Train SE22 is the Vietnam Railways service that operates from Saigon to Danang. Here is what to expect on this overnight service.
There are usually 4 trains a day from Saigon to Hanoi that offer different times for arriving in Danang. There is also a train that only operates on the Saigon to Danang section. Train SE22 is a useful train as it gets into Danang in the morning, so you get a full day upon arrival.
SE22 departs Ga Sai Gon at 10.35 and arrives at Ga Da Nang at 6:00 the next morning. These times are subject to change, and it has changed since I took this service.
The main problem with the North-South Railway is that it’s slow for long-distance travel. While SE22 is slower than the other services, its arrival time makes it a better service if you want to arrive early.
I have found that SE22 is most useful if you are getting on at Binh Thuan or Nha Trang. I got the train from Saigon to Phan Thiet and stayed in Mui Ne/Phan Thiet for a few days. I then got SE22 at Binh Thuan to continue my journey to Danang.
SE22 departs Ga Sai Gon at 10:35. This is subject to change so check the timetable for updates. SE22 eats up a whole day of travel, which is why I prefer getting on further down the line. This is not a bad option if you are a tourist going straight from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang/Hoi An and want some daylight hours on your trip.
Departing Binh Thuan
Binh Thuan Station is named after the province of Binh Thuan, and it’s the closest station to Phan Thiet. There is only 1 train a day in each direction for Saigon to Phan Thiet. For travel from Phan Thiet to any destination north you have to use Binh Thuan station.
SE22 departs Binh Thuan at 14:13, so you can check out of your hotel in Mui Ne at midday and get a taxi to the station.
[SE22 arriving at Binh Thuan.]
When I took the train the departure time was .15:02 from Binh Thuan.
[SE22 at Binh Thuan Station.]
I booked a bed in a 4-bed sleeper cabin. I prefer the lower bunk so it is good to book in advance to secure your preferred bed.
The mattresses are thin but comfortable, and they have a bottom sheet, blanket, and pillow.
The beds are crossways, and not lengthways like they are in Thailand. I am 185 cm (6’1″ in the old reckoning) and I don’t fit into the Thai sleeper beds. There is enough room in the Vietnam sleeper beds for me to not be touching the walls with my feet. The Vietnam beds are permanent, unlike the Thailand sleeper beds that convert into seats during the day.
I like the permanent bed option, because how often do you get to lie in bed all day reading a book? The cabins have power outlets as well, so can stare at your device all day without fear of a flat battery. There is no wifi though, but you should have already got a local sim card by now.
Here is the corridor of the sleeper section. The cabins are air-conditioned so I always wear jeans when I travel on the train.
The train has western-style toilets, so no need to worry about squatting. The cleanliness varies though. I bring my own toilet paper, just in case they run out.
There is also a separate sink area, so bring your toothbrush and bottle of water.
I shared the room with a nice Vietnamese grandpa until Nha Trang, and then a young Aussie guy got on at Nha Trang. The train departs Nha Trang at 16:29, so this train is a good option to go from Nha Trang to Da Nang as it’s like a night in a hotel.
I had a chat with my fellow Australian, read my kindle for a few hours, and I actually slept on this service for most of the way. I am notorious for not being able to sleep on trains, so this was a good trip for me.
Food and drinks
You will not go without opportunities to eat, though the menu is limited. If you have dietary restrictions then you probably already know to be prepared before travel in Vietnam.
A banh mi vender come through in the afternoon with crispy bread rolls and pate, with the option of chả cây (Hue-style pork sausage wrapped in banan leaf). I wasn’t expecting much, so I was amazed at how fresh the bread was. I wondered if the bread was loaded onboard in Saigon or along the way.
A dinner trolley goes through before sunset.
Dinner is a typical com tấm meal that you find all over Vietnam. This includes rice, meat (grilled pork or fish cake), and a vegetable serving. It also comes with a soup in a plastic bag, which is poured into your bento box.This was 50,000 VND ($2 USD).
There is also a drink trolley that comes through serving iced coffee and other drinks.
View from the train
The view from the train is mostly rural and it passes through smaller towns and villages, and stops at the capitals of each province.
The Southeast region of Vietnam is dominated by dragonfruit farms.
In the late afternoon the train passes through Ninh Thuận province, which has many wind and solar farms.
By the time the train gets to Nha Trang the sun has well and truly set. The sun rises early in this part of the world, so you will get views of farmland as you pass through Quang Nam province (the province of Hoi An). There is no station at Hoi An, so you must go to Da Nang for Hoi An.
Arriving in Da Nang
[SE22 at Da Nang Station.]
SE22 is scheduled to arrive in Da Nang at 6:00. While that sounds early, the sun rises early in Da Nang, and the city is well-and-truly awake by then. This is the last stop, so there is no chance of you sleeping in and missing your stop.
Da Nang station is in the city centre, so if you are staying in Danang then taxis are cheap. If you are going to Hoi An there is no shortage of taxi drivers offering their service. For some reason there is no coordinated bus service that meets this train for Hoi An passengers.
I was staying in Hoi An on this trip, but I bypassed the taxi touts and went to a cafe across the road first. I just wanted to sit down an have a coffee, and then I ordered a taxi to Hoi An on Grab. That cost me around $12 USD.
Baolau lists all of the train options for the day, showing the departure and arrival times for each train. By showing all these options you might find that another arrival time is more suitable.
You can also select what bed you want, so this is important if you want a lower bunk.
Baolau add a small commission (and I am a user and affiliate of this site).
Travelling by train from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi is a great way to see Vietnam, and a more memorable experience as tourist than just flying everywhere. I would break the trip up into small parts, but ultimately it depends on how much time you have.
From Danang, the next destination is Hue. The train from Danang to Hue via the Hai Van Pass is the most scenic section of the entire route, so consider this in your planning as well.