Coastline of central Vietnam

Taking the train is an experience you must have when visiting Vietnam.  Da Nang to Hue on the train was one of my most memorable trips in Vietnam.

The train is a fantastic way to see this undeniably gorgeous stretch of coastline and it’s affordable.

It’s relatively easy, so let me tell you the best way to do it!

I absolutely love trains.  The sounds they make, the side to side and typically jerky motions, and the horrible food they serve from rickety little carts.  Vietnam has a pretty extensive train system that stretches North to South from Hanoi to Saigon and stops at all major tourist cities in between.

In Da Nang, I finally decided to hop on the train.  I was headed to Hue, which is about a 3-hour train ride and I had read that this stretch of track has some of the best views.

My favorite part about this train ride was that it covered much of the same terrain as the Hai Van Pass which I had ridden via motorbike the day prior.  Knowing what beauty lie ahead had me excited to take in the fantastic views without having to focus on the road.

I had stopped at the train station in Da Nang a few days prior to purchase my ticket.  Generally, I try to skip booking anything online in Asia because something always seems to go wrong.   Buying straight from a human always seems to work out best for me.

HOW TO SCORE TRAIN TICKETS

The Da Nang train station is awesome with a giant old locomotive as the centerpiece.  I was a little confused finding the ticket booth because it’s in a separate building to the left.  However, when I did locate it I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and effortless it was to purchase my ticket.   

What I failed to think about at this point was specifying that I would like a window seat, but luck was on my side and I got one anyway.  I’m positive it wouldn’t be the same in an aisle seat.  So keep that in mind, because the views were so visually stimulating that my face was glued to the window the entire ride.

There are a few different options for seating.  The cheapest being a hard seat with no air-con, which both those things sound horrible to me.  So, I opted for the soft seat with aircon which was double the price but was still only $4.50 USD.   

 

Old locomotive outside the train station in Da Nang, Vietnam

WAITING FOR THE TRAIN

That morning I decided to huff it to the train station because it was only a 15-minute walk.  I stopped for a banh mi and an ice tea and still made it to the station early, cause that’s how I roll.

I was happy to be early because the small waiting room filled up fast and seats became limited.  They have a few AC units but they are older than my grandpa and it started to get pretty stuffy in there. Especially when the train was delayed for almost an hour.

I sat and read my book and soon an adorable local family came and sat next to me.  The mother had great English and was chatting with me while her daughter hid behind her.   We talked about where her family was from, as well as, my travels and every time there was an announcement she would translate it to me.   

When the train finally arrived she signaled for me to follow her as if I was one of her ducklings now.  These little acts of kindness are so heartwarming and one of my favorite parts of traveling solo.

FINDING YOUR CART

Should be easy, right?  Well, actually finding my cart and seat was a little confusing.  I kept showing my ticket to people and each attendant just kept pointing to the next cart.  No one was explaining to me which one I was actually supposed to get onto.

So I would wait in the line at a cart then when I got to the front and handed my ticket to the attendant they would point to the next cart.  This happened three times before finally the 4th cart was mine and I was the last person to board.

Finding my actual seat was also a challenge because the seat numbers are on tiny little metal plaques attached to the seat in front of them.  Which is quite hard to see, especially when the cart is full of people. 

When I did locate my seat, the young guy next to me helped me shove my big backpack into the overhead compartment, which had no railing and was really insecure.  I was a bit nervous that it would come crashing down during the ride and crush the fragile little lady in front of me. 

Luckily, this is a happy story and that never happened.

Interior of A Vietnamese Train
Vietnam Coastline from Train

ENJOYING A RIDE WITH BREATHTAKING VIEWS

The young guy next to me was an absolute gem of life.  He was from Da Nang but is a student at the University in Hue, studying to be a doctor.  Over the weekend he had gone home to visit his family and was on his way back to school.

He spoke decent English and gave me tons of advice on where to go in Hue and even offered me a bit of a history lesson.   We didn’t feel the need to talk the whole ride, which was nice.  Sometimes I just want to listen to music, enjoy the view and not talk to anyone.  It was great that he offered me a good balance.

The ride was absolutely spectacular!  My seat was on the right side of the train, which was perfect because it faced the beach and ocean the entire time.  I think the experience would be completely different if you sat on the left side because you would get more hills, valleys, and villages as your view.  Which wouldn’t at all be bad, but I prefer the ocean views. 

Watching Da Nang city disappear while we headed North was amazing as we scooted past stretches of deserted secret beach coves.  I couldn’t help but wonder how long it will be until some resort is plopped on these beaches.  The train follows the coastline the entire ride with some of the most spectacular views.

View of Da Nang from the Train to Hue

FUN STOPS ALONG THE WAY 

The train made several stops, actually maybe only 4.  Most were quick little 5 minute stopovers, for whatever reason, I don’t know.  I didn’t see anyone getting on or off on these stops.   

There was one long stop where we stopped for about 30 minutes for no apparent reason. 

I think it was just for the vendors because there were several women who got on selling anything from noodle dishes to crispy pig ears.  I passed on both.

Towards the end of the ride, we hit a nasty rain storm.   Out of nowhere, the sky was engulfed in giant black and grey clouds.  One minute there were clear blue skies, the next minute we’re in the middle of a monsoon. 

It’s very fascinating how storms blow through in the tropics and I’m a sucker for a good storm.

Rain Storm from Train in Hue

It was still raining when the train arrived in Hue.  My new friend was so sweet and hailed me a cab and negotiated a fair price in Vietnamese before we parted ways.

I typically would have just walked but I don’t walk in the rain, especially not with 2 backpacks.  If that makes me a princess, then so be it.  The homestay was actually quite far, so it’s a good thing I took a taxi.

I stayed at Shark Homestay which was down a little side alley off the main street that runs through the little city center.   It ended up being the perfect location with friendly staff and a decent breakfast each morning.  At $4 USD it was bang for the buck here folks.

I don’t know why you would want to take any other route after reading this lovely report.  But who knows, maybe you’re afraid of trains.  So, below are a few more options on ways to get from Da Nang to Hue.

OTHER WAYS TO GET TO HUE

Distance from Da Nang to Hue

It’s about a 58-mile trip.  If you hire a car or take the bus it should take you about 2-3 hours depending on time of day and traffic.  Here are your other options for travel

Da Nang to Hue By Car

This route is 1) the most expensive and 2) the least beautiful.  You skip the Hai Van Pass and take the tunnels instead.  Which makes you miss everything spectacular about this stretch of road.  But it’s possibly the most convenient?   

Price for a private car– $50 USD

Check this website if you’re interested in going this route.

Bus From Da Nang To Hue

If you want to take the city bus into Hue then you will want to head down to the Center bus station to get times and tickets.  This route also takes the tunnels and is probably the slowest option.

Address for Center bus station– 201 Ton Duc Thang, Hoa An Ward, Cam Le District, Danang City, Vietnam

Price for the bus to Hue– $2.50- $3.50 USD depends on the time of day.

 

Rent A Motorbike and Ride The Hai Van Pass

If you’re not wanting to take the train and are looking for an exhilarating adventure, then I suggest you rent a motorbike and ride from Da Nang to Hue on the Hai Van Pass.

It’s breathtaking and was made famous by BBC’s Top Gear.  I rode from Da Nang to Hue and back and loved every minute of it.

There are several companies that do one-way bike rentals.  Where you would rent in Da Nang and drop off in Hue.  If you want to look into this option check this website for more info.

Do bear in mind, that if you do this as a one-way trip, then you need to carry your own luggage.  Which is very doable and the rental companies will help you with tying down your bags.

HIRE AN EASYRIDER

This is a fun and unique type of transportation.   An easy rider is someone who drives you from point A to point B on a motorbike. 

They are equipped to carry all your luggage ( I had 2 backpacks), they are prepared and will keep your things dry if it rains and they take care of all the details.  You just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.  This was my favorite and most memorable experience in Vietnam. 

I didn’t take one into Hue, but I know you can.  I took a 2-day ride from Mui Ne to Da Lat.   These rides cost roughly around $60 USD per day, with food, gas, and snacks all included.

ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HUE

When you arrive in Hue, then you’ll want this ultimate guide with everything you need to know about this beautiful city full of history, culture and delicious food.

Now you’re in the know and I hope you have a great time no matter what route you take.  If you enjoyed my story then please share on your favorite social networks.  

With much love,

Julie

SHARING IS CARING