Day 31: Vietnam Railways from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City Part 2

Read Part 1 of the train journey first.

IMPORTANT: The information listed in this post is outdated.

My journey took place at the time when services to Ho Chi Minh City were distrupted due to a barge hitting the Ghenh Bridge in Bien Hoa, causing part of it to collapse, and I was required to transfer to a transshipment bus and train to reach Ho Chi Minh City. Services between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and all services operating to and from Ho Chi Minh City, are now operating normally.

We arrived at Bien Hoa on time, at around 4.30am. This was the last major station before the collapsed bridge affected train operations onwards south towards Ho Chi Minh City. This was the first break of my interconnected rail journey since I started from Sheffield.

As the train is longer than the platform, passengers on the far end, in fact on most coaches, have to disembark to the trackbed and walk on the ballast to the platform and exit the station there.

Luckily I only had my backpack and a front camera backpack. Imagine if you were carrying more bulky items like the locals in Hard Seat.

Exiting the station to board the transhipment bus. Seems that they stopped the train partially within the platform only, probably to ensure that there are no clashes at the exit.

The facade of Bien Hoa Railway Station, with plenty of taxi touts calling for passengers to Ho Chi Minh City, telling travellers, especially those that do not look local, that this was Ho Chi Minh City station or that there’s no onward train to Ho Chi Minh City. If you had wanted a fast ride, go ahead and fall for the trap, but the transhipment bus and following transhipment train is already included in the ticket. In fact, this procedure was clearly printed on the .pdf ticket, although in Vietnamese only.

Rows of seemingly never-ending buses parked along the side of the road from the railway station. The buses close to the station are full already, by the passengers at the front of the train (Hard Seat). Just follow the flow of passengers and direction of the many official railway staff. Buses parked in front will be boarded last, but depart first. There is no benefit to rush for the first empty bus you see, since the ones parked at the back would depart last.

Instead of a nice coach, I got a typical public bus pulled from regular service. At least there’s more aisle space for my bags on this.

My transhipment bus on arrival at Song Than Railway Station.

The transhipment train was already waiting for us.

The plate for the coach number is replaced with this for the transhipment train.

The facade of Song Than Railway Station as seen from the platform.

The interior of a Soft Seat car near the front of the train. The transhipment train was made up of Soft Seat cars only of varying types. I chose the front-most car as there were less passengers, near the locomotive and near the exit at Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) Railway Station.

I also found a power socket on the wall behind my seat, which was a bonus.

Crossing the Saigon River.

The train arrived at Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) Railway Station earlier than planned transhipment timing.

The D19E locomotive hauling the transhipment train, manufactured by CRRC Ziyang.

The locomotive heads to the headshunt to change lines back to the yard. The buffer at the headshunt is the true southernmost end of the line from the vast networks across Europe and Asia for now.

Exiting the platform into the station building.

The facade of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) Railway Station.

Price I paid from from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City: VND 1,693,000 including service and processing fees, booked through Baolau.
POSB charged me: S$106.15

If you are planning such a journey, or any journet in Vietnam, do note that the official Vietnam Railways website does not accept foreign credit cards for booking. Baolau has a similar booking system as the official website, including giving you the option to select your seat or berth. You can also book your tickets through 12Go Asia, but you will not be able to select your exact seat or berth.

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) Railway Station marks the official break of my journey from Europe and Asia. The next legs until the border of Thailand will be by buses as there is no railway line between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and the railway from Phnom Penh to Poipet and Aranyaphrathet, Thailand is still being reconstructed and rehabilitated.

From here, I got an Uber to the city, and my driver and I almost got walloped or potentially killed by the waiting “fixed fare” taxi drivers. I didn’t know what my driver and the rogue taxi drivers were arguing about, but I’m pretty sure it’s something about Uber terrorizing their business. Thankfully we made it away from the station safely.

IMPORTANT: The information listed in this post is outdated.

My journey took place at the time when services to Ho Chi Minh City were distrupted due to a barge hitting the Ghenh Bridge in Bien Hoa, causing part of it to collapse, and I was required to transfer to a transshipment bus and train to reach Ho Chi Minh City. Services between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and all services operating to and from Ho Chi Minh City, are now operating normally.

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