To be completely honest, in hindsight, I would rather have flown from Hanoi to Hue (it would have cost us about the same, and saved time).
Ok, now that that’s done. Here’s the details about our overnight train.
We left Hanoi at 7:30 pm for the 12 hour trip to Hue (which they just tell you is 12 hours, but its nearly always closer to 14).
We booked two beds in a 4 berth sleeper cabin. Our tickets cost us US$40 each. The cabin was nothing fancy.
In comparison to the night train we took in Thailand, I would say that overall, the Thai trains are better. The beds are bigger and more comfortable (and cleaner). The overhead storage space for your luggage is actually big enough to hold something. And the beds had curtains for privacy, where the Vietnam train did not.
But, where the Vietnamese trains win (hands down) is the bathrooms. They were much better than the toilets on the train in Thailand (those were just holes open to the tracks below that you stood over). The Vietnam train toilets were actually toilets.
And they offered a bit of reading entertainment as well.
I didn’t sleep well on this train partially because there were no station signs posted, and no announcements were made for what station we were pulling into. So, it was all a guessing game. But we got there, safe and sound.