Vietnam’s oblong shape makes traveling from south to north a truly long one. If you are exploring the southern part of the country and plan on going to the north, then you will most likely need to travel from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. Flying is the fastest way yet it’s also the most expensive option.
If you have enough time in the country, traveling overland is highly recommended. Sure, it will take a lot of time but there are lots of interesting stops along the way, making your journey even more exciting and fun. So here’s how you can travel to Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh by bus or train.
Traveling By Bus from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi
Traveling by bus is the cheapest way to get to Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh. These long haul buses are sleeper style and would travel during day and night. This option might be the cheapest but it’s the least comfortable. Aside from the chaotic road conditions, it could take 38 to 45 hours for you to arrive at your destination!
You can book a bus ticket from any of the tourist companies in Ho Chi Minh or at some hotels. They will usually come to pick you up at your hotel. However, you could spend several hours waiting in Ho Chi Min’s terrible traffic to collect some other passengers in the city. Therefore, always add an hour or two on the estimated arrival time in order to compensate for the traffic and the numerous stops along the way.
When taking the night buses, you’ll be sleeping in small horizontal bunk beds during the entire journey. While this may be a great way to save on accommodation, you cannot really expect to sleep comfortably during the entire journey. Aside from the terrible road conditions, drivers are fond of swerving and would constantly blow horns, making you unable to doze off. If you are someone who is prone to motion sickness, this option might not be suitable for you.
Traveling by bus from Ho Chi Minh is not really that bad. It’s great for those who are trying to save money on transportation and have ample amount of time to spend on their vacation in Vietnam. However, you cannot expect to enjoy utmost comfort when traveling this way.
Traveling By Train from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi
Just like with traveling by bus, traveling by train to Hanoi can take a really long time. But what’s great about traveling by train is that you’ll be treated to a scenic view of Vietnam’s countryside since the trains have wide windows. The trains might be showing some wear and tear, but they’re fairly comfortable, especially if you take the air-conditioned ones.
It is possible to travel from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi by train with no stops and the journey will take around 33 hours. Some travelers will choose to stop at some places along the way. For instance, if you wish to visit Hoi An, you can simply get off the train at Da Nang instead of going all the way to Hanoi. From Da Nang, you can travel by bus or hire a private car going to Hoi An.
The sleeper trains in Vietnam are available in either hard or soft varieties. Hard sleeper trains are cheaper but are a lot less comfortable. This train has six berths and you’ll be sandwiched in between people sleeping above and below you. On the other hand, the soft sleeper trains are more expensive but it only has four passengers in every compartment. You can place your luggage beside you for security and you’ll be provided with basic bedding. Although the soft sleeper is not luxurious, it’s way more comfortable than the hard sleeper trains, especially for a long journey.
It’s possible to purchase meal tickets for your trip and a set meal will be delivered to your compartment during eating time. There are also carts that sell food and drinks on board and where you can purchase decent meals.
Important Tips to Keep In Mind
It’s a good idea that you purchase your bus or train tickets in advance especially if you plan on traveling during the peak season. Transportation options between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi tend to get booked very quickly during holidays like the Chinese New Year and Tet, so better book your ticket in advance when traveling during this time.
Remember that there are a few cases of theft on overnight buses and sleeper trains so be very mindful of your belongings. Make sure you secure your expensive gadgets such as mobile phones and laptops before you go to sleep.
Although it’s possible to book your bus or train tickets through hotels and travel agencies, they would usually charge more for a commission. It is cheaper to book directly at the train or bus station. However, if you’re traveling during the busy season, it’s worth paying more by booking your tickets in advance.