue and Nha Trang, on the train you will not only see the beautiful coast views, but also have a chance to cross over the small villages and the busy streets in the cities and towns. On board, you might stay in one compartment with the local Vietnamese, most of them are kind and quiet.
Luxury Tourist Trains
With better decoration and superior service, the tourist trains operated by private train companies are quite popular among independent travelers. However, the tourist trains are not available on all of the train routes in Vietnam, actually they are only some carriages attached to the Reunification Express on train routes like Hanoi - Sapa, Hanoi - Hue - Danang. When you got a ticket for the tourist train, the train number and schedule are the same as the relative Reunification Express. Another difference is that there are VIP cabins on some of the tourist trains, for VIP cabins, only two lower berths are set in one cabin, you will have a more private travel.
Most of the tourist trains are on the Hanoi - Sapa (Lao Cai) route. There are many different tourist trains attached on train SP1, SP3 (Hanoi to Sapa) and SP2, SP4 (Sapa to Hanoi). That means, there are several different kinds of carriages on one Reunification Express. More details below for your reference:
|Train No. for Hanoi - Sapa||Tourist Trains|
|SP1 & SP3||Orient, Livitrans, The Pumpkin, Fanxipan|
|SP2 & SP4||Sapaly, King, Victoria, Chapa, Laman|
Except the Hanoi - Sapa routes, Livitrans and Laman Express are also available on the route of Hanoi - Dong Hoi - Hue - Danang and Ninh Binh - Dong Hoi - Hue - Danang. The train number is SE19.
Livitrans Express on Hanoi - Danang line, Laman Express or Lotus Express on Hanoi - Hue line, Livitrans Express on Saigon - Nha Tran line. Also, tourists can take international trains to China at Hanoi, Gia Lam Railway Stations.
Reunification Express between Hanoi and Haiphong (Halong Bay)
There are also three pairs of Reunification Expresses running between Hanoi and Haiphong every day. The distance is about 102km (63miles) and the fastest train HP1 and HP2 takes about 2.5 hours for a single way. Halong Bay is one of the top destinations in Vietnam, however, there is no express way between Hanoi and Halong Bay, so taking a train is also an option for your Halong Bay travel.