Sustainable Tourism led me to get on a train & It is the best journey I’ve ever come across!

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Photo of Sustainable Tourism led me to get on a train & It is the best journey I’ve ever come across! by Japleen Kaur

Vietnam has a lot of secrets – some well kept, others shared by many. And I happened to witness its most beautiful one in flesh. To move towards a more sustainable approach while travelling, my boyfriend and I decided to ditch the flight and take a train from North of Vietnam to the Central region. Till date, it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Photo of Vietnam by Japleen Kaur

We booked our tickets online about 20 days before the trip so that we can get seats. Since it was a 17 hour overnight journey from Hanoi to Da Nang, we chose the sleeper cabins of Violette train to spend the night in comfort. We splurged about Rs 5,000 each but you can also opt for cheaper chair car cabins if budget is a constraint. The train journey was almost double the air fare but God, was it worth it!

Our train left the station sharp at 10 pm, showcasing the city lights in the window frame. It took us through the tracks running in the middle of the road for everyone to enjoy the view.

Photo of Sustainable Tourism led me to get on a train & It is the best journey I’ve ever come across! by Japleen Kaur

The cabins were smaller than what trains in India have but that’s true about literally everything in Vietnam. What was on offer, however, were two bunk beds in each cabin with charging points, night lights, soft bedding, a basket of fruits and chocolates.

Soon the beverage and food carts started rolling in serving local junk food, pre prepped meals and even beer for as cheap as Rs 40! Yup, Indian currency will make you feel quite rich.

Photo of Sustainable Tourism led me to get on a train & It is the best journey I’ve ever come across! by Japleen Kaur

After talking to two European ladies in our cabin,we dozed off to the gleaming lights outside and well, to the noise of a rather loud group from Spain from the adjacent cabin.

When the morning light hit, I felt a little disappointed with the view outside but as it happened, I’d sulked too soon. Everyone in our coach got off at Hue which was two hours before Da Nang. It is one of the major cities in the central province of Vietnam and our destination too. Until then we’d encountered green farmlands but nothing that we had not already seen. Honestly, the ticket collector was rather shocked that we were not getting off at Hue, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Vietnam.

Assured that we were not making a mistake and that we really had to go to Hoi An near Da Nang, the ticket collector gave the green signal for the train to move.

Photo of Sustainable Tourism led me to get on a train & It is the best journey I’ve ever come across! by Japleen Kaur

Then on the window pane started a movie that was made up of dreams and yet more mesmerizing than them.

It started to drizzle a little and the hills in front of us turned more scenic and misty than ever. The train ventured through the hills and with every curve it took, our jaws dropped further. It was only getting better with each passing moment. Soon, the views opened up to the ocean and we were at the edge of ridges overlooking the beaches. With every turn that the train took, our hearts skipped a couple of beats.

Photo of Sustainable Tourism led me to get on a train & It is the best journey I’ve ever come across! by Japleen Kaur

We could now see a road parallel to the train with the ocean right next to it. Someone then told us that it was the famous Hải Vân pass that can be trailed by road as well. Although dangerous for two wheelers, a bus journey is recommended. The roads take sudden curves and the larger vehicles come at you with crazy speed, so it’s a fair warning to stay alert.

Photo of Hải Vân Pass, Lăng Cô, Phú Lộc, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam by Japleen Kaur

A leafy blanket came up next, giving us a glimpse of lush tropical forests that surround the villages closer to the border of Da Nang. Then came tiny villages with slant roof houses drenched in rain,a visual that still makes me smile when I think of it.

After an hour of shrieking with excitement and taking a million photos, we saw the city of Da Nang in the distance. Picture this – you’re on a hill, with the ocean right below you and a metropolitan city on the horizon. Straight out of a postcard, right?

Photo of Sustainable Tourism led me to get on a train & It is the best journey I’ve ever come across! by Japleen Kaur

It was around this time we got to know that there is a dining car in the train. After crossing nine coaches, we reached the tiny dining space. It was equipped with traditional, simple Vietnamese meals. For me, the entire train journey felt like I had been transported into a Hollywood movie!

Photo of Sustainable Tourism led me to get on a train & It is the best journey I’ve ever come across! by Japleen Kaur

Leaving the train was a tough task but well, we were equal parts thrilled to explore the beach town of Hoi An. In either case, the last two hours of the journey were worth every last penny that we spent on the fare. So take my word, travelling from Hue to Da Nang via this route, will be a memory you’ll cherish!

Clearly I’m a sucker for train journeys as magical as this one. Have you been on one? Have suggestions for me? Tell me in the comments below!

Or you can even write your own story, here!

All pictures by Abhinav Chandel

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