The first thing you need to do is learn how to pronounce Huế! It’s pronounced Hu-eh (as if you’re clearing your throat) not Hew.
We bought our tickets for Huế from the railway station in Hanoi, having taken a taxi from the Old Quarter. There were no signs in English at the station, so it was very confusing, and the lady didn’t speak great English. It didn’t help that we were pronouncing Huế completely wrong!
We managed to communicate what we needed and booked the 9am train to Huế, which was due to arrive at 11pm. We booked a soft sleeper so we had a bed to lie on. It was slightly more expensive than a seat, but we decided it was worth it. The tickets to Huế cost £30 each, which was considerably cheaper than getting a flight.
For the first part of the journey, we had all four bunks to ourselves, but we were joined by an elderly Vietnamese man who didn’t speak much English. We managed to communicate through smiles and sign language that he was going home for Vietnamese New Year (Tết).
The view from the train was lovely: rice paddy fields and lots of countryside. The bunks were quite comfortable and the toilet was clean. I whiled away the time reading a book and we were even served lunch, which was an unexpected bonus. This comprised vegetables, an apple, rice and some pork in a thin sauce (which I didn’t eat as I didn’t know if it was gluten-free and you can’t be too careful on a journey like this). I had brought plain crisps and cola bottles with me to snack on, which is not the healthiest of food, but at least I knew it was safe.
We arrived in Huế at about 10.40pm. It was a good job we had set the alarm as we had been expecting to arrive at 11pm so it was quite a rush to get our things together before we disembarked.
It was, of course, complete darkness when we arrived so we took a taxi from outside the station to the hotel and pretty much fell into bed.