Today there was not much site seeing but a day spent purely travelling. Thankfully we had a pleasant start – we didn’t need to be at the station until much later as the train departed at 11.40. Jason took the boys downstairs from the hotel to watch some kite flying. We had a decent buffet breakfast with almost everything you can think of to eat! With a full tummy we set on our way to Guangzhou south station.
We got 2 first class tickets on the bullet train ($200 yuan per adult).
Tip: If you want to save some bucks, you can get away with only buying two adult tickets. As children are free in most of China and Vietnam, just hope that there are empty seats so that you can seat them. The Guangzhou to Nanning East train ride took 3.5 hours.
We were amazed at how HUGE Nanning East station is! It is as big, if not bigger than an airport. The photos do not demonstrate the enormity of the station.
We got another taxi to Nanning South station. Communication with taxi drivers hasn’t always been easy. Take a translating app to help in these situations. Even when you try saying the name in Mandarin they don’t understand it. You really need the address and street names in Mandarin so that taxi drivers know what you mean.
Nanning to Hanoi
At Nanning south station we are now on the sleeper train in coach 1 cabin 3 – beds 9,10, 11, 12.
An awesome experience, cheap travel and beds are decent. If youre looking for 5 star and are not the type to rough it out a little, then this probably wouldn’t be for you.
1. The toilet is a bit on the rough side. But if you’re used to camping then you’re just happy to have a toilet! 😂
2. We didn’t realise that we would need to get off the train twice during the night. First time on the china boarder at around 10pm (the boys were already asleep), which took over an hour to get everyone processed before we were back on the train. And the second time, around midnight at the vietnam side. Thankfully this process was quicker as most passengers were returning vietnamese citizens, so they didn’t need to do the whole passport check as we all did in China. It was a little disruptive of the boy’s sleep, but overall they liked it.
3. A bit noisy – if you’re expecting a smooth, silent journey then expect to be sorely disappointed 😅. The train motor after a while just became white noise.
4. There seems to be a section for smokers out the back of the train. Unfortunately people were smoking most of the night and we could smell the smoke from our cabin 😱.
So there appears to be more cons than pros right? Would I recommend this to someone else? Of course!! To me regardless of the cons, it was an awesome experience? Why? The fact that it’s unique and not many people would choose this option. Travelling with the locals, living and breathing the culture, whilst getting out of one’s comfort zone and doing the unexpected are all experiences I love and thrive on!
Some more pictures of our train rides:
Snippet of the train journey from Guangzhou to Nanning