To get to Hanoi from Nha Trang in Southern Vietnam there are various options available for you. The most popular option with travellers visiting Vietnam is to take the train overnight. If, however, you need to get to Hanoi quickly then flying is going to be your quickest option.
Other options include using ‘Open Tour‘ buses, which are also sometimes referred to as ‘Open Ticket’ buses, or if you are feeling very adventurous then you could attempt to drive the 1,394km (866 miles) north to Hanoi from Nha Trang but that isn't advisable because the roads, especially outside of the main cities, in Vietnam are generally not very good.
It is also worth mentioning that the road quality, distance and time it takes to travel from Nha Trang to Hanoi via bus or car does make this option much less popular.
Flights from Nha Trang to Hanoi
When flying from Nha Trang to Hanoi the distance is slightly less than by train or bus at around 1,083km (673 miles) and so it takes only about 2 hours, assuming your flight is on schedule.
Flight operators between Nha Trang’s Cam Ranh International Airport (CXR) and Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) include Vietnam Airlines, JetStar Pacific, VietJet and Hanhn Air Systems.
At the time of writing, there are 9 daily flights from Nha Trang to Hanoi with costs starting from as low as USD65 one-way. The earliest daily flight is about 7am and the last flight of the day is at 6.55pm.
You will also need to budget for the cost of getting to Cam Ranh International Airport, which you can do by either using a shuttle bus or by getting a private taxi.
Shuttle buses are the cheapest option at around USD2 and will pick you up from a pre-arranged pickup point (normally your hotel) to take you to the airport. The trip takes around 45 minutes.
A taxi is your other option and should cost you between USD12 and USD15. The best way to get a taxi in Vietnam is to simply ask your hotel to book one for you but be sure to confirm the costs with them first.
Once you have arrived in Hanoi, you will need to get another taxi to your final destination. If you are staying in the Old Quarter, which is about 35km from Hanoi airport, then this should take around 45 minutes and will cost you another USD12 and USD15.
From Nha Trang to Hanoi by train
Getting from Nha Trang to Hanoi by train is a very popular option and the North – South Express Railway, also referred to as the Reunification Express, departs daily from Nha Trang railway station - 17 Thai Nguyen, Phuoc Tan District, Nha Trang City.
There are two classes of overnight train from Nha Trang to Hanoi. SE trains which are more comfortable and the TN trains which are aimed at budget travellers.
SE trains offer air conditioning and a soft sleeper option whereas on the TN trains the only options are either hard sleeper or hard seat. It's advised that you choose a SE train as the TN trains can get very uncomfortable, especially on long overnight trips.
While the SE trains are a little more expensive, the cost is equivalent to a mid-range hotel room in Vietnam and you get a bed for the night too so they represent good value for money.
Each SE train sleeper carriage has between 5 and 7 cabins and a communal shower room with a toilet at the end of the carriage. Cabins are either 4 or 6 berths, which means they can sleep either 4 or 6 people. Additionally, each cabin comes with pillows, blankets, a TV and either a fan or air-conditioning. Luggage space is provided under the bottom bunks in both types of cabin.
There are 4 SE trains that depart Nha Trang railway station daily for Hanoi, namely, SE2 at 3.25am, SE4 at 5am, SE8 at 01.30pm and the SE6 at 4pm.
The journey should take around 23 hours in total. It's advisable if you have onward travel booked from Hanoi to leave plenty of time between your connections – between 6 and 12 hours is good or even longer if you can – delays in Vietnam are very common and you don't want to miss your connection.
Another option for getting to Hanoi from Nha Trang by train is to get the less expensive TN2 train, which leaves Nha Trang railway station daily at 9.30pm.
Before you choose this cheaper option though you might want to take into account that, as well as not being anywhere near as comfortable as a SE train, TN trains take considerably longer because they stop at every station en-route.
TN trains are not recommended for longer journeys, as these older trains generally do not have air-conditioning so can be very hot, uncomfortable and are usually quite crowded too.
From Nha Trang to Hanoi by bus
If you are on a tight budget and so looking for the cheapest way to get from Nha Trang to Hanoi then an ‘Open Tour’ bus ticket is possibly your best option.
Open Tour (or Open Ticket) buses allow you to hop on and off the bus at any major city along the route. You will need to buy multiple inexpensive bus tickets though, if you are going for this option.
To get from Nha Trang to Hanoi using an Open Bus Ticket you would need to go from Nha Trang to Hoi An which is 550km and will take about 12 hours, then next stage would be Hoi An to Hue which is about 140km and should take about 4 hours, and then the final stage of your journey will be from Hue to Hanoi which is 673km and will take another 14 hours. The total journey time by bus from Nha Trang to Hanoi will be about 30 hours.
The biggest advantage, other than the minimal cost, of using the Open Bus Tour network has to be the flexibility of being able to take your time as you travel up to Hanoi from Nha Trang which means that you can stop off along the way and really experience Vietnam.
The not-so-great thing about Open Tour buses in Vietnam is that they aren't particularly spacious inside and the roads in Vietnam are both congested and bumpy so using this option to get around in Vietnam is only for you if you’re the laid back type and have a sense of adventure.
One of the most popular and recommended Open Tour bus operators in Vietnam is The Sinh Tourist.
Onward travel from Hanoi
Once you have completed your stay in Hanoi with its many sights, sounds and flavours you might want to consider seeing some more of Vietnam.
The awe-inspiring sights of Halong Bay are only 183km from Hanoi and so this fantastic destination makes for a great choice from Hanoi. You can travel there either directly or via Haiphong. Halong Bay is often one of the main reasons that people visit Northern Vietnam.
Sapa with it's dramatic scenery and spectacular views is another destination in Northern Vietnam that shouldn't be missed, famous for it's Sa Pa Trekking tours, it's only 320km north of Hanoi though you will need no less than from 6 to 9 hours to get there either by bus or by train and bus via Lao Cai.
If, on the other hand, you are ready to move on from Vietnam after visiting Hanoi then how about Vientiane in Laos with it's French influenced history and it's sleepy, laid back atmosphere. Indeed, Vientiane could make for a welcome break after the chaotic charm of Vietnam. It is a one-hour flight or a tiring 22-hour bus ride away.
Laos is not for you? Another possibility could be to fly to Bangkok in Thailand. Bangkok's crazy nightlife and huge mega-malls could be your next stop with flights taking about 2 hours and starting from just USD120.
The Philippines with it's Spanish influenced culture and fantastic beaches might be another possibility after you have seen and enjoyed all that Vietnam has to offer.