Its a long way by train from Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, to Hanoi. If you did the 1,726 km journey in one go it will take you between 33 and 38 hours depending upon which train you take. That is a long time to be on a train and for this reason we recommend breaking the journey up into three parts to make it more enjoyable.
This article is about the first of the three sections which we recommend you split the journey into: Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, which takes a manageable 7 to 9 hours (not taking into account delays) depending on which train you take. Nha Trang is a pleasant seaside town with a popular beach and a fantastic temple (Po Nagar) and is somewhere you should add to your Vietnam travel itinerary.
Train Times from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang
There are currently 11 direct train services a day from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang.
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Train Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang
Trains from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, and thereafter Hanoi, start from Saigon Railway Station which is located to the north of the city centre and 3 km by road from the popular Pham Ngu Lao where most foreign visitors to the city choose to stay. Saigon Railway Station is a modern station with lots of facilities and English speaking staff in the ticket office.
Its a relatively short journey from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang so we recommend taking a day time train. The best option is to get an early start and take the first train of the morning departing at 06:45 and arriving in Nha Trang at 14:18 (Train #SE8). The early arrival time means you still have the afternoon to check into a hotel and see Po Nagar Temple before it gets dark, or alternatively chill out with a beer on the beach and do Po Nagar in morning when its cooler.
If you do decide to take Train #SE8 then book yourself a seat in a Second Class AC Carriage. These seats are relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of a sleeper berth which is a bit pointless for travel in the day time.
Second class ‘soft seats’ are comfortable. They are padded, with arm rests, they recline and have fold down trays like the one you find on an airplane. They are comfortable enough for a half day journey, unlike 3rd Class ‘hard seats’ which are wooden benches and get uncomfortable after the first hour.
The journey to Nha Trang starts with a slow winding tour through the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City taking passengers northwards over the magnificent Bin Loi Bridge.
Once you clear Ho Chi Minh City then you start to travel through wide expanses of farmland. Most of Vietnam is given over to agriculture, particularly rice and coffee production, and from the train most of what you see in wide open spaces with crops growing and the occasional small town.
Train #SE8 arrives into Thap Cham Railway Station at a scheduled time of 12:42. Make a mental note to look up from your book, phone or computer at this point and look to the left hand side when you get into the station. The picture above doesn’t capture it particularly well, but you get a great view of the Thap Cham Tower (a 12th Century Hindu temple) from the train.
From Thap Cham its about another 90 minutes before you arrive in Nha Trang. Sit back and relax. This is about the time the food starts coming out for lunch on Train #SE8 which will be brought around on trolleys having been freshly cooked in the kitchen attached to the restaurant car. Don’t believe any of the negative things you may have read about food on Vietnam trains, some of it is really tasty and nutritious.
Nha Trang Railway Station is located a short distance from the city centre and there are some good hotels within walking distance of the train station. It makes sense to stay close to the train station if you are planning to take another train onward Hanoi as that means you carry your luggage less far and it makes early morning starts easier.
A word of warning about Nha Trang: Nha Trang is a wonderful place but you may want to avoid staying right in the city centre as its full of package tourists with a different mindset and priorities to independent travellers.
Buy Train Tickets to Nha Trang
Use the Search Box below to buy your train tickets for the first stage of the journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi (Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang):
Location of Saigon Train Station
Saigon Railway Station in Ho Chi Minh City is located 3.7 km by road from from Ben Thanh Market.
Location of Nha Trang Train Station
Nha Trang Railway Station is located 2 km by road from Nha Trang Beach.