Travel On board Vietnam's luxurious £250-a-ticket train, including massages and...

On board Vietnam's luxurious £250-a-ticket train, including massages and free-flowing drinks


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Dreamt up by the Anantara hotel group, this was Vietnam’s first foray into luxury rail travel. It was designed to shuttle guests between its resorts in culture-packed Hoi An (20 miles south of Da Nang) and the coastal city of Quy Nhon in utter comfort. But it’s also a standalone experience, showcasing central Vietnam’s vivid landscapes alongside a three-course meal, complimentary massage and free-flowing drinks over six-and-a-half hours – all included in the price of a ticket, which starts from £250 each way: a fraction of what you might pay for a ride on the likes of the British Pullman or the Orient Express.

The Vietage, Vietnam Luxury Train

The Vietage is unique in that it’s a single carriage attached to the Reunification Express, the government-run service connecting capital Hanoi and the country’s southern metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City. This little quirk means the timing is not what you might consider holiday-friendly hours – the departure south from Da Nang is an almost-bleary-eyed 8.15am, while the service north from Quy Nhon gets in at 12.53am. But the experience more than makes up for it.

A few minutes before departure, I was whisked to my seat. From the outside, the carriage had looked just like the rest of the train: a pale, concrete grey streaked with blue, red and white. The interior, on the other hand, was a revelation – a modern take on Indochina aesthetics that sang with warm wood and rattan. The 12 plush seats were more like armchairs, really, and the tail end of the carriage was taken up by a half-moon bar where cocktails were shaken to order, as well as a treatment room for complimentary massages, and a bathroom that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a five-star hotel.

The Vietage, Vietnam Luxury Train

As the carriage pulled out of the station and began its rhythmic sway – winding through urban Da Nang past motorbikes and track-side homes – Koah was suddenly at my side with warm pastries and the drinks list, as another attendant appeared with a bottle of Taltarni T Series Brut, a zippy sparkling wine from Australia.

As I sipped, the cityscape slowly melted away, replaced by fluttering banana palms, egrets wading in grassy rice paddies and toiling farmers in conical non la hats. Occasionally we would pass lotus ponds where the first buds had just emerged, usually accompanied by a lone grazing water buffalo. In the distance, there would always be some forested mountain, veiled by haze.

Qin Xie on The Vietage, Vietnam Train journey.

After breakfast, Koah came to fetch me for my 15-minute massage, where soothing spa music drowned out the clatter of the tracks, then it was back to my window seat for a long, indulgent lunch. I had pre-ordered from a menu of Western and Vietnamese dishes (all of which are prepared at Anantara’s resorts then finished on board), and my duck terrine and braised wagyu neck, accented with local ingredients such as Da Lat strawberries and green tea, could easily have been that of a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Qin Xie on The Vietage, Vietnam Train journey.

As we drew close to Quy Nhon, I moved to the bar where cocktail shakers were rattling with urgency while guests – most of whom, I noted, were British – traded tips on where they’d been and where they planned to head next. Someone had ordered a bitter-sweet cocktail that perfumed the carriage with curling cinnamon smoke, so I quickly did the same, sipping it slowly, lulled into a contented daze by the whisky and the train’s gentle rocking. By the time the guestbook came round, my handwriting had turned into a languid scrawl.

When I scribbled “I wish the journey was longer”, I meant every word.


Qin Xie travelled as a guest of Audley Travel (01993 838140;, which offers a tailor-made 10-day Vietnam trip from £3,995 per person, including flights, the Vietage train experience, two nights in Hanoi, one night in Hue, two nights in Hoi An, two nights in Quy Nhon, two nights in Ho Chi Minh City, and transfers.


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