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I am going to Vietnam in August and was wondering does anyone have experience with the train system? There will be four of us so we are thinking soft cabins as they appear to be four berth.

Is it best to prebook the tickets and if so which company/website is safe to do so?

Is it best to bring food/drink on board with you?

Is there much problem with theft?

We have three train journeys to do first from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang then from there to Da Nang and finally on to Hue.

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    Did you already have a read through the Seat61 page on Vietnam? Only it would seem to cover much of this! – Gagravarr Jun 10 '14 at 8:45
  • No I missed that in my search I will have a look at it and see if I can delete/answer this question. Thanks – Lt_Shade Jun 10 '14 at 8:58
  • Book ahead if you can, trains can sell out. – Vince Jun 10 '14 at 9:08
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    It would be best to have an answer which linked to the seat 61 page, but pulled out the key bits of info - link only answers aren't generally liked – Gagravarr Jun 10 '14 at 11:26
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    As it stands, your question is very broad. I suggest that you read the Seat 61 page; then, if you have remaining questions, ask something more specific. – Gilles Jun 10 '14 at 21:40
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I can't answer the pre-booking question, but food and drink isn't an issue - it's purchasable in most big train stations as people make a living out of selling anything you might need. If you are reticent about buying from street stalls or if you want specific food or drink (selection can be limited), then bring your own.

We didn't encounter any problems with theft but we had our own four person cabin. It may be different if staying in a generally accessible area, in which case you should talk normal precautions for travelling in a communal area while sleeping assuming you're travelling overnight. If you're not travelling overnight, theft isn't more of a worry than anywhere else in Vietnam.

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In answer to the pre-booking bit of the question (and specifically ticket delivery) - DSVN now offer e-tickets, which can be printed out, and probably even shown on a mobile screen, although I didn't risk the latter.

With that in mind, it's probably best to prebook tickets if you can, it guarantees you a seat on the train you want to be on. If you're travelling around a holiday, prebook as far in advance as you can.

You've two, possibly three, recommended options for ticket purchase from Seat61.com - it's worth checking for updates there too.

First - the possible option:

  1. DSVN - the official Vietnam Railways site. The English translation is good, but they don't always seem to accept international credit cards. On the upside, you get to pick a specific seat and view live availability, something that I've struggled to see sometimes on Baolau. When it does work you'll get e-tickets, or perhaps the option to pick up tickets from a machine at the station.

And the definite ones:

  1. BaoLau - they're a year or two old now. They definitely accept international credit cards. And they definitely do e-tickets. They'll charge a small markup.
  2. Vietnam Impressive - a more traditional travel agency, they may well charge a bigger markup. I've no idea whether they do e-tickets.

I've had success with getting tickets from all three, but I've had significant delays in getting a reply from both of the agencies when I've been looking for tickets that are harder to find (soft sleeper on a short overnight journey - I managed to get them by booking on DSVN at exactly the right time).

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