We saw someone’s blog from Singapore to London by train and thought what a great idea and what an adventure it would be to do this with our two boys (currently 3 and 4 years old).
Travelling with children can often be stressful and many choose to wait until their children are old enough to “remember” or old enough so that it is easier for the parents. But who wants to wait when there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored and not enough time!
Exactly a year ago (2015), we were planning our trip to Europe (Paris, Bruges, Austria and Germany (where most of our time was spent). We now have the experience of long travel and train journeys through parts of Europe with our boys, and can safely say that they loved the train rides and have more of an idea how to cope with long travel journeys.
Of course travelling from Singapore to London is quite an ambitious journey to do in one go. Hence, we thought we would complete this adventure in stages. And thus, Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh is just the beginning of this ambitious excursion.
Below is a draft outline of our travel plans.
Draft travel itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive at Hong Kong and spend the weekend catching up with friends and site seeing.
Day 4: Hong Kong to Guangzhou – catch the train from Kowloon station (known as Hung Hom) to Guangzhou East station.
Day 5: 1. Guangzhou to Nanning fast train (am). Approx. 4hr travel time. You can see China railway for tickets.
2. Nanning to Hanoi. Take the train from Nanning main station, which leaves every day around 18:10 and arrives at Hanoi Gia Lam station around 05:20 the next morning. See https://www.chinaticketonline.com/internationaltrains/ for train tickets.
Day 6: Hanoi to Halong bay (approx 3 hr travel time). Take a 2 days/1 night cruise at Halong Bay.
Day 8: 1. Halong bay to Hanoi (am)
2. Hanoi to Lao Cai (pm) on an overnight sleeper train (approx. 8hr travel time) on SP1
There are many options to travel by train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. We chose SP1 & Sp2.
SP1 & SP2: Recommended train with very few stops. Conveys Vietnamese Railways air-con soft sleepers, air-con hard sleepers, air-con hard seats. This train also conveys various privately-run sleeping-cars for tourists, including Fanxipan, King, Ratraco, Orient Express, Livitrans, Royal, TSC, Tulico, Pumpkin and several others. We chose to travel with the Vietnamese railway air-con soft 4-berth sleeper. An awesome website with heaps of information about train travels can be found at seat61.com.
Another useful site is dsvn.vn. Here you can view what coach (carriage) and cabins are available. The only problem we found was that you cannot purchase a ticket outside of Vietnam, which made things a little difficult. Nevertheless, this site was great in order to determine availability and to cross-check with the other website that we ended up purchasing our tickets from – baolau.vn. The reason we cross-checked both sites was because baolau.vn does NOT allow you to select your coach or cabin.
Day 12: Lao Cai to Hanoi (pm) on overnight sleeper (approx 8hr travel time). SP2.
Day 14: Train from Hanoi to Dong Hoi.
From here we will visit Phong Nha Cave, Paradise Cave and the Vinh moc tunnels, which all are a fascinating piece of history!
The rest of our trip is yet to be confirmed, but I will update as we go along (hopefully I have internet and TIME).
Please feel free to read my other updates and blogs of our journey, as each has some info about doing this journey with kids. If you’ve ever wanted to do something like this, then there might be some useful information for you.