The Nha Trang to Da Nang train, was my first 14 hour train journey, from Nha Trang to Da Nang on the Eastern Coast of Vietnam.
However before I discuss the train ride, I’ll speak about my time in Nha Trang. I booked Nha Trang as I had heard about the Six Senses resort there and also because there was a Sheraton Hotel and as as many of you will already know I am a big fan of the Starwood Programme therefore I tend to stick to hotels within the group. I figured there must be a reason why these hotel groups have all built properties here so went to check it out and spend Christmas 2014 here.
Having come here after a long journey ( 3 Flights – From Siem Rep to Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang) I wasn’t in the best mood when I arrived and to find Nha Trang being like the Marbella of Vietnam with the bright lights and very cheesy bars filling the streets, I was quite taken back.
The Sheraton is on the main beach road in a high rise building although the pictures on the website suggested it was a more tranquil place. However it was far from this, it was full of families and tourists. It was approx. 150 USD a night for the basic room however once I got checked in, I had been upgraded to a suite (one of my 10 free upgrades I get every year as a platinum member of SPG). The room was nice and had a great sea view on the 20th floor, although even at that level you could hear the noise from the main beach road so I can only imagine how noisy any lower floors would be.
The Club Lounge though was a highlight in the hotel and was really well staffed. It had three slots a day for complimentary food and drinks, at 6-10am for breakfast, 2-4pm for afternoon tea and 5-7.30pm for dinner. If you can upgrade your room to a club room I would highly recommend it especially as there is little else to do.
One restaurant that I tried in Nha Trang was Lantern (located just 5 minutes cab ride from the Sheraton). It is a vietnamese restaurant that has a largely foreign clientele so the staff can speak good english, the menus are in English, and the price is very reasonable with the a main costing about 5 USD.
The most surprising thing though in Nha Trang was just how many Russians there were there, it has become a russian hot spot with daily direct flights to moscow. Even the road signs had the russian translations. Having recently returned from Thailand, I have seen firsthand how the Russians are taking over South East Asia and here was another example, the only thing that will halt this at the moment is the weak rouble against the USD as it makes the Russians Holidays twice as expensive.
If I’m honest there is very little to do in Nhn Trang. Also, if you are traveling around the country or region then there is really nothing to do as the temples and other monuments on offer are pale in comparison to other destinations. The only thing I can recommend is going to a Mud Bath/Hot Spring resort. The one I visited to was called I-Resort, and although it was a bit complicated to get to, the massage I had there (Hot Stone Massage) was one of the best I have ever had and the mud bath was really refreshing. I would suggest to ask for an older masseur as they are more experienced and thorough.
At the end of a few days in Nha Trang I decided to take a train to Da Nang. The train, as you can imagine is quite primitive, made up of 11 carriages, with the last one being used for the staff.
The carriages range from grim to ultra grim…well I am being quite harsh here. I stayed in a four man berth, where I managed to buy the other berths and get the carriage to myself for 2,500,000 V(currency) (which is approx $125).
There are also 8 man and 12 man berths, then quite decent normal seats and then there is a carriage that looks like its only fit for carrying prisoners.
Suffice to say if you can afford it do not go for those grim seats. Also if you are a westerner be wary of going for the 8 and 12 man berths as I was told the smells, noise and hecticness can be overwhelming.
The train actually starts in either Hanoi or Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) and takes approx 35 Hours between the two cities stopping at up to 20 locations. Below is a timetable of the journey.
I would recommend getting some food beforehand and take snacks on the train, as the train stops at the stations for only 5 minutes so there no chance to jump out and grab something so be prepared or consider doing a fast!
The toilets are manageable, especially near the 4 man berths, less so in the more congested parts of the train and the berths are fairly clean. In the 4 man berth they provide a sheet and a pillow so you can try and get some shut eye.
Adieu, Adieu ….Stormy