Situated in Southeast Asia on the South China Sea, the country of Vietnam is well known for its rivers, beaches, lively cities, and Buddhist pagoda temples. It is full of French landmarks from the colonial period, museums of war history, and Cu Chi tunnels that were used by the Viet Cong soldiers who gave the marines from the United States a tough time. Hanoi is its capital and it has a huge mausoleum made out of marble as a tribute to its iconic leader, Ho Chi Minh.
I was fortunate enough to explore the beauty of Vietnam some time ago, and I decided to take in the sights while travelling by train. I remember approaching Asian Travel and Tours in Hanoi, the group that took care of all my Vietnam train bookings. The Classic Vietnam Train Tour is an unforgettable rail journey from Hanoi to Sapa and all the magnificent northern parts of this country. This entire journey is courtesy of Vietnam National Railways, who have done a lot to advance rail transportation in the country. I took the Reunification Express and I managed to bag these tickets at promotional prices from Thailand, where my wife was posted as Deputy General Manager, VFS Global.
Looking back at my Vietnam visit today, I am happy to have travelled and seen the countryside by train. The rail journeys were comfortable and the train bogies were cleaner and more spacious than what we typically come across in India. I travelled in modern air-conditioned cars with berths for comfortable overnight rides. The carriage was equipped with a small television screen that played documentaries by the Discovery Channel.
Travelling by trains, I realised that Vietnam is a land of rich and natural beauty that was destroyed by unrest and wars in the 1960s. 50 years later, I managed to experience the picturesque scenery of the whole country at affordable rates; it was much less than flying, going by bus or renting a car. The major routes I covered were between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with stops along the way at Hue, Nha Trang, and Da Nang.
The train journey between Hue and Da Nang was exciting. The view was stunning, as the train goes by the ocean and the track meanders through some very high cliffs. I could not stop staring out of the window the entire time. I also remember passing through some hidden beaches. The view, as we moved along, also included palm trees, rice fields, and water buffaloes. It is not an ordinary sight at 35,000 feet above sea level. The trains run along the South China Sea, snaking through jungle-covered cliffs past the beaches and heading through green and lush mountains through the famous Hai Van Pass before reaching Da Nang. This pass is well-known in Vietnamese as Deo Hai Van, which means an Ocean Cloud Pass.
People who are interested in exploring the natural beauty and cultural wealth of Vietnam can look forward to one of their best vacations and most spectacular travel adventures. I also believe that you simply cannot take in the beauty of this place if you depend on air travel; your journey would be incomplete without travelling by train. – Tahseen