Thursday, 19th February 2015
Top tips for taking the Reunification Express
Vietnam's iconic Reunification Express snakes its way up the country and is a great way to travel. You can do its entire 1,726 kilometre route from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, or vice versa, in one go, or simply select a section of it to include in your itinerary and transport you from one incredible destination to the next.
If you do plan to travel on the Reunification Express, there are a few things to bear in mind.
The corridors of Vietnamese trains are very narrow, so trying to force large pieces of luggage down them can be very difficult. This is something that should be considered in advance of leaving home and it may be better to have two smaller, more manoeuvrable items of baggage than one large one.
Booking a berth or a seat
The first choice to make when booking your ticket for the Reunification Express is whether to opt for a seat or a berth. While travelling in a sitting position may save you money, it is not recommended for long journeys, such as the 30 hours between the two major cities. For a little bit extra you can lie down flat for the night.
When booking a berth for your journey, think carefully about whether you go for the upper or lower options, as you may need to get up and down on a fairly regular basis. Unlike trains in most other countries, there is no ladder provided to get up to the top bunk. Instead there is one solitary peg for support. Older passengers or those sporting an injury may find this a problem.
There are several options when it comes to keeping yourself fed and watered on a train in Vietnam. You can go native and bring things with you to eat, as many of the locals do, or opt to purchase dishes from vendors. Alternatively, the train itself has a catering section where instant noodles and drinks can be bought.
Purchase toilet paper in advance
Despite the impeccably clean facilities onboard trains that ply the Reunification Express, toilet paper is not provided to passengers. Be sure to purchase some before you embark, otherwise you face being caught short.
Look out of the window
One of the immense pleasures of travelling by train is the way in which it immerses you in your surroundings. Vietnam is a beautiful country and you can see so much of it just by looking out of the window. In fact, many of the typical everyday scenes that travellers wish to view on such a trip can be gleaned in this way.
Related news stories:
Understanding religious practices in Cambodia (9th July 2014)
4 ways to keep active in Laos (14th January 2016)
Vietnam's varied transport: more than getting from A to B (8th December 2016)
A checklist of delicious fruits to try in South East Asia (24th February 2015)