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Victoria Express Train

The Victoria Express ranks among the world's great rail experiences. As an alternative to Vietnam Railway's "hard sleeper" service, the Victoria Sapa Hotel refurbished a pair of Pullman cars and a dining car and began offering luxury sleepers dubbed the Victoria Express four days a week. The Victoria Express is not a separate train, but rather part of the regular overnight run between Hanoi and Lao Cai. Victoria Express departs Hanoi at 10:00pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and returns from Lao Cai Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. (Tuesday and Sunday is overnight; Thursday and Saturday the train departs Lao Cai at 10:20am, arriving in Hanoi at 8:10pm.) Due to its popularity, the Victoria Express only offers tickets to those staying at the Victoria Sapa Hotel.

Other Alternatives

The success of the Victoria Express has spawned several imitators which fill the gap between hard and luxury and provide a much needed increase in capacity. Rather than compete with Victoria Express for the well-heeled traveler, they compete with one another for the more price-conscious traveler, with fares less than half that of Victoria Express. Frankly, one four-berth sleeping cabin is pretty much like another; however, Victoria Express offers three amenities the others don't, and we think they're well worth the extra bucks:

  • Four of the fourteen cabins aboard the Victoria Express offer two berths (vs. four), perfect for couples or the claustrophobic.
  • Only Victoria Express offers a dining car - and not just any dining car! While some trains offer dining, few actually prepare meals on-board, relying instead to pre-made, frozen selections zapped in a microwave. Not the Victoria Express! For the Lao Cai - Hanoi run the Victoria's French-trained Executive Chef, Alain Nguyen and his staff offer a gourmet, 4-course meal prepared on the train. You can even bring your own wine. (Tip: pick up a bottle in Hanoi.) The price...a mere $16! Book a day in advance at the hotel. This unique dining experience alone is worth the price of the train ticket!
  • Superior service. From the porters to the servers in the dining car, Victoria Express staff is far superior to the others, undoubtedly because they get to cherry pick the cream of the crop.

Which all just proves the old adage, you get what you pay for! We recommend booking your berth (and your hotel room) at least 30 days in advance, particularly for weekend travel. Click here for details on booking the train and hotel.

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