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vietnam & menstruation

April 16, 2024
A 1960's landscape illustration of a green jungle and a river.

Riding trains from South to North Vietnam during your period

Riding a motorcycle is one of the fastest and best ways to travel in Vietnam. But hopping on the somewhat comfortable old-fashioned trains is an equally authentic and charming experience. As you crawl through the Vietnamese countryside, it won’t be long before you slip into a relaxing contemplative mode and forget all about the stress of finding clean toilets… until you need them again to change your pad.

From Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi and Sapa, let’s see which line is the best equipped when travelling on your period!

You can also share your own bathroom reviews during your trip with The M Scale app.

Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne - A glimpse of agricultural Vietnam

This is a four-hour train ride during day time from Saigon to Mui Ne, a place known for its mesmerising sand dunes and popular kitesurfing spots.

The tickets can be bought online or directly at Saigon Railway Station, and the seats are divided into 2nd Class Sleeper AC, 1st Class Sleeper and 2nd Class Seats. The train will stop at Phan Thiet from where you need to take a bus or a taxi to Mui Ne.

While a short journey is usually manageable, depending on my period flow, finding clean and functioning toilets in each wagon was a plus. There was a sink to wash my hands, and a bin available in the cubicle.

A landscape image of a rural grass plane and a man sitting on a cow.
A glimpse of agricultural Vietnam

Mui Ne to Hoi AN

Our next stop on our rail journey up to the north was Hoi An, a colourful ancient town with an oriental medieval architectural style. This time, it was a fifteen-hour journey! We opted for a 2nd Class Sleeper and had a comfy enough mattress in a shared cabin, and I managed to fall asleep after admiring the sun setting on a shrimp field. The train was similar to what we knew, and the bathrooms were also clean and had toilet paper. The sink was located outside the cabin however, and it seemed to be a recurrent feature of the trains in Vietnam.

I felt enough rested and clean that I could straight away dive into visiting a few tailor shops on arrival, followed by a stroll along the Hoai River glimmering with the lights from the hundreds of silk lanterns lit on the banks.

Hoai River

Hué to Ninh Bin, the limestone trail

This was a twelve-hour night ride during which I was easily rocked to sleep by the clanking sound of the wagon slaloming between limestone walls, so close you could think they were going to swallow you.

The facilities were clean but the sink and the bin were again outside the cubicle, making it a bit difficult to clean a cup or change a tampon.

Sapa to Hanoi - the luxurious journey

The last train ride we experienced in Vietnam, going back to Hanoi after staying in the terraced rice fields and lush valleys of Sapa, was probably the most luxurious of all. It is an eight-hour night journey, for which we booked the VIP Sleeper 4x. As no one else came in the shared cabin, we had the fancy cabins to ourselves for the whole night!

There were snacks, drinks and tissues available in the cabins, and we could dispose of our waste in the two bins near the bed. The toilets were spotless clean, regularly checked by the staff. The thoughtful arrangement of cinnamon sticks, dried flowers and fancy soap around the sinks did not make up for the fact that they were located outside of the cubicle, making it a challenge to clean a cup.

An internal image of a 4 bed cabin in a train.

“If, like me, you are all about travelling slowly and enjoying scenic views with the locals, you will like the trains in Vietnam. Don’t forget to download The M Scale App and help our community of menstruating travellers with your reviews!”

Laura Sieg

Laura is a full time traveller, writing and recording exciting stories around the world - when not climbing or surfing, you will find her holding a mic capturing sounds in natural and cultural spaces.

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