Tour Date: April 6 to 15, 2024Location: Vietnam

Following on from the phenomenal success of our private train around Cambodia in 2023 we are returning to this part of Asia again, this time to Vietnam.

Once the frontline between the opposing cultures of free-enterprise and doctrinaire state control, Vietnam is very much now up-and-coming.

Our unique tour around this country is by private train which will include a restaurant car. We will have many changes of locomotive and visit a lot of freight only rail lines as well as the main passenger lines.

DSVN have already started a program to re-engine the DLW built D13E to replace their Alco power units with MTU ones from other displaced D11H. Currently 3 have been done and 2 more should be completed this year with others to follow in 2024. These “blue” D13E are based at Vinh in the north of Vietnam and they work freights between Dong Hoi and Hanoi. They only get to work passenger trains during Tet Holiday periods when pretty much everything DSVN has is pushed into service to move the nation around the country. Since Covid-19 though the original Alco-powered Vinh D13E haven’t worked passenger trains and now only the re-engined ones see passenger service, with there now being a regular turn for them as well.

We will be using the Alco-powered D13E on our trip, on lines that they have barely, if at all, worked on, despite being route-cleared to do so. Part one of this trip is in the north to allow us to use the original Vinh D13E before it is too late. We also plan to use other classes to T&T the train where required and the use of a Baldwin D18E will be the first passenger working for the class in many a year.

For those who want to see more of this area with have a six-night culture add-on which includes a two day cruise.

Places in the restaurant car are limited so please book early if you want this option.

 

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Tour Highlights


  • Private charter train
  • On board restaurant car
  • Rare lines not usually accessible to passengers
  • Several industrial rail systems
  • Hanoi street railway
  • Great scenery
  • Culture add-on
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 0, Friday 5 April, 2024

Various flight options from most large airport in the UK to Hanoi via Doha, Dubai or Kuala Lumpur. Combined travel time of around 16 hours. Upgrades to Premium Economy can be arranged through PTG.

Day 1, Saturday 6 April (D)

Flight arrivals into Hanoi for road transfers our city centre hotel. Rest of the day is free for your own relaxation and exploration. Welcome dinner.

Day 2, Sunday 7 April (B, L*)

After breakfast we join our private charter train formed of carriages with opening windows and hauled by a D13E locomotives (ones with the original Indian power-units), top and tail. Setting off from Hanoi we head north east towards the border with China. At Yen Trach we reverse and take the freight only line to the coal mine at Na Duong. *Option for lunch on in the restaurant car (restricted numbers). After a short photo stop we return to the main line at Lang Son and onto the border station of Dong Dang. We have requested to run right up to the border on the Vietnamese operated track. We return to Lang Son (better hotel options) for our overnight stay. We anticipate an 08:00 start and to finish by 6pm. Transfer to hotel. Overnight Lang Son.

vietnam railway

Day 3, Monday 8 April (B, *L)                                                                                 

Our route today is Lang Son (departing around 09:30) to Gia Lam with *option for lunch on in the restaurant car (restricted numbers). At Gia Lam we take the freight only line to Van Dien via Yen Vien, Dong Anh, Bac Hong, Phu Dien, Ha Dong and back to Van Dien. We rejoin passenger line and continue to Giap Bat Yard where we change to different D13E locos. Leaving the yard we head to Bac Hong West Junction via Van Dien, Ha Dong, Phu Dien and arriving back into Gia Lam by 6pm. Transfer to hotel. Overnight Gia Lam (outskirts of Hanoi).

D13E Photo Hanoi Banner
D13E Loco

Day 4, Tuesday 9 April (B, *L)

Leaving Gia Lam (approx. 10:00) we head first to Quan Trieu and onward to Luu Xa. Here we enter the Thai Nguyen Steel Works complex, and we hope to be hauled by their CK1/CK6 locos. *option for lunch on in the restaurant car (restricted numbers). After our visit we return to Luu Xa and onward to Gia Lam for our overnight stay. We hope to arrive back at the hotel by 6pm.

Day 5, Wednesday 10 April (B, *L)

Today we head north to the border at Lao Cai. Approximately a 6 hour run from Gia Lam. *option for lunch on in the restaurant car (restricted numbers). At Lao Cai we have a D9E or D10H series locomotive to take us right up to the border. Return to Lao Cai for our overnight stay.

Day 6, Thursday 11 April (B, *L)

Leaving Lao Cai (approx. 09:00) we head south for an hour to Pom Han (with D13E leading). We enter the freight only Pom Han Complex with top and tail locos (CK1/CK6) within the apatite mine complex. Leaving Pom Han after our visit, there is the *option for lunch on in the restaurant car (restricted numbers). We head to Pho Lu via Xuan Giao Loop and back to Lao Cai for our overnight stay. We hope to arrive by 5pm but depends on how long our visit to the mine complex is.

Amazing,View,Of,Rays,Of,Sunlight,Illuminating,Green,Rice,Terraces
Terraced landscape in Lao Cai Province

Day 7, Friday 12 April (B, *L)

Leaving Lao Cai (approx. 09:00) we head south again to Tien Kien (lunch option in restaurant car) where we visit the freight only line to Lam Thao Phosphate factory. Our locos should be D13E and D10H top and tail. Returning to Tien Kien we head south again for our overnight stay in Gia Lam.

Day 8, Saturday 13 April (B, *L)

We have asked for our D13E locomotive to be swapped again. Leaving Gia Lam we head east to the port of Hai Phong. We have requested that our train, with top and tail with a D9E loco, goes right to the end of the port line (lunch option in restaurant car) . We will also visit the short branch to the Petroleum works. We return to Vat Cach and take the separate freight only branch down to the port. We return to Vat Cach and back to Gia Lam for our overnight stay.

A train travelling through a section of the Hanoi street railway
A train travelling through a section of the Hanoi street railway. We travel down this line TWICE on our special charter train.

Day 9, Sunday 14 April (B, *L)

Our final day will see us visit the freight only branches to Gia Lam Works (hopefully top and tail with loco D5H-057 in the works) and Duc Giang Petroleum then we run from Gia Lam to Hanoi via Long Bien Bridge (when trains are only permitted to run into Hanoi during the day, at weekends due to the amount of road traffic congestion caused by barriers being closed). We will then attach a Baldwin D18E to act as our T&T loco from Hanoi over the Thinh Chau, But Son Cement & Phu Ly branches and back to Giap Bat. As the D18E is not permitted on the Van Dien branches we will swap it for a D9E or D12E at Giap Bat before heading to cover the Van Dien freight branches and then back to Gia Lam to finish our tour of all the Metre Gauge rail lines in the North of Vietnam. We will return in 2025 to cover the ones to the south. Overnight in Hanoi.

A blue and yellow goods train pulling minerals crosses a steel bridge across a river in the highlands of Vietnam
Vietnam Industrial loco

Day 10, Monday 15 April (B)

Transfers to Hanoi airport for flights back to the UK or why not stay on and see some of the culture and natural wonders of this unique country.

Culture Add-on (unescorted)

We are offering a chance to stay on and see more of the Hanoi area. For this we stay 5-nights at the 5-star Smarana Hanoi Heritage – Hotel and Retreat. This was voted on Tripadvisor and the number 1 hotel in central Hanoi getting a perfect 5 out of 5 (on booking.com a 9.7/10). You can choose between a Deluxe King, King Suite with Balcony or even a Presidential Suite. Located in Cau Giay District, the city’s business center, the hotel is inspired by the art, culture, and beauty of Hang Trong folk paintings. From the hand-crafted furniture to the bespoke amenities.

Heritage Hotel

Day 10 (continued), Monday 15 April

We get picked up at your hotel in Hanoi Old Quarter and head to the sea. After about 2.5 hours, board a speedboat and ride to your cruise ship. Your room at the Hanoi Heritage is available for all 5 nights so you can leave the bulk of your luggage at the hotels for the night we are away on the cruise.

As you receive a safety briefing and introduction to the ship, sip on a delicious welcome drink in The Opera restaurant. Check into your cabin as you cruise out into Halong Bay before enjoying a buffet lunch. Next, explore the Ao Ech area in Lan Ha Bay. Go for kayak trip around limestone islets or swim in crystal sea water. At sunset, relax with a cup of tea and new friends, or indulge in happy hour with drinks, cake, and fruit.

Tourist,Junks,Floating,Among,Limestone,Rocks,At,Ha,Long,Bay,
Ha,Long,Bay

In the evening, learn how to make traditional Vietnamese spring rolls in a cooking class before enjoying a seafood dinner onboard. Spend the night at the panoramic bar with drinks or go squid fishing.

Day 11, Tuesday 16 April

Begin your day with a Tai Chi session, enjoying the fresh air and watching the sunrise on the bay. After your session, have a quick breakfast before choosing your itinerary for the day.

Either explore the Tra Bau area on a kayaking trip or visit the beautiful Dark Cave and Bright Cave on a local bamboo boat, or if you prefer, head to the Ba Trai Dao beaches and enjoy a relaxing day kayaking, swimming or just soaking up the rays.

At mid-morning, return to the cruise and enjoy brunch as you cruise back to port. Road transfer back to our hotel in Hanoi.

Day 12, Wednesday 17 April

Free day for your own relaxation

Day 13, Thursday 18 April

Travel by air-conditioned bus from Hanoi to Tam Coc and ride a Sampan boat to impressive caves. Experience local life as you pass through picturesque villages, explore ancient temples, and enjoy a Vietnamese lunch.

Visit Dinh king Temple and Le king Temple from the 10th century, and hear about the heroic histories of the two Kings during the Chinese Wars. At midday, sit down for lunch with Vietnamese cuisine at a local restaurant.

Continue to Tam Coc and take the sampan go (traditional river boat) along the Ngo Dong river to visit Tam Coc’s three caves. Option to climb 500 stone steps to see all the way to Tam Coc, and enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the countryside and Ngo Dong river. In the evening, return Ha Noi.

Day 14, Friday 19 April

Start your tour at the meeting point on No.47 Hàng Bông street, and head to a traditional restaurant specializing in entrees such as pillow cake, shrimp cake, Pho rolls, and spring rolls. Have a taste of some popular and classic Vietnamese dishes. Then head over to a local restaurant to try banh cuon (filled rice noodles) and watch as skilled chefs demonstrate how this tasty dish is created.

Next, enjoy pho (noodle soup), which is Vietnam’s most famous dish. But this is a new, different version, which is dry mixed Pho with a special sauce. Try the chicken versions and the refreshing taste will blow your mind!

And definitely don’t miss out on a Vietnamese traditional dessert called chè. There are both hot and cold versions for each season.

After several dishes, you will be full and satisfied. We transfer to the train street. Although train schedules show them to come daily, sometimes they do and sometimes not, so if you’re lucky, you may catch one and experience the huge train passing right in front of your face. While here, enjoy egg coffees at a nice shop trackside and experience the unique ambiance.

When you’re done with the drinks, transfer back to the meeting point where the tour ends.

Day 15, Saturday 20 April

Transfer to the airport for flights back to the UK or your home country.

Prices (per person)

  • Full 10-day holiday joining in Hanoi with lunches in the restaurant car each day on the special train: £2,595
  • Full 10-day holiday joining in Hanoi, no lunches: £2,395
  • 8 days on the special train (no hotels or food): £1,950

Supplements – subject to availability

  • 9 nights single use room: £220
  • Return UK flights from approx: £1,000 in Economy, £1,750 in Premium
  • 6 day culture add-on per person in King room: £1,150 (single use add £290)
  • 6 day culture add-on per person in King Suite with Balcony room: £1,250 (single use add £350)
  • 6 day culture add-on per person in Presidential Suite: £1,350 (single use add £410)

Deposits

  • £100 at time of booking
  • £400 (no flights), £1,500 (with flights) on 30 November 2023

Price includes

  • All tours and activities, entrance fees, as indicated in the program
  • Meals as indicated as B = Breakfast, L = Lunch in the program
  • Services of our tour manager. Rail tour (first 10 days) is escorted from Hanoi

Not included

  • Vietnam visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Anything which is not mentioned in the program

Online Booking

Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

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We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Recommended Flights (Qatar Airways)

BA123/QR976 15:30 Heathrow – Qatar – Hanoi (arr 13:45 ND)

QR330/QR982 09:00 Gatwick – Qatar – Hanoi (arr 07:20 ND)

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QR034/976 14:45 Birmingham – Qatar – Hanoi (arr 13:45 ND)

QR977/126 19:30 Hanoi – Qatar – Heathrow (arr 07:15 ND)

QR977/329 19:30 Hanoi – Qatar – Gatwick (arr 06:45 ND)

QR977/021 19:30 Hanoi – Qatar – Manchester (arr 06:50 ND)

QR977/031 19:30 Hanoi – Qatar – Edinburgh (arr 06:40 ND)

QR977/035 19:30 Hanoi – Qatar – Birmingham (arr 07:30 ND)

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