Whoah, nelly! Think trains and immediately ideas of comfort, speed and directness come to mind. It might be true for some of the train classes, but certainly not for us. Booking on the day before is rather risky, as it is not assured that you will have a place on the train. We managed to get two seats together in the lowest train class available to us at the time: Hard Seat, Airconditioning. This was the experience to allow us to do it like the locals and travel by train in Vietnam.
Saigon > Nha Trang
12hrs, 11:25PM – 09:25AM
We arrived at the Ga (I guess this comes from the French word gare, meaning train station) Saigon at around 23:00 – this allowed us time to find the platform and board the train. Carriage number 1 was right at the front of the train, so we passed all the different classes and could see the level of comfort in each carriage.
Right at the back of the train (furthest from the noise of the engine) is the Soft Bed, Airconditioning, 4 berth. Cascading down in comfort from there: soft bed, airconditioning, 6 berth; hard bed, airconditioning, 6 berth; soft seat, airconditioning; soft seat, no airconditioning; hard seat, airconditioning (this is where we were).
There is an attendant for each carriage, and they are waiting at the door to escort you to your seat. The carriages are clearly signposted, but if you get lost, just ask anyone on the platform.
On board, the locals tend to jump on at the very last minute. Our carriage was packed! But here are some shots while it was empty – notice the park bench style seating… yeah, real comfy!
Many of the locals had a rug or mat on the floor and lied down with their feet underneath the seats (so that the aisles were always clear). Even in the Soft Seat/Airconditioned section, many people opted for the floor.
After a few people disembarked from the train, the seat in front of us was empty – so Dale had the opportunity to stretch his longs legs while I watched Game of Thrones.