planning a trip to Vietnam and are having difficulties
deciding where to go and what to do, what you cannot miss
and what to skip. From the feedbacks of our customers,
Tailormade Vietnam Holidays would like to recommend some
activities considered by travellers as must-do's when you
are in Vietnam....
Travel Hanoi to Sai Gon by train
Early morning in
Hanoi. The mist has gripped the station, the day soon rise. On the
court, the seventies and gymnasts will trot briskly to their
beneficent choreography. Departing on the 2 platform, travelers
asleep drag their boobs like balls. Under the yellow glow of sodium
lamps, the train crew is working SE7 : final preparations for the
big day in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).
A young controller glued to his cell phone ear address to a sweet
goodbye... like a sailor leaving port. Foghorn ghost ship rail emits
a long complaint, notify the laggards of the impending departure and
warned residents of his next visit.
At 6h15 precise train pulls into the roar of diesel engines. The
convoy through the neighborhood, brushing each side homes, lifting
machine, daily random magnitude earthquake. It runs along the Lenin
Park and then through the boulevards already loaded motorcycles,
past the Bach Mai Hospital and a siren sound means his farewell to
On the train, all agents are at their posts. In brief audio
announcement, the breakfast menu is declaimed : pho beef or chicken
soup traditional North, my xao, noodles, Chao gà, broken rice soup
The train goes south, begins his journey across the great plains and
along the Red River. At infinity, the great green carpet of paddy
fields unfolds, the bustle of the city are forgotten. On checkered
flooded lands for generations, women bend to the task under their
conical hat. Standing in the cold mud, accompanied by the spirits of
the soil, transplanting them with application. Between the rods in
the water mirror of the sky, the whole country is reflected.
The train gives the impression that the long morning never ceases to
rise. It takes us into the bucolic landscape of the country still
three rural quarters ( see the slideshow Landscapes of Vietnam, from
north to south). On the bunds between flooded fields, guards buffalo
roam slowly palm sugar announce crossing the province of Thanh Hoa.
Between dream and reality, villages such garlands parade of homes.
Architectures appear suddenly, like slides. Here a little wet blue
farm where a brushed yellow colonial house, later a gray building
charmless 1970s seat of any popular committee. North awakens, but it
must leave. En route to elsewhere, Annam and South and full of
promise tropics. At the end of Vinh, the railway goes towards Laos
and follows the meandering river Gianh. In the distance lies the
Annamite Cordillera, spine, natural barrier against which leans the
Sitting in a corner, Cung scans the landscape. Engineer living in
Vung Tau (formerly Cap Saint- Jacques, near Saigon ), it is for the
first time back to his native village, leaving twenty-five years
ago. " Twenty- seven hours to return home, it gives me time to
review the landscape. This is why I chose the train. The aircraft is
expensive, and then I want to see everything. "
History catches up with us in the first major central plains, the
former Annam. The edge of each bridge, each crossing the rice is
round, wedding concentric shapes pools. The bombs from the air have
left on earth a drawing that, despite the time, can not be erased.
Near the 17th parallel, we cross the Ben Hai River : DMZ from 1954
to 1975, she served as a border between the two countries, North
Vietnam and South Vietnam.
In cars hard seat, the seats are wooden. Tickets are cheaper half,
and the density of travelers is far superior. Crossing such a car is
like an epic. All access barred seems impassable. A tangle of feet,
hands, arms and body, sometimes on the benches, sometimes on the
floor on mats. Employees catering not intimidated.
In their warning, they commit their carriage between the seats ;
members, heads and tote disappear temporarily grunts characterized.
Here and there orders fuse ; tickets go hand in hand, which are sent
back goods and beverages : steamed corn, incubated eggs, beef jerky
and chili, yogurt, rice wine, coffee, tea... in wagons soft seat,
the atmosphere is air conditioned. One half of the seats look the
other : in the center, two flat screens documentaries broadcast in
loop and Hong Kong action films ( see the slideshow on the train,
with the Vietnamese).
Outside the dark. The head of the train finally announced the
arrival in Hue. After 13 hours of travel, the litany of iron stops
for a stop of calm and charm in the old imperial city.
Two days later, at 6am, back to the station rose to a fresh start.
The SE5 train from Hanoi restarts towards Nha Trang and the southern
beaches. Imperial Citadel, Perfume River, royal tombs, pagodas and
garden houses are arranged radius memories. The fuss rails gets more
beautiful. Dirt road, iron road, the two routes come together and
meet. The " mandarin road " described by Roland Dorgelès (On
mandarin road Kailash, 1997), has lost its charm. Rice fields have
almost disappeared in favor of shrimp ponds. The commercial activity
is grafted as a monstrous canker along the once enchanting axis.
The route of the train, it has retained its originality and allows a
unique discovery of landscapes untouched by the frenzy of economic
growth. To work around the neck of the Clouds, the rails are going
tightrope above the waves salted borrow tunnels to emerge on the
other side of the massif in the bay of Da Nang, the ancient Turan.
Here lay the land of Cham kings, Hindu culture, from the ninth to
the fifteenth century, dominated the center of the current Vietnam.
Reflected in the My Son Sanctuary, near Hoi An
Nha Trang, the main coastal city of Vietnam, is proud of its long
beaches and its sunshine. At the entrance to the station, the old
water tower is still there. It was used to power steam locomotives,
the last Pacific which linked Hanoi to Saigon, and were used until
the late 1980s.
When the train departed Nha Trang, it crosses a vast plain towards
Phan Rang. Tigers once roamed the forest here. We could hear their
groans from the station who terrorized the population. Since then,
large mammals and dipterocarp which served as their shelter have
disappeared, replaced by crops that enrich the region. Only giant
mango, guardians of the plain, still bear witness to ancient times
this land of plenty.
The station Phan Rang, Po Klong Garai temples are the last visible
vestiges cham from the train. Along the way, brick kilns and pottery
reminiscent of the technical specialties in which Cham artisans
Toan, 25, is controller for four years for Railway Vietnam. Saigon,
he takes the train every week to Hanoi and then returns four days
later. He works eight to ten hours straight and sits four or five
hours in the car reserved for staff where twenty controllers take
turns. The train is transporting all. Officials, soldiers, farmers
and workers prefer for travel because it is cheap and mostly it is
safer, the road is a place of carnage.
For foreign travelers, the train offers time for meetings. Asia is
not discovered in the air teleportation. The journey from Hanoi to
Ho Chi Minh City in two or three steps is a journey across the
country and seasons. While in the north, has barely begun
transplanting, the center, the green rice is already high and is
carried weeding and south, where the paddy is ripe and yellow, the
activity is centered on the harvest and threshing.
Before arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, the train is climbing tea
laterite. Along the way, planted like an army of soldiers at
attention you, rubber bare trunk show off their dark green foliage.
Ho Chi Minh City is finally announced. Passing Dong Nai River on the
cell phones of travelers come into action. The girls recoiffent,
adjust their clothing. Ho Chi Minh City has a taste of freedom. Of
all the northern provinces, people come here to pursue their dreams
of success, his fantasies of happy life. The city attracts capital,
loving energy and youth. As we approach the center, the armies of
motorcycles seem to converge towards a miraculous place.
Few minutes before entering the station, loudspeaker broadcasts a
song in praise of Ho Chi Minh while a voice welcomes travelers who
completed the 1726 km from Hanoi and wished them "good luck and
happiness " ultimate message to passengers of a ship approaching the
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