Since till 30th June 2016 there's an
agreement between Italy and Vietnam about no visa
requirement for Italian Citizens entry Vietnam if
staying less than 15days and reentering the country
not before 30 days.
Be prepared to deal with huge amounts, not
because Vietnam is expensive but because for most
of the countries 1 Dong will be equal to several
thousand unit of your currency. For instance 1€=
I used Lonely Planet 10th edition in
Italian (Nov 2014)
We did not take any vaccination or prophilassis
neither for us nor for our 3yo daughter.
As concerns the risk of Malaria on the coast during
the winter time is negligible.
We paid attention to what we were drinking (always
bottle water and no ice) and we wash often the hands
to our daughter with disinfectant wipes.
At the end luckily our 3yo daughter did not have any
- Check carefully on the net:
- the Vietnamese railway website: https://vietnam-railway.com/
- the worldwide trainschedules in http://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm#.VuZz0PkrLIU
- Is it more convenient to fly or to take
If you compare from a cost/time benefit flying
will turn out more convenient (ie: Danang-
HoChimin by train 60$ in 15h, by flight 100$
However from the travel standpoint taking
the train you'll experience far more the country/people
than on the flight, that's why I really reccomend
to experience the train.
- How long Hanoi- Ho Chi Minh takes?
Assuming you want to do in just one shot it'll
take 35-40h according to the trains you'll
- Which is the most unconvenient leg you
did as concerns the schedule?
While Hanoi to Danang is very conveninent
having a train leaving Hanoi at 7.00 pm and
arriving in Danang at 11.00am,
I cannot say the same for the Danang- Ho Chi
Minh leg since the trains leave late in the
evening to arrive in the middle of the day.
- How many trains are there?
Be aware that most of the trains to the full
leg Hanoi- HoChiminh, implying that:
- if you need to do get on and get off in
intermediate towns the timing might be unconvenient
(ie: 4.00 am)
- trains will be easily full even if the leg
you are interested is not popular
1) First class: 2 bed berth (Livingstone
2) Soft bed: 4 bed berth
3) Hard bed: 6 bed berth
4) Hard seats
The best bed is the lower one (also the
In the berth A/C is freezing so the best
is to have a tape to close the A/C slots
above your bed.
On the train you won't find that much to
eat so bring your own food
About buying train tickets:
I've never tried personally but I've read
several complaints about people trying to
buy them on line unsuccessfully. It seems
the Vietnamese railway websites accept only
Vietnamese credit cards.
Once in Vietnam the options are the station
or the travel agencies.
If you are told by an agency that a train
is fully booked try at least another one.
NB: IF TRAVELLING IN HIGH SEASON BUY THE
TICKET AT LEAST 6 DAYS IN ADVANCE
- How to reach Cat Ba Island from Hanoi?
First of all DO NOT take the 15USD package offered
by all the agencies and by the hotel in Hanoi!
You'll find yourself on a bus for 3 hours to reach
Haiphong than another 1 hour bus trip to get to
an harbor placed in the middle of nothing. As
third step on a shitty boat for another hour to
arrive in a rundown dock, and finally again 1
hour by bus to be dropped in Cat Ba town. Much
faster, cheaper and comfortable is the train that
takes 2.5h from Hanoi to Haiphong; from here the
speed boat that in 1h will bring you directly
in the heart of Cat Ba city. (check the train
latest schedule (Hanoi- Haiphong) in internet)
- GENERAL TIPS:
- If you decide to visit in the north of Vietnam
in December and January be aware that it'll be
cold and rainy. Bring the right outfit to cope
with such weather.
- In Vietnam there's a wide choice
of night buses and in particular I got surprised
by a VIP sleeping bus we took to reach the Can
Tho from Saigon with a bed/seat layout I had
never seen so far. Tilting seats that becomes
beds set in a two deck lay out
The only downside is the Vietnamese length of
such beds that won't make you enjoy it if you
are taller than 160cm
- Is it better Hanoi or Ho Chi Min?
I far preferred Hanoi since more traditional
than the cosmopolitan Ho Chi Min, but an expat
will say exactly the opposite. In the capital
you will find more highlights (Ho Chi Min museum
and mausoleum, the water puppet show), while
his southern counterpart more night life. The
thumb rule is, as I read once, 'Hanoi is for
the day, Ho Chi Min for the night'
- About Ho Chi Min:
Ho Chi Min mausoleum in Hanoi opens only in
the morning till 10.45am
Ho Chi Min museum (next to the mausoleum) is
unremarkable unless you have a guide; you can
hire one but only in the morning.
- Don't miss the Caodaist temples: this is a
sect merging several religions as Islam, Christian,
Buddhism,.. and worshipping among others Shakespeare,
Giovanna D'arco, Victor Hugo. The main temple
is 2h from Ho Chi Min, but there are also others
as the one in Danang. You can attend the prayer
as I did and it's an interesting experience.