What kinds of classes are available on Vietnam Railways?
There are 3 main types of carriages: 1st Class Sleeper, 2nd Class Sleeper AC and 2nd Class AC Seats Only. Hard seats are available upon special request but it is not advisable for most journeys.
1st Class Sleeper
First Class Sleeper is the highest class on Vietnam Railways and each car is made up of 7 cabins with four berths. You will be provided with pillows and sheets and the cabin should have ample reading lights and electrical outlets. The berths are hardly luxury mattresses but you should be able to sleep without discomfort. During the day, it’s usual for people to sit on the bottom beds and trolleys with food and drinks will come by from time to time. There is luggage storage under the bottom bunk and a large space above the door for additional items. First class cars will have restrooms at one or both ends and they should be stocked with toilet paper and relatively clean at least for the initial departure.
2nd Class Sleeper AC
The 2nd Class Sleeper AC cars on Vietnam Railways have all of the same amenities as the First Class Sleepers except that instead of 4 soft berths in each cabin there are 6 hard berths. The hard berths might be a bit uncomfortable for some and there is not a lot of space between them which may lead to taller travelers feeling a bit cramped. As with 1st Class Sleepers, 2nd Class is always air conditioned, possibly too well air conditioned, so be prepared for that.
2nd Class AC Seats Only
2nd Class AC Seats Only are soft seats which can best be described as well used airplane seats. There will be limited luggage space under your seat or overhead and often tickets are sold for “seats” on the floor of the isle where people will sit on small stools. We do not recommend booking a soft seat for an overnight journey but for daytime trips they are perfectly acceptable. The cars will have a couple of power outlets spaced along the walls and toilets at either end. The toilets are separated from the air-conditioned part of the car and the area outside of them serves as a default smoking section. The bathroom is an Asian style squat toilet which is basically a hole in the floor. There will not be toilette paper so bring your own.